June 29, 2007

"Where’s the Fairness Doctrine when you really need it?"

Asks Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr as he lashes into John Kerry for wanting to resurrect the loathsome "Fairness Doctrine":
How come no one outside Massachusetts ever heard about the “16-point buck” he claimed to have had between the crosshairs on the Cape? How about how he claimed to have run the Boston Marathon but couldn’t recall the year?

What about the condo flipping? What about the Bob Brest Buick? Or the fact that George Bush actually got higher grades at Yale than Kerry? What about all his free rides on the Florida S&L bandido’s private jet back in the early ’90s., pre-Mama T? How come most voters still don’t know any of these stories?
Carr's point is a familiar one: liberals bitch about right-wing radio but never acknowledge the liberal bias of mainstream media, especially NPR. But, oh, how he goes after Kerry. Delicious!

Now, Kerry's whiny nonsense provoked a satisfyingly quick smackdown as the House voted 309-115 for a bill that would keep the FCC from doing what it hasn't even made a move to do. We did have some commentators waggling their fingers and saying things like: "Unless broadcasters take steps to voluntarily balance their programming, they can expect a return of fairness rules if Democrats keep control of Congress and win the White House next year." That was threatening enough.

Looking for a link for the House vote, I started with a search in the NYT, which, it turns out, has written nothing about the recent talk about the Fairness Doctrine.

In fact, the NYT hasn't mentioned the Fairness Doctrine since November 2004, where it appeared, appropriately enough, in an obituary (TimesSelect link):
The Rev. Billy James Hargis, a fiery evangelist and anticommunist preacher who founded the Christian Crusade and reached millions in an international ministry that used radio, television, books, pamphlets and personal appearances, died on Saturday at a nursing home in Tulsa, Okla. He was 79....

At the height of his popularity in the 1960's and 1970's, Mr. Hargis -- a shouting, arm-waving, 270-pound elemental force whom Oklahomans called a ''bawl and jump'' preacher -- broadcast sermons daily or weekly on 500 radio stations and 250 television stations, mainly in the South, and in other countries. He traveled almost constantly to deliver his Christian and anticommunist messages, wrote 100 books and thousands of articles and pamphlets, and published a monthly newspaper....

Another case produced a landmark court decision and sharply cut Mr. Hargis's broadcasting empire. He was accused by Fred J. Cook, a journalist, of unfairly maligning him in a radio broadcast. Mr. Cook sought free air time to reply under the Federal Communications Commission's fairness doctrine. A radio station in Red Lion, Pa., sued, saying its First Amendment rights would be violated. But the Supreme Court in 1969 upheld the constitutionality of the fairness doctrine, and many stations thereafter were less inclined to broadcast controversial programs.
Here's the old Red Lion case for your non-edification. I was going to quote something from it, but there's no inspiring dissenting opinion, and it's a rather dull tract by Justice White, resting heavily on the scarcity of the airwaves and the need for the government to regulate (to avert cacophony).


Sloanasaurus said...

It's sad to even think that Dems would attempt to institute such an unamerican law as the fairness doctrine. I am more inclined to beleive that the Dems were not really serious about it - they just wanted to see talk radio squirm, which it did. David Obey made a great speech mocking talk radio. I am not a fan of Obey, but his speech was worth listening to.

It is true that the MSM is liberal and not only lies about Republicans (as with the Dan Rather memogate) but also gives a pass to Democrats. The best example of this was with Kerry's military records. Kerry promised over and over again to release his records, but he never did and the media let him get away with it. The media NEVER would have let Bush get away with holding back his records. It would have been front page every day every day every day.

This is because the media wanted Kerry to win. They were scared that the records would sink Kerry.

The media was right. Most people believed that the records would show problems with Kerry's "military record." But, when Kerry released them (after the election) in fact they revealed 1) a dumb oofish picture of Kerry and 2) a failing GPA.

If you remember, the media's story was that Kerry was smart and Bush was dumb. If it was revealed in October, 2004 that Kerry was actually dumber than Bush it would have been devestating for Kerry.

I recall Althouse speculating as to why Kerry went to BU for law school instead of Harvard. She thought something was fishy about the story. After all Kerry had the connections to get into Harvard at a time when connections would get you in. Why didn't he go there? Kerry's story was that he applied too late or something like that. Althouse speculated that maybe Kerry was so dumb that he couldn't even reach the minimum standard to get in. Althouse was right. Kerry's records proved that he was a total liar.

The Drill SGT said...

Though the article conflates print MSM with FCC controlled airwaves, it was a great read. My favorite snippet was:

"He neglects to mention that his team had a network, too, Air America, which failed because nobody wanted to listen to it.

But Air America’s crash-and-burn was understandable, because liberals already had their own radio network. It’s called NPR.

Here’s how it works. If you don’t like “talk radio,” you don’t have to listen, and you don’t have to pay for it. If you don’t like NPR, you don’t have to listen, but you do have to pay for it. How’s that for fairness, Sen. Kerry? "

Greybeard said...

