What's so 'fair' about the Fairness Doctrine

We at American Thinker have covered the attempt by Democrats to reinstitute the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" which would virtually shut down conservative talk radio and perhaps even sites like this one.

In today's New York Post , City Journal editor Brian Anderson examines exactly what the reimposition of the Fairness Doctrine would mean:

The Fairness Doctrine was an astonishingly bad idea. It's a too-tempting power for government to abuse. When the doctrine was in effect, both Democratic and Republican administrations regularly used it to harass critics on radio and TV.

Second, a new Fairness Doctrine would drive political talk radio off the dial. If a station ran a big-audience conservative program like, say, Laura Ingraham's, it would also have to run a left-leaning alternative. But liberals don't do well on talk radio, as the failure of Air America and indeed all other liberal efforts in the medium to date show. Stations would likely trim back conservative shows so as to avoid airing unsuccessful liberal ones.

Then there's all the lawyers you'd have to hire to respond to the regulators measuring how much time you devoted to this topic or that. Too much risk and hassle, many radio executives would conclude. Why not switch formats to something less charged - like entertainment or sports coverage?

For those who dismiss this threat to freedom of the airwaves as unlikely, consider how the politics of "fairness" might play out with the public. A Rasmussen poll last summer found that fully 47 percent of respondents backed the idea of requiring radio and television stations to offer "equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary," with 39 percent opposed.

Also consider that when the Democrats seek to stuff the Fairness Doctrine down our throats, they won't call it by it's real name. They will dub it a "Broadcast Bill of Rights" or some other such nonsense just so they can tell people, "See? We aren't reimposing the Fairness Doctrine. Those conservatives are just being unfair." This is the oldest liberal trick in the book (think "We don't require quotas. We want 'numerical targets.")

There is hope. Talk radio is broadcast on some very large radio networks. It is doubtful they would take such a move lying down. There is also the probability that the cable nets will balk at restrictions imposed by the Fairness Doctrine.

In short, we will have some powerful allies on our side if the Democrats ever get serious about stifling the conservative viewpoint.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky


We at American Thinker have covered the attempt by Democrats to reinstitute the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" which would virtually shut down conservative talk radio and perhaps even sites like this one.

In today's New York Post , City Journal editor Brian Anderson examines exactly what the reimposition of the Fairness Doctrine would mean:

The Fairness Doctrine was an astonishingly bad idea. It's a too-tempting power for government to abuse. When the doctrine was in effect, both Democratic and Republican administrations regularly used it to harass critics on radio and TV.

Second, a new Fairness Doctrine would drive political talk radio off the dial. If a station ran a big-audience conservative program like, say, Laura Ingraham's, it would also have to run a left-leaning alternative. But liberals don't do well on talk radio, as the failure of Air America and indeed all other liberal efforts in the medium to date show. Stations would likely trim back conservative shows so as to avoid airing unsuccessful liberal ones.

Then there's all the lawyers you'd have to hire to respond to the regulators measuring how much time you devoted to this topic or that. Too much risk and hassle, many radio executives would conclude. Why not switch formats to something less charged - like entertainment or sports coverage?

For those who dismiss this threat to freedom of the airwaves as unlikely, consider how the politics of "fairness" might play out with the public. A Rasmussen poll last summer found that fully 47 percent of respondents backed the idea of requiring radio and television stations to offer "equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary," with 39 percent opposed.

Also consider that when the Democrats seek to stuff the Fairness Doctrine down our throats, they won't call it by it's real name. They will dub it a "Broadcast Bill of Rights" or some other such nonsense just so they can tell people, "See? We aren't reimposing the Fairness Doctrine. Those conservatives are just being unfair." This is the oldest liberal trick in the book (think "We don't require quotas. We want 'numerical targets.")

There is hope. Talk radio is broadcast on some very large radio networks. It is doubtful they would take such a move lying down. There is also the probability that the cable nets will balk at restrictions imposed by the Fairness Doctrine.

In short, we will have some powerful allies on our side if the Democrats ever get serious about stifling the conservative viewpoint.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky