Local television stations are required to maintain a public file of political ad sales, and allow any member of the public to inspect it–as long as they physically come in to the station. To make the information more accessible, the Federal Communications Commission is proposing regulations that would require local broadcasters to put the public file online. Bob speaks to former FCC adviser Steven Waldman, who says that putting the information online is the least that broadcasters can do to fulfill their public interest obligations.
The FCC's proposed regulations to force disclosure of TV political ad buys online is facing resistance from local television stations. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) says that requiring stations to post online a file of the the ads purchased would create an unnecessary burden for the stations. Bob speaks to broadcast attorney and outside counsel for the NAB Jack Goodman, who says the political file is too massive and disorganized to maintain online.
Increasingly, our experience of a campaign will be fundamentally different then, say, our neighbors. This is because the immense amounts of data we all generate allow campaigns to tailor messaging directly to our particular interests, often in ways we're not fully aware of. Longtime Republican campaign strategist Michael Duhaime explains to Bob how sophisticated data analysis is a key part of who becomes president in November.
When the President signed this year's far ranging National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the portion that caught the attention of civil libertarians was a provision that appears to allow the President to indefinitely detain American citizens. Bob speaks with constitutional law expert Geoffrey Stone, who says the primary problem with the NDAA is that it doesn't clarify much of anything concerning detention.
After years of holding that the 1961 Federal Wire Act made online gambling that crossed state lines illegal, the Department of Justice reversed itself on December 24th, 2011, giving the states a huge gift. Bob speaks with gambling expert I. Nelson Rose, who says that cash-strapped states are now likely to loosen rules on online gambling, and that will mean big money and new jobs.
For almost as long as there have been comedies on television there's been that old Pavlovian insurance–the laugh track. But does it work? Are producers just scared that without prompting we won't know what's funny? New York Magazine'sJoe Adalian tells Bob that a new generation of sitcoms highlights the pros and cons of canned laughter.
From 1988 to 1999, the TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 defined a comedic genre of making fun of bad movies in real time. But after the show went off the air, its creators found a new outlet for their "riffing," one that allowed them to expand their repertoire from old sci-fi B-movies to current Hollywood blockbusters. Their company RiffTrax offers MP3 audio files that users can download and play along with a rented DVD. Bob asks RiffTrax's Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett for some pointers in preparation for OTM's impending revival of Media Scrutiny Theater.