Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files

By William O’Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

RALLYING THE TROOPS: A LETTER
TO BROADCASTING COLLEAGUES

August 7, 2006

Dear New York State Broadcaster:

I’ve been in touch with several lawyers, journalists, and First Amendment advocates, and we’re trying to write a joint op-ed piece about censorship and the FCC’s power to level draconian fines.

We know that community stations are vulnerable. We know that talk and sports radio is vulnerable. We know that any cutting-edge programming is vulnerable. We know that public radio is vulnerable. And so, ultimately, are our news broadcasts.

It is tempting to think this “Washington/FCC stuff” will be adjudicated in the federal courts, where the First Amendment resounds more powerfully than it does at the commission or in Congress.

But government bureaucrats, despite the acquiescence of a timid Congress, must be prevented from censuring your programming or the Voice of the People.

Please let me know your opinion during this “summer of our discontent.”

I’m reminded of that haunting passage from Pastor Martin Niemoeller, the articulate Protestant clergyman in Nazi Germany:

“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.” And then they came for us.

-41-

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