Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) wandered into a hearing on retransmission consent being chaired by Senator John Kerry in order to vent on what he feels is the poor level of political discourse on the airways.
Rockefeller had a solution, of sorts, according to Politico:
“‘We need new catalysts for quality news and entertainment programming,’ he said. ‘I hunger for quality news. I’m tired of the right and the left. There’s a little bug inside of me which wants the FCC to say to Fox and to MSNBC, ‘Out. Off. End. Good-bye.’ It’d be a big favor to political discourse, our ability to do our work here in Congress and to the American people to be able to talk with each other and have some faith in their government and more importantly in their future.'”
One is tempted to respond that there is a very big bug inside one that wants a Senate with far fewer people like Jay Rockefeller than it does now. His proposal that inconvenient cable news networks should be summarily taken off the air simply because he finds what they broadcast irksome is breathtaking.
Leaving aside the fact that the FCC does not have purview over cable TV, something that the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee might be expected to know, the idea that any government entity could take any network off the air based solely on its political content is outrageous.
Senator Rockefeller should get reacquainted with the First Amendment of the US Constitution. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
It seems simple enough. Just because a politician does not like what Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Keith Olbermann, or Chris Matthews says does not give him a license to even muse about overturning freedom of the press. This is a proposal worthy of a Vladimir Putin, the ruler of Russia who has inconvenient reporters assassinated.
Rockefeller is obviously smarting over the “shellacking” the Democrats took in the recent midterm elections. One suspects that, in his heart of hearts, Senator Rockefeller would just like Fox News taken off the air, the theory being that the other networks are not quite as diligent about holding left-wing politicians accountable. He is a smart enough politician to throw in MSNBC so that he can pretend to be even-handed.
Now leaving aside that while MSNBC is studiously left-wing while Fox allows a variety of voices to speak on its air, Jay Rockefeller does not understand his role in a democracy. His role is to be criticized by the media. Sometimes, to be sure, such criticism is unfair, though in Rockefeller’s case that hardly seems possible. But that is why a variety of points of view need to be allowed and even nurtured. In a free marketplace of ideas, the truth will win out sooner or later.
And that might be Senator Rockefeller’s biggest problem with the media. As Jack Nicholson might say, he can’t handle the truth.
Source: Sen. Rockefeller slams MSNBC, Fox, Politico, November 17th, 2010