The Rise of Conservatism: Crash Course US History #41


Episode 41: Rise of Conservatism Hi, I’m John Green, this is CrashCourse
U.S. history and today we’re going to–Nixon?–we’re going to talk about the rise of conservatism.
So Alabama, where I went to high school, is a pretty conservative state and reliably sends
Republicans to Washington. Like, both of its Senators, Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby,
are Republicans. But did you know that Richard Shelby used to be a Democrat, just like basically
all of Alabama’s Senators since reconstruction? And this shift from Democrat to Republican
throughout the South is the result of the rise in conservative politics in the 1960s
and 1970s that we are going to talk about today. And along the way, we get to put Richard
Nixon’s head in a jar. Stan just informed me that we don’t actually
get to put Richard Nixon’s head in a jar. It’s just a Futurama joke. And now I’m
sad. So, you’ll remember from our last episode
that we learned that not everyone in the 1960s was a psychedelic rock-listening, war-protesting
hippie. In fact, there was a strong undercurrent of conservative thinking that ran throughout
the 1960s, even among young people. And one aspect of this was the rise of free
market ideology and libertarianism. Like, since the 1950s, a majority of Americans had
broadly agreed that “free enterprise” was a good thing and should be encouraged
both in the U.S. and abroad. Mr. Green, Mr. Green, and also in deep space
where no man has gone before? No, MFTP. You’re thinking of the Starship
Enterprise, not free enterprise. And anyway, Me From The Past, have you ever
seen a more aggressively communist television program than “The Neutral Zone” from Star
Trek: The Next Generation’s first season? I don’t think so.
intro Alright so, in the 1950s a growing number
of libertarians argued that unregulated capitalism and individual autonomy were the essence of
American freedom. And although they were staunchly anti-communist, their real target was the
regulatory state that had been created by the New Deal. You know, social security, and
not being allowed to, you know, choose how many pigs you kill, etc.
Other conservatives weren’t libertarians at all but moral conservatives who were okay
with the rules that enforced traditional notions of family and morality. Even if that seemed
like, you know, an oppressive government. For them virtue was the essence of America.
But both of these strands of conservatism were very hostile toward communism and also
to the idea of “big government.” And it’s worth noting that since World War
I, the size and scope of the federal government had increased dramatically.
And hostility toward the idea of “big government” remains the signal feature of contemporary
conservatism. Although very few people actually argue for shrinking the government. Because,
you know, that would be very unpopular. People like Medicare.
But it was faith in the free market that infused the ideology of the most vocal young conservatives
in the 1960s. They didn’t receive nearly as much press
as their liberal counterparts but these young conservatives played a pivotal role in reshaping
the Republican Party, especially in the election of 1964.
The 1964 presidential election was important in American history precisely because it was
so incredibly uncompetitive. I mean, Lyndon Johnson was carrying the torch
of a wildly popular American president who had been assassinated a few months before.
He was never going to lose. And indeed he didn’t. The republican candidate,
Arizona senator Barry Goldwater, was demolished by LBJ.
But the mere fact of Goldwater’s nomination was a huge conservative victory. I mean, he
beat out liberal Republican New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. And yes, there were liberal
Republicans. Goldwater demanded a harder line in the Cold
War, even suggesting that nuclear war might be an option in the fight against communism.
And he lambasted the New Deal liberal welfare state for destroying American initiative and
individual liberty. I mean, why bother working when you could just enjoy life on the dole?
I mean, unemployment insurance allowed anyone in America to become a hundredaire.
But it was his stance on the Cold War that doomed his candidacy. In his acceptance speech,
Goldwater famously declared, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”
Which made it really easy for Johnson to paint Goldwater as an extremist.
In the famous “Daisy” advertisement, Johnson’s supporters countered Goldwater’s campaign
slogan of “in your heart, you know he’s right” with “but in your guts you know
he’s nuts.” So in the end, Goldwater received a paltry
27 million votes to Johnson’s 43 million, and Democrats racked up huge majorities in
both houses of Congress. This hides, however, the significance of the election. Five of
the six states that Goldwater carried were in the Deep South, which had been reliably
democratic, known as the “Solid South,” in fact.
Now, it’s too simple to say that race alone led to the shift from Democratic to the Republican
party in the South because Goldwater didn’t really talk much about race.
But the Democrats, especially under LBJ, became the party associated with defending civil
rights and ending segregation, and that definitely played a role in white southerners’ abandoning
the Democrats, as was demonstrated even more clearly in the 1968 election.
The election of 1968 was a real cluster-Calhoun, I mean, there were riots and there was also
the nomination of Hubert Humphrey, who was very unpopular with the anti-war movement,
and also was named Hubert Humphrey, and that’s just what happened with the Democrats.
