The plan originated among Democrats on the FCC; the commission's two Republican members didn't even learn about it until it was well under way.
There was also a one-sidedness in the research behind the project. The FCC enlisted scholars from two big journalism schools, the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Communication and Democracy, to determine the "critical information needs" about which journalists would be questioned. The study, delivered in July 2012, listed five authors: Ernest J. Wilson III, Carola Weil, and Katya Ognyanova from USC, Lewis Friedland from Wisconsin, and Philip Napoli from Fordham University. (Weil is now with American University.)
Four of the five, it turns out, contributed to President Obama's campaigns.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with professors contributing to President Obama, and there's nothing wrong with Democrats exercising control over the FCC when there's a Democrat in the White House. But controversial projects are usually less controversial when they have some bipartisan support; it's often a good idea to have a little diversity of opinion in the mix when decisions are made. But in this case, the newsroom survey appears to have been a one-sided exercise every step of the way.Read More Now