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Mark Lloyd: The Next Obama Czar to Fall?

By    |   Friday, 11 September 2009 01:16 PM

Embattled FCC "diversity czar" Mark Lloyd, who praised strongman Hugo Chavez for his "incredible" attainment of a "democratic revolution" in Venezuela, was handpicked for his tailor-made job by the same top Obama adviser who played a similar role in the elevation of former "green-jobs czar" Van Jones, according to media reports.

Jones resigned Saturday after several inflammatory statements and the disclosure of his involvement in the "9/11 truther" movement, which contends the Bush administration was somehow complicit in the 9/11 terror attacks.

The American Spectator's Washington Prowler blog reports that "several White House sources" are confirming Jones was appointed over the objections of the White House Counsel's Office, which found "inconsistencies" in Jones' application materials.

Valerie Jarrett, one of President Obama's closest friends and advisers, reportedly played a key role in supporting the appointments of both Jones and Lloyd.

Lloyd, a former network broadcaster and communications attorney, is now taking serious fire for the radical stances he took prior to his appointment to the FCC. President Obama's heavy reliance on special advisers or "czars" to help him steer the federal bureaucracy has been widely criticized as extra-constitutional by Republicans and some Democrats.

"The same problems that they created with Jones' hiring are there for others and they don't seem to care about the political damage these people may inflict," a former Obama transition-team member told The Prowler.

Sources tell Newsmax that Lloyd's job title was specially created for him. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced Lloyd's appointment to the newly created position of associate general counsel and chief diversity officer of the FCC on July 29.

"One of the reasons they held off on nominating confirmable positions at agencies like the FCC was so the White House could look at the structure of those agencies, and where they could create jobs more in line with the president's thinking.

"So they create a post like diversity chief, and then we have a blueprint for the nominated chairs of staff directors to follow. That's how we got Mark Lloyd," the former Obama transition staffer told The Prowler.

Since his appointment, Lloyd has been a lightning rod for criticism from conservatives worried that, based on his past statements and writings, Lloyd will use "diversity" as a back door method of imposing Fairness Doctrine-style regulations aimed at muzzling conservative broadcasters.

One striking characteristic of Lloyd's writings is that he appears to be an avowed opponent of big corporate ownership of the news media.

In a July 2007 essay titled "Forget the Fairness Doctrine," Lloyd wrote of "the failure of the supposed 'free market' regulation of the U.S. radio industry to address the public-interest needs of listeners. Our analysis revealed that conservative talk radio dominates the airwaves of our country — to the detriment of informed public discourse and the First Amendment."

He wrote: "We trace the rise and influence of Rush and other conservative radio hosts to relaxed ownership rules and other pro-big business regulation that destroyed localism," adding "We call for ownership rules that we think will create greater local diversity of programming, news, and commentary. And we call for more localism by putting teeth into the licensing rules. But we do not call for a return to the Fairness Doctrine."

Conservatives see the requirements as a back-door method of squelching conservative talk radio. In February, the U.S. Senate, by an overwhelming 87 to 11 vote, passed a measure sponsored by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., that would block any attempt to reinstitute a Fairness Doctrine. White House spokesman Ben LaBolt has said Obama also opposes reviving the Fairness Doctrine, the goal of which was to balance the expression of diverse points of view, but had the practical effect of muzzling political talk shows altogether.

Defenders of free airwaves remain concerned however, in part because the Senate also passed an amendment authored by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., that orders the FCC to "take actions to encourage and promote diversity in communication media ownership."

DeMint charges that directive "seeks to achieve the same goals of the Fairness Doctrine through backdoor FCC regulations."

It was the president's appointment of a special FCC adviser who blames conservative talkers for distorting the nation's political dialog that created the talk-show furor.

Lloyd's has made controversial statements regarding Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as well —stating that he finds aspects of Chavez's consolidation of power in Venezuela admirable. As a panelist at last year's National Conference for Media Reform, Lloyd remarked that Chavez engineered "really an incredible revolution, a Democratic revolution, to begin to put in place saying that we're going to have impact on the people of Venezuela."

In August, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, shot off a letter to the FCC's Genachowski voicing his concerns about Lloyd's views.

“Taken together, these statements represent a view that the FCC needs to expand its regulatory arm further into the commercial radio market,” the Grassley letter stated. “I am concerned that despite his statements that the Fairness Doctrine is unnecessary, Mr. Lloyd supports a backdoor method of furthering the goals of the Fairness Doctrine by other means.”

The apparently laudatory statements about Chavez have drawn sharp criticism, in part because Chavez has imposed a broad government crackdown on any media outlets that dared to exercise their independence.

In July, for example, The New York Times reported that the Chavez regime was revoking the broadcast licenses of over 200 radio stations and imposing stringent new regulations on cable outlets in Venezuela.

"With all due respect," former Bush administration senior adviser Karl Rove told Fox News host Glenn Beck, "[Lloyd] is a complete lunatic if he believes Venezuela is the model that we ought to be following. Does Barack Obama understand this? . . . Why isn't somebody standing up in the White House briefing room and saying, With all due respect . . . does the president believe that Venezuela is the model that we ought to achieve in American media?!"

Lloyd's dim view of how corporate news-media ownership influences political dialog is evident in his 2006 book “Prologue to a Farce: Communication and Democracy”:

  • Private news-media organizations are destroying American democracy because they do not equally and adequately inform the public. "The ongoing American experiment in democracy is failing," he writes. "And it is failing because we have allowed our public sphere to be dominated by the interest [James] Madison called merchants" (page 11).

