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MoveOn Moves In On the First Amendment
August 16, 2004

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Looks like the lib speech reformers are at it again. They succeeded in muzzling certain groups with sham campaign finance reform. Now, evidently, we're looking at the prospect of more of our fellow citizens getting the taped mouth treatment with so-called "media reform."

Recently, went on the attack against Fox News. It petitioned the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to compel Fox to get rid of the cable network's slogan "Fair and Balanced."

MoveOn's partner in speech crime is the like-minded group Common Cause. Thankfully, so far the FTC has refused to undermine the First Amendment and accede to the lefty wishes.

MoveOn's chief media reform spokesperson Noah T. Winer talked to Marisa Hoheb of Media Life magazine and revealed the motivation behind the legal challenge against Fox News.

Winer claims that Fox is misrepresenting itself by using the phrase "Fair and Balanced" because "it's a partisan network interested in repackaging and broadcasting Republican values. It's not fair in a democratic society to present your opinion as fact."

Winer apparently isn't concerned about the presentation of opinion as fact that's pretty much standard operating procedure for a lot of the wire services, TV network news departments and metropolitan newspapers. At least Fox is forthright enough to identify its commentators as opinion makers.

When Winer whimpers that "what's happening at FNC is part of a larger trend that needs to be addressed," hold onto your First Amendment hats. He maintains that this larger trend is the "disintegration of journalism."

With the advent of talk radio, the Internet and cable news, though, I venture to say that most folks see a greater opportunity for free flow of communication than ever before, and they also recognize that there are more info-providing venues from which they can choose. If that's called "disintegration," guess we need to keep the decline going.

Winer talks in glowing terms about Robert Greenwald's piece "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism," which has recently had a theatrical release. He admits that's members contributed financially for the research. MoveOn also supplied volunteers who viewed hundreds of hours of news footage in an apparent effort to help cherry pick scenes that would be suitable for the final version of the movie.

Winer boasts that after having seen "Outfoxed," "viewers wanted to help us with the campaign. Some are now volunteering 10 hours a month to media reform."

MoveOn's petition to the FTC reads, "I believe the Federal Trade Commission and Congress must act to prevent Fox News from using the deceptive and misleading trademark 'Fair and Balanced.'"

Wonder what MoveOn thinks about the current use of the word "documentary?"

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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