Czar wants parallel government broadcasting system

President Obama's diversity Czar at the Federal Communications Commission proposes adding a vast public broadcasting system to the growing list of Obama's parallel institutions.

Mark Lloyd has attracted attention for his controversial statements. Most notably, he praised Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez for leading a democratic revolution.

In Prologue to a Farce: Communication and Democracy in America, Lloyd proposes what would become a huge federal broadcasting system and yet another Obama parallel institution. It would join the "civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded" as the U.S. military that candidate Obama proposed, and the cadre of Czar advisors that parallels the Cabinet Secretaries.

To that list could be added government control over two of the three U.S. auto companies, significant influence in several large banks, a monopoly in the mortgage and student loan financial markets, and the proposed control of the nation's healthcare system.

If, as predicted elsewhere in the American Thinker, Obama's next big push is to mute his most successful critics in the media, Mark Lloyd would be a leading character in that effort. And, while an initial FCC move to fully implement what Lloyd proposes is unlikely, a scaled-down version could be on the horizon. If so, it will be the camel's-nose-under-the-tent.     

Here's an overview of what Lloyd proposes, and his arguments on its behalf.

In his book, Lloyd begins with words that James Madison wrote in the context of advocating a national postal service.

"A popular Government, without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." (p. 11)

From Madison's words, Lloyd leaps to the claim that the "American experiment in democracy is failing...because we have allowed our public sphere [of information dissemination] to be dominated by the interest Madison called merchants." (bolding added)

Lloyd extrapolates a case for a parallel government-sponsored communications network -- think of PBS on steroids -- based on Madison's support for a national postal service. The fatal flaw in Lloyd's revisionist history logic is that the post office was, and still is, a channel for information, not an arbiter of the content of what gets communicated -- except in cases of illegal activity like mail fraud. Lloyd imagines, because it never existed in reality, an early federal government that embraced "the responsibility to ensure the communications capability of all." (p.22)   

As for his definition of the "public sphere," Lloyd borrows "strongly" from Regulatory Czar Cass Sunstein's argument that Madison believed that the American republic "put a premium on broad, reasoned discussion among political equals." (p. 12)  So Obama's FCC Diversity Czar is playing off of the Regulatory Czar. A case of Czar inbreeding.

In an argument that we'll likely hear if Lloyd's proposal is promoted by the Obama administration, he states,

"The abdication of a government duty to provide for the diverse political communications between citizens has allowed our democracy, our republican mechanisms of deliberation, to wither under the dominance of one faction...To allow large corporations, one faction of our nation, to dominate the creation and dissemination of what we call news, however, destroys the careful balance struck by the founders between a variety of competing factions...Corporate liberty has overwhelmed citizen equality." (p. 17)

Lloyd preemptively offers a rebuttal to those who will claim that the increasing array of communication outlets, principally the internet, have broadened the freedom of speech.

"[A]s communications technologies become even more important to democratic participation, the government's inherent responsibility to protect and advanced democratic engagement is increased." (p. 20)

The bulk of Lloyd's book traces the evolution of communication technologies from the telegraph to the internet. In each episode of technological advancement, the federal government, by his analysis, failed to balance private interests, held by corporations, with public interests. Consequently, "U.S. communications policy has failed our democracy." (p. 167) And, as a result of this failure, "our present lived democracy does not reflect the core tenets of the republic established by the founders." (p. 229), and is, therefore, "the farce Madison feared" (p. 282).

So what does Lloyd propose?

"We must build a confrontational movement to reclaim our democracy, a movement committed to active and sustained protest against the present order." (p. 269) 

As examples of the "confrontational movement" required for reclaiming "our democracy," he cites "the civil rights movement, Saul Alinsky, and the campaign to prevent the Supreme Court nomination of the ultra-conservative jurist Robert Bork." (p. 271)

As a "general outline of a plan," Lloyd proposes, among other things,

"Federal and regional broadcast operations and local stations should be funded at levels commensurate with or above those spending level at which commercial operations are funded. This funding should come from license fees charged to commercial broadcasters. Funding should not come from congressional appropriations. Sponsorship should be prohibited at all public broadcasters." (p. 278)

And, in a specific suggestion that reveals the political agenda behind Lloyd's proposal,

"The current wrangling over what to do about the future security of the social security system might be informed by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) working in conjunction with community senior centers." (p. 279)

If the intent of Lloyd's plan for a new federal communication's policy isn't transparent yet, here's another look behind the curtain:

"The goal is only to allow citizens and community groups the same ability as major corporations or government to communicate their messages and concerns across those electronic media platforms that have become our new public sphere.  The above proposal to support an independent public broadcasting system could also support the work of direct service groups by allowing them to produce and distribute over pubic broadcasting and cable access operations education programs and public service announcement." (pp. 280-281)

Imagine Lloyd's media utopia: ACORN daily programming is funded by fees on commercial networks. Community organizers and their organizations have ready access to the airways, funded by tolls levied against the capitalist broadcasters who must make a profit to operate, as well as fund their public network competitors. Citizen activists for political equality are allocated broadcast bands to promote their doctrines and philosophies. Imagine Breaking News from the civilian national security force (CNSF) channel. All this, and more, in order to enlighten the "equal citizen deliberation" required to authenticate that America is a legitimate democracy.

So, yet another parallel institution may be coming at us from the Obama administration, this time from the FCC. If so, as with the others, its ulterior motive will be to weaken the established institution it parallels.   
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