Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, wants to repress free speech on the airwaves via the Orwellian Fairness Doctrine:
BILL PRESS: Yeah, I mean, look: They have a right to say that. They’ve got a right to express that. But, they should not be the only voices heard. So, is it time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine?
SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): I think it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else — I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves. I mean, our new president has talked rightly about accountability and transparency. You know, that we all have to step up and be responsible. And, I think in this case, there needs to be some accountability and standards put in place.
BILL PRESS: Can we count on you to push for some hearings in the United States Senate this year, to bring these owners in and hold them accountable?
SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): I have already had some discussions with colleagues and, you know, I feel like that’s gonna happen. Yep.
So, because left-leaning talk radio can’t make it in the marketplace, there’s a need to employ government coercion to force it on to our radios? What makes Senator Stabenow think any more people will listen to it than do now? In fact, I’m sure she doesn’t. The reimposition of the Fairness Doctrine is aimed at one thing: muzzling conservative talk-radio, which has handily out-competed the liberal offerings, such as the failed Air America. It’s the one medium in the US that conservatives are successful in, it’s influence has been enormous, and that drives left-liberals like Stabenow crazy. At its heart, this effort is anti-democratic: free speech for me, not for thee.
The Fairness Doctrine may have made sense at one time, more than 50 years ago, when there were only three major networks and relatively few local radio and TV stations. The idea was to make sure all viewpoints had a fair chance to get their ideas before the public. While an interesting idea in concept, station managers hated it because it meant they had to give time to every nut with an ax to grind. I can recall some very strange people giving "alternative viewpoints" when I would watch TV as a child in the 60s. A lot of stations simply didn’t offer opinion pieces, to avoid having to give soapboxes to people who would only drive away audiences.
But now, with the proliferation of radio, cable TV, and internet sources of information, there’s a wealth of choices for people to make. Don’t like Rush Limbaugh? Go watch Keith Olbermann. There simply is no need for the government to force any viewpoint into any medium.
And it’s not as if liberals don’t have their own venue on the radio: National Public Radio is very liberal and, thanks to state funding and "listeners like you," has nationwide reach. In fact, NPR’s need for government support shows that its slant on the news just isn’t that popular with the overall radio audience. I wonder if Stabenow would support "fairness" and demand that Rush Limbaugh or Laura Ingraham be given time on All Things Considered? It might help NPR’s ratings.
Oh, and about that "accountability" issue. Assuming that Senator Stabenow means "hold them responsible for what they say," does she support holding Randi Rhodes accountable for fantasizing on-air about the assassination of George W. Bush? Does she support accountability for The New York Times, which revealed not one, but two crucial clandestine programs in our war with the jihadists? Does she support accountability for Newsweek which printed false stories about the defacement of the Qur’an at Guantanamo, leading to worldwide riots and deaths?
I think we know the answer to that.
The Fairness Doctrine is an idea the time for which has long passed, if there ever was a time for it in the first place. It’s anti-democratic and anti-free speech at its core, and Senator Stabenow and her fellow Democrats should know better.