Candidates’ Media Stance

Apr 6, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Hillary Clinton’s history as a senator, First Lady and private advocate may reveal some of her policy preferences when it comes to regulating media.
Her longest held media positions center around child-related issues. And while her rivals have spoken more often on other issues, Sen. Clinton’s campaign for the presidency has unveiled some of her preferences.
Her rivals, Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., and Democratic Senator Barack Obama, each had committee assignments that put media issues before them more often than Sen. Clinton. Sen. McCain led the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversaw the Federal Communications Commission and broadcast issues. Sen. Obama, D-Ill., has been concerned about minority media ownership issues and talked more about FCC issues. Sen. Clinton’s campaign didn’t return calls seeking comment for this article.
Media Ownership
Sen. Clinton has spoken out against media consolidation.
She is a co-sponsor of Senate legislation that would overturn the FCC’s recent change in media ownership rules and she voted in 2003 to overturn the last FCC proposal to loosen media-ownership rules.
“I believe that media ownership consolidation is a problem,” Sen. Clinton told Common Sense Media, citing concerns about diversity and loss of local control.
“Local media outlets tend to be very committed to serving the specific needs of their community—and we are in danger of losing that when big media companies buy out the smaller ones. As a result, we lose local voices and have a less diverse group of viewpoints. This is particularly troubling for women and people of color, who are under-represented in the media industry,” she told the group.
“I believe it is critical that our nation’s media outlets continue to reflect the needs and interests of the communities in which they are located. It is at the heart of the FCC’s regulatory mission to ensure that a diverse array of views, stories and opinions are available to the public.”
Kids and Violence
Sen. Clinton has spoken repeatedly of her concern that violence in TV programming, video games and movies could be harming kids. She also has sponsored legislation for a federal study examining the impact of violence in media on kids.
In an interview with Common Sense Media, a consumer group promoting kids media issues, she said her interest in the issue started as a teenager. She continued to work on the issue for the Children’s Defense Fund and then eventually in the White House and the Senate.
The violence issue is the only media issue directly mentioned on her presidential campaign’s Web site, which says her priorities as president would include “protecting children against violence and sexual content in the media and studying the impact of electronic media on children’s cognitive, social and physical development.”
The Clinton campaign didn’t return calls seeking comment for this article.
In a May 5, 2005, speech to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Sen. Clinton said she had spent 30 years advocating for children “and worrying about the impact of media” on them.
“We are conducting an experiment on this generation of children and we have no idea what the outcomes are going to be,” she said, noting increasing media consumption by kids.
In that speech she questioned whether the violence kids see on TV and in video games and movies is desensitizing them.
“Since 1969, the body of data has grown and grown, and it leads to an unambiguous and virtually unanimous conclusion: Media violence contributes to anxiety, desensitization and increased aggression among children,” she said. “When children are exposed to aggressive films, they behave more aggressively. Violent video games have similar effects.”
Sen. Clinton has talked about TV indecency. Usually the conversation centers on the need for more children’s programming on stations and for parents to have more say about what children watch.
Rather than suggest any FCC action, Sen. Clinton has said parents should get more control through a better ratings system.
In the same 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation speech, she reiterated a call she first made as First Lady in the 1990s, saying parents concerned about their kids’ “constant exposure to violence or irresponsible sexual activity” should consider joining together to demonstrate their concerns. She hinted that consumer boycotts are an option.
In a questionnaire for Common Sense Media late last year, Sen. Clinton cited a concern about indecency as one factor she would look for in an FCC chairman, but she didn’t say exactly what she would expect her chairman to do.
“When I am president, I will appoint and nominate qualified people throughout my administration who share my perspectives and values, including protecting our children from inappropriate content in the media,” she said. “I believe that this is an important issue for the health and well-being of our children because there is no doubt that what our children see or hear on TV, the Internet and the radio has an impact on their development.”
Sen. Clinton has urged broadcasters and movie and videogame marketers to offer a clearer and more consistent ratings system and for broadcasters to provide more public service messages about TV’s impact on kids. She has said parents need to help their kids utilize media.
“I think we should … use the prime hours of broadcasting to try to educate parents about how to be more literate, effective media users on behalf of themselves and their children,” she said in the Kaiser speech.

Food Marketing

Sen. Clinton in the past has been among Democratic senators critical of food marketers’ TV ads, saying they push poor food choices on kids.
She also has sponsored legislation to study the relationship of food advertising to increasing childhood obesity.
Food marketers last year voluntarily pulled most of the ads that Sen. Clinton and some other senators had criticized.
In the questionnaire with Common Sense Media, Sen. Clinton said the withdrawal certainly helped, but she called for marketers and media companies to do more.
“I believe there is more work to be done. I would like to see the entire food industry come together to develop voluntary guidelines that take their responsibility to children seriously. I think that there are a lot of steps that the private sector and the public sector, working together, can take to curb marketing and availability of unhealthy products to our children,” she said.
Sen. Clinton notes that she supported legislation to provide healthier snacks to kids. “When I am president, I will continue to explore these options and support measures to put our children on a path to healthy living.”


  1. This is exactly why Clinton needs to drop out of the campaign. She doesn’t know a darn thing about any of these issues, and she wants to try and control them without consulting any experts. Studies have PROVEN that violence in videogames/media don’t have an affect on children. They don’t make children into murderers, nor are murderers attracted to violent media to begin with. The ONLY established link between violence and videogames was Columbine, and those guys would have gone through with their heinous act even if they didnt have videogames. It’s ridiculous. Someone really needs to set this woman straight.

  2. The famous people get almost everything provided to them so conveniently however they dont think about the folks who are out here having trouble keeping up, people young and old getting murdered evicted in jail even when they got the world in they hand but i assume people dont always battle for a better tomorrow where i dwell at a tomorrow is not always guaranteed . And their young children get it so god damn very easy and continue to ungrateful man i’d KILL for true blessing.

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