Wash. Times enlists in Beck's crusade against FCC diversity officer Mark Lloyd

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

In a Washington Times article, Amanda Carpenter promoted Glenn Beck-favored right-wing attacks on Mark Lloyd, the chief diversity officer at the Federal Communications Commission, by reporting that Beck, Andrew Breitbart, and conservative websites "unearthed" "provocative comments" Lloyd has made about Hugo Chavez, freedom of speech, minorities' access to leadership positions, and ways to promote liberal radio. Additionally, Carpenter wrote that "bloggers are questioning Mr. Lloyd's commitment to free speech" based on his writings about the First Amendment, but in fact, the text of Lloyd's writings make clear that he was criticizing distortions of the First Amendment, not the amendment itself.

Carpenter promotes Beck-favored attacks on Lloyd

From Carpenter's September 23 Washington Times article:

President Obama's diversity czar at the Federal Communications Commission has spoken publicly of getting white media executives to "step down" in favor of minorities, prescribed policies to make liberal talk radio more successful, and described Hugo Chavez's rise to power in Venezuela "an incredible revolution."

[...]

In a video clip of the conference that has been aired by Fox News personality Glenn Beck and others, Mr. Lloyd seems be siding with the anti-American leader against independent media outlets in his own country, some of which supported a short-lived coup against Mr. Chavez in 2002.

[...]

At another conference, Mr. Lloyd spoke about the need to remove white people from powerful positions in the media to give minorities a fairer chance.

[...]

Andrew Breitbart published the audio of the conference on his Breitbart.com Web site on Monday. Mr. Breitbart said the recording was made during a conference on media reform and racial justice in May 2005.

[...]

Seton Motley, communications director for the conservative-leaning Media Research Center and contributing editor to Newsbusters.org who has written critically about Mr. Lloyd on several occasions, said Mr. Lloyd appeared Tuesday at a meeting held by the FCC's advisory committee on diversity that discussed the need to increase lending and licensing to minority-owned media outlets.

"They say he's not involved in licensing and he's involved in researching diversity," Mr. Motley told the Washington Times, "but he sat in a meeting where licensing is very much part of the deal."

A meeting agenda posted by the advisory committee says that "national broadband plans recommendations" also were discussed.

Beck: Lloyd comments about need for "more people of color, gays" in "important positions" is "un-American." Beck responded to Lloyd's remarks by saying that he didn't "find" such sentiments in the Constitution and added: "[H]ow are you possibly going to ever convince the American people that this is right?" [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 9/22/09]

Beck on Lloyd's remarks about Chavez is evidence that "freedom of speech is ... under attack through the FCC." During an interview with Rush Limbaugh, Beck asserted that "freedom of speech is under attack in a million different ways. But institutionally, it's under attack through the FCC." Beck played Lloyd's comments about Chavez for Limbaugh and commented that he found it "breathtaking." Limbaugh responded: "I find the whole administration breathtaking, Glenn. I mean, you're doing a great job this whole week of -- I mean, I saw Sarah Palin even tweeted about what you're doing, urging people to watch. This whole administration is as radical and far left as any that the country has ever had. And what they're trying to do here to communications is simply stifle dissenting voices. They're trying to wipe out any opposition." [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 8/26/09]

Beck hosted Motley to fearmonger about Lloyd's secret plan to shut down conservative talk radio. Motley claimed that Lloyd's "plan is to use the nebulous FCC regulations of media diversity and localism to travel alternate routes to arrive at the same destination as the Fairness Doctrine, which is to shut you up by shutting you down. He wants to assault the radio industry to effect an ideological outcome." Beck replied that this is "insane" and concluded the interview by telling his viewers: "You are about to lose your freedom of speech in this country." [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 8/26/09]

Fox News on a witch hunt for Obama "czars." Fox News personalities have led the charge against the Obama administration's advisers including Van Jones, John Holdren, Cass Sunstein, and other officials and nominees it has described as "czars" -- often by unearthing and criticizing statements the officials had made in the past rather than critiquing their job performance or credentials for those positions. Sean Hannity, for example, declared that "my job starting tomorrow night is to get rid of every other ['czar']." On September 3, Beck urged "watchdogs" through his Twitter feed to "find everything you can on Cass Sunstein, Mark Lloyd, and Carol Browner. Do not link before burning to disc."

