Monday, April 18, 2011

Should the US create a Ministry of Truth?

Ms. Lane Wallace, a columnist at The Atlantic, proposes that the FCC adopt a requirement, similar to Canada's, that broadcasters shall not broadcast "false or misleading news." She writes:
Honesty seems like such a no-brainer of a requirement. . . . .

Think about it. We prohibit people from lying in court, because the consequences of those lies are serious. That's a form of censorship of free speech, but one we accept quite willingly. And while the consequences of what we hear on television and radio are not as instantly severe as in a court case, one could argue that the damage widely-disseminated false information does to the goal of a well-informed public and a working, thriving democracy is significant, as well. . . . .

It's odd, really, that the idea of requiring news broadcasters to be fundamentally honest about the information they project across the nation and into our homes sounds radical.
By Ms. Wallace's standard, would Pres. Obama be prohibited from speaking on TV? After all, the Wall Street Journal termed his budget speech the most "dishonest" in decades while Charles Krauthammer called it "intellectually dishonest." At the Washington Post, Marc Theissen similarly called Obama's Libya speech "fundamentally dishonest." Can we all agree that, under Ms. Wallace's proposed broadcast standards, Pres. Obama would be banned from the airwaves?

Not likely. "Truth" isn't that easily agreed upon.

Ms. Wallace's vision requires some government agency to determine what is "truth" and then outlaw broadcast of anything disagreeing with its vision. That would be an Orwellian nightmare. I can only hope that the Obama administration isn't reading her column.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

PREVIOUSLY on the liberal opposition to free speech:
Justice Breyer looking to overturn the First Amendment
Obama administration: free speech does not include the right to criticize Obamacare
Obama sells out free speech
Physicians' group to sue Obama administration over suppression of dissent
Canada's liberals oppose free speech
Free speech and its enemies
University upset at free speech
The Right of Free Speech, Selectively Applied
Tolerating free speech, IV
Tolerating free speech, III
More on tolerating free speech
Those who cannot tolerate free speech

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