Remember the “Fairness Doctrine”? It was the FCC mandate that required equal representation of viewpoints on the airwaves in the 1970s and 80s. If a given radio channel aired three hours of conservative talk radio, it had to balance those out with three hours of liberal talk radio. President Ronald Reagan struck this down in 1987 and the popularity that conservative talk radio has garnered since has some members of the House and Senate calling for the doctrine’s reintroduction.
I have only one question: “Would the legislators who are pushing for the reinstitution of the ‘Fairness Doctrine’ be willing to abide by it as well?”
Recently, liberal icon Bill Press, Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow and Tom Harkin, and former President Bill Clinton have all pushed for the “Fairness Doctrine” to be reinstated. All four are doing so under the guise of “accountability” and the pursuit of “balance,” of course. Press is particularly bothered by the fact that “progressive talk radio” is losing out “from one city after another.”
These four, like all their comrades who hope for the doctrine’s reinstatement, feign ignorance of the fact that radio programming is based on what people want to listen to, rather than what the programmers might most want to air. In other words, talk radio is 100% market driven, and men like Rush Limbaugh make big money because of the immensity of the listening audience they attract. “Progressive talk radio,” on the other hand, is failing because no one is listening: no one wants to listen.
And tellingly, amid this faux push for both sides to be heard on the airwaves in a “fair” exchange of ideas, Press, Stabenow, Harkin, and Clinton voiced no concern over the way Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid barred Republicans from input during the latter stages of debate over the stimulus package. What’s “fair” about locking Republicans out? Where’s the “accountability,” Senator Stabenow? What balance was struck between the liberal worldview and the conservative worldview?