Whistleblower: FCC Spikes Own Study After It Doesn’t Match Ideology

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


The Federal Communications Commission was accused today by a whistleblower of discontinuing and concealing a study that showed locally owned TV stations broadcast more local news because the data conflicted with its agenda of media consolidation. Reported today in the Los Angeles Times, the accusation by former FCC attorney Adam Candeub provides some of the strongest evidence to-date that the Bush FCC has become a pawn of big media companies.

“The initial results (of the study) were very compelling, and it was just stopped in its tracks because it was not the way the agency wanted to go,” Candeub told the Times. “The order did come down from somewhere in the senior management of the media bureau that this study had to end … and they wanted all the copies collected.”

Media conglomerates have in the past disputed that their news coverage is inferior to that provided by independently owned outlets.

The year the FCC spiked the study, the agency was run by Michael K. Powell, son of former Secretary of State Colin Powell and an infamous skeptic of all things regulatory.”Losing Signal,” a 2001 Mother Jones article by Brendan Koerner, provides ample background on how the FCC under Powell could have become sufficiently ideological to ignore its own research. Koerner reports, for example, that Powell gave a speech on the future of communications in which he declared with almost religious certitude: “The oppressor here is regulation.”

Koerner went on to write:

On these and other far-reaching questions, the agency’s positions are shaping up to be virtually identical to the ones being drawn up in corporate boardrooms. In April, during a panel discussion conducted by the American Bar Association, Powell dismissed the FCC’s historic mandate to evaluate corporate actions based on the public interest. That standard, he said, “is about as empty a vessel as you can accord a regulatory agency.” In other comments, Powell has signaled what kind of philosophy he prefers to the outdated concept of public interest: During his first visit to Capitol Hill as chairman, Powell referred to corporations simply as “our clients.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate