Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Fairness Doctrine Was Stupid The First Time

I saw this over the weekend, too and internally grumbled, but forgot to post on it. Big surprise! Dennis Kucinich likes the "Fairness" Doctrine (more background here) for the following reasons according to Captain Ed:

Why would Kucinich want to reimpose the Fairness Doctrine and kill off the AM band and talk radio? Because his allies have proven less successful than conservatives at building a market for their broadcasts. Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt, and a slew of conservative thinkers carved out an industry out of the AM wilderness, and the Al Frankens and Wendy Wildes can't keep up without government intervention. Air America would lose as well in this scenario, but I'm sure Kucinich sees that as a fair trade, and for good reason.

Democrats aren't wasting much time in rolling back free speech now that they have the majority. Putting Kucinich in charge of domestic policy reform was no mistake on their part. They want to kill talk radio, and if they manage to hold their majority and win the White House in 2008, they just might do it.

The Democrats don't want free speech. They don't even care about civil liberties--when they are the ones taking them away. They want everyone to speak their language and express their views--the correct view.

Remember, these are the people who call Talk Radio "hate radio". Here is the logic: If you disagree with, you hate and are stupid. If you agree you are smart and filled with love. We need more love. We need more of my opinion. Forget free speech. We need correct speech.

This from a "fair media" type--an editorial by a retired teacher:

Rep. Louise Slaughter, chair of the House Rules Committee, is introducing The Media Act, a new fairness doctrine. It will be interesting - and important - to see what happens to this idea. This is not a minor issue. How can Americans make good decisions if they don't have the information they need - from all sides? As Janine Jackson of Fairness and Accuracy in the Media says, "Bad media hurts people." We might add, fair media helps us all and is good for our democracy.

I have a questions for you, Mr. Jack Burgess: what evidence indicates that Americans don't get the information they need "from all sides"? In fact, if that is your true intention, perhaps you'd like to turn your attention to the slanted, incomplete, some would say unfair information about the Iraq war coming from major media.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that calling for people to shoot Nancy Pelosi, calling for all liberals to be hung on KSFO SF, that's really just talk. Not actionable threats. Not like yelling fire in a movie theatre. Not like inciting someone to committ a felony, or a federal offense. Not in the least.

Ian said...

Well, isn't the media overwhelmingly liberal? Brent Bozell/Newsbusters, Hugh Hewitt, Michelle Malkin, and a host of other conservatives seem to think so. You'd think that if that were the case, conservatives would have far more to gain.

Dr. Melissa said...

Ian,

You'd think. Except that the Kucinich's of the world believe the media is only "fair" if every single word said is in perfect agreement with him.

You are not seriously suggesting that the MSM doesn't possess a liberal slant, are you?

Ian said...

I didn't say that. What I said was that it's generally taken as gospel that the media is overwhelmingly liberal. Therefore it would seem to me that if that is indeed the case, conservatives would not only be in favor of a new fairness doctrine, they be actively pushing for it.

I can agree that the msm is liberal, but as I understand it, conservative opposition to the FD has more to do with the fact that it would blunt the effectiveness of talk radio. Limbaugh, Hannity, Hewitt, etc would not have the same mojo if there was someone presenting the opposite side of their arguement every time they made a controversial statement

Speaking purely for myself, I'd be more than happy to see the FD come back in all over-the-air (i.e. public) air and radio waves, and let the chips fall where they may. If liberals lose because of it, so be it. At the risk of sounding pompous, the principle of truth is more important to me than ideology. I don't want my tax money funding propaganda, either side. Papers and blogs, being privately owned and distributed, I could care less about. I know the NYT is liberal and the Wash Times is conservative, likewise, Kos is liberal and Dr. MC is conservative. I read both and figure the truth will be uncovered by one side if the other side doesn't want to mention inconvenient. But hey, that's just me.

Ian said...

....mention something inconvenient. Sorry, I'm a bit of a self-grammer nazi.

eLarson said...

conservative opposition to the FD has more to do with the fact that it would blunt the effectiveness of talk radio. Limbaugh, Hannity, Hewitt, etc would not have the same mojo if there was someone presenting the opposite side of their arguement every time they made a controversial statement

I don't believe that is the objection at all. Sean and Rush have liberal callers all the time. Their side is heard, too, and within the same broadcast hour--it hardly blunts their effectiveness.

