FEAR IN THE AIR: Broadcasting and the First Amendment: The Anatomy of a Constitutional Crisis by Harry S. Ashmore

FEAR IN THE AIR: Broadcasting and the First Amendment: The Anatomy of a Constitutional Crisis

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Growing out of an early 1973 conference at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions (Ashmore is the Center's president), this book covers some rather commonplace if touchy and often complex issues arising out of the press' adversary relationship with government. How well does the FCC's Fairness Doctrine work? To whom are the media decision-makers accountable? To what extent has the advent of electronic journalism affected or altered the First Amendment free press guarantee? Can broadcast diversity and federal regulation coexist? Ashmore's emphasis here is on the Nixon initiative -- blunted recently by Watergate -- to gag a hostile press. Conferees (mostly liberals, as might be expected -- Robert M. Hutchins, Newton Minow, Eric Sevareid, Rexford Tugwell, numerous media executives) are generously quoted throughout with equal (?) time accorded such administration spokesmen as Agnew and Clay Whitehead -- a relatively new boy in Washington with the chilling title of director of the White House Office of Telecommunications Policy who not long ago made page one by proposing legislation to hold local stations responsible for the network ""ideological plugola"" they broadcast. The questions raised are handled with surprisingly little bias but the format -- all over the place -- precludes anything but superficial treatment and nothing new emerges from the discussion. More an airing than an anatomy.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1973
Publisher: Norton