FCC Study Sticks out like Soros Thumb
The FCC's newsroom crackdown may have come as a surprise to other Americans -- but not George Soros. The Left's media financier may have had more to do with the controversial study than even the Federal Communication Commission initially realized. While conservatives and broadcasters celebrated the announcement that the FCC was throwing in the towel on its pilot program to let the government monitor newsroom content, the story took an interesting twist.
CNSNews.com and Byron York stumbled on some interesting connections between the universities that devised the unpopular criteria. Both schools had raked in more than $1.8 million from Soros's Open Society Foundations since 2000. Even faculty members had ties with the Left's puppet master, some of whom even wrote for "university publications allied with Soros networks." On the study in question, the collaboration dated back to 2012. Ajit Pai, one of the FCC's five commissioners, was just as surprised by the agency's proposal as anyone. In his interview on "Washington Watch," he explained that the government's latest power grab was never even put to an FCC vote.
Meanwhile, it seems that George Soros, who would like nothing better than the government breathing down newsmakers' necks, was getting quite a return on his investment. Unfortunately for Soros, his scheme to censor the mainstream media collapsed on Friday. Pai, who created the firestorm of opposition, was relieved at the development. In a statement, he cheered the FCC's response. "I welcome today's announcement that the FCC has suspended its 'Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,' or CIN study," he said. "This study would have thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country, somewhere it just doesn't belong. The Commission has now recognized that no study by the federal government, now or in the future, should involve asking questions to media owners, news directors, or reporters about their practices. This is an important victory for the First Amendment. And it would not have been possible without the American people making their voices heard. I will remain vigilant that any future initiatives not infringe on our constitutional freedoms."
Razing Arizona: Left Takes Aim at First Freedom
Work isn't a "faith-free zone" -- but try telling that to Arizona liberals. There, the Left's propaganda machine is in full force, cranking out one distortion after the next in what should be a non-controversial debate over religious liberty. The hysteria started late last week, when the state's legislature gave the green light to a bill that protects business owners and other for-profit entities from being forced to provide a service that violates their beliefs. Like other states, Arizona was desperately looking for a way to shield companies like Hobby Lobby or Elane Photography who were ordered to surrender their personal convictions as a "price of citizenship."
And while liberals try to paint the bill as "controversial," the reality is that Arizona's measure only strengthens the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) already on the state's books. Unfortunately, the Left is looking at the bill through the skewed lens of same-sex "marriage," instead of the many ways it could be applied to shield Americans of all faiths from religious censorship or coercion. They claim the measure would be used to deny homosexuals service of any kind -- which is a selective reading meant to scare people into opposing a reasonable bill.
In reality, SB 1026 would level the playing field for private business owners, whose religious liberty has taken a backseat to the radical agendas of same-sex "marriage" and abortion coverage in recent months. Like most Americans, the Arizona legislature watched in horror when Christian bakers lost their shops over same-sex "weddings," florists were hauled in front of human rights commissions, and Catholic nuns were forced to sue the government for the right not to cover contraception. In a subtle but devastating shift, the burden has shifted to business owners to prove they aren't guilty of discrimination -- when in fact, they're just exercising their religious rights. (The same religious rights which, not-so-coincidentally, our nation was founded on.) We've watched the courts declare that people's sincerely-held religious beliefs don't permit them to run their privately-owned businesses accordingly.
Arizona leaders understand, as we do, that Americans shouldn't have to leave their faith at home. Despite what the Left would have you believe, there's no footnote in the Constitution exempting businessmen and women from their First Amendment rights. But in the brave new world of political correctness, too many liberals have graduated from the Chai Feldblum school of activism. Feldblum, the President's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission head famously said she "had a hard time coming up with any case in which religious freedom should win" in a clash with sexual liberty. But real equality -- the kind the Left insists it wants -- demands that everyone, not just a vocal few, have the ability to live and work according to their conscience. If you're against the Arizona bill, then you're really against First Amendment rights.
Arizonans will find out in the next day or two which side Governor Jan Brewer (R) is on. The state's leader has until Friday to decide if Arizona will push back on the oppression of religious liberty -- or join it.
Common Core: Built Ford Tough
There's nothing common about Common Core -- including its cost. With states fronting as much as $10 billion for the program (and another $800 million for each of its first seven years), it's no wonder some leaders are having second thoughts. Although the federal government did dangle money in front of states to sweeten the pot, reality is starting to set in about the price of maintaining the unpopular standards. "I'm afraid the bloom is off the rose here," said one House member, "and a number of other states, are realizing the new assessments will cost nearly twice as much as the previous state-based tests." And if it's anything like ObamaCare, where the costs keep skyrocketing, states had better hang on to their wallets!
In Oklahoma, legislators are hoping it doesn't come to that. For the past three years, House members have introduced at least one bill to repeal Common Core. This year, the legislature introduced seven. With parents, teachers, and teachers unions more irate than ever before, Oklahomans packed a committee room and demanded that Senator John Ford, Chair of the Senate Education Committee and a human blockade as far as Common Core repeal bills are concerned, let democracy take its course. More than 200 citizens filled the halls of the Oklahoma State Capitol waving signs that read, "Hear the bills!" If he doesn't, Ford and others like him may be hearing something else on Election Day.
** If you missed my interview on "Hannity" Friday night, check it out in the video below.
*** What can President Obama learn from his recent visit to Monticello? FRC's Bob Morrison has a few ideas in his new column, "President Obama and 'I am the State.'"
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.