“Zampolits,” for the benefit of any of my readers who were born after 1980 or so, was the Old Soviet word for “political officers:” essentially, uniformed Party stooges sent over to keep the military in line and not doing anything counter-revolutionary, like notice that Communists can’t run a country to save their peasants’ lives. The word would have had a connotation of “cockroaches,” except that nobody in their right mind would have antagonized somebody like that by showing their disdain too openly, or indeed at all. Even in the relatively enlightened glasnost era such behavior could lead to a wrecked career.
So. About the FCC and their little “assessment” brainstorm…
A proposed government study of how media organizations gather news has incited a powerful backlash, particularly among conservatives, who said that it could be part of an official effort to intimidate or second-guess journalists.
Faced with an outcry, the Federal Communications Commission’s chairman said Thursday that he would amend the effort — intended to assess whether the news media were meeting the public’s “critical information needs” — by removing questions that critics had deemed invasive.
Let me save the FCC some time: they’re all invasive questions, and there’s pretty much no reason why the government should be analyzing how the news media produces stories in the first place. Let me repeat that, as a member of a political group that notoriously gets the short end of the stick when it comes to media coverage: THERE IS NO REASON WHY THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE ANALYZING HOW THE NEWS MEDIA PRODUCES STORIES IN THE FIRST PLACE. When you have a Republican commissioner on the FCC* saying, point-blank that this will lead to the government “pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories” you need to take that seriously.
And for the benefit of any Democrat reading this: set this precedent, and it will still be around when a Republican becomes President**. Who has more to lose, really? Spoiler warning: not the Right.
*If you had any doubts as to how important the FCC is, these days, the fact that the two parties have agreed to divvy up the commissioners’ seats between them should end those doubts.
**We will now pause for the obligatory cries of Not until Doomsday will such an event occur.