But, lost in that picture was the Republican nominee, Richard Milhous Nixon, who was one
of the few candidates in American history to come back and win the presidency after
losing in a previous election. How’d he do it?
Well, it probably wasn’t his charm, but it might have been his patience. Nixon was
famous for his ability to sit and wait in poker games. It made him very successful during
his tour of duty in the South Pacific. In fact, he earned the nickname “Old Iron Butt.”
Plus, he was anti-communist, but didn’t talk a lot about nuking people. And the clincher
was probably that he was from California, which by the late 1960s was becoming the most
populous state in the nation. Nixon won the election, campaigning as the
candidate of the “silent majority” of Americans who weren’t anti-war protesters,
and who didn’t admire free love or the communal ideals of hippies.
And who were alarmed at the rights that the Supreme Court seemed to be expanding, especially
for criminals. This silent majority felt that the rights
revolution had gone too far. I mean, they were concerned about the breakdown in traditional
values and in law and order. Stop me if any of this sounds familiar.
Nixon also promised to be tough on crime, which was coded language to whites in the
south that he wouldn’t support civil rights protests. The equation of crime with African
Americans has a long and sordid history in the United States, and Nixon played it up
following a “Southern strategy” to further draw white Democrats who favored segregation
into the Republican ranks. Now, Nixon only won 43% of the vote, but if
you’ve paid attention to American history, you know that you ain’t gotta win a majority
to be the president. He was denied that majority primarily by Alabama
Governor George Wallace, who was running on a pro-segregation ticket and won 13% of the
vote. So 56% of American voters chose candidates
who were either explicitly or quietly against civil rights.
Conservatives who voted for Nixon hoping he would roll back the New Deal were disappointed.
I mean, in some ways the Nixon domestic agenda was just a continuation of LBJ’s Great Society.
This was partly because Congress was still in the hands of Democrats, but also Nixon
didn’t push for conservative programs and he didn’t veto new initiatives. Because
they were popular. And he liked to be popular. So in fact, a number of big government “liberal”
programs began under Nixon. I mean, the environmental movement achieved success with the enactment
of the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board
were created to make new regulations that would protect worker safety and make cars
safer. That’s not government getting out of our
lives, that’s government getting into our cars.
Now, Nixon did abolish the Office of Economic Opportunity, but he also indexed social security
benefits to inflation and he proposed the Family Assistance Plan that would guarantee
a minimum income for all Americans. And, the Nixon years saw some of the most
aggressive affirmative action in American history. LBJ had begun the process by requiring
recipients of federal contracts to have specific numbers of minority employees and timetables
for increasing those numbers. But Nixon expanded this with the Philadelphia
plan, which required federal construction projects to have minority employees. He ended
up attacking this plan after realising that it was wildly unpopular with trade unions,
which had very few black members, but he had proposed it.
And when Nixon had the opportunity to nominate a new Chief Justice to the Supreme Court after
Earl Warren retired in 1969, his choice, Warren Burger was supposed to be a supporter of small
government and conservative ideals, but, just like Nixon, he proved a disappointment in
that regard. Like, in Swan v. Charlotte-Mecklenbug Board
of Education, the court upheld a lower court ruling that required busing of students to
achieve integration in Charlotte’s schools. And then the Burger court made it easier for
minorities to sue for employment discrimination, especially with its ruling in Regents of the
University of California v. Bakke. This upheld affirmative action as a valid governmental
interest, although it did strike down the use of strict quotas in university admissions.
Now, many conservatives didn’t like these affirmative action decisions, but one case
above all others had a profound effect on American politics: Roe v. Wade.
Roe v. Wade established a woman’s right to have an abortion in the first trimester
of a pregnancy as well as a more limited right as the pregnancy progressed. And that decision
galvanized first Catholics and then Evangelical Protestants.
And that ties in nicely with another strand in American conservatism that developed in
the 1960s and 1970s. Let’s go to the ThoughtBubble. Many Americans felt that traditional family
values were deteriorating and looked to conservative republican candidates to stop that slide.
They were particularly alarmed by the continuing success of the sexual revolution, as symbolized
by Roe v. Wade and the increasing availability of birth control.
Statistics tend to back up the claims that traditional family values were in decline
in the 1970s. Like, the number of divorces soared to over one million in 1975 exceeding
the number of first time marriages. The birthrate declined with women bearing 1.7 children during
their lifetimes by 1976, less than half the figure in 1957. Now, of course, many people
would argue that the decline of these traditional values allowed more freedom for women and
for a lot of terrible marriages to end, but that’s neither here nor there.
Some conservatives also complained about the passage in 1972 of Title IX, which banned
gender discrimination in higher education, but many more expressed concern about the
increasing number of women in the workforce. Like, by 1980 40% of women with young children
had been in the workforce, up from 20% in 1960.
