Bush Justice Department Harrassed Indymedia

CBS News is reporting that the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day. U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison in Indianapolis, issued subpoenas to Indymedia.us demanding information that included e-mail and IP addresses, Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, etc. There was also a demand that Indymedia not disclose to anyone that they had received the subpoenas.

This was an unprecedented affront to both freedom of the press and the right to privacy for citizens who happened to visit a particular web site. Indymedia sought advice from the Electronic Frontier Foundation who succeeded in getting the subpoenas withdrawn. However, many questions remain. There was never any disclosure as to the criminal case that was being investigated by Justice Department. The subpoenas themselves were improper, as was the gag order, but no one in the Justice Department is commenting on that.

An amusing side note to this is that rightist media groups are framing this as an abuse of power by the Obama administration. Although this is just now coming to light, they fail to note that the investigation began during the Bush administration, months before the election in 2008. The date specified in the subpoena for the information they were seeking was June 25, 2008. The subpoena itself was issued on January 22, 2009, just two days after Obama was inaugurated. Obviously the investigation had to precede the issuance of subpoenas.

As further evidence of Obama’s culpability, it was noted that subpoenas to the media have to be approved by the Attorney General. The right-wing leaped on this factoid to accuse Obama’s AG, Eric Holder, of complicity in this outrageous act. Unfortunately for that theory, Holder was not confirmed to the position until February 2, 2009, after the subpoenas had already been sent.

So the whole affair was conducted by the Bush Department of Justice, with a Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney (Morrison), and an acting AG who was also left over from Bush’s administration. This is typical of the Bush regime’s disrespect for freedom of the press. And the response from the right is typical of their embrace of disinformation and propaganda.

Behavior like this by officials in law enforcement is unconscionable, and should not be tolerated by any administration. It appears that the Obama administration did the right thing when it was brought to their attention by withdrawing the subpoenas, but they need to go further and reveal the nature of the investigation that led to this action, and the role of Bush officials in the affair. And it would also be nice if they would make a statement disapproving of such behavior and declaring it outside the policy of this administration.

Republicans Form Phony Fairness Caucus On Media

Texas Representative Lamar Smith has announced the formation of the Media Fairness Caucus in the House of Representatives. This would be a pretty funny venture if only because he asserts that the mission of his caucus is for…

“…the American people to get the facts and then be allowed to make up their own minds, not be told what to think. When you have network news programs and front pages of national newspapers reading like an editorial page or sounding like an oral editorial, then the American people aren’t getting the facts, they’re not getting the objective news. They’re getting opinion. And if all they do is hear is one side, that does have an impact over time.”

It sounds like Smith is launching a war against Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. But that can’t be. His caucus is apparently open only to Republicans who will busy themselves with writing letters to editors and making one minute speeches on the House floor. There doesn’t appear to be any substantive agenda for the caucus other than working the refs. And the only venues for the announcement of the caucus have been Fox News and the ultra-right wing NewsMax.

Smith is a few years behind the curve with regard to House media caucuses. Democrat Maurice Hinchey has already convened the Future of American Media Caucus with a mandate to reform ownership regulations and promote greater independence and diversity. Hinchey’s group is open to all members of Congress who seek to bring real reform that addresses the root causes of media bias and faulty journalism.

The truly remarkable thing about Smith’s announcement, however, is that Smith ranks the liberal media bias that he is imagining as…

“…the greatest threat to our democracy today.”

That’s right – a bigger threat to the nation than a terrorist attack or a depression. And it is from this perspective that he hopes to fashion the return of objective and responsible reporting. Good work, Lamar.

Morley Safer Doesn’t Trust Citizen Journalism

Veteran newsman and 60 Minutes correspondent, Morley Safer, just won the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award from Quinnipiac University’s School of Communications. His long and distinguished career certainly justifies receiving this honor. It’s too bad he had to spoil the ceremony with the crotchety old man impression that he must have picked up from Andy Rooney.

In an attempt to address his concern for the withering state of newspapers, Safer warned that the medium’s decline “threatens all of journalism and, by extension, our precarious right to know.” He stated his belief that newspapers provide the source material for stories presented in other mediums. There is a case to be made for these assertions, but he went too far when he attacked new media, characterizing it as crammed with nuts:

“The blogosphere is no alternative, crammed as it is with the ravings and manipulations of every nut with a keyboard. Good journalism is structured and structure means responsibility,” he said. He added later, “…I would trust citizen journalism as much as I would trust citizen surgery.”