What Rush, et al., are concerned about is their individual stations deciding to drop the format. If each station needed to set aside time for a rank amateur to come into their studio to rebut something that got their underpants in a wad, then station managers would soon decide to go a different route.

What would be truly interesting is if television news broadcasts had to play by those same rules. The legislation will doubtless exempt news broadcasts from the need to present that kind of rebuttal.

Dr. Melissa said...

elarson,

The legislation will doubtless exempt news broadcasts from the need to present that kind of rebuttal.

Those doing the news believe themselves to be fair and balanced and unbiased. That's what makes them so insidious. They don't acknowledge how their bias slants news. Or worse, how their bias eliminates certain news items (Nancy Pelosi's self-serving legislation) from even being reported.

The Fairness Doctrine is all about discontinuing the opposing voice to the newscasts. Newscast: Iraq is going to hell. Talk Show Host: Iraq is not going to hell. And now, in fairness we are going to bring on Markos to rebut and say how Iraq is going to hell.

1. That radio show will be dead in five minutes because no one will listen. (Serving Democrats.)
2. Businesses and personalities will be deprived of their ability to conduct business.
3. The government will be interfering with free speech.

Air America was all liberal all the time. The problem is, no one was buying what they were sellin'. Now, they want Conservative pundits to be forced to allow their humorless attitudes, dull-witted ideas and failed-methods on successful shows.

That sounds fair.

bemused said...

First, I think we need more honest definitions about what constitutes “liberal” and “conservative.” According to you, Dr. Melissa, CBS News is a liberal equivalent to conservative AM station KSFO. But their content is clearly very, very different. Whether you like them or not, mainstream networks try to be fair and neutral, whereas KSFO is purely in the business of one-sided political propaganda. If you disagree, then please provide examples of broadcasts on mainstream networks (or even Air America) that called for radio hosts of other political persuasions to be hog-tied and castrated, as was done on KSFO (this is just one example out of many).

And as trustees who control the limited public resource of radio airwave frequencies, don’t broadcasters owe some kind of responsibility to the greater public good that might put some limits on extremes of free speech? If you’re such a free speech advocate yourself, how about eliminating restrictions on the broadcast of obscene or pornographic content by FCC licensees? How is the public interest not also served by trying to ensure that no one political viewpoint monopolizes the airwaves with one-sided propaganda? After all, no one is calling for conservative viewpoints to be limited, but only for those with alternative viewpoints to be offered the chance to respond. Why is that so unfair?

If you think there are no negative consequences from the dominance of one-sided propaganda, how else to explain why listeners of conservative media outlets (including Fox News) are much more likely to believe the false information that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 conspiracy?

eLarson said...

How is the public interest not also served by trying to ensure that no one political viewpoint monopolizes the airwaves with one-sided propaganda?

If the "airwaves" include television, how are they monopolized by one-sided propaganda... so long as Conservative voices can still be heard on the radio? Talk Radio IS the balancing factor.

Dr. Melissa said...

Bemused,

Anyone listening to talk radio knows that the radio host is biased. It's part of the shtick. Liberal talk show hosts (when they were still broadcasting) were not the purveyors of all things kind and sweet and balanced. They just couldn't get enough listeners or sponsors to survive. The Left wants to eliminate the Rights' dominance in this sphere and can't do it through the free market.

The MSM doesn't have to call names or get theatrical to make a liberal point--they just report lies as truth (AP, CBS, MSNBC, NYT), they fail to report news about their side's problems (Sandy Berger, Nancy Pelosi, etc.)

The MSM's utter lack of curiosity and willful ignorance about stories that paint their ideology in a bad light is far more pernicious than a right-leaning broadcaster making fun of Dean's primal scream. The MSM pretends at being unbiased just because they don't call names or foam at the mouth. Their form is more civilized, their substance is not.

Anonymous said...

Doc, how much time do you think you have before The Fairness Doctrine (TM) shuts down your blog as Hate Speech (TM)?

bemused said...