The backlash against increased opportunity for women is most obviously seen in the defeat
of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1974, although it passed Congress easily in 1972. Opponents
of the ERA, which rather innocuously declared that equality of rights under the law could
not be abridged on account of sex, argued that the ERA would let men off the hook for
providing for their wives and children, and that working women would lead to the further
breakdown of the family. Again, all the ERA stated was that women and men would have equal
rights under the laws of the United States. But, anyway, some anti-ERA supporters, like
Phyllis Schlafly claimed that free enterprise was the greatest liberator of women because
the purchase of new labor saving devices would offer them genuine freedom in their traditional
roles of wife and mother. Essentially, the vacuum cleaner shall make you free. And those
arguments were persuasive to enough people that the ERA was not ratified in the required
¾ of the United States. Thanks, ThoughtBubble. Sorry if I let my personal
feelings get in the way on that one. Anyway, Nixon didn’t have much to do with the continuing
sexual revolution; it would have continued without him because, you know, skoodilypooping
is popular. But, he was successfully reelected in 1972,
partly because his opponent was the democratic Barry Goldwater, George McGovern.
McGovern only carried one state and it wasn’t even his home state. It was Massachusetts.
Of course. But even though they couldn’t possibly lose,
Nixon’s campaign decided to cheat. In June of 1972, people from Nixon’s campaign broke
into McGovern’s campaign office, possibly to plant bugs. No, Stan, not those kinds of
bugs. Yes. Those. Now, we don’t know if Nixon actually knew
about the activities of the former employees of the amazingly acronym-ed CREEP, that is
the Committee for the Reelection of the President. But this break in at the Watergate hotel eventually
led to Nixon being the first and so far only American president to resign.
What we do know is this: Nixon was really paranoid about his opponents, even the ones
who appealed to 12% of American voters, especially after Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon
Papers to the New York Times in 1971. So, he drew up an enemies list and created
a special investigative unit called the plumbers whose job was to fix toilets. No, it was to
stop leaks. That makes more sense. I’m sorry, Stan, it’s just by then the
toilets in the White House were over 100 years old, I figured they might need some fixing,
but apparently no. Leaking. Nixon also taped all of the conversations
in the Oval Office and these tapes caused a minor constitutional crisis.
So, during the congressional investigation of Watergate, it became known that these tapes
existed, so the special prosecutor demanded copies.
Nixon refused, claiming executive privilege, and the case went all the way to the Supreme
Court, which ruled in U.S. v. Nixon that he had to turn them over. And this is important
because it means that the president is not above the law.
So, what ultimately doomed Nixon was not the break in itself, but the revelations that
he covered it up by authorizing hush money payments to keep the burglars silent and also
instructing the FBI not to investigate the crime.
In August of 1974, the House Judiciary Committee recommended that articles of impeachment be
drawn up against Nixon for conspiracy and obstruction of justice. But the real crime,
ultimately, was abuse of power, and there’s really no question about whether he was guilty
of that. So, Nixon resigned. Aw man, I was thinking I was going to get
away without a Mystery Document today. The rules here are simple.
I guess the author of the Mystery Document, and lately I’m never wrong.
Alright. Today I am an inquisitor. I believe hyperbole
would not be fictional and would not overstate the solemnness that I feel right now. My faith
in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. I am not going to sit here and
be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.”
Aw. I’m going to get shocked today. Is it Sam Ervin? Aw dang it! Gah!
Apparently it was African American congresswoman from Texas, Barbara Jordan. Stan, that is
much too hard. I think you were getting tired of me not being
shocked, Stan, because it’s pretty strange to end an episode on conservatism with a quote
from Barbara Jordan, whose election to Congress has to be seen as a huge victory for liberalism.
But I guess it is symbolic of the very things that many conservatives found unsettling in
the 1970s, including political and economic success for African Americans and women, and
the legislation that helped the marginalized. I know that sounds very judgmental, but on
the other hand, the federal government had become a huge part of every American’s life,
maybe too huge. And certainly conservatives weren’t wrong
when they said that the founding fathers of the U.S. would hardly recognize the nation
that we had become by the 1970s. In fact, Watergate was followed by a Senate
investigation by the Church Committee, which revealed that Nixon was hardly the first president
to abuse his power. The government had spied on Americans throughout
the Cold War and tried to disrupt the Civil Rights movement. And the Church Commission,
Watergate, the Pentagon Papers, Vietnam all of these things revealed a government that
truly was out of control and this undermined a fundamental liberal belief that government
is a good institution that is supposed to solve problems and promote freedom.
And for many Conservatives these scandals sent a clear signal that government couldn’t
promote freedom and couldn’t solve problems and that the liberal government of the New
Deal and the Great Society had to be stopped. Thanks for watching, I’ll see you next week.
