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What were they thinking? | Thoughts from Behind the Pressline

Week by week we continue to see and hear more head scratching stories coming out of government. You have to wonder what the heck are they thinking when they thought this up. Even the fact that they thought they would have no push back goes a long way toward telling what our governing elected officials and bureaucrats in DC think about the state of the American public.

First we heard a few weeks ago that the  Federal Communications Commission was planning to “monitor” news coverage at not only broadcast stations, but also at print publications for which the FCC has no authority to regulate. The “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN (pronounced “sin”) involved the FCC sending staffers to question reporters, editors and producers about why they chose to run particular stories.

You don’t have to be a constitutional scholar to know that the concept runs so against the grain of the founding pillars of our nation that one would have to think Vladimir Putin was running the FCC. Many folks in and out of the media found it totally unthinkable that anyone could dream up such a concept and think it would okay in America.

Now it is true that there has been a great deal of discussion about the media not covering events fairly. Perhaps it was a logical step for the FCC to test the waters with big money at stake for many national media outlets and an ever growing media slanted toward one political side or the other. But even the most slanted of media outlets wasn’t about to have their coverage questioned by Uncle Sam.

We’ve also learned in recent weeks, the Department of Homeland Security canceled plans to build a nation-wide license plate database. The DHS  put out a bid request for a system that would have gone national, letting the federal government track millions of people’s comings and goings just as it tracks data about every phone call we make. Like the FCC scuttled plans for their proposal, the DHS database of license numbers was suddenly withdrawn last week, with the explanation that it was all just a simple mistake.

Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at dan@newmarketpressvt.com or dan@denpubs.com.

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