Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

WHO'S AFRAID OF THE FAIRNESS DOCTRINE by Steve Almond

 Almond raises some good questions in his Boston Globe article on this subject.






OF ALL the Big Lies told by the pooh-bahs of talk radio - that our biracial president hates white people, that global warming is a hoax, that a public health care plan to compete with private insurers equals socialism - the most desperate and deluded is this: that the so-called Fairness Doctrine would squash free speech.


Nonsense.

The Fairness Doctrine would not stop talk radio hosts from spewing the invective that has made them so fabulously wealthy. All it would do is subject their invective to a real-time reality check.
If you don’t believe me, consult the historical evidence. The Federal Communications Commission adopted the Fairness Doctrine in 1949. Because the airwaves were both public and limited, the FCC wanted to ensure that licensees devoted “a reasonable amount of broadcast time to the discussion of controversial issues,’’ and that they did so “fairly, in order to afford reasonable opportunity for opposing viewpoints.’’ That’s the whole shebang.

[skip]


If Obama and his congressional counterparts don’t have the guts for that fight, Americans of all political persuasions will continue to seek out “news’’ and opinions that merely reinforce their biases, rather than forcing them to question those biases. America will continue to limp along as a nation of enraged dittoheads, rather than free-thinking citizens who may differ in our politics, but share an honest desire to solve our common plights.

Which brings me to a final mystery: If today’s conservative talkers are so sure they’re right about everything (and they certainly sound sure), and if they believe so ardently in the First Amendment, why don’t a few of them screw up the courage to invite me onto their programs to discuss the risks and rewards of the Fairness Doctrine? No shouting or cutting off microphones. Just good, old-fashioned freedom of speech.
Actually, consider that a dare.

19 comments:

dmarks said...

The FCC requirment "...“fairly, in order to afford reasonable opportunity for opposing viewpoints."

runs into the brick wall of the First Amendment. There is no clause in freedom of the press that says "unless deemed unfair by government censors".

Patrick M said...

Anyone who is not in favor by the current or future government should fear the fairness doctrine.

Very simply, look at talk radio under the fairness doctrine (dying) to the post-fairness doctrine airwaves (explodingly busy).

The words say one thing, but they have a chilling effect on speech, not a diversity of.

And if Steve-o wants a debate, suggest Sean Hannity to him. Strangely, I suspect he'd be on the next day.

dmarks said...

"Just good, old-fashioned freedom of speech. Actually, consider that a dare."

Does Shaw really think this is a good idea?

If so, then why doesn't she make sure half the posts here are made by Patrick or someone of a similar non-liberal ideological bent?

And over at Swash, demand that half of the bloggers there represent opposing views (and along the way lift the ban on dissenting comments)?

We'd wait a llloooonnnggg time.

TRUTH 101 said...

Dmarks: The right fears the Truth my friend. In my hometown we don't get any left leaning talk radio. Since Molly Ivins passed away, we rarely get a columnist with left leaning tendencies.

Maybe they would or wouldn't sell here. But I will never know and never have the opportunity.



AS for comments? Once again, I'll give you, Patrick and a very few other right leaning bloggers credit for your convictions that you post views dissenting from Shaw's here. But look at the blogrolls of most of the righties that are in this community. Pamela D. Hart has an extensive list of righties that refuse to post here. At my site. They don't even post at Patrick's site which they should at least read so they could possibly learn how to formulate and communicate well thought out opinion instead of their " Shaw and T101 are commie pinkos" nonsense.



Face the fact Dmarks. Most righties can't face the thought of leaving the security of their deluded right wing media outlets.

As case in point, when Tancredo was exposed by the Veteran for the chicken hawk clown he is, Tancredo ran away.

libhom said...

The corporate media's fear mongeriing should be disregarded. The Fairness Doctrine served our country well for years. We should bring it back.

Mark Bacon of The Bacon Press said...