If Safer is really concerned with responsibility, he ought not to lash out indiscriminately at online journalism. If he wants to cast a net around “every nut with a keyboard,” and label them all journalists, then I should be able to do the same with his medium and every nut with a microphone.

Surely there are manipulative ravers on the Internet, but they could hardly be called journalists. The same is true with television and newspapers. Josh Marshall (a reporter of proven reliability) and Michelle Malkin (a purveyor of bias and propaganda), are two completely different species. Credible and principled Internet journalists would cringe at the thought of being associated with likes of Matt Drudge. Would Safer fare any better by being lumped together with Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck? Does Safer think that Ann Coulter brings honor to the newspapers who carry her column? Does he think that the National Enquirer or the New York Post are structured and responsible? If Safer wants to draw parallels between online reporters with their old media equivalents, he should not be making apples to idiots comparisons.

It would also be helpful if Safer refrained from disparaging the public at large. Safer’s analogy to “citizen surgery” carries an insulting implication that “citizen” equates to “unqualified.” Many citizens are quite capable of producing good journalism. And, perhaps to Safer’s surprise, some journalists are, in fact, good citizens. The two designations are not mutually exclusive. A better analogy might compare a modern surgeon with an old-school sawbones who refused to use an MRI or other advanced technologies. I expect that most people would prefer the modern surgeon. And as it turns out, most people prefer new media, as demonstrated in this poll:

  • 67% believe traditional journalism is out of touch with what Americans want from their news.
  • 32% said Internet sites are their most trusted source for news and information, followed by newspapers (22%), television (21%) and radio (15%).
  • 75% believe the Internet has had a positive impact on the overall quality of journalism.
  • 69% believe media companies are becoming too large and powerful to allow for competition.

There is a notable irony in that Safer would level these criticisms while accepting an award honoring the First Amendment. A true advocate for a free press would welcome more public participation, not less. After all, what could be more representative of free expression, and a free press, then citizen journalism?

David Letterman And The Goon: Bill O’Reilly

The latest installment of the ongoing episodic series, Letterman and the Goon, aired last night, and the madcap misadventures of this odd couple didn’t fail to entertain. The program began with David Letterman revealing how the show got it’s name when he told Bill O’Reilly that…

“I’ve always thought of you as a goon”

From there it segued into an endearing scene that demonstrated the touching bond between the two men, with Letterman obviously lying as he told O’Reilly that…

“You’re too smart to believe what you say.”

That compassionate attempt to spare the feelings of O’Reilly certainly drew a few tears from viewers (or at least Glenn Beck). Everyone knows, of course, that O’Reilly isn’t that smart at all, and likely believes everything he says, no matter how dishonest. But Letterman took the high road on behalf of his friend, just as he did when O’Reilly hilariously declared himself to be a journalist:

O’Reilly: “Glenn Beck is a talk show host. Rush Limbaugh is a talk show host.”
Letterman: “What are you?”
O’Reilly: “I’m a journalist.”

And how do we know that O’Reilly is a journalist? Because he “got a degree” that he “paid a lot of money for.” Well, that settles it then.

The pair did endure a bit of drama when Letterman raised the specter of Al Franken. O’Reilly tried to dodge the issue, saying…

“I’m gonna recuse myself because I don’t like Al Franken and it’s not fair to me to go on and say bad things about him and I don’t want to do that.”

Letterman challenged that position, pointing out that O’Reilly says bad things about people he doesn’t like all the time. O’Reilly insisted that it happens “very rarely.” By very rarely, he must have meant just about every night. Not only does O’Reilly frequently bash his perceived enemies (just ask Sean Penn, Helen Thomas, Jeffrey Immelt, the Dixie Chicks, and any of the hundreds he has labeled “Pinheads”), he has been particularly hard on Franken:

  • “You don’t get any lower than that man, Franken.”
  • “That’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen in American politics – is this man maybe becoming a senator.”
  • “It’s personal with me. He’s lied about me. He’s slandered me.”
  • “The fact that he was even competitive […] depresses me about America.”

Those are all just love notes from a man who now says that it would “not fair to me to go on and say bad things about him.” No wonder Letterman closed the episode by saying…

“I’d like to see you in about six months for a cleaning.”

Precisely. A visit with Bill O’Reilly was pretty much the same as a visit to the dentist.

