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Rasumssen polls the Fairness Doctrine: Apply it to internet too?
Posted by: McQ on Monday, July 16, 2007

Disturbing results:
Americans are evenly divided as to whether or not the government should “require all radio and television stations to offer equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary.” The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 41% favor that proposal and 41% are opposed.
That's just chilling as far as I'm concerned. And note the question. It's not just for radio. If that upsets your stomach, look at this:
A large segment of the public would like to extend the concept of the Fairness Doctrine to the Internet as well. Thirty-four percent (34%) believe the government should “require web sites that offer political commentary to present opposing viewpoints.” Fifty percent (50%) are opposed.
Personal declaration of intent: I'll disobey any law which would require me to do such a thing. But I'm appalled that 34% think that's a good idea.

Rasmussen finds the following to be an interesting dynamic. I find it to be completely expected:
An interesting dynamic of the public debate is that liberals are more supportive of the “Fairness Doctrine: than conservatives. Liberals support the measure by a 51% to 33% margin while conservatives are opposed by a 48% to 40% margin.
OTOH, I'm surprised by the number of so-called 'conservatives' who favor the doctrine. So much for the conservative principle of limiting government intrusion and supporting the right of free speech, eh? Of course you may also wonder if those responding were actually "conservatives" or the much more wishy-washy category of "Republicans".
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Previous Comments to this Post 

By broadening the scope of the Fairness Doctrine beyond radio, they can probably bring a lot of conservatives on board. A Fairness Doctrine that broadens regulatory authority to TV is a big stick to whack the liberal MSM with. Not that I’d support it, but I know people who would be sorely tempted.

But the internet? No thanks. How the hell am I supposed to get liberal counterpoints on my blog? It’s my (conservative) POV. That’s the whole point!
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
Interestingly enough, I spend a lot of time on the Brady Campaign’s blog and, even though it’s their blog, none of us pro-gun people can get them to debate with us. All we get are a few kiddies who can do nothing but insult us and avoid questions.

So, I run a politically slanted gun blog. I’ve tried desperately to get anti-gun people to debate me. Besides the occasional drive by comment, I can’t get any.

So how would they force someone to debate me?

Also, I pay for my bandwidth. I pay for the electricity to run the servers, the servers, and the software that goes on them. I spend my time to write the code that runs the blog.

How can any sane person declare that it’s my responsibility to pay for all this yet require me to give up my platform for someone else?

That’s why I can’t see this happening. To counteract blogs like The Gun Guys or The Brady Campaign, I put up my own. That’s how you get parity.

And I’m totally with you. I would not allow anyone to tell me I have to let someone else on my property just so they can voice opposition.
Written By: Robb Allen
That’s just it, comments let anyone come and voice their opinion.

And since blogs are inexpensive, or free, anyone (or any group of people) with an opinion can start one, should they desire it.

Many "conservatives" are saying, heh, let’s show support but make it extend to all media, including newspapers. Of course, that’s a silly argument, when they should be opposing government regulation of speech. And actually supporting the measure, as opposed to support for debating the measure, would be disastrous of free speech and actual fairness.

But, watch for it to be framed as, Republican/Conservatives HATE free speech, otherwise they would be for the Fairness Doctrine.
Written By: keith_indy
Not just radio, but let’s include TV and satelite. This means start with NPR then go to historic media players like CBS, NBC, and ABC, not to mention PBS (look out Bill Moyers .. your monopoly is over). But satelite means HBO, BET, CNN, MSNBC (Obbermann paired up with Coulter perhaps).

Damn it would be amusing, but unworkable.

Durbin isn’t called Dick for nothing.
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Also, I pay for my bandwidth. I pay for the electricity to run the servers, the servers, and the software that goes on them. I spend my time to write the code that runs the blog.
You’re right, the government has absolutely no standing to mandate content on the internet, cable, satellite, or anything except broadcast, where they gave the broadcast networks exclusive rights to the frequencies in exchange for a committment to offer public service programming.

The government HAS the authority to regulate content in these areas, and unless the corporations are asked to pay for these frequencies, they have the standing to mandate the Fairness Doctrine.