Conservatives seem to live in a strange world where absence of proof becomes proof positive. So if we didn't find WMDs in Iraq, it's proof that Saddam had them and then hid or exported them. Likewise, if mainstream media show no overt partisan bias compared to the blatant bias of conservative outlets, it's only because they're more "pernicious."

And if market forces are the only ones to be trusted to regulate the public's interest in FCC-licensed broadcast stations, then why not allow the (undoubtedly commercially successful) broadcast of pornography on public airwaves? Should there be no regulation of broadcasters at all?

jay k. said...

how about we require those using airwaves regulated by the fcc maintain a level of "truthiness". i don't much care what they blather on about on fox and limbaigh and the like. it would however be nice if they didn't lie so much to make their arguments. of course i guess you don't have much of an argument if you have to lie to bolster it...but much of the nation is ill-informed. these pathological liars don't help.

daveb said...

Gee, "conservatives" say that the FD is a limit to freedom of speech. How about you consider it from the other viewpoint?

Let's say that all the talk radio was Air America, and that rather than Hannity and Colmes it was Garafalo and Franken.

Let's say Limbaugh was not able to get into major markets because no one wanted to sponsor his show since he disagreed with President Hillary Clinton on National Security Issues.

Let's say George Soros owned FOX and all the other Murdoch properties.

Let's say that Al Franken was the Chairman of the FCC and there were more "liberals" than "conservatives" on the board.

Let's say Martha Stewart was the Chairperson of the Public Broadcasting network.

Take all those thoughts into consideration and imagine what that would mean if there were no strong oppositional voices.

Do you think you might want an FD that would level the playing field?

Do you think that it might best serve the public interest to have competing voices then?

The FD is not about a free market for television and radio. No, it is about making sure that the poor sap with nothing more than a soapbox on the street corner can compete with the the billion megawatt station regardless of their financial means.

Respect for the First Amendment demands a fairness doctrine. The fact that one has the financial means to dominate the newspapers or airwaves must be counterbalanced.

Anonymous said...

The difficulty with the fairness doctrine is in defining and selecting the opposing point of view. It is simple to day that Franken would be the counterpoint to Limbaugh, but who chooses Franken to be the counter-point, and what happens if (God forbid) he agrees with Limbaugh?

This is especially true since the right has largely abandoned many of it's principals in support of recent excesses of the Republican party (i.e. massive spending increases during a period of Republican control of Congress and the Presidency).

The fact is that issues don't always break down as right/left. There isn't a practical way to legislate "balance".

Thankfully, the web offers a chance for a more level playing field.

Dr. Melissa said...

Are you kidding me? The only language that talks in Radio media is money.If Air America could get advertisers (since the liberal point of view is "mainstream" that should be no problem) or an audience to listen to them, Murdoch would be happy to have a talk show on his station. Show me a liberal talk show host who is funny or interesting enough to captivate an audience and I'll show you a business person willing to give them a show. Hint: Al Franken and Jeanie Garofalo ain't them. Snide condescension isn't funny or entertaining.

The MSM is a far more serious concern. When I see free speech advocates on the Left let their displeasure be known about manufactured news (GM blown up vehicle, Reuters photos), false news (Dan Rather), made up sources (AP) and the lack of balance (all of Iraq coverage, Democrat imbroglios--oh wait! they don't have any!) then I'll believe that the Fairness Doctrine is indeed about fairness.

It isn't about fairness. It's about controlling every message America gets. And if it isn't Democrat talking-points, it isn't news worth sharing.

Andrew said...

Perhaps you could argue that on an individual basis most reporters personally lean democratic. But, how often does that really show up in the MSM? How often has the "liberal" media failed to be so when it really mattered?

Here are a few examples off the top of my head:

The lack of questioning of the motives of the US government on the run-up to the Iraq war

The swift-boating of John Kerry

Why were the liberal media all on attack towards Bill Clinton's marital mishaps (and subsequent lie), but were nearly silent against Bush's mistake (and potential lie) about Yellowcake from Niger?

Why are wingnuts like Ann Coulter (and others like her) put on MSM shows and given a chance to speak as if her views had some sort of merit?