"But, when Kerry released them (after the election) in fact they revealed 1) a dumb oofish picture of Kerry and 2) a failing GPA."

As a JFK Lite-betrayed VN Vet, I've been waiting anxiously for Kerry's records to be released. Obviously I've had my head in the sand. Please provide a link to them Sloan!

You can't do it because they were NEVER released. The scumbag (I use that word intentionally... check the definition) only allowed a chosen reporter to see them.
Massachussetts voters-
please insure those records are released before you send this poseur back to Washington.

Sloanasaurus said...

Heh, you are correct Greybeard. He is still getting away with it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this was one of those trial balloons by Pelosi and her ilk designed to be a signal to the far left. That signal being: hey, man, we gave it a shot.

Bruce Hayden said...

I too reread Red Lion yesterday, in response to a Common Cause person opining on a radio talk show. And the thing that I think is important there is that the restrictions on speech were based on a scarcity of frequencies for over the air broadcasting. I should also note that it was partially based on 1920s and 1930s laws - technology and broadcasting have come a long way since then.

It is on this scarcity assumption on which Red Lion was based, that I suspect any attempt to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine will founder. There are no longer a handful of media choices available now. Rather, there are thousands, if not millions. Sure, this station on this frequency refuses to provide free airtime for rebuttal. But the egreged has thousands of other alternatives, including opening their own blog. Besides, there are dozens of AM and dozens of FM stations in any major media market, plus, of course, satellite radio, TV, etc.

Dewave said...

The Unfairness Doctrine is simply an attempt at repressing and censoring and controlling the speech of Dem's political opponents.

Everyone is free to listen or not listen to whatever talk radio stations they want. We are quite capable of going out and listening to the opposing viewpoints ourselves.

No 'fairness doctrine' could even hope to be applied. If you have some guy talking about the holocaust, doyou have to have a holocaust denier on there? If you have someone talking about global warming do you have to have a 'global warming denier' to counterbalance him? If you have some fellow talking about evolution do you have to have a creationist on your show to provide the 'other' viewpoint? (Of course, it isabsurd to suppose that most issues can be reduced to simply two sides)

No, I don't think we would expect that. Only certain viewpoints presented on air would need to be counterbalanced. And that means that there will be some group of regulators that mandate "this opinion is not worth holding and this one is" and that is complete anathema to a free society.

This whole issue simply shows that democrats are fascists at heart.

Laura Reynolds said...

I'm cynical enough to suspect that part of this is some trial lawyers lusting for all the litigation.

Fen said...

This whole issue simply shows that democrats are fascists at heart.

True. The ONLY reason talk radio exists is because conservatives were pushed out of the MSM. We had to set up a parallel [but weaker] venue to exercise our free speech. The Leftist MSM is just angry they no longer have a Monopoly of Thought. If the "fairness" doctrine was applied to print and network information brokers, there would be no need for talk radio.

Freder Frederson said...

Oh please. I doubt one of you complaining about the fairness doctrine even know what it is, why it was instituted, or even understand the issues because the only thing you know about it is the lies Rush et. al. say about it.

As for NPR and the MSM being liberal. Give me a freaking break. If the last six and a half years have proven anything, it is that the MSM are patsies for this administration.

KCFleming said...

"Propaganda is essentially a totalitarian instrument. It requires a monolithic, homogenous apparatus weighing on a society reduced to silence. It presupposes a country that speaks with a single voice. The modern masters of propaganda have created "unidimensional" communication systems, something democracies cannot duplicate simply because they are democracies, where every idea immediately engenders a contradictory idea.

... I wish only to point out that the mistakes and crimes committed by the nontotalitarian countries boomerang against them in the propaganda war, while those of totalitarian regimes, sheltered behind their screens of democracy, are only mildly reproved by world opinion; this makes the political cost of error far lower to them than to the democracies.

...Many dictatorships and pseudo-democracies are to be found in[the world], but they do not have anything like the means available to the communist systems for blacking out information entirely and for long periods of time, hiding a physical perception of reality from the rest of mankind. So, stroke by stroke, day after day, a wholy unbalanced portrait of the world is painted."

How Democracies Perish, by Jean-François Revel; 1983

Anonymous said...

No question MSM types are pansies for Republicans. And to think they give money at a 9:1 ratio to Democrats to make it seem like they are being fair.

blake said...


Seeing that you feel that way, you only need to understand that there is an opposing viewpoint to see why the Fairness doctrine is such a bad idea.

Imagine if the MSM were forced to put EVEN MORE conservative viewpoints because those in charge felt that they were actually leftist. Every negative story about Iraq would have to run with a positive one. Every article attacking Bush would have to run with an article praising him.

Sloanasaurus said...

