The Daily Stern

The Daily Stern

: THE DANGER OF GOVERNMENT MEDDLING: It’s dangerous on so many levels when the government starts meddling in content.

After Sinclair Broadcast decided not to air the Nightline on which Ted Koppel recited the names of the American dead in Iraq, a senator asked the FCC to investigate:

Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., called on federal regulators Friday to investigate whether one of the nation’s largest owners of television stations, Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., unfairly denied the public access to ABC’s “Nightline” program….

In a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell — son of Secretary of State Colin Powell — Dayton said Sinclair’s action “highlights the growing danger of media consolidation in this country.”

Dayton said it concerns him that a single company can use its public airspace to prevent eight major U.S. markets from seeing politically controversial programming.

Many have criticized Sinclair for what it did. I didn’t like Koppel’s political act but I also criticized Sinclair, saying the right thing to do would have been to air Nightline along with a counterweight statement from Sinclair, giving us in the electorate/audience the opportunity to judge for ourselves. The market will decide whether to side with Nightline or Sinclair.

The government — FCC or Congress — should not be meddling in what content is aired on news programming — one way or another.

But once the line is crossed, once government — FCC and Congress — decide they can regulate F words or farts, it’s a small step to regulating political speech. And that is obviously dangerous to any citizen with sense… except this senator.