Beck credits Breitbart as source for attack on "czars." In recent weeks, Beck has been credited with precipitating the resignation of Jones, the former White House "green jobs" adviser, the reassignment of National Endowment for the Arts communications director Yosi Sergant, and the amplification of an anti-ACORN video produced by a conservative filmmaker. In all three instances, Beck has credited the "instrumental" work of Breitbart, a conservative columnist and Web publisher who has a history of smearing progressives and making inflammatory statements. Breitbart also owns BigHollywood.com, which has attacked Lloyd using Beck's incendiary claims.

Carpenter cites distortion by "bloggers" that Lloyd's comments were about free speech

Carpenter reported that "bloggers" were "questioning" Lloyd's "commitment to free speech." From the Washington Times article:

Other bloggers are questioning Mr. Lloyd's commitment to free speech based on a line in his 2006 book, "Prologue to a Farce: Communication and Democracy in America."

"At the very least, blind references to freedom of speech or the press serve as a distraction from the critical examination of other communications policies," Mr. Lloyd wrote. "The purpose of free speech is warped to protect global corporations and block rules that would promote democratic governance."

The FCC was asked about the passage, but a spokesman was unable to provide an explanation late Tuesday.

Lloyd was not attacking the First Amendment; rather, he said it is "of great importance." Lloyd wrote in his book that "[t]he First Amendment limits on government interference with speech, the press, assembly, and petitions are of great importance" and that the First Amendment "deserves" our attention. However, he argued that the original intent of the First Amendment, which enabled citizens to have the "ability to join in governing ourselves," now "is warped to protect global corporations and block rules that would promote democratic governance." From his book:

As Newton Minow has observed, all too often Americans use the First Amendment to end discussions of communications policy. It should be clear by now that my focus here is not freedom of speech or the press. This freedom is all too often an exaggeration. Harold Innis may have been only slightly exaggerating when he wrote, "Freedom of the press ... has become the great bulwark of monopolies of the press." At the very least, blind references to freedom of speech or the press serve as a distraction from the critical examination of other communication policies.

Ithiel de Sola Pool's Technologies of Freedom is a good example of the idealization of freedom of speech in America. Although it is one of the best books on the history of communications, its premise, that technology frees while government policy constricts speech, is far too simple an understanding of either the First Amendment or democratic deliberation.

[...]

Michael Sandel traces what happened to the political debate about the communications requirement of an engaged citizenry, but like most other commentators who write about communication issues, Sandel overlooks the importance of postal service, of government support for citizen speech. Sandel jumps immediately to a discussion of government censorship. But the shift Sandel traces is useful. Drawing from Alexander Meiklejohn, Sandel notes that the first purpose of the First Amendment was to provide citizens with the "fullest possible participation in the understanding of problems" a self-governing citizenry must decide. But now, he notes, while "the courts continue to acknowledge the importance of free speech to the exercise of self-government, courts and constitutional commentator alike increasingly defend free speech in the name of individual self-expression. Thus, the purpose of free speech is warped to protect global corporations and block rules that would promote democratic governance.

As Sandel points out, our current policy debates and the actions that result from them suggest we have traveled off course on a long dark road. Starting as a nation that defined liberty as the ability to join in governing ourselves, we have become a disconnected people who define liberty as the ability to purchase consumer goods. What Sandel misses is that the problem is not only the warp to our public philosophy of free speech, but that the government has abandoned its role in advancing the communications capabilities of real people. The First Amendment limits on government interference with speech, the press, assembly, and petitions are of great importance. The First Amendment deserves Pool's, Sandels, and our attention. This book certainly does not ignore the First Amendment. I only seek to place it in context with other communications policies. [Prologue to a Farce: Communication and Democracy in America, Pages 20-21]

Transcript

From the August 26 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: Do you believe in the Constitution? Do you believe in freedom of speech? Do you believe in a free press? Well, here is what our new FCC chief diversity officer said. Listen.

LLOYD [video clip]: In Venezuela, with Chavez, really an incredible revolution, a democratic revolution to begin to put in place things that were going to have an impact on the people in Venezuela. The property owners and the folks who were then controlling the media in Venezuela rebelled, worked, frankly, with the folks here in the U.S. government, worked to oust him. But he came back in another revolution, and then Chavez began to take very seriously the media in his country.

BECK: OK. Do you hear that? The "important revolution" or -- what did he call it?

MOTLEY: "Incredible."