Fox Business Network Is On The Case

Last year the Fox Business Network filed a Freedom of Information Act request for Treasury Department documents related to the Toxic Assets Relief Program. After filing the request, FBN launched an advertising campaign promoting their tireless efforts on behalf of the American people.

I have no problem with the FOIA requests, in fact I support them. They are an important part of a transparent democracy, and news enterprises have always used them to provide a complete picture of what our government is doing on our behalf. They do it in the interests of journalism, not some disingenuous grandstanding as protectors of the people. It is unseemly for a network to puff itself up simply for doing its job. Bloomberg also has FOIA requests pending, but they aren’t banging the drum about it.

Now the puffery is ascending to new highs of absurdity. Fox News executive vice president Kevin Magee is patting himself and his network on the back for being champions of the people. He is engaging in a sustained campaign of self-flattery that he paradoxically says “is not a wild publicity stunt.”

Magee: “One of the ways that we want to differentiate ourselves is to tell our audience that we are trying to protect their interests. We think that’s a wide-open field. CNBC seems to always be the friend of the CEO and that’s fine, nothing wrong with that. It has served them well.”

This statement is a direct contradiction of what his boss said when FBN debuted:

Rupert Murdoch: “…a Fox channel would be ‘more business-friendly than CNBC.’ That channel ‘leap[s] on every scandal, or what they think is a scandal.'”

So it is FBN that has always sought to be “the friend of the CEO.” Now, in the midst of a Wall Street driven economic collapse, they want to pretend that they are the network of the people. What a crock! The truth is, they are engaging in pure self-promotion. FBN has tried to cultivate the image of being a business channel for Main Street, not Wall Street. But from the beginning, that pretense has been as phony as their “Fair and Balanced” sloganeering for Fox News.

On top of all of this, FBN wants to claim as their victory something that is not really a victory and with which they had little to do anyway. Documents referenced in the FOIA request have already begun flowing. Over 1,200 have been released, 300 of which were previously undisclosed. FBN’s attempt to take credit for this is plausible only if you completely forget that President Obama, on his first full day in office, issued an executive order requiring agencies in his administration to cooperate with FOIA requests. This explicitly reversed a Bush executive order that mandated withholding information if at all possible.

Emerging from the secrecy-obsessed world of George W. Bush may feel strange, but FBN should recognize that they haven’t moved any mountains. They are just in a new era of openness that makes news gathering a little easier. It is more than a little pathetic that somebody else loosened the top of the jelly jar and FBN thinks they’ve grown new muscles.

Obama Already Undoing The Bush Era Of Secrecy

One week ago I wrote that the Bush Era Of Secrecy May Be Coming To An End, noting that:

George W. Bush has presided over the most secrecy-obsessed administration in the history of the country.

Well, on his first full day as president, Barack Obama has issued a series of Executive Orders and Memoranda that demonstrate his commitment to an open and honest administration. The announcement by the White House reveals several new initiatives, including a pay freeze for certain members of the President’s staff, and ethics provisions that define acceptable behavior with regard to gifts and lobbying.

But the real gems in this announcement are those concerning transparency and open government. The Memorandum specifically cites the Freedom of Information Act and orders on Presidential Records as areas that need to be reformed. President Obama (wow…that’s the first time I’ve typed that) made these remarks this morning about the new direction:

“For a long time now there’s been too much secrecy in this city. The old rules said that if there was a defensible argument for not disclosing some thing to the American people, then it should not be disclosed. That era is now over. Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known.”

Under the new directives, only the President will have the authority to assert executive privilege for records after an administration ends. Under the Bush rules former presidents or their representatives had that authority. Obama went further explaining that…

“[A]ny time the American people want to know something that I or a former president wants to withhold, we will have to consult with the attorney general and the White House counsel, whose business it is to ensure compliance with the rule of law. Information will not be withheld just because I say so. It will be … withheld because a separate authority believes my request is well grounded in the Constitution.”

Bush had set up a system that only an organized crime family could love. But now, as Obama says, that era is now over. These new rules are an encouraging beginning that can be reinforced with the passage of the Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2009 (H.R. 35), by Rep. Edolphus Towns. This legislation has already passed in the House and will be considered soon in the Senate Homeland Security Committee. The bill covers some of what Obama’s Orders do, plus it explicitly overturns Bush’s Executive Order 13233 that permits withholding presidential records. Speaking about the bill, Towns said:

“President Bush’s executive order created an imbalanced and restrictive process. The Presidential Records Act preserves the important intent of the original post-Watergate law, which was to assure timely accessibility and preservation of official White House records for historical and, if necessary, legal purposes.”

