Who can gag the FCC?
: Now an FCC commissioner says the commission should investigate the case of Armstrong Williams to see whether laws were violated. Oh, come on. We don’t need the FCC on the case (or on any case!). Williams definitely did a no-no. So did the Department of Education. So have others. What’s the FCC going to do about that? Get airtime, if they possibly can.
: UPDATE: In the comments, Eileen points out:
From the article: “Specifically, Adelstein said the Buffalo case and Williams’ contract could be possible violations of federal telecommunication law that requires disclosure of any payment or gift for airing any material for broadcast, like a radio disc jockey being paid to play a particular recording.”
Well, by that rule, then the starlets who go on Jay Leno’s show to drop plugs for cheese are violating telecom law. Hmmmmm.
Her point is valid. Yes, I’m just sick of the FCC not paying attention to its proper business (though as their own chairman has said, when they do pay attention to something, they kill it). So yes, this is a case for the FCC Anti-Defamation League.
But I do think that this is not the real avenue for investigation. It’s not a telecommunications issue. It is an issue at the Department of Education over the proper and improper use of tax money.
If the FCC did go after Williams himself, I do think there are First Amendment issues: Does his mean that an author can’t appear on a show without a disclaimer on the screen saying she’s making money because of this? Does this mean that we have to end up with disclaimers on the screen every time a company spokesman goes on the air? It’s another game of line-line-where’s-the-line? It’s another instance, then, of the problems you get to when government tries to regulate speech. I should have said all that before. But I also confess I now enjoy sputtering about the FCC for the sheer sport of it.