FCC Quietly Hires Way-Right Activist

The Columbia Journalism Review has an article about how Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin has quietly hired a conservative activist as an advisor. Penny Nance is a well-known anti-porn, pro-Jesus “former” lobbyist and president of the Kids First Coalition.

According to CJR, she’s got some scary wingnut creds:

Nance is a long-time anti-pornography activist and has worked as a lobbyist for groups that “push for Christian precepts in public policy.”

Until recently a board member of Concerned Women for America, which describes its mission, in part, as “helping … to bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy,” Nance also worked as a lobbyist for a group called the Center for Reclaiming America. On its Web site, the Center claims that it “focuses on five key fronts of the modern-day culture war: (1) Religious Liberties, (2) the Sanctity of Life, (3) the Homosexual Agenda, (4) Pornography, and (5) Promoting Creationism.”

The site also says that its aim is to “defend and implement the Biblical principles on which our country was founded.”

Nance is arriving on the scene just when observers are looking for the FCC to issue a slew of indecency complaints, perhaps as many as 50. If so, it would be the first punitive actions Martin has pursued since taking over the commission following “the bumbling” Michael Powell. In 2004 alone, Powell handed out indecency fines totaling $7.9 million.

So, while it looks like a new era of cleanliness and godliness is ahead for the airwaves, it also appears that Nance is not averse to stretching perceptions if not downright lying in the media, as CJR discovered.

In doing some background research on Nance, we came across what may be a telling episode from last summer. A Media Matters report from July 2004 found that Nance appeared on a “Fox News Live” segment identified as a “suburban stay-at-home mom” in a piece dealing with “issues [that] matter most to suburban moms.” The segment did note that Nance was a former “full-time lobbyist” who “started a nonprofit organization for moms,” but in portraying Nance as an average suburban mom, Fox purposefully ignored much more.

At the time the segment aired, she was the president of Kids First Coalition, which “works to promote and encourage traditional families as well as to help those in crisis pregnancies,” a group for which she was a registered lobbyist, according to Media Matters. She was also serving as a board member of Concerned Women for America (where she also once served as legislative director and lobbyist). Also ignored was that Nance, in her sunny capacity as a “stay-at-home mom,” held the title of president of Nance and Associates, a public policy and media consulting firm.

In what amounted to little more than a Bush campaign pitch, Nance said that “safety issues are the things that American women are talking about on the playgrounds and on the soccer fields of America, and we believe that President Bush hears us and cares about these issues.”

To set the record straight, we’ll note that the fact that Martin has hired a conservative is hardly cause for alarm. He is, after all, a Republican appointee for a Republican president. And Nance’s religious beliefs are equally little cause for concern — as long as she doesn’t try to force them on the American viewing public. What is disconcerting are her connections to groups which use terms like “Homosexual Agenda” and want to instill “Biblical principles.” All this, plus the fact that she winked and nodded her way though that dishonest Fox segment, points not to just a deficiency in character, but an active willingness to mislead the public in order to promote an agenda.

Misleading the public to promote an agenda? No doubt Penny will make George proud.


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