Bound And Gagged

I ask my liberal acquaintances if they’re aware that the Democrats plan to muzzle conservative opinion in this country, by reinstating the “Fairness” Doctrine.

Leave aside for a moment that most people of all political stripes have not the faintest clue how the “Fairness” Doctrine worked during its heyday (until Reagan repealed it in 1987), to say nothing of how it would work in the future; the current party line on the left is “Barack Obama doesn’t favor restoring the Fairness Doctrine!”.  I’ve heard it from no less than three different local lefties in the past 36 hours.

It’s true, sort of – in the same sense that “George Bush didn’t support McCain/Feingold”.  He didn’t.  Until Congress made it clear that they did, and he opted not to expend any political capital opposing it.

Because the threat isn’t Obama himself; it’s a Congressional Democrat caucus that’s already thoroughly committed to re-instating the Doctrine, combined with a President that, at best, is going to expend no political capital opposing a Democrat-controlled Congress on the issue.

Brian C. Anderson at the NYPost analyzes the reality:

SHOULD Barack Obama win the presidency and Democrats take full control of Congress, next year will see a real legislative attempt to bring back the Fairness Doctrine – and to diminish conservatives’ influence on broadcast radio, the one medium they dominate.

Yes, the Obama campaign said some months back that the candidate doesn’t seek to re-impose this regulation, which, until Ronald Reagan’s FCC phased it out in the 1980s, required TV and radio broadcasters to give balanced airtime to opposing viewpoints or face steep fines or even loss of license. But most Democrats – including party elders Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and Al Gore – strongly support the idea of mandating “fairness.”

Would a President Obama veto a new Fairness Doctrine if Congress enacted one? It’s doubtful.

The Democrats – and their RINOid supporters on the right, the thin film of Republicans who also support them on the Doctrine – paint a rosy picture to each other and the people about what a “Fairness” Doctrine means to free speech in this country.

Anderson has the ugly truth:

The Fairness Doctrine was an astonishingly bad idea. It’s a too-tempting power for government to abuse. When the doctrine was in effect, both Democratic and Republican administrations regularly used it to harass critics on radio and TV.

Most people have at least an idea – however vague and propaganda-driven – of the “what” of the Doctrine.  Few on either side know of the “how”:

Second, a new Fairness Doctrine would drive political talk radio off the dial. If a station ran a big-audience conservative program like, say, Laura Ingraham’s, it would also have to run a left-leaning alternative. But liberals don’t do well on talk radio, as the failure of Air America and indeed all other liberal efforts in the medium to date show. Stations would likely trim back conservative shows so as to avoid airing unsuccessful liberal ones.

Then there’s all the lawyers you’d have to hire to respond to the regulators measuring how much time you devoted to this topic or that. Too much risk and hassle, many radio executives would conclude. Why not switch formats to something less charged – like entertainment or sports coverage?

That, indeed, is exactly what talk radio was before 1987 (except at those very rare stations that could support political hosts on both sides of the aisle – and by “support”, I mean even putting a 25 year old kid on weekend graveyards to talk conservative politics); at all but the stations that could afford to commit to it, the subject was avoided. 

Anderson catches what is by far the most chilling facet of this story; the Orwellian hijacking of the language that the left will need to do to make this go down the American throat:

For those who dismiss this threat to freedom of the airwaves as unlikely, consider how the politics of “fairness” might play out with the public. A Rasmussen poll last summer found that fully 47 percent of respondents backed the idea of requiring radio and television stations to offer “equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary,” with 39 percent opposed.

Liberals, Rasmussen found, support a Fairness Doctrine by 54 percent to 26 percent, while Republicans and unaffiliated voters were more evenly divided. The language of “fairness” is seductive.

Who wouldn’t support being “Fair”, after all?

Of course, it’s ludicrous; there is  no shortage of left-leaning points of view in any medium, other than terrestrial radio (and the left has had ample chances to try to stake out a piece of that turf).  It dominates the print medium, broadcast TV, cable news (save Fox), public TV and radio…every medium save AM radio and the blogs.

