WaPo Labels Liberal Group Pushing FCC End-run Around Supreme Court Ruling As 'Public-Interest' Outfit

Are you a liberal journalist looking for a way to gloss over an interest group's liberal bent?

Just follow the lead of Washington Post staffer Dan Eggen and call it a "public-interest" or "consumer advocacy" group.

That's how Eggen tagged the Media Access Project (MAP) in an article on the March 24 Washington Post "Fed Page" (emphases mine):

Democrats and public-interest groups have been trying for more than a year to limit the impact of a Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited outside spending on elections. So far, they haven’t had much luck.


But now a telecommunications lawyer has come up with a novel idea: Take it to the Federal Communications Commission .


Andrew Schwartzman, policy director for the Media Access Project, a consumer advocacy group, filed a petition with the agency this week arguing that it should force political groups to disclose information about their top donors when they run political ads.


In fact, Schwartzman asserts, the FCC has had the power to do so for decades.


Under current regulations, some of which date to the 1940s, the FCC requires disclosure only for the group claiming responsibility for the ad, no matter how the group paid for it.


But Schwartzman says the Communications Act of 1934 and subsequent legislation calls for a much broader standard: disclosure of those actually paying for the message.


The petition asks that the FCC revise its rules to require groups to disclose financial backers who contribute more than 10 percent of the groups’ budget, in public documents filed with broadcast stations.

On their website, MAP insists it is "a non-profit law firm and advocacy organization."

"Our attorneys work on behalf of the public to promote freedom of expression, independent media, and low-cost, universal access to communications services."

In other words, they are self-appointed guardians of the public interest, working for the loosely-defined "public" and undisclosed clients.

On its "donate" page, MAP insists it does not "get large donations from industry donors" and that it "relies primarily on donations from citizens like you, and on grants from public foundations," yet MAP fails to give a list of its top-dollar donors.

A look at the group's "issues" list reveals it opposes cutting taxpayer funding to public broadcasting as well as a return to the long-discredited "Fairness Doctrine."

The Media Access Project is a liberal group advocating policies near and dear to the Left.

Liberals most certainly believe liberal policies are in the "public interest," but that's no excuse for a mainstream media journalist to use the term without caveat when describing liberal lobby groups.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.