Over thirty organizations want the Federal Communications Commission to open up a probe on “hate speech” and “misinformation” in media. “Hate has developed as a profit-model for syndicated radio and cable television programs masquerading as ‘news’,” they wrote to the FCC earlier this month.
As for the Internet, it “gives the illusion that news sources have increased, but in fact there are fewer journalists employed now than before,” they charge. “Moreover, on the Internet, speakers can hide in the cloak of anonymity, emboldened to say things that they may not say in the public eye.”
The groups who want this new proceeding include Free Press, the Media Access Project, Common Cause, the Prometheus Radio Project, and the League of United Latin American Citizens. Their statement, filed in the Commission’s Future of Media proceeding, comes in support of a petition to the agency submitted over a year ago by the National Hispanic Media Coalition.
“Hate speech against vulnerable groups is pervasive in our media—it is not limited to a few isolated instances or any one media platform,” NHMC warned the FCC in 2009. “Indeed, many large mainstream media corporations regularly air hate speech, and it is prolific on the Internet. Hate speech takes various forms, from words advocating violence to those creating a climate of hate towards vulnerable groups. Cumulatively, hate speech creates an environment of hate and prejudice that legitimizes violence against its targets.”
The coalition has asked the agency to request public comments on hate speech in the media, inquire into its extent, explore “the relationship between hate speech in the media and hate crimes,” and look into options “for counteracting or reducing the negative effects of such speech.”
In addition, the groups wants the FCC to examine “the prevalence of misinformation” in the media, since misinformation “creates a climate of prejudice.”
“The NHMC understands that those who would prefer hate speech to remain under the radar will claim that such an inquiry violates the First Amendment,” the group added. “No doubt they will raise the red herring of the restoration of the ‘fairness doctrine,’ trying to divert the attention of the vast majority of Americans who find hate speech reprehensible.”
NHMC says it wants none of this, “but merely the collection of information and data about hate speech.”