Woah! Crash Course is made with the help of all of these nice people and it exists because
of…your support on Subbable.com. Subbable is a voluntary subscription service
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And I am slowly spinning, I’m slowly spinning, I’m slowly spinning. Thank you again for
your support. I’m coming back around. I can do this. And as we say in my hometown,
don’t forget to be awesome.

Top 10 U.S. Political Scandals



but when the president does it that means that it is not illegal by definition exactly politics without scandal might be a lot more effective but it would also be pretty boring welcome to watchmojo.com and today we're counting down our picks for the top 10 u.s. political scandals because people have got to know whether or not their presidents a crook well I'm not a crook for this list we focused mainly on scandals where the political ramifications were front and center and have avoided as many sex-based scandals as possible because we've already done that video I never told anybody to lie not a single time never number 10 rod Blagojevich I don't care whether you take me privately or publicly I can tell you that whatever I say is always lawful moptop governor of Illinois rod Blagojevich flew onto the national stage in 2009 when he was removed from office and eventually imprisoned not a surprise it was a foregone conclusion the reason corruption charges related to a deal he tried to cut lacoya bitch could appoint the person to fill President Obama's vacant Senate seat and wanted to personally profit from this appointment but I've got this thing and it's gold and I'm just not giving it up nothing LaGuerta bitches arrogance and frat boy persona made this a front page headline for months to strive to seek to find and not to yield Thank You number 9 the Benghazi attack the 2012 presidential campaign was impacted by that September's attacks on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi Libya four people including the US ambassador were killed and several more were injured Republican critics claim the details of the attacks including who was really responsible and why they occurred were being withheld that's embarrassing if it's true the controversy continues to be a point of contention between Democrats and Republicans today my memory may not be all that great but nobody died at Watergate and no one was left on the adil fail number 8 WikiLeaks and NSA surveillance inappropriate government secrecy and surveillance is an ongoing political hot potato and was most recently brought into the news by the WikiLeaks and National Security Agency Affairs over time that awareness of wrongdoing sort of builds up and you feel compelled to talk about it the WikiLeaks scandal involves the release of confidential documents the NSA surveillance scandal concerns government monitoring of communications of both government officials and private individuals big brother anyone the NSA specifically targets the communications of everyone it ingests them by default number seven Abscam the FBI had caught red-handed a half dozen congressman and a senator accepting money as a bride in return for favorable legislation in the late 1970's and early 80's the FBI targeted corrupt politicians in a sting operation known as Abscam short for arab scam although one drug finding that contraction in videos one senator six congressmen and an assortment of state and local officials in New Jersey and Pennsylvania were caught and convicted of taking bribes because most of those involved were Democrats AppScan became a nightmare for the party just as Ronald Reagan's presidency began you gotta have a key and the key is always is in my district I don't give a shit what extent we have to go through what lengths and everybody else goes the same way number six the Keating five political corruption charges tainted senators Allen Cranston Dennis Deacon Cheney John Glenn john mccain and donald regal jr. in 1989 the Keating five were accused of improperly helping Charles H Keating Jr who was a major contributor to their campaigns Keating was being investigated for his role in the collapse of a bank that resulted in a three billion dollar federal bailout many of these same people also apparently believe that yo action in perhaps the actions of other senators and congressmen was solely responsible for the saving and Loan failures of scandalous proportions Glenn and McCain continued their political careers but the others did not number five the iran-contra affair it was 1985 Iran and Iraq were at war when Iran secretly requested an arms deal from the United States senior officials in the Reagan administration ran a secret project to give weapons to Iran which at the time was strictly forbidden money raised from the sales was then funneled to the anti-communist contra forces in Nicaragua I don't think it was wrong I think it was a neat idea the subsequent pardoning of those involved by George HW Bush further fueled cynicism about government accountability my fellow Americans I've said on several occasions that I wouldn't comment about the recent congressional hearings on the iran-contra matter until the hearings were over well that time has come so tonight I want to talk about some of the lessons we've learned number four the Pentagon Papers former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg released the secret Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971 and created an instant crisis for the Nixon White House among other things the papers proved that the government had secretly expanded the scope of the Vietnam War into Cambodia and Laos they also demonstrated secret American manipulation of Vietnamese politics as all of this activity had been kept from the American people it increased the perceived credible leti gap