My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: If scandal proves true, the Census Bureau’s violation of the First Amendment is inexcusable!

Today it was alleged that the Census Bureau’s advertising partner, GlobalHue, directed newspapers across the country to face a loss of Census Bureau advertising dollars if they didn’t write six (presumably positive) articles about the Census Bureau’s efforts. If this proves true, it is an example of governmental coercion and extortion, in that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. In democratic (lowercase d) regimes, the government doesn’t mandate media editorial content. (We’re not living in Iran, North Korea, Cuba, or Venezuela, and for that we should be thankful…)

Yet again, history has shown to repeat itself as similar illegal activities took place between the government and the media industry in 2000. In the age of Obama’s government transparency, why have we reverted back to the 1960s — to a time before Ralph Nader authored the book Unsafe At Any Speed — when newspapers feared retribution from auto company advertisements if they ever wrote anything negative about automobiles?

The claims that came to light today fully validate all the work that MyTwoCensus.com has done, but it also makes us wonder: Has the proliferation of fluffy 2010 Census-related stories from other media sources (which may now be directly tied to this scandal) masked problems and deficiencies in 2010 Census operations? Have publishers held stories that were critical of the Census Bureau, for fear that essential advertising dollars would disappear in this age of media industry uncertainty?

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