Personally, I just can’t see how it can work, as the FCC is a political body, and would likely look the other way when they are advantaged, and scrutinize and levy fines when they are disadvantaged.

Also, the biggest problem in broadcast television media is not so much a left or right slant, but rather a corporate statist slant, and the left and right are both deeply entrenched in that bias.

In broadcast radio, opponents of the Fairness doctine make a valid point, while conservative talk radio is very popular, and profitable, why should a radio station be forced to put on hours of less popular money losing content to balance out programming that they air, ostensibly because it is profitable, not because of the point of view.

I would say that proponents of the Fairness Doctrine would have to prove objectively that political programming was aired not because of profitability, but for political reasons. If this were to be proven, then the public aspect of these frequencies could be used as standing to mandate more equality. And although I have seen arguments to this effect, I have seen no proof.

So the government HAS some standing for a few media outlets, but at this point in our history there is really nothing they could mandate other than a sliver of the ideological spectrum as point and counterpoint.

The argument that this would stifle free speech is interesting, as it would seem that MORE speech would be better than less, but I do understand that the idea of fairness consisting of ONLY the Republican point of view and the Democratic point of view is neither fair, free, nor representative.


Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
The only proper conclusion to draw from this survey is that approximately 34-41% of the American public cannot think their way out of a open field.
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Migrating to Canadian servers will commence on...
Written By: unaha-closp
The argument that this would stifle free speech is interesting, as it would seem that MORE speech would be better than less, but I do understand that the idea of fairness consisting of ONLY the Republican point of view and the Democratic point of view is neither fair, free, nor representative.
Do you mean that outlets would be required to devote a certain amount of time to what you called point-counterpoint? Otherwise, the assertion that "more speech" would necessarily result seems silly to me. The mandate to present both points of view can easily induce media outlets to switch to non-political content, just to avoid dealing with the rules and bureaucratic nonsense of doing political content. So the total amount of speech could easily decrease under any variation of the Fairness Doctrine.

And, I believe, even if point-counterpoint were mandated, it would be meaningless drivel, because the whole idea that there are "two sides" to political questions is stupid.
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
On a scale of 1-10, I’m feeling about a -5 right now. I really might have to stop following politics.
Written By: Sean
34% of people must believe anything with the word ’fair’ in it must be fair.
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Any conservative who thinks they will get any airtime out of this is fooling themselves. The result will be like the NYT guy who worries about bias - right wing bias that is. Expect shows with progressives and moderate liberals - hey we have both sides!
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
A Fairness Doctrine that broadens regulatory authority to TV is a big stick to whack the liberal MSM with.
I’m old enough to remember the old fairness doctrine.

TV was unphased by its existence or disappearance.

You see "News" is exempt. Back then the News was mostly still the Networks. But today CNN and the others cast themselves as mostly news. They would have to change very little. Ironically, FoxNews does not. It arguably has a more of a talkshow format with news inserts.

Then there’s the remainder of TV which includes sitcoms, dramas, etc. It is also exempt.

So only the Conservatives who don’t hide the fact they are pundits will be affected. Because the liberal pundits sit in anchorman format behind a desk and occasionally spew some news, they will get a pass.

And even if Conservatives used the same trappings, it will be left up to bureaucrats to decide who is a Newsman and who is a Pundit. Guess who pay bureaucrats better at raise time?
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
The fairness doctrine would be great. We need it on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, WAPO, NYT, LATimes, NPR etc.
Written By: RA
URL: http://
It was the conservatives who promulgated the nationalization of airwaves in the first place; why does their continued support for such policies suprise anyone?
Written By: Drew
URL: http://
I suggest using the term "Monitored Broadcasting" instead.
Written By: Joe R.
URL: http://
Well we’re screwed if any Republicans believe it won’t be applied selectively against them. The Democrats want it for a reason.

Back when we had it before ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, WAPO, NYT, LATimes, NPR were just as biased Left as they are today, but Conservative Talk Radio didn’t exist. It only came into existence after the Fairness Doctrine was turned off.

It also further locks out anyone but Republicans and Democrats. The two closed clubs enlarging the moat around the castle against a third party. Republican politicians might climb onboard simply to promote that aspect.
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://

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