between what the government says and what it does people number three the Teapot Dome scandal political scandals are nothing new as the Teapot Dome scandal of the 1920s demonstrates Secretary of the Interior Albert befall accepted bribes so that private oil companies could have access to government lands in the area known as teapot dome fall was caught and convicted and until water date the scandal was considered the blackest mark on American politics number two the Lewinsky affair these allegations are false and I need to go back to work for the American people was the fallout from President Bill Clinton's affair with intern Monica Lewinsky a premeditated orchestrated political attack by Republicans or the result of a president lying under oath I did not have sexual relations with that woman the subject is still being debated today as is the exact meaning of sexual relations what is clear is that it resulted in the impeachment of Clinton though not his removal from office it also exacerbated the extremely partisan divide in America both in government and among the electorate and so tonight I ask you to turn away from the spectacle of the past seven months to repair the fabric of our national discourse and to return our attention to all the challenges and all the promise of the next American Century before we unveil our top pick here are a few honorable mentions yeah we had two men's control over a lot of members of Congress through raising money for them through personal relationships by being politically indispensible for them I regard as indefensible the fact that I did not report the action to the police immediately number one the Watergate scandal I first learned from news reports of the Watergate break-in as a political scandal that actually brought down a president Watergate was a Republican orchestrated break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office building it eventually precipitated a massive cover-up and a series of lies and deceptions that destroyed the Richard Nixon presidency therefore I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow Nixon resigned to prevent his forced removal from office forty-three other people were eventually sentenced for their roles and missed most defining of political scandals none of us knew what was gonna happen next today people like the president's kind of disappointing really our president wept like an insane person and then got in a helicopter and flew away and the whole nation just watched him go do you agree with our picks well I don't know anybody who has a better idea what scandalous outrages would you have put on the list if you didn't see a scandal you think should be on the list be sure to check out our list of the top ten infamous political sex scandals in the United States and for more enthralling top 10s published daily be sure to subscribe to watchmojo.com thank you for watching and good night you

Media Regulation: Crash Course Government and Politics #45



Hello. I'm Craig, and this is Crash Course
Government and Politics. Today I'm gonna talk a little bit about the media. Specifically,
the way the media interacts with the government itself, and more specifically, the way the
government regulates the media. Some of you might be saying, "Craig, get real, the government
doesn't regulate the media. We live in a free-market capitalist society and the only real regulation
on what gets published or broadcast is determined by consumers, Craig."
Right Clone: Right on. Craig: Except that there are things you can't
say on television or print in a newspaper either because they're harmful or untrue,
and there are a number of government agencies that exist to place limits on the media and
to make sure that we have access to information. Left Clone: Right on!
Craig: Don't you mean left on? [laughs] But wait, so you guys both agree then?
Clones: No. Craig: Oh, I guess I misunderstood. [Theme Music] Let's start our discussion of government regulation
of the media with a little review. The oldest form of media in the US is print, so you might
think that it has been the most regulated, but you'll remember from our episode on the
freedom of the press that this isn't really the case because of the pesky first amendment. The freedom of the press was written into
the Bill of Rights because the framers wisely recognized that without a free press, Americans
would be less able to have the information they needed to make good political decisions,
which they do all the time. They also make bad political decisions, too.
They just make a lot of decisions. So there are very few government regulations
on what can and can't appear in the newspaper. Near v. Minnesota basically said that there
could be no censorship in the form of prior restraint. In New York Times v. US, the Pentagon Papers
case made it difficult for the government to use national security as an excuse to prevent publication
of sensitive, or in that case, embarrassing material. There are still libel laws that allow individuals
to sue newspapers and magazines when they print something that they don't like. But
as far as public figures are concerned, the Supreme Court's decision in New York Times
v. Sullivan makes it pretty hard to censor the press by suing for libel. So I can say anything
I want about public figures. Public figures are dumb. In order to win this type of lawsuit, the
plaintiff must show that the article, or advertisement, was both untrue and published with actual
malice or reckless disregard for the truth, which is a very, very high bar. What this
means in practice is that the first amendment pretty much protects print media from government
regulation. Although as we saw in the last episode, the number of Americans getting their
information from print is shrinking. So maybe the markets are doing the regulation after