The quick action by Towns and Obama suggests that this is indeed a new era. An era wherein the public can begin to trust their government again – or at least have access to the information required to ascertain whether it is trustworthy.

Update: The text of the new Executive Orders is now available on the White House web site. The EO on Presidential Records contains this provision:

Sec. 6. Revocation. Executive Order 13233 of November 1, 2001, is revoked.

I wasn’t aware that the EO was going to be that explicit. What a breath of fresh air. However, there is still a need to pass the Towns bill so that these guidelines are codified into law and a future president cannot merely issue a new EO.

Bush Era Of Secrecy May Be Coming To An End

George W. Bush has presided over the most secrecy-obsessed administration in the history of the country. More documents have been classified than at any other time. White House officials have defied court orders to disclose data, calendars, and emails. They even claimed that the vice-president was not subject to Congressional demands for information from the White House because he was not a part of the executive branch of government.

Bill Moyers, in a superb speech commemorating the 20th anniversary of the National Security Archive brilliantly articulated the urgency with which Bush pursued the suppression of public data:

“Bush and Cheney have made the Freedom of Information Act their number one target, more fervently pursued for elimination than Osama Bin Laden. No sooner had he come to office than George W. Bush set out to eviscerate both FOIA and the Presidential Records Act. He has been determined to protect his father’s secrets when the first Bush was Vice President and then President – as well as his own. Call it Bush Omerta.”

Last week some sunlight pierced the Bush-imposed darkness:

The end may finally be in sight to the seven-year battle historians and archivists have waged to overturn President Bush’s Executive Order 13233 of November 2001 that restricted access to presidential records. On January 7, 2009, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 35, the “Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2009,” by an overwhelmingly bi-partisan vote of 359-58.

The bill offered by Edolphus Towns (D-NY) has now been sent to Joe Lieberman’s Homeland Security Committee in the Senate where it is expected to be welcomed and passed. Previous versions of this legislation were held up by Senate Republicans and threatened with a Bush veto. At this time, such opposition is not given much credence as the bill could likely muster 60 votes to achieve cloture and President-elect Barack Obama appears to be supportive. While not explicitly citing Bush’s Executive Order, Obama’s ethics agenda includes this statement:

Release Presidential Records: Obama and Biden will nullify attempts to make the timely release of presidential records more difficult.

The National Coalition for History, a non-profit educational project hosted by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, has composed a detailed description of the bill’s provisions. Here is a summary:

  • Overturn Bush Executive Order 13233
  • Establish a Deadline for Review of Records
  • Limit the Authority of Former Presidents to Withhold Presidential Records
  • Require the President to Make Privilege Claims Personally
  • Eliminate Executive Privilege Claims for Vice Presidents
  • Deny Access to Anyone Convicted of a Crime Relating to the Archives

Passage of this bill would mark a profound step back from Bush’s attempts to conceal the crimes and corruption of his office. Joseph Wheelan, of George Mason University’s History News Network, expressed the very real risks of allowing the Bush Doctrine of Secrecy to endure:

“Executive Order 13233 portends a day when spin, the currency of politics, may become the province, too, of presidential history. One can envision a future when a presidential library’s watchdogs would allow only ‘safe’ historians to sift through the library’s holdings for material to cook up a bracingly whitewashed version of his subject’s actions. Objective historians, denied access to the panegyrist’s primary sources and all the juicy details, would be placed at a severe disadvantage. Which version do you think would get the seven-figure publishing advance and the lavish promotional campaign?”

Rep. Towns, and his colleagues in the House, have done a great service to the country with the passage of this bill. In a comment to the press, Towns said:

“President Bush’s executive order created an imbalanced and restrictive process. The Presidential Records Act preserves the important intent of the original post-Watergate law, which was to assure timely accessibility and preservation of official White House records for historical and, if necessary, legal purposes.”

The emphasis added at the end of that quote was mine, because of the hope it implies that justice can still be achieved, that the criminality of the outgoing administration does not go unpunished, and that their unconstitutional behavior is not set as a precedent.

I have long advocated that Executive Order 13233 be rescinded by the next Democratic president. Now Obama has the chance to do that with the added force of law behind it. I expect that he will gladly follow through, but first it has to get out of the senate and onto his desk. This would be good time to contact your senators and request that they support this bill.

