fairness doctrine

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Fairness Doctrine

The Fairness Doctrine was a Federal Communications Commission rule requiring over-the-air radio and television broadcasters to be fair and balanced (so to speak). For instance, if a TV station broadcast a station editorial, they had to allow anyone else (within reason) to present a contrasting view of the issue. Nowadays, some in the Democratic Party see it as a way to silence right-wing radio; such attempts are sometimes called "Hush Rush" movements, after Rush Limbaugh.

However, due to the negative connotations associated with the rule, it's probably not going to come back despite it being supported by some politicians. And, Barack Obama opposes it.

But, never fear, for the Democratic Party has a new trick up their sleeve. Instead of bringing back the FD, they support efforts that would have the same chilling effect. Obama and others oppose what they call media consolidation and support its related localism, i.e., enforcing ownership rules to give licenses to companies based out of the locations of their licensed stations. And, those plans are supported by the Obama-linked Center for American Progress; note that their blog ThinkProgress refers to mainstream talkers like Rush as "hate radio".

The bottom line is that the Democratic Party wants to reduce the influence of Rush and similar talkers, and they're going to try to do it using something that will have a similar effect as the FD but just not with the FD itself.

Unfortunately, some opponents of these plans hurt their case by outright claiming that the Democrats want to "bring back the Fairness Doctrine" instead of saying something like "they want to bring back something that would have the same effect as the Fairness Doctrine; it might be the FD with a different name, or it might use different tactics to achieve the same effect." The second is much wordier, but if something like that isn't used, Obama supporters will be able to deflect the impact by referring to the fact that Obama opposes the FD.

Last modified Feb 6, 2009
Discussed in (click each link for the full post):

Cass Sunstein, Obama "regulatory czar", proposed "fairness doctrine" for internet - 04/28/09

From this: Barack Obama's nominee for "regulatory czar" (Cass Sunstein) has advocated a "Fairness Doctrine" for the Internet that would require opposing opinions be linked and also has suggested angry e-mails should be prevented from being sent by technology that would require a 24-hour cooling off period... Sunstein first proposed the notion of imposing mandatory "electronic sidewalks" for the Net. These "sidewalks" would display links to opposing viewpoints... Later, Sunstein rethought his proposal, explaining that it would be "too difficult to regulate [the Internet] in a way that would...

ACLU controlling Obama policy? ("Transition Recommendations" wants most immigration enforcement halted, + much more) - 03/17/09

In November, the American Civil Liberties Union released "Actions For Restoring America: Transition Recommendations for President‐Elect Barack Obama" (aclu.org/transition) listing things they wanted him to do the first day, within the first 100 days, and within the first year. Several of their proposals would halt immigration enforcement to a great extent, pending "review".

Senate votes to prevent Fairness Doctrine, ignoring fact that it might come back in another form - 02/26/09

The Senate has voted 87 to 11 in support of an amendment that would prevent the Fairness Doctrine from coming back (link).

Obama reiterates Fairness Doctrine opposition; concentrate on his plans that would have the same effect - 02/18/09

Fox News asked the Obama administration whether they want to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, and spokesman Ben LaBolt said (link): "As the president stated during the campaign, he does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated."

Henry Waxman: bring back Fairness Doctrine under another name... and for the internet too? - 02/17/09

There's news from Venezuela North, also known as the mind of Rep. Henry Waxman, as according to this his representatives met with FCC staffers to discuss ways to put in place a form of the "Fairness Doctrine" without actually calling it such. An unnamed "House Energy staffer" says: It's all about diversity in media... Does one radio station or one station group control four of the five most powerful outlets in one community? Do four stations in one region carry Rush Limbaugh, and nothing else during the same time slot? Does one heavily trafficked Internet site present one side of an issue...

Debbie Stabenow: bring back Fairness Doctrine or something like it; hold hearings on "accountability" - 02/05/09

From this comes this exchange from today: BILL PRESS: Yeah, I mean look: [conservative radio hosts] have a right to say that. They’ve got a right to express that. But, they should not be the only voices heard. So, is it time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine? SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): I think it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else – I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves. I mean, our new president has talked rightly about accountability and transparency. You know,...

Obama's doublespeak on a "Full and Free Exchange of Ideas" in the media (not the Fairness Doctrine) - 01/27/09

The all-new whitehouse dot gov's section on technology reads like something out of 1984 (whitehouse.gov/agenda/technology): Ensure the Full and Free Exchange of Ideas through an Open Internet and Diverse Media Outlets ...Encourage Diversity in Media Ownership: Encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation's spectrum. He wants a free and fair exchange... by driving his opponents off the airwaves. What that boils down to...

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA): bring back the Fairness Doctrine, and for cable and satellite too - 12/17/08

U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo - Democrat representing Palo Alto, California - says she'll work to bring back the Fairness Doctrine ("I'll work on bringing it back. I still believe in it"). Not only that, but she wants to take it to a new level and have it apply to cable and satellite services as well as over-the-air radio and TV: "It should and will affect everyone." What you'll hear is that she probably stands little chance of getting her way, which is probably true. You'll also hear that Barack Obama doesn't support the Fairness Doctrine, which is true. However, what you won't hear is that...

Marin Cogan/TNR's massive Fairness Doctrine strawman - 11/20/08

Marin Cogan of the New Republic offers "Bum Rush/Obama's secret plan to muzzle talk radio. Very, very secret." (tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=68d07041-7dbc-451d-a18a-752567145610). The supposed "reporter-researcher" looks for evidence that the Democrats want to bring back the Fairness Doctrine and can't find it. She therefore concludes that the Democrats don't want to try to muzzle rightwing talk radio.