all. Although I don't think people are buying fewer newspapers as a way of regulating their
content. They probably just don't want the papers cluttering up their house and they
don't wanna get that ink on their hands, you know, the black ink the rubs off. The government is taking a larger role in
TV and radio, possibly because it reaches the largest numbers. Broadcast media is the most
tightly regulated among the information sources. The first and probably least transparent way
that the government regulates broadcast media is through control of the airwaves, which
is done through licensing. Broadcast spectrum is a limited resource and is technically owned
by the public, so if you want to broadcast, you need to purchase a license from the federal
government. This gives you the right to operate your television or radio station under certain
well-defined conditions. These licenses must be renewed every five years and they almost
always are. The licenses are granted and most of the government regulation of broadcasters
is managed by the Federal Communications Commission, the FCC. It was founded in 1934 to oversee
a chaotic radio industry and it soon expanded to include television. As part of its mission,
the FCC required that in order for a station to be granted a license, it had to show that
it was operating in the public interest. In terms of politics, this meant that the FCC
has come up with some rules regarding what gets broadcast. Every channel has to have
a CSI. The first rule, dating back to 1949, is called
the Fairness Doctrine. This requires broadcasters to give equal time to each side of a public
issue. So if a station airs a program criticizing a war, say the one in Vietnam or the one in
Iraq, it has to air another program of equal length that supports the war. What this meant
in practice was that stations shied away from controversial programming, even though the
Fairness Doctrine was never rigidly enforced. The lack of enforcement and generally
non-controversial nature of commercial broadcasting didn't stop Ronald Reagan's administration from
pushing for the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1983. Congress voted to reinstate it in 1987
when Democrats took control, but Reagan said "uh-uh," and he vetoed the legislation. As a result,
the Fairness Doctrine is pretty much dead. Other rules related to the Fairness Doctrine
are the Equal Time Rule, which requires that broadcasters not discriminate in selling time
to political candidates, and the Right of Rebuttal, which ensures a political candidate
will have the opportunity to respond to a personal attack if it gets aired. These rules do
not apply to eagles, however. Yeah, you stay down. There's another important FCC rule that
deals with media ownership, but I'm gonna talk about that later because the FCC didn't
tell me I can't. The FCC also regulates what can be broadcast,
but these rules doesn't relate to politics so much as obscenity, indecency, or profanity
showing up on radio or television. Sometimes these FCC rulings and fines become
Supreme Court cases as people raise concerns about whether they deny our precious, precious
free speech. One of the most famous cases in this area, FCC v. Pacifica Broadcasting,
dealt with comedian George Carlin's Seven Words routine, which I will not be repeating because
Crash Course is a family-friendly educational channel. This case established that it's okay for the FCC to
require that certain language and images not be broadcast during family times,
which is before 10 PM. The FCC also hands out fines for f-bombs and
wardrobe malfunctions to keep us safe and virtuous. I should point out here that these FCC rules
only apply to broadcast media and not most basic cable channels, which is why there's
so many naked people in Game of Thrones. I don't know if that's why there is,
but that's why they can do it. Congress also tried to regulate broadcasters
by passing legislation, as it tried to do with the 1996 Telecommuncations Act. This
act was best known for its failed attempts to regulate the internet, but it had other
more interesting effects, too. As with any congressional legislation, this act was subject
to Supreme Court judicial review. The court did strike down part of the law, Title V, which
was called the Communications Decency Act and was meant to regulate online pornography,
because its definition of obscenity was overbroad, and the court said that it violated the first
amendment. Speaking of the internet, unlike print and
broadcast media, it's largely self-regulating. This is possibly because Congress has recognized
that it changes so quickly that most laws and regulations will be out of date by the
time they're finally written. But this hasn't stopped them from trying. After the court
struck down the Communications Decency Act, Congress tried again with the Child Online
Protection Act in 1998, and they failed. This one didn't make it all the way to the Supreme
Court, but lower federal courts enjoined the government from enforcing it in 2007. A more effective way to regulate the internet
has been through lawsuits, especially those around intellectual property. As viewers of
our IP series know, this is super complicated, but basically people can use the courts to
restrict the internet. A good example of this was the Napster case, where courts ruled against
the file-sharing company and it was shut down. It takes individuals, and Metallica, and corporations
to bring these suits, but they use the government to shape the internet to meet their interests,
so it can be seen as government regulation. Speaking of corporations, this is a good place
to bring up a couple of very complicated regulatory issues involving the internet,
television and newspapers. The first one has to do with media ownership.
