I’ve written a lot this past week about the Dems’ push to re-instate the “Fairness Doctrine”.
Let’s be clear about one thing: the push to re-instate the Doctrine is based on a huge, cynical lie that the left is repeating, true to Goebbels, over and over. Dick Durbin, for example (I’ve added emphasis):
Dick Durbin — the Senate’s Majority whip — came out four-square in favor of the Fairness Doctrine today, declaring in The Hill — a newspaper for Capitol Hill: “It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine” It’s the clearest statement yet from a member of the congressional leadership that there will be a real fight over the issue.
Oddly, Durbin explained his position with an appeal to old-time values: “I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”
And there – in the bold type – is the lie. Americans hear both sides of the story. Every story. All the time. The metaphorical marketplace of ideas in the broadcast, cable, and (since the early ’90’s) online media over the past 20 years has been a lot like a literal marketplace in, say, Warsaw Poland. In 1986, it had pretty much what the government said it could have. Today, both are jammed with a dizzying assortment of stuff, of widely varying quality – and the consumer has almost infinite choice.
Rush Limbaugh is absolutely correct about one thing; before 1987, the “Fairness Doctrine” didn’t explicitly stifle free speech; it merely made it too complicated for the vast majority of radio and TV stations to attempt. When I started in talk radio in 1985, even the mighty KSTP-AM broadcast only a thin film of “controversial” content, sticking mostly to the usual pre-1987 miasma of sportstalk, recipes, relationship talk, author interviews, counseling, and “stuff going on around the community”. Talk was a fringe format, the province of the very old, the housebound, and the shift-worker who was bored with music radio. AM radio was on the brink of extinction.
Today, the consumer is bombarded with opinion of every stripe, from all corners. Newspapers, magazines and broadcast TV and radio have been joined by cable and internet TV, satellite and streamed radio, home-made video and pod streaming, blogs in text or audio or video – which have forced the traditional media to adjust to keep up.
Senator Durbin: How does the average American not have access to “both sides of the story”?
Congressman Mike Pence is sponsoring an effort to legally bar the FCC – which administers the “Fairness Doctrine” – from regulating poltical content. Ed Morrissey, my radio colleague, liveblogged the debate on the amendment, about which he reported:
Pence says it represents an “existential threat” to the conservative movement, and believes that the aim isn’t for “fairness” but for the silencing of conservatives. The problem is that the threat is that government retains this ability, either by legislation or executive order. We have to very aggressively explain that the high legal and administrative costs of the FD would simply choose not to carry any political talk radio at all.
Pence points out that the FCC actually has the authority on its own to reinstate the FD, without any action from Congress or the Presidency. They have chosen not to do so, but if the FCC wants to, they could reinstate it tomorrow. The judiciary may have a say in this eventually, but Pence’s bill would strip the FCC of that ability altogether. That doesn’t mean that Congress can’t pass future legislation to do it, but it would have to do so openly.
Do us a favor; call your Congressional representative. Tell them to support the Pence amendment on the Fairness Doctrine..
Liberals, remember – when they came for conservative alternative media, you need to speak up, or when “they” come for liberal media, there’ll be nobody left to speak for you.
Although oddly enough, with all the left’s caterwauling about civil liberties this past seven years, I’m at a loss to think of any conservative effort to silence any discussion. Just saying.