  • Wars and elections are used to increase the profits of media corporations. Lloyd writes: "The news media in America most people rely upon, whether newspaper or television, is first and foremost a space for advertisements. After every war and every election the barons of mass media express a befuddled guilt about the superficiality of their reporting and they promise to do better. But they fail to tell the public about their increased profits. The fire of cannon in the night sky, the loss of human lives, the campaign rally, and the final vote count are simply spectacles to bring audiences in the tent to hear the latest pitch for a rejuvenating shampoo" (page 14).

  • Lloyd describes as an "outdated canard" Thomas Jefferson's famous quotation "That government is best which governs least" (page 14).

  • He hails government as "the only mechanism that can help us improve our society" (page 15).

  • He states that allowing private companies to operate telegraph systems in the 19th century represented a "government abdication of a responsibility," adding, "The most powerful communications tool was deliberately placed in the hands of one faction in our republic: commercial industry . . . The failure of market-driven journalism and the failure of democratic politics are both related to the structural fault created by this and subsequent political decisions — decisions deep within the American system, asleep under the rubble of history" (page 15).

    Lloyd, served as an adjunct professor of public Policy at Georgetown University, and taught communication policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from the fall of 2002 to the summer of 2004. He then became a senior fellow for the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress, which is directed by John Podesta, who was chief of staff for former President Bill Clinton. Lloyd also served as the vice president for strategic initiatives for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (CivilRights.org). He has cited radical organizer and author Saul Alinsky as one source of "inspiration."

    Among Lloyd's other remarks that have drawn criticism, particularly from conservatives:

  • In a 2007 article written for the Center for American Progress titled “Media Maneuvers: Why the Rush to Waive Cross-Ownership Bans,” Lloyd urged progressives to adopt the anti-media tactics FDR adopted to quell criticism of his Depression-era, New Deal policies. This included using the Justice Department to file legal actions against media moguls on anti-trust grounds. “He understood not only how to use media effectively," Lloyd wrote of FDR, "but also the importance of media ownership and the rules that determined media ownership.”

  • In his July 2007 article "Forget the Fairness Doctrine," Lloyd voiced support for Fairness Doctrine provisions and wrote: "The other part of our proposal that gets the dittoheads upset is our suggestion that the commercial radio station owners either play by the rules or pay. In other words, if they don't want to be subject to local criticism of how they are meeting their license obligations, they should pay to support public broadcasters who will operate on behalf of the local community. Commercial broadcasters want to be trustees of public property but without responsibility."

  • In June 2007, Lloyd co-authored a Center for American Progress report on "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio" that reported 91 percent of the talk radio programming on 257 stations owned by the five largest companies was conservative, compares to 9 percent that was progressive. The report stated: "The disparities between conservative and progressive programming reflect the absence of localism in American radio markets. This shortfall results from the consolidation of ownership in radio stations and the corresponding dominance of syndicated programming operating in economies of scale that do not match the local needs of all communities."

  • In 1998, in an essay he wrote for the Leadership Conference of Civil Rights, Lloyd blamed former President Reagan's policies for hurting the cause of civil rights, stating "great progress made by the civil rights communities in the communications policy arena has been rolled back." He blamed the "Reagan-dominated FCC."

    Media Research Center Director of Communications Seton Motley, a contributing editor at Newsbusters.org, has been leading the conservative charge, along with Fox News' Beck, to impugn Lloyd. Motley says revelations about the views of Jones and Lloyd are changing the way voters perceive Obama.

    "What Americans are coming to realize is that Barack Obama comes across as a very reasonable guy. And yet somehow he keeps choosing very unreasonable people to serve in these unaccountable positions . . . At some point perhaps the average Joe will realize, Perhaps Barack Obama isn't as reasonable as he seems."

    And while Lloyd has been less ostentatious than Jones, who relished rallying the liberal base with his firebrand speeches, Motley believe Lloyd may ultimately meet the same fate politically.

    "I think if you build enough of a case you can make him go," Motley tells Newsmax. "We've exposed some of it, and we've found more that we need to flesh out before we go public with it."

    Motley adds: "It's communism in the communications field, it's state ownership of the means of production . . . you're producing on-air content, and he wants the state to do that. He's a frightening dude."

    Trevor Loudon, the conservative blogger from New Zealand widely credited as the first to expose Van Jones' radical past, tells Newsmax that Lloyd has been "seriously damaged" by revelations of his pro-Chavez views.

    Loudon predicts the Obama administration will react aggressively against further revelations on the "czars," because the more they're exposed the more Obama's true ideological leanings become evident.

    “I think Marc Lloyd has to be the No. 1 research target of all Obama’s dwindling Czar supply," Loudon says. "This last week has graphically illustrated the power of the net and alternative media. The message will not be lost on Obama, Axelrod, et al. They know how vulnerable they are, and will be even more urgently looking for ways to silence their rapidly growing opposition.”

    Lloyd and the FCC did not respond to a Newsmax request for clarification of Lloyd's remarks.

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    Embattled FCC "diversity czar" Mark Lloyd, who praised strongman Hugo Chavez for his "incredible" attainment of a "democratic revolution" in Venezuela, was handpicked for his tailor-made job by the same top Obama adviser who played a similar role in the elevation of former...
    Friday, 11 September 2009 01:16 PM
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