Oh please. I doubt one of you complaining about the fairness doctrine even know what it is, why it was instituted, or even understand the issues because the only thing you know about it is the lies Rush et. a

Freeder, I would like to hear you defend why the fairness doctrine would be fair moreover, how it would be constitutional.

I think it's a tough argument, but maybe you can do it.

Roger Sweeny said...

Fred Friendly was a liberal saint: involved in broadcasting the Army-McCsarthy Hearings, built CBS News into the braodcast equivalent of the New York Times, instrumental in getting the public broadcasting system established, resigned as head of CBS News when the suits ran an episode of I Love Lucy instead of Senate hearings that were expected to give a boost to opposition to the war in Vietnam.

After his resignation he wrote books, set up semianars, etc. One of the books was The Good Guys, thel Bad Guys, and the First Amendment. Much of it was about Red Lion. Friendly discovered that it began as part of an organized attempt to get people who various Democratic politicians didn't like off the airwaves. To quote the book, it was part of a "massive strategy ... to challenge and harass the right-wing broadcasters and hope that the challenges would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited, and decide it was too expensive to continue."

Since the purpose of the Fairness Doctrine, and the rationale of Red Lion was to increase the diversity of opinions on the air, he found this very disturbing. These were his people, the "good guys," but they were acting like "bad guys."

The books came out in 1976 and is out of print but many libraries have it, and Amazon shows it used for as little as $.70. Freder, I'm sure you've read it.

Steven said...

Ah, yes, another claim that NPR isn't liberal from the reality-based community.

That's fine, though. If NPR isn't filling the role for left-of-center radio, then there's clearly no significant market demand for left-of-center radio, given Pacifica's limited distribution and Air America's serious difficulties.

Given basic radios run an amortized 1-year cost of less than 2.8 cents per day, and are widely available, there is clearly no barrier to becoming a consumer of left-of-center radio; the lack of demand accordingly must indicate a lack of interest in left-of-center programming among the population at large, and a massive preference for centrist and conservative media.

Which would then indicate that there is no mass number of left-of-center persons in the United States. Liberals are accordingly a minor fringe segment of the population of the United States, nowhere near the mainstream of opinion.

So, we reach the conclusion that, if Mr. Frederson is correct about NPR, then Mr. Frederson's beliefs are those of a small minority that, in a democratic decision-making process, should be given the same weight as those of American Nazis or Objectivists.

Brent said...

Someone uncertain of NPR leaning left?

Two words:

Nina Totenberg.

More words on request.

Methadras said...

The entire notion of a fairness doctrine in this country is, well, patently unfair. The distilled idea of the fairness doctrine is to do what? Give opposing voices a chance to speak in a venue that opposes their ideas so they can simply say that they had a fair say at having their ideas opposed that led them to enact a piece of legislation that would force an opposing view onto and into the airwaves whether you wanted to hear it or not?

Will and would the fairness doctrine be enacted across television aside from radio? I haven't heard the esteemed senators from the leftist camp say otherwise, but I wonder if they've been chilled into silence by the likes of Cronkite, Moyers, Curric, Phillips, et al. by asking them to shut up lest they will have to entertain conservative opposing views on a primarily liberal/leftist venue like television. Perish the thought.

What is really being said here by these moronic, short-sighted thinkers is that because their ideology, ideas, and leftist/socialist views have been rejected wholesale by radio listeners, that they have to now promote the notion that forcing an opposing view onto radio listeners will somehow imbue merit on that actual view? Or will it simply kill talk radio because the dial will be turned or the radio turned off because the listenership doesn't want to hear something they've already rejected. Which in effect would give these leftist morons what they've wanted all along, to silence talk radio, to silence conservative voices, and to create silence that would make their message go unopposed.

We already know what the socialists/leftists want and conservatives have rejected their message, but yet they believe if you can't shut them up, then let's shut them down. Hurray for phony leftist tolerance. Any real liberal should be shaking shitless at the notion that forcing an opposing view on any airwave is not only wrong, but unamerican. Who among you would stand up together with a conservative to stop this thing from happening? Remember, after they go the conservatives, you most likely would be next. It's happened before in other places and this instance would be no different.

The idea that John Fool Kerry would even open his mouth to utter such an idea should send a shockwave of shame to the voters of Massachusetts for having to have elected this moron to represent them.

rcocean said...

The ol' liberal mantra - FOX is conservative, but NPR/CNN/MSNBC/PBS are NOT Liberal.

-Give me a break.

I tried to listen to Diane Rhem's show on Politics yesterday and this was the "balanced" lineup:

-Corn: Leftwing from the Nation.

-NYT Reporter: Liberal

-Dianne: Liberal

-Tony Blankley: Conservative from Wash Times.

And the lead story wasn't immigration, it was whether Bush was abusing his power over firing of the US procescuters.

When they did get to immigration, everyone more or less agreed that all those rightwing bigots had stopped it because they hate people of color.

I should add that when Althouse is on WPR she is the "Conservative" balance. I mean how crazy is that?