Let's go to the Thought Bubble. Part of the 1996 Telecommunications Law, Title
III to be more exact, dealt with the regulation of cable television. Actually, it was a deregulation
of the cable industry, allowing for companies that own newspapers and radio and television
stations to also own cable companies. This kind of cross-ownership was supposed to lower
barriers to entry into the cable business, and it was clarified by the 2003 FCC ruling
that allows a single company to own and operate the leading newspaper, television and cable
companies in a single market. This has led to concerns about monopolization of the media
as more and more companies merge. And it's hard to argue that this isn't happening. So
the number of companies that provide media content and access has been shrinking precipitously
in the past 30 years, which is probably why the FCC and Congress scrutinize media mergers
so closely. Critics point out that these kinds of super-mergers can lead to a lack of diversity
in media. This can lead to fewer points of view represented in our news coverage and
our stories. Net neutrality has also been a big issue,
you've probably head about it. The question revolves around whether the FCC should pass
rules that allow internet service providers to charge differential rates to companies
that use their bandwidth. For example, internet service providers sometimes sell faster or
better service to large companies like Netflix at the expense of smaller competitors or individuals
who don't pay as much. Thanks, Thought Bubble. The net neutrality
issue is a really complex regulatory question, but the debate over it, which takes place
in Congress, on television, on the internet, and even through the FCC's website, where
anyone's allowed to make public comments on proposed rules, has been fascinating and it
points out a number of key issues involving government regulation of the media. First, it shows that a lot of media regulation
involves a number of actors. In this case, George Clooney. No, no, no, not those kinds
of actors. Private media companies, media organizations themselves and executive agencies
like the FCC. It also points out that the overarching regulatory structure is built
by Congress but that the real key actors are the regulatory rule makers and enforcers of the executive
branch. And George Clooney. He has aged so well. Even more important though, are the questions
that lie behind the debate. When we think about regulation, what comes to mind is regulation
of content or censorship, but with net neutrality rules as with FCC cross-ownership rules, what
we're really looking at is regulation of access and how much media will be available at a
given price. Those who argue that the internet should be regulated like a public utility
rather than just another set of corporations that take their cues from the market are getting
at something. The media is different from other corporate entities because it serves
a public function, something that the framers realized when they wrote freedom of the press
into the first amendment. Without a robust media, Americans may have less access to information
that they need to make smarter political choices. Of course, all the access we have doesn't
mean that we necessarily will make smarter choices, but in this case, being able to hear more
points of view is better than only hearing a few. That's why we're skeptical of censorship and why many
people wanna keep the internet as open as possible. Thanks for watching, I'll see you next time. Crash Course Government and Politics is produced
in association with PBS Digital Studios. Support for Crash Course US Government comes from
Voqal. Voqal supports nonprofits that use technology and media to advance social equity.
Learn more about their mission and initiatives at voqal.org. Crash Course is made with the
help of all these monstrous jerks. That's not libel, they're public figures. Go ahead,
try and sue me. Thanks for watching.

Freedom of the Press: Crash Course Government and Politics #26



Hi, I'm Craig and this is Crash Course Government
and Politics, and today we're gonna finish up our discussion of the First Amendment, finally,
by talking about everybody's favorite: the press. The First Amendment is pretty clear that Congress
can't make any laws abridging the freedom of the press, and since you understand the
basics of free speech because you were paying attention, the reasons for this should make
a lot of sense. But as with any discussion of the First Amendment, things aren't as straight
forward as we might think, and the freedom of the press, just like the freedom of speech,
is not absolute. [Theme Music] The main thing to know about the First Amendment
and the press is that it prevents the government from censoring the press. For the most part,
this means preventing the press from publishing some information in the first place, although
it can also mean punishing a news agency after they published something. Let's deal with
pre-publication freedom of the press first. Let's go to the Thought Bubble. Censorship of the press before a story is
published in print, broadcast on television, radio or the internet, is called prior restraint,
and the supreme court ruled that it was not allowed in a case called Near v. Minnesota.
In that case, a newspaper called The Saturday Press was gonna publish a story that the city
of Minneapolis was under the secret control of a cadre of Jewish gangsters, in particular
the mayor and chief of police. City officials obtained an injunction to stop the publication
of this story, and they gave The Saturday Press editors the opportunity to go before
a judge to prove that the story was true. I'll get to this question of truth in a minute. The judge ordered the injunction and said
that if the newspaper violated it, they would be punished for contempt of court. Instead,
the newspaper counter-sued, claiming that Minneapolis and Minnesota were violating their
freedom of the press. The supreme court agreed that no government was allowed to censor the
press because a free press is essential for the political system to work. They based their
decision on a lot of history, including Blackstone – the British legal authority which explained
"The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists
in laying no previous restraints upon publications and not in freedom from censure from criminal
matter when published." And they also relied on an important American
authority on the constitution: James Madison – heard of him? – who derived a lot of his
constitutional expertise from the fact that he wrote the thing. He said, "This security
of the freedom of the press requires that it should be exempt not only from previous
restraint by the executive as in Great Britain, but from legislative restraint also." Citizens need a free press to be able to criticize
the government and to expose government wrongdoing because otherwise the government can get away
with all sorts of things that we don't want it to, like say spying on us, and reading
our email, and reading our spy's email! Of course, even with a free press, the government
can do this, and what constitutes a press in the age of the internet is a debatable
question. WikiLeaks, anyone? But the basic proposition that the press must be able to
protect us against an over-reaching government still stands. Thanks Thought Bubble. There's another reason why the Court put the
kibosh on prior restraint, and that's because if a newspaper prints something that is untrue
about the government, or more practically, about a government official, there's a remedy
for this. The person or agency about whom the untrue thing was said or written and published
can sue the publisher for libel, and if he proves his case, can get monetary damages.