Anderson notes, correctly, that the “Fairness” Doctrine is only one of the bureaucratic chicanes – albeit the marquee effort – the left is going to attempt:

[Obama] and most Democrats want to expand broadcasters’ public-interest duties. One such measure would be to impose greater “local accountability” on them – requiring stations to carry more local programming whether the public wants it or not.

And on the surface, this looks like a good thing – after all, my program is local.  Gotta be a good thing, right?

Well, not so much.  The public votes with its feet; and while everyone pays lip service to the benefit of local radio, the market still rewards quality – and for better or worse, the best quality is usually syndicated.   And that syndicated programming – everyone from Limbaugh on down – is rewarded with excellent numbers and tons of money. 

The left wants to kill this status quo with a thousand bureaucratic paper cuts:

 The reform would entail setting up community boards to make their demands known when station licenses come up for renewal. The measure is clearly aimed at national syndicators like Clear Channel that offer conservative shows. It’s a Fairness Doctrine by subterfuge.

Obama also wants to relicense stations every two years (not eight, as is the case now), so these monitors would be a constant worry for stations. Finally, the Democrats also want more minority-owned stations and plan to intervene in the radio marketplace to ensure that outcome.

Read the whole thing.  Become informed.  Because you never know when some mindless lefty parrot is going to greet the debate with “Obama opposes the Fairness Doctrine”, and assume that’s that.

25 thoughts on “Bound And Gagged

  1. Salem has more at risk than CC, IMHO. Although CC mostly runs conservatives, it’s because that’s what’s selling as Anderson points out. They don’t seem to have a problem with hosts who don’t fit the conservative label (I wouldn’t call Chris Baker or Langdon Perry conservative. Populist, maybe). Salem’s network is still Christian ID and traditional conservatives. CC could try to adapt and might even benefit from government mandates that would kill off their competitors, like Salem.

    So what does a post fairness doctrine radio world look like Mitch? Will we all be listening to NARN (and HH) podcasts or buying XM/Sirius receivers? Satellite wouldn’t immediately be subjected to the FD would it?

  2. I am all for the so–called fairness doctrine, if it does this.

    Will it finally force MSM to print the photo’s of Democrats going to Palin rallies wearing shirts that say “Palin is a c*nt”? I mean, if they hammer Michelle Bachmann every day, they should print this news also then.

  3. Margaret,

    Satellite wouldn’t immediately be subjected to the FD would it?

    It only affects terrestrial broadcast media – radio and broadcast TV. The rationale is that the airwaves are a “public trust”.


    Will it finally force MSM to print the photo’s of Democrats going to Palin rallies wearing shirts that say “Palin is a c*nt”?

    Oh, of course not. Newspapers don’t “broadcast”. And conservatives are perfectly free to start newspapers although, being conservatives, they’re too smart to try at the moment.

  4. Isn’t it odd, that the people that we see out in the streets SCREAMING and DEMANDING their right to free speech are the ones that are also plotting to deny that right to others?

    Pfft. Not at all.

    How many right of center blogs censor comments or ban unfriendly IP addresses? None that I know of. And if someone can point one out, stand back while I denounce it.

    How many lefty blegs censor censor comments or ban unfriendly IP addresses?


    Even MinnPost has jumped on that bandwagon.

    F*cking liars and hypocrits, one and all.

  5. Wait. I’m not done.

    I listen to Mark Heany on AirScamerica every night. When a conservative calls in and takes Heany by the scruff of the fact and shakes his asshat off of him, that call comes to an end. BAM.

    Then, if the caller was especially effective, Heany will spend the next half an hour spewing foam at the caller….who’s chances at getting through for a rebuttal are as good as an ice cube’s chance in hell.

    I have listened to Mitch, Ed, St. Paul, King and the rest give a lefty all the time he or she needs to complete their point. Not only does the lefty get all the rope he needs on the NARN, they are afforded the chance to follow up with as much lunacy as they want.

