Reinstating the Fairness Doctrine

Rep. Louise Slaughter has introduced House bill 4710, which would reinstate the Fairness doctrine and require the FCC to enforce it. Now contrary to what you'll hear Ruch Limbaugh say, this would not mean he'd get kicked off the air, nor would it mean that stations would be forced to air liberal voices around the same time as Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity and Savage are regurgitating whatever talking points Rove has written up for them that day. What it would require would be accurate and balanced coverage of all sides (presumably more than two at times) of important issues. Now, to be certain, what is considered an important issue and what is considered accurate, balanced coverage from multiple perspectives is a bit subjective, but compared to what we have today...

And there's a way to get the right-wing nutjobs on our side on this as well (distasteful as that might seem). Aren't they the ones who always bitch about how "liberal" the media is? Isn't their favorite argument justifying Fox News's obvious bias that "yeah, but you've got ABCNNBCBSMSNBC, the New York Times, and NPR on your side?" I know--their arguments are crap, but just the same, if they truly believe that, then a reinstitution of the fairness doctrine should be wonderful for them, right? No more shoving the liberal side of things down their throat without equal time for the conservative viewpoint, right?

I know--they'll never go for it, at least their elected officials won't, and neither will the broadcasters. Why? Because if we actually have a fairness doctrine, one that's enforced, then that removes the "liberal media" bugaboo from their arsenal. They couldn't claim to be victimized any longer--they'd have to admit that they're intellectually empty and rhetorically challenged.

It's the same thing with abortion. The last thing that the right wing politicians want is a Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. That takes an arrow out of their quiver. It's one less issue to bash the left with, one less way to raise money and guarantee votes from a segment of the population that has nothing else to motivate it.

But with the fairness doctrine, we would actually benefit from having it back in place. Companies like Sinclair (and perhaps even Fox News) would no longer be able to give in kind donations of airtime to the Republican party. And that's got to be a good thing.

Note: this is where I first read about the bill to restore the fairness doctrine. Chris Bowers has a good explanation of exactly what a reinstatement would do to our current media situation, and there's also a history of the fairness doctrine's removal from law, the various attempts to keep it from being recodified, Limbaugh's role, and a link to an interview with Rep. Slaughter conducted by Bill Moyers. Enjoy!

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