Senator Bob Menendez to Neil Cavuto: "I hope you are not one of the ones forced off the air" - 11/03/08

[UPDATE: Apparently this is nothing, see below.] Earlier today, Senator Bob Menendez appeared on the Fox's Neil Cavuto show and got into an argument with him about various Barack Obama plans.

The Non-Partisan Case Against Barack Obama - 10/29/08

You don't have to be a conservative or a Republican to be opposed to Barack Obama. Here are some of the reasons that almost anyone should oppose him:

Garrulous Pajamas Media paper tiger warns: mainstream media is biased (or something) - 10/24/08

Newspaperman Michael Malone takes to the esteemed web pages of Pajamas Media to offer "Editing Their Way to Oblivion: Journalism Sacrificed For Power and Pensions" (link).

Does Barack Obama support the First Amendment? (answer: well, it depends) - 09/25/08

Is Barack Obama a strong proponent of the First Amendment? Does he support free speech, even by those who strongly disagree with him? The answer is: not really. I'll keep track in reverse chronological order (note, of course, that there are other examples throughout the time period):

Obama favored over McCain at NCLR meet, PWW reports (Fairness Doctrine) - 07/15/08

Comrade Rosalio Munoz from People's Weekly World reports from the National Council of La Raza convention where John McCain and Barack Obama spoke: "Incredibly, McCain did not even address the issues of the war in Iraq or his policy on health care. On immigration it was more of the same: secure the borders and no stop to the raids," said Angela Sambrano, an NCLR board member and director of the National Alliance of Latin-American and Caribbean Communities. ...Irene Godinez, 26, of Raleigh, N.C., who leads statewide public policy advocacy for the organization El Pueblo, said she thought "...

John McCain, Barack Obama to appear at National Latino Congress? - 06/21/08

According to a Mexican newspaper [1], both John McCain and Barack Obama may be appearing at this year's National Latino Congress/National Latino Congreso (latinocongreso.org), something I have a bit of trouble believing.

Janet Murguia/National Council of La Raza: throw the First Amendment away to protect illegal immigration? - 02/01/08

The previously discussed article from Ariel Alexovich of the New York Times about the new "We Can Stop The Hate" effort from the National Council of La Raza contains the following: [Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza] argued that hate speech should not be tolerated, even if such censorship were a violation of First Amendment rights: Everyone knows t

One Bill Gil Cedillo brings back illegal aliens driver's licenses (January 2008 edition) - 01/12/08

From this: Saying Friday's release of final regulations in the U.S. REAL ID Act clears the way, a Los Angeles Democrat said he will move ahead with a bill that would let illegal immigrants obtain driver's licenses. State Sen. Gil Cedillo has previously proposed such legislation, but it has been vetoed repeatedly by Republican Gov.

Michael Gerson turns on Mike Huckabee, spins LULAC/Tyson Foods meeting - 12/14/07

Bush hack turned Washington Post hack Michael Gerson - at that link trying to push for Bush's immigration "reform" by calling the GOP base names - offers "Homespun Meets Hard-Line". Like yesterday's WaPo editorial he turns on Mike Huckabee because of the latter's new (supposed) tough stance on illegal immigration.

National Latino Congreso: "No Human Being is Illegal", Nativo Lopez, Gil Cedillo, Kucinich, Cuban Five, Fairness Doctrine, and more! - 10/07/07

The 2nd annual "National Latino Congreso" - a meeting of hundreds of "Latino organizational leaders, elected officials, and activists at all levels" is currently underway in Los Angeles (latinocongreso.org). Yesterday, Anna Gorman of the Los Angeles Times offered a whitewashed report here. Let's take a look at the groups involved and some of the loony resolutions that were passed. Expect the MSM coverage to be in line with Gorman's report: it will completely cover for far-left racial demagogues and avoid mentioning the loony resolutions. Their "conveners' include: * League of United Latin...

LULAC, National Council of La Raza, "liberals", and the Fairness Doctrine - 07/24/07

When the left-wing support for free speech meets racial power groups like the League of United Latin American Citizens and the National Council of La Raza, watch out. Consider: The nation's largest Hispanic advocacy group says it must come up with a strategy to combat "a wave of hate" its leaders say came from talk radio's efforts to sink the Senate's immigration bill.

Liberals: Wikipedia not biased, Conservapedia a joke - 02/24/07

Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum has started an alternative to Wikipedia called Conservapedia. Needless to say, the usual "liberal" suspects are having a great deal of (what passes to them as) fun (link, link, link,

Al Gore: "I invented the First Amendment" - 10/06/05

Al Gore - in alternate reality #28B the President of the United States - recently preached about television, the Internet, newspapers, etc. etc. I could only take reading a few paragraphs of it, but testify Big Wooden Al, testify: [...extols First Amendment...] As a result of these fears, safeguards were enacted in the U.S. -- including the Public Interest Standard, the Equal Time Provision, and the Fairness Doctrine - though a half century later, in 1987, they were effectively repealed.

CNN aired Soros-funded documentary? - 05/22/05

Well, not exactly. Parse carefully Accuracy in Media's first paragraph from "AIM Report: CNN's George Soros-gate": Clear and convincing evidence indicates that billionaire money manipulator and anti-conservative activist George Soros provided financing for research on a CNN documentary... Remove the "research on" and you'd really have something.