Media & Communications Policy

Media & Communications Policy

Issues & Developments in the Realm of Communications and Media Policy & the First Amendment

Category Archives: First Amendment

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Political Correctness Takes a Turn for the Worse

Posted in First Amendment, Free speech, Journalism, Media criticism
It’s widely understood that “political correctness” can be employed as a speech-killing device.   But it’s only been in recent times that we’ve been able to witness the full range of its lethality. From colleges and universities like Fordham, Brown, and Brandeis have come recent, ugly demonstrations of intolerance, based on PC–themed arguments, which have yielded … Continue Reading

Five Myths About the Federal Shield Law

Posted in First Amendment, Free speech, Journalism
By guest blogger KURT WIMMER, ESQ., partner at Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, D.C., and chairman of The Media Institute’s First Amendment Advisory Council. Free speech is the oxygen of the blogosphere.  Blogs, tweets and Facebook posts couldn’t have the profound influence they have rightfully earned in our new and diverse marketplace of ideas … Continue Reading

Fordham’s Take on Freedom of Speech

Posted in First Amendment, Free speech
An important piece in the Wall Street Journal, profiling the president of a student free-speech group called the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, spotlights the challenges facing free speech on the nation’s college campuses. A recent incident at Fordham University, mentioned in the article, provides a good example.  There, the university’s College Republicans invited … Continue Reading

Free Speech and That YouTube Video

Posted in First Amendment, Free speech
In an age when, for many, political correctness (not to mention political opportunism) trumps free speech, one should be wary of assertions that specific kinds of speech have precipitated criminal conduct. We saw false claims like this in the case of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), when such as the New York Times’ … Continue Reading

Defending the First Amendment in the 21st Century

Posted in FCC, First Amendment, Free speech
By guest blogger HAROLD FURCHTGOTT-ROTH, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission. On September 11 and the following days, violent mobs attacked Americans and American property in Cairo, Benghazi, and cities throughout the Middle East.  Americans were murdered.  Embassies were ransacked.  Americans in the region, and even … Continue Reading

Chick-fil-A and City Officials: A Whole Lotta Clucking Goin’ On

Posted in Campaign Finance, First Amendment, Free speech
Ah, political correctness. It never disappoints.  Take, for instance, the latest eruption of civic broadmindedness brought on when the president of the restaurant chain Chick-fil-A professed his personal embrace, based on his religious views, of traditional marriage. Outraged by the effrontery, the mayor of Boston and a Chicago alderman (Messrs. Menino and Moreno, respectively) immediately … Continue Reading

Google and the First Amendment

Posted in Digital technology, First Amendment, Media Regulation
By guest blogger KURT WIMMER, ESQ., partner at Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, D.C., and chairman of The Media Institute’s First Amendment Advisory Council. I just had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion at an American Antitrust Institute conference.  My panel included such luminaries as Eli Noam of Columbia, Gene Kimmelman of … Continue Reading

DOL Reportedly Postponing New ‘Lock-up’ Policy

Posted in Digital technology, First Amendment, Journalism
Published reports suggest that the Department of Labor is poised to delay implementation of a policy announced in April that would require reporters working in the DOL’s “lock-up” room to use government computers and transmission lines when writing stories about DOL reports and data as they’re released.  The proposed policy caused a flurry of criticism … Continue Reading

The Truth Behind Google’s Copyright-Bills Hysteria

Posted in Copyright, Digital technology, FCC, First Amendment, Media Legislation, New Media
Though the final chapter in the legislative history of the copyright bills hasn’t yet been written, a couple things are obvious even now: The tech industry has demonstrated great political clout through the mobilization of its users and fan base; and the industry lobby, led by Google, will say and do pretty much anything to … Continue Reading

A Court Strangely Conflicted About Indecency

Posted in Broadcast Indecency, Content Controls, FCC, First Amendment, Free speech, Media jurisprudence
By guest blogger LAURENCE H. WINER, professor of law, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz. "You taught me language, and my profit on't is I know how to curse." - Caliban in The Tempest Here's a question the late language maven, William Safire, might have pondered listening to the recent Supreme Court oral argument in the Fox and ABC broadcast indecency cases. What is truly "indecent" in the normative, Webster's Third sense of the word as "not conforming to generally accepted standards of morality"… Continue Reading

Rationalizing Theft: The Technology Lobby’s Attack on Copyright Legislation

Posted in Copyright, Digital technology, FCC, First Amendment, Network Neutrality
The technology crowd’s objections to the copyright protection bills, now moving their way through Congress, put one in mind of H.L. Mencken’s crack that criticism is prejudice made plausible.  This, because that industry’s leaders, scribes, and think tanks uniformly oppose every legislative initiative aimed at protecting copyrighted content, even as they frequently give lip service … Continue Reading

Hank Williams Jr.

Posted in First Amendment, Free speech
Even the most basic facts are in dispute.  Was Hank Williams Jr. fired by ESPN or did he quit?  Was Williams’ comment (Obama playing golf with Boehner like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu) a comparison of Obama to Hitler, or was it an analogy of the irony in meetings between enemies?  And if it was … Continue Reading

Dodging a Bullet: The FCC’s Report on the Future of the Media

Posted in FCC, First Amendment, Journalism, Public Interest Standard
Seventeen months ago the FCC teed up what until last Thursday was known as the “Future of Media” project.  For all practical purposes the project’s report, now called “The Information Needs of Communities,” is likely to be forgotten in half that time. On the face of it this sounds like a criticism.  Far from it! … Continue Reading

Idealists on the March

Posted in Campaign Finance, Commercial Speech, First Amendment, Media Legislation
In yet another demonstration that the human race is not yet won, Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.), no stranger to political funding controversies himself, will soon be headlining what its organizers call the "Rally Against Citizens United." Subtitled the "Campaign To End Corporate Dominance of Our Democracy," the rally is cosponsored by Washington-area Democratic party groups, … Continue Reading

Juan Williams and NPR

Posted in First Amendment, Free speech
OK, so right off the bat let’s deal with what NPR’s firing of Juan Williams is, and what it is not.  It is a free speech issue, but it is not a First Amendment issue.  This is an important distinction because while many First Amendment issues involve freedom of speech, and many free speech issues … Continue Reading

Free Speech: It’s Catching On

Posted in First Amendment, Free speech
This week, Oct. 18 to 24, is National Freedom of Speech Week (NFSW).  The Media Institute created NFSW in 2005 in cooperation with the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation as a chance for groups and individuals to celebrate the free speech and press that we enjoy thanks to the First Amendment, which protects most … Continue Reading