Why are climate change deniers given the same amount of airtime as actual climate scientists, when almost all highly regarded scientists in the world believe that climate change is happening and we are causing it?

I could go on...

I don't necessarily think that there is a conservative slant to the MSM, but if you look hard enough, you can find it. What I do think is that by and large, the MSM is too timid and trusting of those in power.

jay k. said...

andrew is right on the money. the liberal media is an urban myth. remember when judy miller was working as a stenographer for cheney and libby...writing whatever they told her as fact. cheney would then go on the sunday morning shows (who oh-by-the-way have more conservative guests than liberal) and quote the miller stories to back up his fraudulent claims. and who was miller working for? the ny times...allegedly the most liberal of the liberal.
the same people who make claims about liberal media bias deny global warming.

eLarson said...

Why are wingnuts like Ann Coulter (and others like her) put on MSM shows and given a chance to speak as if her views had some sort of merit?
Which "MSM shows" has Ann Coulter been on lately? Other than talk radio, I can't say I've heard Ann anywhere. I could be wrong, naturally, but go ahead and show me.

When any book negative toward Bush came out--and there were quite a few in the last few years--the author would invariably appear on one or another news program on CBS--60 Minutes especially. Indeed CBS used its news programs as the publicity wing for the parent company's publishing company.

And what did I do about it? I didn't watch. Pretty simple, really. I didn't need the FCC nor the Congress-stump from Cleveland to tell me about their cozy little relationship.

Here's one from another poster:
No, [the fairness doctrine] is about making sure that the poor sap with nothing more than a soapbox on the street corner can compete with the the billion megawatt station regardless of their financial means.
There is a Constitutional right to free speech. There is, however, no right to be heard.

Anonymous said...

Murdoch would be happy to have a [liberal] talk show

I don't think this is true. Soros would benefit from exploiting a conservative consumer base, but he alienates them at every turn. When one develops otherworldly wealth--like Murdoch or Soros--one can then forward a preferred agenda.

daveb said...

Are you kidding me? The only language that talks in Radio media is money. If Air America could get advertisers (since the liberal point of view is "mainstream" that should be no problem) or an audience to listen to them, Murdoch would be happy to have a talk show on his station. Show me a liberal talk show host who is funny or interesting enough to captivate an audience and I'll show you a business person willing to give them a show. Hint: Al Franken and Jeanie Garofalo ain't them. Snide condescension isn't funny or entertaining.

No, I'm not kidding you.

Murdoch, GE, Clear Channel etc. are controlling the message and the advertising. Many companies in the military and industrial complex are blocking advertising on Air America. It benefits their bottom line to support the right-wingers.

More war means more profits and more Bush means more tax cuts.

Now really, you must be kidding me if you think that Beck, Savage, and Rush are neither snide nor condescending. And O'Reilly is the worst - he shouts "shut up" over his guests if he doesn't agree with them.

The fairness doctrine is appropriate because of exactly what you said: "The only language that talks in Radio media is money."

The airwaves are the property of the people and are leased to the stations. As part of their license the stations are supposed to operate in the best interest of the public. It would be in the best interest of the public to ensure more than one view is broadcast.

Rush, Beck, O'Reilly, and Savage spew hate and racism on a daily basis. Just to be clear, I don't believe that just because they do not share my opinion that they are spewing hate.

They are spewing hate and racism when the they make statements that Civil Rights are just about exploiting white, heterosexual men. And when one has a whole section on their website for "Club Gitmo" satirizing the (probably illegal) indefinite detention of hundreds of people who just happen to be Muslims it is racism and inhuman.

The FD is about ensuring freedom of speech. Right now we have propaganda outlets that are tools of the state (FOX). How about trying to make sure they really are Fair and Balanced?

One poster said that the First Amendment does not provide a right to be heard. I disagree. The right to have an opinion is meaningless without the right to have it heard. The founders intended to protect the minority for oppression by the majority. The FCC requires radio and TV stations to run Public Service Announcements as part of their licensing. They are, therefore, regulating speech on the public airwaves. The FD is no different from requiring a PSA. It is ensuring the right to be heard and should be reinstated.

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