googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Look Out! The Fairness Doctrine is Coming!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Look Out! The Fairness Doctrine is Coming!

I feel like Paul Revere during his “Midnight Ride.” The enemy is coming – it’s called the “Fairness Doctrine.”

The Fairness Doctrine was once a policy of the FCC that required holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was (in the Commission's view) honest, equitable and balanced. Once upon a time, there were only a few radio stations broadcasting and perhaps this policy once had merit. However, in today’s information age, there are any number of media outlets: newspapers, dozens of cable channels, thousands of radio stations, and the internet. Anybody who wants to hear all sides of an issue can certainly do so. In 1987, Reagan did away with the policy.

Now, fast forward 20 years. Radio talk shows are dominated by conservatives. Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Mike Gallagher, and a dozen others enjoy audiences of millions of listeners (listeners referred to by the left as “mind-numbed robots”). The Big 3 broadcast channels, CNN, MSNBC, most newspapers, and NPR are decidedly left leaning but call in radio is solidly conservative – and liberals can’t stand it!

In the Washington Post recently, Bill Press wrote the following lament:
Companies are given a license to operate public airwaves -- free! -- in order to make a profit, yes, but also, according to the terms of their FCC license, "to operate in the public interest and to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of issues of public importance." Stations are not operating in the public interest when they offer only conservative talk.

For years, the Fairness Doctrine prevented such abuse by requiring licensed stations to carry a mix of opinion. However, under pressure from conservatives, President Ronald Reagan's Federal Communications Commission canceled the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, insisting that in a free market, stations would automatically offer a balance in programming.

That experiment has failed. There is no free market in talk radio today, only an exclusive, tightly held, conservative media conspiracy. The few holders of broadcast licenses have made it clear they will not, on their own, serve the general public. Maybe it's time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine -- and bring competition back to talk radio in Washington and elsewhere.
Now, I’m sure Mr. Press wouldn’t see the Washington Post as liberal. I’m sure he wouldn’t dream of turning over ½ of his column for a conservative writer to disagree with him. But, in the fashion of a true hypocrite, he has no problem forcing Rush Limbaugh to share his program.

Normally, I’m not bothered when liberals vent like this. Liberals can seldom gain a majority of the public in support of their position. But liberals have a driving need to foist their views upon us anyway. They do this by legislation and judicial activism. What concerns me now is the growing number of legislators who seem ready to take up the cause.

After Mr. Press’s editorial, Senate Majority Leader, Tom Harkin, said the following:
“[Bill,] I love being with you, and thanks again for all you do to get the truth and the facts out there. By the way, I read your Op-Ed in the Washington Post the other day. I ripped it out, I took it into my office and said 'there you go, we gotta get the Fairness Doctrine back in law again.'”
The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is already on record in support of the measure as well as a number of other legislators. And just last week, former President, Bill Clinton also came out in favor of a new law.

This is serious folks. This thing has legs. If a bill is put forth, I’m afraid it could pass. And even though President Obama hasn't publicly supported such a bill, he has spoken openly against talk radio. It’s not likely he would veto it.

Our best defense against this would be a good offense. We need to contact our leaders now and tell them not to consider such a gross violation of free speech.

To arms! To arms!

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