Bring Back the Fairness Doctrine

Some of the other contributors and I have posted once or twice around here, ahem, about our firm belief that, if the Dems had any brains in their heads, they would use the opportunity of their simultaneous Congressional majority and White House occupancy to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, which was established by the FCC in 1949 to ensure that broadcasters afforded reasonable access to opposing viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance, and was later tossed out under Reagan, paving the way for the emergence of Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Fox News, and Randi Rhodes, just to name a few.

Well, maybe there's some grey matter in D.C. after all:
More and more Democrats in Congress are calling for action that Republicans warn could muzzle right-wing talk radio.

Representative Maurice Hinchey, a Democrat from New York is the latest to say he wants to bring back the "Fairness Doctrine," a federal regulation scrapped in 1987 that would require broadcasters to present opposing views on public issues.

"I think the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated," Hinchey told CNNRadio. Hinchey says he could make it part of a bill he plans to introduce later this year overhauling radio and t-v ownership laws.

Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Tom Harkin of Iowa added their voices recently to those calling for a return of the regulation.

Republicans oppose the Fairness Doctrine, arguing it would be wrong for the federal government to monitor political speech on the airwaves, in order to require opposing views.
That's total bullshit, of course.

The FCC doesn't constantly monitor every single thing on the airwaves now. They set up guidelines, broadcasters mostly adhere to it, and, when they don't, viewers complain, prompting the FCC to investigate. There's no reason to think that the primary enforcers of the Fairness Doctrine wouldn't be the American viewing public, serving as watchdogs just as they are now on "decency"-related content.

Also bullshit is the commonly-held assertion that the Fairness Doctrine curbs free speech. It does not. It censors nothing, but merely exhorts authentic balance, which, in the end, means more speech, not less.

All of us have seen cable news. We know they've got time to spare. Dead air would be better than hour three of Groundhog Day coverage.

The reason the Republicans don't like the Fairness Doctrine is because they've got a monopoly on the airwaves and they know it. And even with the media giving them an unfair advantage, they're losing ground.

The reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine could be the death knell for the GOP as we know it.

Contact Rep. Hinchey and let him know you support his efforts. (If you're not in his district, you'll have to call.)

Contact your Senators and Representatives and encourage them to support the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine.

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