Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Is the Fairness Doctrine even doable anymore?

I hope not. Here is an article that has a good look at the problems involved in trying to re-instate it:

Technology, New Media Pose Major Challenges to Fairness Doctrine, Two Democrats Say
( - The variety of media today and technological advances make it challenging, if not pointless, to try to re-impose the Fairness Doctrine on talk radio, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told

“It’s increasingly difficult to try and put quotas on political speech over any medium, so I think that would be the challenge anyone would face if they wanted to try and do that,” he said, when asked at the Democratic Senatorial Committee election night party on Nov. 4.

“I can’t speak for all my colleagues on that issue,” said Cardin. “I can only say that I think technology has possibly moved beyond the ability to regulate things, at least as it stands now.”


Today, many Democrats in Congress have said the Fairness Doctrine should be re-imposed to counter the influence of conservative talk radio, which dominates the marketplace with shows hosted by people such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Neal Boortz and Mark Levin.

Supporters of the Fairness Doctrine have not said the regulation should also apply to network news television, such as ABC, NBC or CBS, which use the public airwaves.

On Nov. 4, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) defended the Fairness Doctrine, telling Fox News: “I think we should all try to be fair and balanced, don’t you?”

Van Hollen, however, told that talk radio content does not need to be fair and balanced, adding that the Fairness Doctrine is a difficult issue for President-elect Barack Obama and the new Democratic Congress to deal with because of today’s “new media.”

“I think it’s increasingly difficult, because it’s kind of like a balloon,” said Van Hollen. “In other words, even if you wanted to go there – and I’m not saying we do – but if you wanted to go there, when you squeeze one end of the balloon, you know, simply the conversation can just go to others.

“I think even if you wanted to go back to the Fairness Doctrine, technology may have passed it by,” he said. [...]

It's ironic to hear some Democrats argue that conservative talk radio gives Republicans an unfair advantage. Note to Rabid Democrats: your party now controls the White House, the Congress and the Senate. Conservative Talk Radio sure hasn't delivered an advantage for the Republicans any time recently. Ditto Fox News. So what ARE you going on about?

Neal Boortz today highlights the absurdity of the Fairness Doctrine:

[...] Note, please, that whenever despots try to seize control of a government, and with it a country, they first seize control of the means of communication. How can you observe this in country after country with despot after despot engaged in coup after coup and not understand that this is exactly what our own politicians do when they try to increases their control over broadcasting? How will the Democrat's looming attempt to reign in talk radio be any different than Hugo Chavez' attempts to shut down opposition newspapers in Venezuela? And trust me ... the Republicans would have tried the same thing during the Bush Administration if talk radio had been overwhelming liberal. Richard Nixon used to brag about how he used the "Fairness Doctrine" to harass left-wing commentary on television. Democrats and liberals generally fail miserably at talk radio .. therefore it must be destroyed.

One more point about this "public's airwaves" dog squeeze. How does your newspaper get to you every day? Do you think it just magically appears at your doorstep? Hardly .. it is delivered over --- guess what? --- publicly owned highways and roads! Yeah! The "public's highways!" How about a Fairness Doctrine for newspaper editorial pages! Oh, wait .. there's that darn Constitution in the way again. Don't you just hate that?

Whether our information comes to us over "public airwaves", "public highways", the internet or anything else, the less government interferes with it the better. While some interference might be unavoidable (regulating obscenity, pornography, terrorism), the government certainly doesn't need to be encouraged to regulate it for partisan purposes. Surely there are enough real problems we are paying them to deal with? We don't need Thought Police regulating our political debate and discussion.

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