Cast of Characters
Coalition Organizes in Support of Mark Lloyd
By Alexi Mostrous
More than 50 public interest groups wrote Wednesday to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging the agency to speak out in support of its chief diversity officer, Mark Lloyd, who has suffered a recent barrage of criticism from right-wing commentators.
Glenn Beck, the conservative host of Fox News, has headed the attacks on Lloyd, who has called for public broadcasting outlets to receive greater funding from private broadcasters. Beck said that Lloyd's proposals, which were outlined in a 2006 book written before he joined the FCC in July, would hamper free speech and put "voices like mine" out of business.
The advocacy groups, including the Free Press and the Center for American Progress, struck back today, accusing Beck and other critics of making "false and misleading claims" about Lloyd's work
"Mr. Lloyd is a respected historian, an experienced civil rights leader and a dedicated public servant," their letter said, issued ahead of Thurday's oversight hearing at the House Communications Subcommittee with the five FCC commissioners.
"We ask you to speak out against the falsehoods and misinformation that are threatening to derail important work by Congress and the Federal Communications Commission on media and technology policies that would benefit all Americans," the groups wrote.
The letter's signatories may be trying to prevent Lloyd, a civil-rights attorney, from suffering a similar fate to Van Jones, the White House environmental adviser who resigned over Labor Day weekend after Beck and other commentators denounced him as a "black nationalist" and "avowed communist". Beck had honed in on information dug up by bloggers that forced Jones to issue two public apologies within days.
The groups called on the FCC to fulfill its mandate to promote "localism, diversity and competition" in the media.
"Broadcasters get hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of subsidies in exchange for a basic commitment to serve the public interest," the letter said. "Broadcasters are expected to be responsive to their local communicates."
"Diversity is about creating opportunities and broadening participation," the letter said. "It has absolutely nothing to do with censorship."
Lloyd occupies a midlevel position at the FCC, with responsibilities including increasing broadband adoption in minority communities. He has no power to set policy.
The controversy over his comments comments presage what could be a messy fight next year when the FCC launches a review of media-ownership rules.
Posted at 5:24 PM ET on Sep 16, 2009
Cast of Characters
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