Whether you are Daily Kos (liberal), Glenn Reynolds (libertarian), PowerLine (conservative), or little old Bunker Mulligan (call me what you will), this should concern you.
There have been constant attacks on Americans in general and media in particular by the Federal Government almost from day one of this nation. Politicians do not like unfettered opinion. The Federal bureaucracy likes it even less. And every one of us in the blogosphere is in danger of the Federal Government acting in violation of its own mandate. It has done so many times in the past, and will continue to do so as long as it feels it can.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
In the last few years, the UN and other internationalists have attempted to take control of the internet. Now, our own Federal Election Commission wants to do the same. None of these people want folks like us to voice our opinions. Neither do those in traditional media, and right now that group are probably huddling to see how they can press this issue to limit blogs while leaving themselves free of those limitations. The first attempt is to lay claim to the “free press” phrase of the Amendment and ignore the “free speech” portion.
Consider for a moment the influence of the blogosphere. The three blogs I mentioned at the outset receive more than a million hits each day–each. There are very few newspapers in this country that have that kind of circulation. And there are even fewer television news organizations with that kind of viewership. Those three sites and the longer tail of our smaller ones have had a significant impact on the national discourse in the last few years. Trent Lott felt it. John Kerry felt it. Dan Rather felt it. None liked it. John McCain lives in fear that some of his skeletons will be dragged out of the closet when he decides to run in 2008. So do many others.
The folks at the FEC have no fear of that. They simply want control–as do all bureaucrats. It matters not whether they are Democrats or Republicans. Control. Cloakroom deals. Standard fare.
When bloggers write about any politician or governmental act, they are offering up their opinion and trying to make sense of what it all means. Some try to influence things, others simply blow off steam. Still more want to point out something that has been left out by MSM. Such was the case with the three instances I mentioned above. We in the blogosphere do not replace traditional media; We augment it by providing background information and delivering a story MSM didn’t feel it had time to or didn’t want. Some in government and media don’t like that. We have no “journalistic credentials".
The FEC is currently looking at coordinated activity on the internet between campaigns and blogs or forums. That sounds innocent enough, but who can say where it will lead? What do they mean by coordination? Can I retain a link on my site to the campaign web site for a candidate? If I receive emails from Kinky Friedman’s campaign and post that information on my site, have I violated the FEC regulations? If so, who gave them the authority to overrule my Constitutional rights?
This bears watching. Politicians and bureaucrats, whether American or international, see the internet as a threat to their personal survival. One place you can check on a regular basis is The First Amendment Center
Ed Morrissey has already tried to contact both senators on this issue, but his emails bounced back. Let’s all join Ed and notify your own senators.