The Democrats' Foul 'Fairness Doctrine'

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?

I’ve posed this exact line of questions to various liberals during the last few weeks and they always say something like “Republicans lost the election so get over it” or, as Obama said to Republican Representative Eric Cantor regarding the stimulus package on January 25, 2009, “I won. … I will trump you on that.” What they fail to see is that that they are betraying the rational for pushing the “Fairness Doctrine” by crediting their one-sidedness to the people’s choice.


Newsflash: Whether we are talking about which radio programs to listen to or which politicians to vote for, we are ultimately dealing with one thing — choice. Democrats have the upper hand right now because the majority of voters put them there. Likewise, Limbaugh is the king of talk radio because 20 million people choose to listen to him every day, while progressive talk radio is lucky if anyone tunes in at all.

So why do Democrats have the right to shut out all dissenting voices in the legislative process while men and women who own radio stations must be enslaved to dissenting voices? It’s just another example of the Left’s duplicity. They’ve one rule for geese, another for ganders.

Even more to the point, the “Fairness Doctrine” isn’t about fairness at all; it’s about control (and about the Democrats exercising the power they’ve acquired since November 2008). This is why their pursuit of this legislation is marred by behavior that betrays disrespect for every viewpoint different from a liberal one.

When staffers “from the offices of … Pelosi … and … Reid … met (on February 10) to put together the ‘stimulus’ conference report…[both House and Senate] Republican conferees were excluded.” Is this what Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats meant during the recent election cycle, when they kept talking about the need to restore bipartisanship to D.C.?


Likewise, Stabenow will need to push for the same number of Republicans as Democrats to serve on the Senate committees on which she serves — which include the Committee on the Budget, Committee on Finance, and Committee of Energy and Natural Resources — if we’re to believe she’s serious about fairness. And Senator Harkin must call for bipartisan “balance” on the committees on which he serves if we are to think the time to resurrect the “Fairness Doctrine” has truly come.

But until these “leaders” begin to lead by example, and pursue “balance,” “accountability,” and “fairness” in their own sphere with the same fervor they demonstrate in pursuing it for ours, we must remember that the fact that there’s one rule for geese and another for ganders is proof that the Democrats are being unfair. And to allow such an unfair group of legislators to restore a law that would take conservative talk radio off the air would be nothing less than political suicide for conservatism.


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