One of the far right’s newest targets is Mark Lloyd, the Associate General Counsel and Chief Diversity Officer at the FCC, who has previously served as a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Michael Savage has called Lloyd a “neo-Nazi” and “piece of garbage,” adding that Lloyd’s title is “code word for the KGB.” Glenn Beck has dubbed him Obama’s “diversity czar” who wants to “clamp down on my freedom of speech.” At issue is a CAP/Free Press report Lloyd co-authored in 2007 called “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” which argues for more localism and diversity in the media.
At yesterday’s House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on FCC oversight, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) decided to carry the right wing’s water, objecting to the “strongly opinionated” Lloyd:
The information from Mr. Lloyd would indicate he’s not for putting Fairness Doctrine back in, he’s just for a whole different scheme that gets to the same outcome. I hope we don’t have a government speech czar in place that’s going to drive a whole different mechanism through the rule-making and challenging the licensees.
FCC Chairman Genachowski strongly defended Lloyd, unequivocally stating that the commission will not “engage in any censorship of broadcasters or anyone in the media on the basis of political views and opinions.” He also underscored the importance of promoting media diversity:
Diversity is another area where for a very long time there has been — I think there still is — a bipartisan consensus that it is an important objective of the communications policy in the FCC. The diversity goals are mentioned in hundreds of FCC decisions, they’re explicitly mentioned in the communications act, the Supreme Court has acknowledged it’s a role, and the idea of having diversity as an objective of the FCC and having staff focused on it seems to be a natural extension. [...]
He’s not working on Fairness Doctrine issues, he’s not working on censorship issues, he’s not working on these issues. He’s working on opportunity issues, primarily now around broadband adoption, focusing on making sure that broadband is available to all Americans.
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps stressed that Lloyd is highly respected in the communications community and was instrumental in facilitating the DTV transition by reading out to non-traditional stakeholders. “[W]e want a place of intellectual firmament and different ideas” at the FCC, but “we rely on the judgment of the organization and the people at the top of the organization to make intelligent decisions about where we’re going,” said Copps. “As for the personal characteristics of this particular individual, I think they are of the highest, and I, for one, am pleased he’s at the FCC.” Watch it:
So basically, the right wing — following the lead of Rush Limbaugh and Beck — is distorting a report on media diversity to fear-monger about a doctrine that few support and attack a man who will have nothing to do with implementing policy at the FCC.