Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who would like very much to reimpose the old, so-called, “Fairness Doctrine” that once censored conservative opinion on television and radio broadcasting, is scheming to impose rules barring any member of Congress from posting opinions on any internet site without first obtaining prior approval from the Democratic leadership of Congress. No blogs, twitter, online forums – nothing.
This was first reported to me by Congressman John Culberson (R-Tx) and I asked for approval to cite him and for any media links to this story. He provided the following link of regulations proposed by the Chair of the Congressional Commission on Mailing Standards (PDF) Congressman Michael Capuano (D-Mass) that was sent to Rep. Robert Brady, Chairman of the House Committee for Administration. The net effect of the regs would be to make it practically impossible for members of Congress to use social media tools to discuss official business or share video of the same with the public while creating a partisan disparity in what little approved messages might be permitted. It would be a very considerable error to assume that the House leadership intends to let dissenting Democratic members post any more freely than Republicans.
Set aside the nakedly partisan aspect of this plan for a moment – on the technological merits alone this may be the goddamn dumbest thing I’ve heard of regarding the internet coming out of Congress in a long, long, time. The dinosaurs who are uncomfortable witrh computers, the unwashed masses being aware of their actions and free political debate want to turn the clock back to the 1970’s. Except during the 1970’s no one would have dared to propose controlling what a democratically elected member of Congress could say to their constituents. Doesn’t it register in the Beltway that they are talking about public information that already belongs to the people of the United States? Senators and Congressmen should be interacting with citizens more freely, not less; the U.S. Congress needs radical transparency, not greater opacity imposed by the Democratic House leadership to better hide shady dealings
It’s a brazenly Orwellian and most likely unconstitutional power grab by the Speaker of the House unlike anything dreamed of by any previous speaker – not Sam Rayburn, not Joseph Cannon. Nobody.
Nancy Pelosi has finally arrived at a historical pinnacle – as an enemy of free speech and the public’s right to know.
It may be possible that these regs will force bloggers other than MoC to comply with these rules as well ( Hat tip Fantomplanet)
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has info on the Senate version of the House Democratic plan:
In the Senate, the problem gets even worse. Feinstein (D-CA) would have the Rules Committee act as a censor board, forcing members to get approval for the act of communicating on external websites. Further, it would appear that the Feinstein proposal would attempt to exercise editorial control over these sites, at least indirectly.
As my source put it, these are the key issues:
- Under their scheme, the Senate Rules Committee would become the Internet speech police for everyone in the Senate.
- It will be up to the committee to “sanction” which websites and forms of communication they deem appropriate.
- The Rules Committee thus gets to pick winners and losers among various websites in terms of which are appropriate for use.
- The Rules Committee would get to regulate communication through any site not ending in “senate.gov,” which would include sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
- Further, this could jeopardize guest posts at sites like RedState and Townhall.
- The Rules Committee would require senators to moderate “any public commentary” which would likely mean regulating comments on guest posts and YouTube videos, among other things.
….First, the ONLY item we seek to address is LOOSENING existing rules to allow Members to post videos as a first step toward making the rules meet our constituents’ expectations regarding how they communicate with us in the 21st century. This was completely ignored during the years that Republicans controlled Congress while the internet grew exponentially. It is currently against House rules to post video on any site with commercial or political advertising or to use taxpayer-funded resources to post outside of the House.gov domain.
We are not currently seeking to address anything other than video – not blog postings, online chats or any other written form of communication anywhere on the internet. Any assertion to the contrary is a lie. Perhaps the people spreading those lies should take some time to actually read the letter I wrote, which is attached below.
Our only concern is commercialization – not imposing limits on free speech. It is amazing to me that Republicans think they can obscure the issue with this completely false assertion.
Read in full here.
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