This is supposed to prevent newspapers from flat out lying about public officials, but
libel suits can cause another problem, in that they can basically end up being after
the fact censorship. If a newspaper is so afraid of a libel suit that it decides not to
publish a story, then it effectively censors itself. Sometimes courts call this a "chilling effect"
and it applies to speech that people are afraid to make because of potential lawsuit or other
punishment, as well as articles and news stories that go unpublished out of fear of potential
punishment. Tell you what, I ain't afraid of punishment for that. I can do what I want!
Freedom of speech! Luckily for us, the Court dealt with the libel
issue in another landmark case, New York Times v. Sullivan from 1964. This case involved
an advertisement in the Times that included some inaccurate statements about the way Alabama
law enforcement was treating Civil Rights protesters including Martin Luther King Jr.
The Montgomery Public Safety Commissioner, L.B. Sullivan thought these mis-statements
amounted to libel and sued the Times. He lost at the Supreme Court, and they ruled that
the standard for libel of a public figure was actual malice, which was my nickname in
high school. This means that in order to win a libel case,
you must prove that the publisher of the libelous statement knew that the statement was false
and acted with reckless disregard, my friend's nickname in high school, for the truth. This
is an almost impossible standard to prove, and what it means is that public figures almost
never win libel cases. This goes a long way toward explaining some of outlandish things
you read about politicians and celebrities in print, and I'm not even gonna begin to
talk about some of what you can find on the Internet, like a bearded dude talking about
government and punching eagles. Some argue that we shouldn't feel too bad
about celebrities, and we should remember that they are celebrities and are usually
doing alright for themselves. Unflattering publicity might simply be considered the price
of fame. I'd point out that celebrities are human, too, except for Lil Bub, the only non-human
celebrity, and probably don't like being libeled. I guess Jar-Jar Binks is another non-human
celebrity, and he gets a lot of bad press, but he truly is terrible, so it's not libel. So it sounds like the First Amendment protection
of a free press is pretty much absolute, but there are always exceptions that make things
complicated. One of these exceptions is the question of national security. There are some
security issues that are so important that the government is allowed to censor the press
before they can print stories about them. The best example of this is that the government
can prevent the press from printing detailed descriptions of troop movements during a war,
because this would help the enemy and put soldiers' lives at risk. It's kinda like in
the spy movies when the bad guys learn all the names and aliases of the secret agents,
except it's real. Knowing this, most newspapers wouldn't print this sort of thing, at least
while it's happening. But what about after the fact? Well, it gets
complicated, but another Supreme Court case gives us some guidance about what to expect.
In New York Times v. US — why is it always the New York Times? — the issue was whether
or not the Times could publish the Pentagon Papers. These were secret documents, stolen
from the government by Daniel Ellsberg, who had worked at the Defense Department. They
showed that much of the government's reasoning behind the Vietnam War was untrue or at least
highly questionable, hmm, I'm gonna go with untrue. The government tried to stop the Times
and the Washington Post, too, from publishing these papers, because it would make the government
look bad and perhaps turn public opinion against the war. Now, this was 1971, and a good deal
of public opinion was kind of already against the war, so much so that Lyndon Johnson had
decided not to run for re-election just a few years before in 1968. But the government
said that publication of this classified report would cause irreparable harm to America's
ability to defend itself, and they tried to stop the publication. The Court ruled against
this prior restraint, further strengthening the First Amendment protection of the free
press. It also slapped down the executive branch, which was trying to claim its privilege
to keep state secrets. But we already mentioned this when talking about Nixon and his attempts
to hold on to the Watergate tapes. Anyway, as you can see, the First Amendment
offers a lot of protections to citizens in the press, especially when they're criticizing
the government or its policies, or even when they're making fun of celebrities. This is
really, really important, because American democracy relies on its citizens having enough
information to make good decisions and hold elected officials accountable. We rely on
the press to tell us what the government is doing so that we can decide whether or not
we want to let them keep doing it. If the government can keep us from getting important
or even not so important information by censoring the press or by preventing us from speaking
out against what we see as wrong, it will be able to keep doing this that might be bad,
and this is the kind of tyranny that the Framers of the Bill of Rights were most worried about.
So the more you're concerned about tyranny, the freer you want speech and the press to
be. This is something to think about when you engage in arguments about Edward Snowden and
his NSA disclosures, or Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Thanks for watching. I'll see you next time.
Crash Course Government and Politics is produced in association with PBS Digital Studios. Support
for Crash Course US Government comes from Voqal. Voqal supports non-profits that use
technology and media to advance social equity. Learn more about their mission and initiatives
at Voqal.org. Crash Course is made with the help of all of these free speakers. Thanks for watching.
That guy speaks a little too freely, if you ask me.