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Prof. Kevin Howley Writes of Obama's "Stunning Rebuke of Liberals" in Newspaper Op-Ed

July 28, 2008

Kevin Howley 2008 hs.jpgJuly 28, 2008, Greencastle, Ind. - With 99 days remaining until the 2008 presidential election, "according to the conventional wisdom, Obama has made all the right moves," writes Kevin Howley, associate professor of communication at DePauw University. "But the idea that Obama has ever been anything but a centrist Democrat -- very much in the Bill Clinton mold -- is, at best, wishful thinking. And as the campaign kicks into high gear, it's becoming increasingly difficult to believe that Obama represents substantive change in either domestic or foreign policy."

In an op-ed published in Indiana's Bloomington Alternative, Dr. Howley asserts, "Sen. Obama's about-face on the Bush administration's electronic surveillance program -- with its controversial provision of retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies -- was a textbook example of politics as usual. After vowing to filibuster against changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that would further erode American civil liberties, Obama reversed field and voted in favor of the FISA bill in a calculated move to Barack Obama Capitol.jpgdefend himself against charges that he is soft on terrorism."

The professor continues, "Obama's reversal was a stunning rebuke of liberals, progressives and especially the so-called 'Netroots' who supported him during the contentious Democratic primary season. It remains to be seen if this decision will come back to haunt him."

Howley also writes of the decision by a federal appeals court to overturn the more than $500,000 fine imposed by the Federal Communications Commission on CBS for the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, which featured singer Janet Jackson's notorious "wardrobe malfunction." According to Howley, "The court's decision represents a setback for proponents of the FCC's efforts to curb broadcast indecency. But as with most indecency cases, the fight between broadcasters and federal regulators is little more than a distraction from far more important structural issues, like media ownership and consolidation ... Highly publicized hearings of this sort are win-win situations for broadcasters and politicians. Broadcasters appear before Congress chastened, sometimes repentant, and always promising to do a better job of self-regulation in the future. Then it's back to business as usual ... All the while, the policy decisions that enable media giants to acquire more outlets, generate enormous profits, and otherwise make a mockery of the public interest provision of U.S. communication law, go virtually unchecked and unchallenged."

Tv Set Beach.jpgThe column also bemoans the lack of media coverage received by the Green Party, which named two women of color to lead its presidential ticket, and the efforts of Rep. Dennis Kucinich to bring impeachment resolutions against President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

The entire text can be accessed at College News.org.

A July 21 Arizona Republic story on the new film, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, quoted Kevin Howley. The professor also recently contributed a book review to the Mediterranean edition of Global Media Journal. He is the author of Community Media: People, Places, and Communication Technologies, published by Cambridge University Press.

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