Obama’s re­sponse to ‘Ra­dio Free Amer­ica’

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Cal Thomas

Dur­ing the Cold War, the Voice of Amer­ica and Ra­dio Free Europe were among the broad­cast en­ti­ties that ef­fec­tively pen­e­trated the Iron Cur­tain to de­liver truth to the “cap­tive na­tions” that were be­ing fed a steady dose of pro­pa­ganda by their com­mu­nist rulers. Those dic­ta­tors did ev­ery­thing they could to jam the sig­nals so that their peo­ple would only hear what their un­elected over­seers wanted them to hear. Con­tem­po­rary ver­sions of jam­ming and other forms of cen­sor­ship oc­cur to­day in Venezuela, Cuba and many other places where dic­ta­tors be­lieve pub­lic ig­no­rance is es­sen­tial to their un­chal­lenged rule.

While the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is the prod­uct of an elec­tion, its ap­proach to Fox News Chan­nel, con­ser­va­tive talk ra­dio and pos­si­bly the In­ter­net ap­pears sim­i­lar to dic­ta­tors who de­sire con­trol over the flow of in­for­ma­tion in or­der to en­hance their power.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pri­mary beef ap­pears to be that Fox is do­ing the job the broad­cast net­works and big news­pa­pers should be do­ing were they not still deeply in the tank for this pres­i­dent and his poli­cies.

Like those Cold War truthtellers, Fox is sim­ply de­liv­er­ing in­for­ma­tion to a rapidly grow­ing au­di­ence (partly due to crit­i­cism from the White House) that wants to see and hear what the other me­dia are not telling them. Fox — and talk ra­dio — are re­port­ing on the back­grounds and state­ments of Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials. Fox didn’t cre­ate the state­ments and ac­tions of Van Jones, the now for­mer en­ergy czar, who signed a pe­ti­tion ques­tion­ing whether Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials al­lowed Sept. 11, 2001, to hap­pen as a pos­si­ble pre­text for go­ing to war. Fox didn’t force Mr. Jones to ad­vo­cate for cop-killer Mu­mia Abu-Jamal, or as­so­ciate him­self with Stand­ing To­gether to Or­ga­nize a Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Move­ment (STORM), a left­wing rad­i­cal group with Marx­ist roots.

No Fox News em­ployee wrote the speeches and com­ments of White House Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Di­rec­tor Anita Dunn, who told grad­u­at­ing high school se­niors that one of her “fa­vorite philoso­phers” is the mass mur­derer Mao Ze­dong. Nei­ther did they com­pose her boast dur­ing the cam­paign that the Obama peo­ple “con­trolled” the news me­dia.

ACORN (the As­so­ci­a­tion of Com­mu­nity Or­ga­ni­za­tions for Re­form Now) might never have been ex­posed for its pos­si­bly il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties had not an en­ter­pris­ing young duo gone to their offices with a hid­den cam­era and recorded some ACORN work­ers who were happy to as­sist them in break­ing the law.

As one who ap­pears on Fox as a con­trib­u­tor, I have seen the net­work grow from its beginning more than a decade ago to its cur­rent po­si­tion of hold­ing ac­count­able those in power. That was once the call­ing of all jour­nal­ists un­til the Kennedy years, when re­porters started cheer­lead­ing and so­cial­iz­ing with the peo­ple they were em­pow­ered to ques­tion and cover. This shift in re­spon­si­bil­ity has greatly en­hanced the sta­tus and in­come of too many jour­nal­ists and com­men­ta­tors. It has also short­changed the pro­fes­sion and the pub­lic it is sup­posed to serve.

It is no mys­tery why the White House has made Fox News a tar­get. If its re­port­ing and com­men­tat­ing were not ef­fec­tive in ex­pos­ing things the ad­min­is­tra­tion does not want the pub­lic to know, Fox would be ig­nored. But it is in­creas­ingly ef­fec­tive be­cause the pub­lic is sens­ing that the ad­min­is­tra­tion has a lot to hide about its per­son­nel, ide­ol­ogy and ob­jec­tives.

Rather than boy­cott Fox — if the ad­min­is­tra­tion were smart — it would flood the net­work with its spokes­peo­ple. The ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­par­ently be­lieves it needs an en­emy to avert scru­tiny from its so­cial­ist agenda, the un­der­min­ing of free speech and the cor­rup­tion of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. Be­cause Repub­li­cans have no cred­i­ble na­tional leader, the ad­min­is­tra­tion has set­tled on Fox News.

Po­lit­i­cal leaders, go­ing back to our found­ing, have crit­i­cized the press. It never works, be­cause af­ter the politi­cians leave of­fice, the press re­mains. If the ad­min­is­tra­tion is seek­ing ap­proval for its poli­cies, it should go on the only chan­nel that will con­front, ex­am­ine and ques­tion those poli­cies. If the poli­cies are valid, they will stand; if not, they won’t and they shouldn’t. But per­haps, like those dic­ta­tors, the ad­min­is­tra­tion would rather jam Fox’s “sig­nal” be­cause they don’t want the pub­lic to know the truth about what they are do­ing.

Cal Thomas is a na­tion­ally syndicated colum­nist.

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