The Federal Election Commission, which has toyed with regulating Internet news sites that have a political edge, is being urged to extend what amounts to a "Drudge Report exemption" to a developing political and marketing news site.
Ethiq Inc. plans to help consumers and voters with their choices by steering specific news to them, but appears concerned that it could run afoul of the FEC, which under Democratic control mulled regulation of politically charged sites, especially conservative ones like Drudge.
In a memo to the FEC, Ethiq's lawyers said that the information from their site will be nonpartisan, developed by reporters and taken from other news sites, and it requested a media exemption from regulations.
"Ethiq's content will be distributed in various forms, such as infographics displaying data from legislators' votes on different issues. Ethiq will also curate articles from various third party sources, much like the Drudge Report or Huffington Post," said the letter to the FEC revealed this week.
The FEC came under fire last year when Democratic commissioners even whispered talk of regulating news sites. They were driven back by public outrage and Commissioner Lee E. Goodman who first raised the issue and who sought to protect digital news sites from regulations, no matter what their political bent was.
By citing Drudge as one of the examples of the media exemption they want, a likely positive outcome to the Ethiq request could help to finally end talk of regulating sites like Drudge, which some Democrats believe is too critical of liberals.
One insider told Secrets, "The fact that this group is coming in at all and asking for advice shows how the Democrats' push to regulate the Internet, and the commission's past uneven application of the media exemption, has created uncertainty for a number of online media outlets."
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org