Copps asks NAB to counter vote suppression efforts


Michael CoppsFormer FCC Commissioner and current Common Cause member Michael Copps fired off a letter to NAB’s Gordon Smith, asking him to marshal the might of the broadcasting industry to help get out the vote. He’s asking for an informational PSA campaign between now and Election Day.

“With Election Day only a few weeks away (and early voting underway in several states), there is significant confusion about voters’ rights across the country,” Copps wrote. “I know you and I agree on the importance of doing everything possible to maximize voter turnout and minimize voter intimidation, voter suppression, and any other activity that might short-circuit America’s democratic process. Our elections should be free, fair, and accessible to all eligible voters.”

Copps mentioned in particular billboards in Cleveland and Milwaukee that he says are intended to intimidate minority citizens into staying out of the voting process.

He continued, “Legislators across the country have introduced bills that seek to roll back early voting, require specific identification that many Americans lack, and create other barriers to voting. And disturbingly, in almost every election partisan operatives deploy deceptive robocalls, flyers, and email messages crafted to confuse voters about the time, place, or manner of voting. This is a serious threat to the integrity of the 2012 elections.”

He asked for PSA informing Americans about their voting rights, and news coverage of the issue.
Copps concluded, “I know that many broadcasters are working hard to inform their communities and to discharge their public interest responsibilities, and I continue to salute those that are doing so. But not all stations perform at such levels of excellence. Now is the time to remind those who are granted stewardship of the public’s airwaves that their highest duty, especially in the days and weeks just ahead, is to inform and nourish the civic dialogue upon which the vitality of the United States always depends.”

RBR-TVBR observation: There is one problem with this request. It would be a simple matter for the NAB to encourage its members to intervene if the issue of voter ID were being pushed by political action committees using money donated by unknown individuals.

For the most part, however, it is not. Whatever your opinion on the issue, the fact is that it has devolved into a Democrat v. Republican matter. That is the simple truth.

Copps has done an excellent job of explaining the Democratic view of the issue.

But the NAB is a non-partisan organization – it has the political donation record to prove it – and it simply cannot honor Copps’ request without appearing to have taken sides on an issue that does not pertain to its role as representative of the broadcasting community, which last we checked included members of both parties.