NEWS & ANALYSIS

Calls to "Rein In" the Media Latest Form of "Newspeak"


This week, politicians and academics — in lockstep as always — have directly called for an effective end to Freedom of the Press in the United States. Using the events of Jan. 6 as a scapegoat, those who seek to control the flow of information have painted the “Capitol Siege” as the deadly consequence of too much communication. Last week, the Big Tech Giants coordinated to shut down the accounts of Americans who they believed to have dangerous beliefs. 

An admitted goal of these shutdowns was to keep individuals from communicating with one another, lest they would be likely to spread and encourage unsavory ideas among one another. This week, we face legitimate calls for a government agency that would control the dissemination of information to “rein in” the media because “journalism isn’t working.”

In her now-viral Instagram Live stream Tuesday evening, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for an effort to “rein in” the media in order to combat “disinformation and misinformation.”

“There’s absolutely a commission that’s being discussed but it seems to be more investigating in style rather than truth and reconciliation,” she said.

“I do think that several members of Congress in some of my discussions have brought up media literacy because that is part of what happened here,” Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) went on.

“We’re going to have to figure out how we rein in our media environment so you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation,” she said.

“It’s one thing to have differentiating opinions, but it’s another thing entirely to just say things that are false, so that’s something that we’re looking into.”

Ocasio-Cortez suggestion of a “comission” to combat unapproved speech came the same week that Politifact founder Bill Adair and a fellow Duke University professor called for a Biden “commission” to combat “misinformation.”

In a controversial op-ed for The Hill, Adair and Philip Napoli suggested that the Biden administration immediately create a “commission to investigate the problem of misinformation” and make recommendations to government, considering “all possible solutions” including “new laws.” They specifically pointed to “President Trump’s supporters” and their media consumption as being a reason why the current state of journalism “doesn’t work.”

“In his first week in office, President-elect Biden should announce a bipartisan commission to investigate the problem of misinformation and make recommendations about how to address it. The commission should take a broad approach and consider all possible solutions: incentives, voluntary industry reforms, education, regulations and new laws. Although presidential commissions often accomplish little, there are promising signs for this one, as we explain below,” they wrote.

The pair suggested that Biden could “find a good precedent” in President Lyndon Johnson’s Kerner Commission, which held that “news organizations have failed to communicate to both their black and white audiences a sense of the problems America faces and the sources of potential solutions” surrounding the events of 1967. T

The Kerner Commission, however, focused largely on the need for inclusion of Black Americans in media,  pushed for the media to “expand coverage” of race issues, and called for the dissemination of *more* relevant information, not less.

But the professors argue our media needs a new government entity to tamp it down,  because “efforts so far haven’t worked” to control the media, saying “it’s clear the tech companies’ efforts have not come close to putting a dent in the problem.”

“Journalism isn’t working, either, because many of President Trump’s supporters seek out the messages they want,” they wrote. “They got the reality they preferred from conservative media commentators, at least until those commentators declared Trump had lost the election, when many of them sought refuge from the truth by turning to other outlets even less tethered to reality.”