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Hey FEC, regulate the damn voting machines and leave our free speech alone!

Reported by Chrish - June 28, 2005

On Special Report with Brit Hume today 6/28/05, the question was asked "Are political Internet websites a threat to democracy?" The FEC says they just might be and is considering whether to police them. The issue is whether they may provide unregulated benefits to particular campaigns.

Major Garrett reports that the FEC wants to wrap its regulatory arms around the world-wide web.

Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of DailyKos told the board "Any regulation presents a potential chilling effect on a medium that is truly the first democratic mass medium in the history of the world."

Garrett said "Polital websites like DailyKos and Wonkette , to name just two, have become influential political players by shaping voter perception and media coverage. Some also advertise products that benefit a political figure, party, or point of view.

He continued, saying websites as political actors became a known force with South Dakota's John Thune's upset victory over Tom Daschle. Thune reportedly paid two bloggers $35,000 (comment: waaaaaaah) to support his campaign and attack coverage by South Dakota's largest newspaper.

Ana Marie Cox, Wonkette herself, called the pay "blogola" and said the arrangement has made people much more wary.

Garrett: it also raises the possibility that organizations seeking to curry favors or lobby Congress could use the web to circumvent campaign finance laws.

Larry Noble of the Center for Responsive Politics says we don't want to force every blogger to go out and get a lawyer, but we also don't want the Internet to turn into a place where every corporation, labor union, or wealthy individual can poor a lot of money into political campaigns.

Garrett: historically the FEC has left the Internet alone, but is under a Federal court order to apply some campaign finance rules to cyberspace. One commissioner, Ellen Weintraub, is cited as favoring funding disclosures on websites but not much more.

Garrett: newspapers and television can run hard-charging political editorials without violating campaign finance law because of "journalistic exemption", which bloggers want too. But, he asks, are bloggers journalists? The FEC may be the first regularory agency to decide.

Comment: The FEC has plenty of election-related messes and problems to clean up before they even think of trying to regulate free speech on the Internet. Get those damned machines transparent, get rid of conflicted election officials, and get filthy corporate money out of public elections; then get back to us.

Notice how it is two Republican bloggers who took the blogola but it is two progressive sites singled out as influencing opinion. Fox viewers don't want scary progressives having any influence. Why just look at that scary Wonkette!

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