Dem Strategist Sheinkopf: FCC Plan to Judge Newsrooms 'Chilling'

Monday, 24 Feb 2014 09:50 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The controversial FCC plan to study how newsrooms report the news and then potentially demand changes is "very, very chilling," says Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf.

The Federal Communications Commission had said it shelved the survey of how TV and print editors choose which stories to cover soon after Ajit Pai, an FCC commissioner, blew the whistle on the idea.

But Pai told Newsmax TV’s "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Monday that the program has not been canceled, only suspended, which alarmed both Sheinkopf and Fox News regular contributor Christopher Hahn.

"People ought to be allowed to view whatever they want, listen to whatever they want, see whatever they want, hear whatever they want, and the government has absolutely no business determining what is news content under any circumstances and what is fair and balanced," Sheinkopf told Malzberg.

"The fairness doctrine is a different issue. That's about getting particular points of view during political campaigns espoused. That's one thing. But the government going into newsrooms and saying, by the way, guys, do it my way, is very, very chilling, and particularly for those who hold broadcasting licenses, which are very important things to hold onto, this is very, very serious. Very serious."

Story continues below video.

During a panel discussion with Malzberg, Hahn backed Sheinkopf up, declaring, "I don't want the government telling people what we should be listening to in the news either."

But Hahn acknowledged that TV viewers are no longer getting the news but instead are being told "what they want to hear." 

"So, we have to have a serious conversation in this country about what we're going to do with our public airwaves. Is there going to be real news, is there going to be a public benefit in the news, because right now I don't think that's what's going on," Hahn said.

"There used to be a time in America where newsrooms actually reported on the news that people should be hearing . . . and it's getting less and less, and something's got to be done. I don't know if the government can do anything to stop that. We as a people need to figure something out because I just don't think we're getting news anymore."

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