The Fairness Doctrine was a rule of the FCC. It required broadcast entities using the public airwaves to provide time for “responsible, opposing positions” if said broadcast entity presented an editorial. Pretty straightforward. Even simple. But, oh, so effective.

Faux “News” wouldn’t be able to operate the way they do under the Fairness Doctrine. Oh, they could still operate. They could go “subscription”, like HBO. Alternately, they could actually broadcast a fair and balanced production but I don’t really think there’s any risk of that.

St. Reagan put an end to enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine, along with rules limiting ownership of media outlets, and the result has been much damage to this nation. Now that moneyed interests control most of “the message”, it’s very easy for those interests to manipulate the understanding of a large number of otherwise normal (but really kinda dumb) Americans. (For the record, I define “really kinda dumb” as people who use ‘wrong-means-keep-doing-the-same” as a guiding principle.)

The think I like about this particular issue is that we, the people don’t need to get our bought-and-paid for Congress to do a thing. The Fairness Doctrine is a policy of the FCC. All we have to do is pressure Obama to reinstate the policy and the “message” will begin to clear right up.
Mark Bacon
The Bacon Press
http://thebaconpress.wordpress.com/

dmarks said...

101: The Constitution recognizes no "left" or "right", or the need of the government to censor either.

Libhom: The Fairness Doctrine only served the purpose of censorship and stifling debate and discussion. Radio stations played music rather than air content that might possibly trigger government control (censorship) of discussion of issues.

Bacon said: "Fox News wouldn’t be able to operate the way they do under the Fairness Doctrine. Oh, they could still operate. They could go “subscription”,"

I corrected your misspelling, since it made you look kind of dumb. Do you have any idea what you are talking about? Fox News already IS subscription, and as a cable service, they would not have been subject to the Fairness Doctrine anyway. But your argument really only shows that your goal (and probably the goal of some others) is to get the government to censor Fox News for the crime of airing stuff you'd rather not see aired. Ever hear of changing the channel? After all, it's only one cable channel in a hundred, and only one ot of 6 or 7 networks with a national news service.

"St. Reagan put an end to enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine, along with rules limiting ownership of media outlets, and the result has been much damage to this nation"

The result has actually been an explosion of media diversity and discussion of issues over the public airwaves. That's a good thing. Whatever Reagan's other flaws, it was clear that he understood the First Amendment.
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I see they are all lining up in favor of censoring the media.

But not all liberals are in favor of the prevailing view here of getting the government to wipe out political dissent.

Here's a great quote from Mario Cuomo, in which he was arguing against the "Fairness Doctrine": ""Precisely because radio and TV have become our principal sources of news and information, we should accord broadcasters the utmost freedom in order to insure a truly free press." I wonder if any liberal commenters here will side with freedom of the press.

"All we have to do is pressure Obama to reinstate the policy and the “message” will begin to clear right up."

Yes, of course. Only government-approved opinion and commentary allowed.

TAO said...

dmarks,

You come to Shaws blog and post as you desire whatever you want and whenever you want and yet you want to make the feeble claim that she does not give equal time to opposing points of view...in case you have not noticed, you are pretty much an opposing point of view.

Now, lets look at another blog that you like to visit and you post comments on from time to time: Right Is Right.

Now, she is deleting all of my comments because I corrected her 'facts' about Adolf Hitler's biography which she wanted to make fit her goal of super imposing Hitler on the biography of Obama.

Personally, I think the 'genie' has been let out of the bottle and the potential for 'fairness' is slim to none nowadays.

Rush and Fox News will still keep winning fans because for some reason a very vocal minority WANT to be fed this anger, and this negativism.

They do not listen to Beck, O'Reilly, Hannity, or any of the many of other 'entertainers' for the news as much as they listen to watch these entertainers attack, show anger, and despise...

Fox News does not run a news program during the hours of 5pm to 10pm...its all commentary.

It really has absolutely nothing to do with news/reality/fairness and everything to do with anti-intellectualism...