    Leftists: F*cking liars and hypocrits, one and all.

  6. “if someone can point one out, stand back while I denounce it”

    Red State bans commentators, although they will still send you a fundraiser email after banning. Give them hell Swiftee.

  7. I see that Rick has written something. Before I look at what he’s written (and, honest, I have not read his comment as I write this), I’m going to try to predict what he’s written.

    I’m going to guess that it’ll be:
    a) “Republicans are whining!”
    b) “After the Patriot Act, you deserve it!”
    c) Some utter non-sequitur.

    OK. Let’s go read Rick’s comment.
    Ooh. A blog (private property) that bans commenters. Yes, that’s totally the same as using the power of government to silence opposition.

    So I got “C”, anyway.

    To be fair, I didn’t predict it. But it’s still

  8. My take on this is really simple; with the Fairness Doctrine, you have government bureaucrats tasked with deciding an appropriate balance between those who think those bureaucrats should be fired, and those who think their jobs are necessary and beneficial.

    Yeah, like I can’t predict how THAT one would turn out!

    Plus, it would destroy the confidence many listeners have on stations like 1280 and (ewww….) Air America; that you know what you’re getting when you turn the dial to that station.

  9. Rick,

    Fair enough – the whole issue of blog comments is a non-sequitur (although it does show the level of cowardice on the part of an awful lot of leftybloggers).


    I’m going to be completely clinical here; hanging up on callers CAN be a useful hosting tactic; it CAN actually make people listen more intently AND make people more interested in calling in. Provided, of course, the program is remotely compelling – which Heaney is not.

  10. Most people do not have the faintest clue how the “Fairness” Doctrine worked. In this case, Obama isn’t the threat, it’s the left-wing, liberal, illuminatis who want to re-instate the so-called Fairness Doctrine. What’s fair about cutting back conservative programs when liberal programs fail? Such as Air America!?

  11. I disagree Mitch.

    Blogs are an extension of ourselves. We write about things that matter to us, even though (at least in my case) we don’t expect anyone to take the time to read it.

    I am not afraid of anything a lefty can dredge up, because I firmly believe that the rank and file are seriously deluded, some are just plain stupid and those that are not are simply wrong 98% of the time.

    And even when I’m wrong (yeah, it happens, but sometimes birds crash into trees too), most moonbats are too dull witted to see the opening, and choose to continue to spout babble instead of winning the argument on facts.


    When you ban someone’s right to express a counter argument you effectively admit that you cannot logically dispute it. That’s the whole point behind my “pelt collection”. I never ban anyone, not even Eva Young has been refused the chance to make an ass of herself on my blog.

    So, if Redstate bans IP’s, to them I say, feh…. You might as well bring “Da Wedge” on board while you’re at it.

    Radio is a bit different in that most stations have to make a buck, and in order to do so they must air interesting shows. So to let some numbnutz drone on and on with a poorly thought through diatribe is, in and of itself, counter-productive.

    But a skilled host, especially a conservative host with truth and reason on his side should be able to make light work of the numbnutz while having fun doing it. Everyone loves to listen to an idiot get his pelt torn off.

    Heany is a perfect example of why the left cannot maintain viable interactive talk shows. He is an idiot, and his opinions are based upon a worldview that was sculpted by idiots.

    I’ve listened (with great pleasure) as he gets his ass handed to him…hell, I’ve handed it to him a few times myself….his reaction is a classic symptom of someone suffering extreme cognitive dissonance. All he can do is hang up and start spewing the first asinine responses that float to the top of the goo that passes for his brain.

    There is nothing better than when he comes back from a commercial (The Local 49ers are working for YOU!) and it is obvious that he’s spent the last two or three minutes banging his head on the table….it fabulous radio for conservatives!

    If you ever have trouble making the de-pelting of moonbats entertaining, Mitch, have your people call my people; we can work something out.

  12. Swiftee, I don’t disagree. As a rule, I only ban people when their only “contribution” to my blog becomes ad-hominem attacks on me (or my family). I keep other peoples’ personal lives out of my blog; so can my commenters.