Obama To Name Julius Genachowski To Chair The FCC

Remember this name: Julius Genachowski. He appears to be Barack Obama’s choice for chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. In that role he will have an opportunity to not only undue a lot of the damage done by Bush’s henchmen in the post, Michael Powell and Kevin Martin, but he can actually make progress toward a more competitive and diverse environment in the media community.

Josh Silver, executive director of the media reform group, Free Press, issued the following statement:

“Under Julius Genachowski’s leadership, the FCC’s compass would point toward the public interest. President-elect Obama has provided a clear roadmap of his media and technology priorities. We share Obama’s goals of creating a more diverse, democratic media system and providing fast, affordable, open Internet access for everyone. We greatly look forward to working with Mr. Genachowski to put the president-elect’s plan into action.

“The challenges facing the next FCC are enormous — a vast digital divide, an open Internet in jeopardy, consolidated media ownership, newsrooms in economic freefall and entrenched industries invested in maintaining the status quo. This moment calls for bold and immediate steps to spur competition, foster innovation and breathe new life into our communications sector. With his unique blend of business and governmental experience, Genachowski promises to provide the strong leadership we need.”

I thoroughly agree. It is encouraging that the FCC will finally be run by someone with the specific skills and experience to address the many challenges ahead – as opposed to the cronies who were installed solely to pursue the interests of Big Media and the friends of a corrupt White House. Kevin Martin was recently the subject of a Congressional report titled “Deception and Distrust” that cited his abuse of power in his role at the FCC.

While we must continue to monitor the actual performance of the new administration, there is a certain sense of relief that a new era is dawning, and I wish Mr. Genachowski well as assumes the leadership of a critical agency overseeing some of the most fundamental rights of American society.

Update: After Genachowski assumes the leadership of the FCC, the outgoing chair, Kevin Martin, will become a fellow at the Aspen Institute. By embracing Martin, the AI has shown that it has pretty low standards for integrity. Apparently they consider it a badge of honor to be repudiated by Congress as deceptive and untrustworthy.

Fox Business Network Sues U. S. Treasury

The U. S. Department of the Treasury is taking on friendly fire. The Fox Business Network has just announced that they are suing them to force the disclosure of information about the Wall Street bailout and how the funds are being used. FBN filed a Freedom of Information Act request last month, but the Treasury’s failure to respond has prompted this more aggressive action. In a press release, FOX News Executive Vice President, Kevin Magee, said…

“The Treasury has repeatedly ignored our requests for information on how the government is allocating money to these troubled institutions. In a critical time like this amidst mounting corruptions and an economic crisis, we as a news organization feel it’s more important than ever to hold the government accountable.”

While I have to applaud the spunk of FBN for turning on its master, there a couple of funny things in Magee’s statement:

  1. …we as a news organization…
  2. …hold the government accountable…

The first item, of course, has never been proven, and is disputed by most reputable journalism analysts. The second item raises the question as to why Fox has never before sought accountability from the Bush administration. Perhaps Magee’s revelation that accountability is now “more important than ever” was triggered by the imminent inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if they follow through and extract anything useful from government bean counters. Well, “counters” may be too generous a description for the unsupervised and reckless bean scattering that the Feds have engaged in. But it’s nice to know that Fox is on the job with muckraking broadcasts like this.

Obama Paranoia Strikes Deep

“Get ready for an unprecedented government assault upon the First Amendment. President Obama will be at the heart of it.”

These are the words that open an article in the ultra-rightist Human Events by notorious kook, Jack Thompson (more on him later). The article is another in a series of hysterical rants from conservative Chicken Littles who fear that Democratic leadership is intent on restoring the “Fairness Doctrine” which they believe will sweep their heroes (Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, etc.) from the airwaves. This despite the fact that Barack Obama himself is on record opposing its reinstatement. But that doesn’t stop Thompson from building a delusional case for how Obama has devised an insidious plot to stifle right-wingers with an even more destructive attack on free speech.

Thompson leads his argument with this frightening passage from a speech by Charles Benton of the Benton Foundation:

“[O]ur number one national communications policy priority must be the eradication of racial and gender discrimination in media and telecommunications. Our shared goal: seeing the day when all Americans possess the tools to compete in commerce, to contribute to and enjoy the fruits of democracy, to receive unbiased and uncensored news and information, to create our culture.” [Emphasis by Thompson]

The Benton Foundation is a private institution that “works to ensure that media and telecommunications serve the public interest and enhance our democracy.” As illustrated in the quote above, their mission is one that most Americans would enthusiastically support. However, Thompson tries to turn it into something scary with creative italics. His attempt would be even more ludicrous had he included the next paragraph from the speech:

“In our democratic society, we are constantly on the outlook for undue influence by the government on our communications. But we should be equally vigilant to make sure that a handful of powerful people or companies do not dominate our discourse either.”

