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Fred and the Fairness Doctrine
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Fred Thompson's blog quotes an American Spectator article:
Rep. Henry Waxman has asked his investigative staff to begin compiling reports on Limbaugh, and fellow radio hosts Sean Hannity and Mark Levin based on transcripts from their shows, and to call in Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin to discuss the so-called “Fairness Doctrine.”

“Limbaugh isn’t the only one who needs to be made uncomfortable about what he says on the radio,” says a House leadership source. “We don’t have as big a megaphone as these guys, but this all political, and we’ll do what we can to gain the advantage. If we can take them off their game for a while, it will help our folks out there on the campaign trail.”
If true (and with a "House leadership source" as the source, you have to caveat it that way) it is another indication of a Congress more interested in politics than doing their job. Given that most of Congress' tenure has, to this point, provided more heat than light, it really would come as no surprise if this is true. And the recent attacks on O'Reilly and especially Limbaugh (which ended up on the floor of the Senate) indicate that there is some truth to the quote.

Thompson then weighs in with this about the Fairness Doctrine (a slam dunk piece of legislation if there's a Democratic sweep in '08):
Insiders say it was the collapse of the radio station “Air America” that led to this attempt to retool the Fairness Doctrine as a form of de facto censorship. I guess the idea is that, if you can’t compete in the world of ideas, you pass a law that forces radio stations to air your views. In effect, it would force a lot of radio stations to drop some talk show hosts — because they would lose money providing equal airtime to people who can’t attract a market or advertisers.

The funny thing is that the success of the current crop of radio talk show hosts is due, in part, to a lot of people’s perception that broadcast television doesn’t give the views of their audience a fair shake. Maybe I shouldn’t admit it, since I dabble in radio myself, but this media used to be viewed as a kind of broadcast ghetto. The bicoastal elite had such a grip on the major newspapers and television networks; they pretty much ignored the hinterlands. It was media flyover country.

Now congressional leaders say they want to “level the playing field” there too – meaning they want to diminish the importance of conservative talk radio. In other words, they don’t trust the results of freedom and the marketplace. Why am I not surprised?
The fact is the focus of any revival of the Fairness Doctrine would almost be exclusively on the AM radio band. It is there where the left suffers a huge deficit in terms of influence. After trying mightily several times to actually compete and failing miserably, the left had decided that it has no alternative but to legislate 'fairness' through Congress (part of the radical egalitarianism I continue to harp on).

In anticipation of this power to legislate fairness on radio stations by whatever arbitrary standards they will choose to impose, Henry Waxman, et. al, are beginning to compile the "evidence" of the need for such legislation. "Show hearings" will be held, and tightly scripted "evidence" will be presented with the outcome preordained. The "process" will conclude that "fairness" dictates equal time for those who couldn't cut it in the market. And, if all goes well, talk radio will go the way of the dinosaur as stations drop shows rather than lose money or risk going afoul of the regulatory body which will be monitoring them.

If you can't beat it, use the power of government to kill it. And then, of course, wax poetic on the beauty of "freedom of speech" at the next opportunity presented (Cynical? Nah, not me).
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Perhaps, one of the best ways to counter this is to make sure that newspapers and television newscasts are included in any legislative attempt. They will lobby hardest to have those efforts defeated.
Written By: Keith_Indy
Fool me once shame on you fool me twice shame on me.

The fairness doctrine didn’t cause the Newspapers or broadcast TV to do anything differently. With one exception.

They guise their activity and bias in a news format. If you compare most CNN shows to FoxNews Shows, the CNN shows have a mostly Newsie format. There’s a reason for that. They won’t be touched because they’ll be deemed News. Most of FoxNews shows could easily be deemed Talk. So this has implications for not just talk radio.

And guess who will administer ’Fairness’? FCC bureaucrats who will know full well which side butters their bread.
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Which then begs the question: will the Roberts Court strike down the law as an unconstitutional curtaling or legislating of Free Speech?
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
I’m hopefull the current makeup of the SCotUS would knock down as unconstitutional any "Fairness Doctrine".
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Why am I not feeling good about the Constitutionality of the Fairness Doctrine.

ah yes.....eminent domain.....
Written By: looker
URL: http://
good point :-/
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
Don’t feel so down Mr. McQ, maybe this would set a precedent for the online world too! Just imagine the laughter that would ensue when DailyKos and other lefty blogs are bandwidth-limited because they unfairly monopolize blogosphere traffic. See, law of unintended consequences can be fun!
Written By: James O
URL: http://
I’m not really worried about the ironically named doctrine becoming law again. Its removal created an industry, and reinstating it would destroy that industry. They have every incentive to buy-off however many Congressman it takes to keep itself from dying.

Oh, and it’s a nakedly partisan tool of the Lefties, so don’t count on it being used against them anytime soon.
Written By: Douglas Black
URL: http://

You think the Fairness Doctrine would be evenly applied accross the board?
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Hah, OK, it probably wouldn’t work out that way. But it’s a humorous thought to contemplate.
Written By: James O
URL: http://

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