    And I have no trouble de-pelting the bats. You and I have different styles, that’s all.

    You’re the bad cop. I’m the good cop.

  13. Well, you’re the good cop, Swiftee’s the glue-sniffing psychotic cop who tells hookers he won’t arrest them if they’ll give him a BJ, then takes them to a secluded place and stabs them multiple times, then dismembers their corpses screaming “Mommy! Mommy!” and leaves them in a shallow grave 100 yards from the Interstate.

  14. Mitch dissembled: “The public votes with its feet; and while everyone pays lip service to the benefit of local radio, the market still rewards quality – and for better or worse, the best quality is usually syndicated.”

    Really. You work in radio and you’re telling us that quality is rewarded? Angryclown is laughing.

    You wingnuts vastly overstate the support for a new Fairness Doctrine in the Congress. Angryclown doesn’t care much about wingnut domination of AM radio. Without the pissed-off retirees and unemployable losers who listen to talk radio, the Republican Party would never win an election. And one-party government is a bad thing.

  15. You work in radio and you’re telling us that quality is rewarded? Angryclown is laughing.

    Quality in terms of ratings and profitability? Laugh all you want.

    When I left talk radio the first time, in 1987, it was a money-loser. When I came back, it was a cash cow.

    You wingnuts vastly overstate the support for a new Fairness Doctrine in the Congress.

    If I have my way? You’ll be right!

  16. Pingback: The Twin Cities Daily Liberal » Don’t reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, get better talk radio hosts

  17. Quality, popularity and profitability are three different things. Sometimes they overlap, often they don’t.

  18. swiftee, your experience of being banned at blogs on the left probably shouldn’t be taken as standard. You’re an asshole and a blowhard. My guess is Mitch would be allowed to comment at most of the sites that have banned you (of which I am not one, by the way, so “All.Of.Them.” is a lie).

    I also disagree with the fairness doctrine. The free-speech issues are the top reason, but I also actually enjoy right-wing radio. I enjoy local talk far more than national shows, which is why AM 1500 is superior to The Patriot (Saturday Afternoon excluded) and KTLK (except for Jason Lewis) in my book.

  19. Mitch would be allowed to comment

    The City Pages pretty routinely deletes mine – as did Steve Perry’s Daily Mold before the market euthanized it.

  20. I see AC is still pissed off about that little incident between his wife and I.

    Will a “sorry” help, AC? Hell, I took her home afterwords and all…..

    “You wingnuts vastly overstate the support for a new Fairness Doctrine in the Congress.”

    Stuff and nonsense!

    We’ve just taken the utter stupidity of the Democrat majorities into account, you poor wanker!

    Fuck you stool. I’ve commented maybe three times on your lonely corner of the blogosphere…you would never ban your most consistent reader.

    99% of the lefty blogs that banned my IP did so because I shredded them with facts…backed up with my signature mockery of course.

    If he’s not banned, it’s because Mitch has a much higher tolerance for lefty bullshit than I do. When it comes to utter idiocy on the internet, I don’t pull my punches.

    Come to think of it, I never pull my punches, if I throw ’em they’re meant to hurt, and hurt bad.

    It’s kind of like the midnight shift in north Minni, stool.

  21. Sorry to hear that, Mitch. I agree that banning comment IPs is BS and should be called out.

    It’s kind of like the midnight shift in north Minni, stool.

    I wouldn’t know. (Are you confusing me with Spotty again, calling me stool?)

    Fuck you stool. I’ve commented maybe three times on your lonely corner of the blogosphere…you would never ban your most consistent reader.

    That’s probably true. Thanks for reading.

    Flash and Spotty both let you comment. (I could be wrong about Spot.) So, again, All.Of.Them. is a lie.

  22. Mine is one of several IP’s that splut the mutt bans. Flash deletes comments and bans IP’s whenever the going gets tough.

    Face it stool, your ilk are known for their hypocrisy and their mendacity as much as for their vacuous ideology.

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