Is this really something that Thompson thinks conservatives should recoil from? He continues by trying to demonize the concept of “localism” which calls for the FCC “to gather information from consumers, industry, civic organizations, and others on broadcasters’ service to their local communities.” If Thompson is opposed to this, one wonders from where he thinks the FCC ought to get information. Politicians? Missionaries? Astrologers? He further disparages localism by associating it with the latest conservative buzz word for bogeyman, “community organizer.” What is most perplexing is that Thompson really expects anyone to be troubled by the agendas outlined above. But, sadly, there will be plenty of troubled readers who will buy Thompson’s snake oil.

Thompson’s most disturbing argument against localism comes with a reference to one of the right’s favorite new fright-makers, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. However the connection is as fragile as Thompson’s grasp of reality. In 1967, the United Church of Christ’s Office of Communication participated, with the NAACP and residents of Jackson, MS, in a challenge to the broadcast license of WLBT. For the record, Wright was not associated with the UCC at that time – he was not even a minister. In fact, he was wrapping up his service as a Navy medical technician assigned to the team caring for President Lyndon Johnson. It was not until 1972, after returning to college and earning two masters degrees and a Doctorate of Divinity, that he became pastor of UCC’s Trinity Church.

But it is Thompson’s characterization of the WLBT challenge that is truly disgusting. He calls WLBT “a Southern station [that] was not covering the civil rights movement fairly.” The truth is somewhat more unsavory than that trivialization. The book Changing Channels – The Civil Rights Case That Transformed Television,” by Kay Mills, describes what really happened with a little more detail and accuracy. Mills wrote about the situation in an article for the National Archives:

WLBT, which had gone on the air in 1953, employed no black people, either on camera or behind the scenes, although its audience was more than 40 percent black. The station also did not cover the black community in the same depth as it covered news about the white community, and it broadcast the Sunday services of only a local white church and none from black churches. Its station manager editorialized on the air against the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi in 1962, arguing that states, not the federal government, should determine who could attend their schools and colleges.

The case against WLBT was a hard fought matter of principles that endure today. Prior to this victory, which was argued before both the FCC and federal courts, the only people who could bring these sort of challenges were those with “an economic stake in the issue or people who could claim electrical interference from broadcasters’ signals.” This case provided the first ruling that permitted citizens to take action against broadcasters who failed to serve the public interest. It was the first time that regulators were forced to listen to citizens and not just the broadcasters and corporations.

WLBT was an egregious violator of the Fairness Doctrine rules in effect at the time. Its management was overtly racist. And they repeatedly resisted efforts to be more responsive to their viewers and the community at large. The battle against WLBT produced a profound victory that was aided by historic figures like Medger Evers, Thurgood Marshall, and Warren Burger. It is this example that Thompson chose in order to whip up opposition to Obama and an expired doctrine that Obama does not support.

Thompson is so fixated on roiling the waters that he would denigrate one of the most significant events in the civil rights movement to further his ignoble ends. Therein lies the seeds of his madness. Jack Thompson is a well known nutcase. He has a long history of feuding with a variety of people and institutions. He has been a crusading critic of pornography and violence in video games, advocating what amounts to censorship. And when his nuisance suits were quashed, he whined about being discriminated against for his Christian beliefs. Eventually, he was permanently disbarred from practicing law in Florida for making false statements and attempting to humiliate, embarrass, harass or intimidate litigants and other lawyers. None of this, however, keeps Human Events from making Thompson a regular contributor.

[Update: It has just been revealed that Kevin Werbach, a co-chair of Obama’s FCC transition team is an avid gamer. This should set up an epic battle between him and anti-gamer, Thompson.]

The Culture Warriors on the right are shameless in their brazen assaults on someone who has not even taken office. Yet somehow Obama is orchestrating an end to the First Amendment. The current state of the economy is already being referred to by the Hannitized as the Obama recession. If he chooses an aide or cabinet appointee with experience, he is said to have abandoned his promise for “change.” But if he names someone new from outside the beltway, he’ll be accused of being irresponsible.

The message is clear: The Martinets of Conservatism want you to hate Barack Obama – and they want you to start NOW!