BECK: The "incredible revolution" from Hugo Chavez. Gee, I'm beginning to see that whole meeting with Hugo Chavez and the book in a whole different light, aren't you?

Seton Motley, director of communications for the Media Research Center, is with us. Tell me exactly what his plan is.

MOTLEY: His plan is to use the nebulous FCC regulations of media diversity and localism to travel alternate routes to arrive at the same destination as the Fairness Doctrine, which is to shut you up by shutting you down. He wants to assault the radio industry to effect an ideological outcome. As we discussed a week ago, he wants to charge you, dollar for dollar, your 100 percent operating costs for the year.

BECK: That's insane.

MOTLEY: It's insane.

BECK: Nobody could do that.

MOTLEY: Then he wants to fine you if you aren't meeting his def-- on top of that if you're not meeting his definition of media diversity and localism. He's actually come up with a media diversity and localism mathematical equation, which is bizarre on its face, first of all, because you can't translate this to math.

But beyond that, it's just bizarre because he goes into this formula where it's four numerators over a denominator. All the numerators are multiplied by one another. So, if you screw up any one of them, you get a zero. It's all zeroed out and you failed and you get fined.

BECK: Oh my gosh.

MOTLEY: Yes. And that could be any one of the four. Additionally, he's got his media diversity working against his localism at times. If you hire three local reporters but they're all white guys, that's a zero, and you go zeroed out and you get fined. And, of course, all of this money is supposed to go --

BECK: Look, I don't care -- I really don't care about -- I believe in the words of Martin Luther King. Judge somebody by the content of their character. Why are we being dragged back into the 1950s, 1850s, where we're looking at somebody's skin color?

MOTLEY: And that's what he wants to do. He is myopically focused on the racial and ethnic.

[...]

BECK: It has been laid. Give me one more thing -- because I've only got a few more seconds with you. Give me one more thing that he is planning or he has said that people should know about.

MOTLEY: Well, what he wants to do is he wants to set up eight pods around the country of FCC boards and CPB boards, Corporation for Public Broadcasting boards, and he wants them to regulate political advertising and commentary, number of commercials these stations run, and ratings information about programs before they are broadcast. So, basically, he wants to take over regulation of the entire operation of radio and television stations.

BECK: It is absolutely unbelievable.

America, is this America? Is it? Ask yourself that question. These are reasonable questions in apparently unreasonable times.

Is this the way we decide how things happen? Do we have these shadow operations with these new czars or advisers or whatever the hell they want to call them calling the shots? And doing it with a hidden agenda? Doing it slowly, quietly, behind the scenes, and then, boom! There it is.

You are about to lose your freedom of speech in this country. If you disagree with that, please contact me and tell me how, because I'd like to live in that world. I'd like to believe that. But with everything else I have shown you this week -- and then you see the clampdown by somebody who is extolling the virtues of the revolution in Venezuela, I don't know how you see that.

Could somebody, please -- I mean this sincerely -- please explain to me how this isn't anti-capitalist, revolutionary in nature, and anti-constitutional? How is this -- how does this resemble our republic and our First Amendment at all? Please answer that question.

[...]

BECK: Right now, freedom of speech is under attack in a million different ways. But institutionally, it's under attack through the FCC. Here's radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh.

LIMBAUGH (on telephone): Glenn Beck, how are you, sir?

BECK: Very good, sir. I want to play something for you. I don't know if you just saw it, but I want to play it again. This is the new diversity officer for the FCC, a newly created position. This is what he said at a speech or a talk he was giving about Chavez's Venezuela and how the media work down there. Watch this.

LLOYD (video clip): In Venezuela, with Chavez, really an incredible revolution, a democratic revolution to begin to put in place things that were going to have an impact on the people in Venezuela. The property owners and the folks who were then controlling the media in Venezuela rebelled, worked, frankly, with the folks here in the U.S. government, worked to oust him. But he came back in another revolution, and then Chavez began to take very seriously the media in his country.

BECK: Rush, I find that breathtaking.

LIMBAUGH: I find the whole administration breathtaking, Glenn. I mean, you're doing a great job this whole week of -- I mean, I saw Sarah Palin even tweeted about what you're doing, urging people to watch.

This whole administration is as radical and far left as any that the country has ever had. And what they're trying to do here to communications is simply stifle dissenting voices. They're trying to wipe out any opposition.

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