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RIP, Fairness Doctrine

The long-dead law finally gets a proper burial but its leftist advocates live on.

by
La Shawn Barber

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August 26, 2011 - 11:00 am
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“I think it a recognition on the FCC’s part that the doctrine historically suppressed free speech,” Anderson said in an e-mail, “especially political speech, and would be viewed as unconstitutional by today’s courts, and that in our rapidly mutating media universe, any government effort to ensure ‘fairness’ is doomed to incoherence and futility.”

The Brookings Institute joined the regulation chorus. Three days after the 2008 presidential election, Darrell West, vice-president of Governance Studies, asked President-elect Barack Obama in a memo to restore the Fairness Doctrine. He wrote that television and radio generally didn’t “produce or promote thoughtful or deliberative civic discussions” and that traditional media sources produced “little substantive information and fail[s] to give citizens adequate knowledge about their government.”

The Fairness Doctrine’s burial likely won’t mean the end of attempts to stifle free speech. “While the letter of the law is now dead, we want to ensure that the spirit of this particular law also remains dead,” said Dr. Frank Wright, president and CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters. “There are many voices calling for increased scrutiny of broadcast programming under the guise of ‘localism,’ and we see such proposals as a Fairness Doctrine in different garb.”

The Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell echoed Wright’s concerns and issued a warning:

[S]ince the FCC started playing with policies of “localism,” “media diversity” and a nebulous requirement to “serve the public interest,” with yet another unelected and unconfirmed “Diversity Czar” to implement these proposed regulations, the spirit of the Censorship Doctrine has remained very much alive. The path to censor radio airwaves is being paved through the back door….The fate of political free speech on radio airwaves lies in the balance, and shame on the FCC for not putting an end to ALL threats to free speech.

Liberals dominate major newspapers, magazines, and television networks. They rule Hollywood. They’ve got taxpayer-supported NPR and PBS. What more do they want?

If you can’t beat ‘em, regulate ‘em to death.

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La Shawn Barber is a freelance writer who blogs at http://lashawnbarber.com.
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