Four of the five authors responsible for drafting an invasive Federal Communications Commissions media study seemingly designed to regulate news coverage donated to Barack Obama’s campaigns for president.
Professors Carola Weil and Ernest J. Wilson III from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism along with Lewis Friedland from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Communication and Democracy and Philip Napoli from Fordham University all donated to Obama and were subsequently commissioned to write the study, which came under heavy media criticism last week for including criteria likely to influence media coverage.
Federal Election Commission records cited by a Washington Examiner report reveal $3,300 donated to the Obama campaign from Wilson between 2007 and 2008, $500 from Napoli in 2008, $200 from Friedland in 2008 and $250 from Weil in 2012. No contributions were listed for USC’s Katya Ognyanova, the study’s fifth author.
The “Critical Information Needs” study was drafted exclusively under Democratic leadership at the FCC — the agency’s two more-recently appointed Republican commissioners were not even aware of the project at the time it was being prepped for launch.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler scrapped the CIN study last week after burgeoning media criticism spread alleging the agency had no authority to send regulators into newsrooms to assess and categorize topics of importance for coverage, including a blistering editorial by an agency commissioner.
The agency admitted to the inappropriate nature of the questions contained in the study and stated it will revise the project to meet its originally stated purpose of assessing barriers to startups and entrepreneurs in the media industry. The FCC has given no official word on what form the future of the project may take.