It has nothing to do with principles or beliefs and everything to do with stirring up the "mob"

This country has become ungovernable and you can only wonder if that is the intent...

Our whole political debate, even among individual citizens has become more entertaining than it has been educating.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

TAO, why I no longer bother with dmarks.

dmarks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arthurstone said...

'Equal time'. Once again dmarks quotes himself and tries to pass it off as if it might be part of the Fairness Doctrine past or future.

Never was. Wouldn't be if the Doctrine were re-enacted.

The 'Equal Time' rule is something altogether different. It has to do with political candidates during campaigns and is in effect to the satisfaction of 'both sides'.

That said I don't personally believe in a return to the Fairness Doctrine. I would like to see ownership of media outlets more carefully scrutinized and far less concentrated in increasingly fewer hands.

dmarks said...

Arthur: Actually, I was quoting Mario Cuomo, not myself. But anyway, when I referred to equal time, I was referring to the "balance" requirement of the actual "Fairness Doctrine", the way it really was. I did not mean to imply that I was referring to the specific "Equal Time" rule for candidates, which I know is a different thing.

As for media ownership, in terms of electronic media, there are now more hands (as opposed to fewer), compared to when there that "Doctrine" was in place. "carefully scrutinizing" the free press with the possible goal of interference (especially if it is done with the goal of getting rid of certain views) can imperil the freedom of the press also.

But we might have some agreement here: I do strongly support efforts to get more voices into the media, as long as the efforts do not include attempts to censor existing voices. For a while there was an effort to get low-power FM community radio station licenses. Honestly, I have no idea what became of that. But it was a great idea.

Existing commercial radio stations objected to this because they did not want competition.

Arthurstone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arthurstone said...

'Careful scrutinizing' refers to limiting concentration of ownership. Nothing to do with 'views'.

The trend is fewer corporations controlling more media. Consolidation has increased by every measure over the recent past.

dmarks said...

Arthur, when is "recent"?

Back in the days of the Fairness Doctrine, for national news, you had ABC, CBS, PBS, and NBC. Now you have all of those four, plus CNN, Fox, and C-SPAN. That's an increase.

Arthurstone said...

Roughly the past 20 years.

dmarks said...

A period in which the Huffington Post, Drudge Report, Democratic Underground, Newsmax, Daily KOS, Democracy Now, Free Republic and many other sources have been sprouting like mushrooms, getting more and more popular, and are each owned by entirely different owners.

Each one of these has a significant national following. I listed 7, and there are probably at least 7 others that did not come to mind to put on the list. You can add to this list foreign news sources like Guardian, China News, London Times Online Telegraph which have large followings now, but were hardly available 20 years ago in the United States. Surely the now-ubiquitous availabilty and popularity of foreign news sources (which we simply did not have 20 years ago) in the US adds to the media diversity picture.

In national news in network TV, 20 years ago you had NBC, CNN, CBS, ABC, and PBS. We still have those, all owned by separate owners. Since then we have added C-Span and Fox News. More owners, still no consolidation. I can also get Democracy Now! on cable TV. Another national news source that just was not around 20 years ago.

One sector where there has been dwindling is in big daily newspapers. However, during the last 20 years I have seen an explosion in alternative weekly newspapers of all kinds.

It's clear that there are many many more national news and information sources now than there were 20 years ago. Isn't this a trend away from consolidation?

Jim said...

Mr. D, ain't it gettin hard pushing that egg up the liberal hill? ;-)

It don't matter what decade you want to talk about, libs hide behind words or they so conveniently make up meanings to justify whatever freedom they want to take from the masses (it's for the better good of all don't ya know).

This so called Fairness Doctrine is no such thing. No one can show me where in the Constitution the article that allows the general government to police or demand equal time on matters of political opinions. It ain't none of their damn business.

BTW before you throw the ownership of the airwaves argument - how is it that the government "owns" the airwaves and not the print?

dmarks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.