Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Fairness Doctrine

Two days after the Democrats gained a majority in the House and the Senate, the "fairness doctrine" has reared its ugly head. Didn't take the left wing blogosphere long to fire it up, did it?

I am a regular listener of the Neal Boortz Show! He's been warning his listeners that the Democrats will try to chill free speech by reinstituting the "fairness doctrine" for a long time. Read: here (under THE DEMOCRATS HAVE NO AGENDA?) here (under FEDERAL CENSORSHIP COMMISSION STRIKES AGAIN) and here (under BLACK DAY FOR THE LEFT).

So, on November 9, 2006, two days after voters elected a Democrat majority, The Huffington Post blogger, Dave Johnson, wrote Restore The Fairness Doctrine! Surprise, surprise!

According to Dave Johnson: "the Fairness Doctrine:"

"would open up America's "marketplace of ideas." It would help to restore civility to our public discourse. It would help restore our democracy.

If the Fairness Doctrine were restored we would begin to see a variety of issues covered by the broadcast media, from a variety of perspectives. Currently we only see subjects that the corporate world is interested in, covered from a pro-corporate perspective. Imagine the effect on the country if the public were exposed to a variety of viewpoints on issues like trade, consumer protection, sustainability, unions, health care, global warming and energy, religion, the environment, nutrition, and SO MANY other issues!

Imagine the effect on our civic discourse if stations had to give time for a response to everyone that Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter smeared on the air!"

But wait just a doggone minute!

Doesn't the media already offer "a variety of issues?" Does the media currently only offer "pro-corporate perspective(s)?" Don't people with varying viewpoints already have forums in which to discuss "issues like trade, consumer protection, sustainability, unions, health care, global warming and energy, religion, the environment, (and) nutrition?" Are people who are "smeared" by Ann Coulter being denied the right to speak out on their own behalf over our airwaves if they so choose?

Further, was Mr. Johnson's article on the "Fairness Doctrine" fair? Did he practice what he preaches Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter should practice? Did he give them an opportunity to respond to his opinion that they "smear" other people? Did he adequately give the other side of the argument, the side against the "fairness doctrine?" Nope. He didn't.

There is another side of the story and a different perspective which Mr. Johnson failed to give equal or "fair" time and consideration.

According to The Heritage Foundation, The Fairness Doctrine Is Anything But Fair:

"The fairness doctrine was overturned by the FCC in 1987. The FCC discarded the rule because, contrary to its purpose, it failed to encourage the discussion of more controversial issues. There were also concerns that it was in violation of First Amendment free speech principles....

...The doctrine's supporters seem not to appreciate just how much the broadcast world has changed since 1949. With the proliferation of informational resources and technology, the number of broadcast outlets available to the public has increased steadily. In such an environment, it is hard to understand why the federal government must police the airwaves to ensure that differing views are heard. The result of a reinstituted fairness doctrine would not be fair at all. In practice, much controversial speech heard today would be stifled as the threat of random investigations and warnings discouraged broadcasters from airing what FCC bureaucrats might refer to as "unbalanced" views."

In other words, in view of our changing culture and "changing informational resources and technology," the fairness doctrine would have the opposite effect than that for which it was intended. Instead of encouraging differing viewpoints to be heard it would stifle the voices which are heard now.

Today, if there is a perspective one would like to consider, all one has to do is click a mouse, type a few characters, click a mouse again and one can access thousands of links to information on any given subject via the internet.

The real reason those on the left would like to see the Democrats reintroduce the "fairness doctrine" is not to make sure differing viewpoints and perspectives are heard. The real reason is that they want to silence Conservative radio talk show hosts.

Mr. Johnson gives himself away when he mentions Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter but doesn't mention any of the radio talk show hosts on, say, Air America, for instance. Why does he not mention any Air America radio talk show hosts? Because he has no problem with the "smears" perpetrated by leftist radio talk show hosts, and apparently he doesn't value his own free speech rights much either. If the Fairness Doctrine is intended to force Ann Coulter to offer other perspectives (and how many other perspectives are there on any given subject, is she required to give one alternative perspective or three alternative perspectives?) then will the fairness doctrine not also effect him, "an active participant in the progressive blogging community..." as described in his own bio, the link for which is listed above? What price are leftists ready to pay to silence the right? Are they willing to give up their own freedom of speech simply to keep a Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter from voicing his/her perspective? I'd like to know what is "fair" about the leftist "doctrine."

According to Wikipedia, regarding the Fairness Doctrine, they quote State Rep. Mark B. Cohen:

"State Rep. Mark B. Cohen of Philadelphia, said "The fairness doctrine helped reinforce a politics of moderation and inclusiveness. The collapse of the fairness doctrine and its corollary rules blurred the distinctions between news, political advocacy, and political advertising, and helped lead to the polarizing cacophony of strident talking heads that we have today.""

I guess we just can't have people speaking their minds and disagreeing with one another, leading to "the polarizing cacophony of strident talking heads that we have today," now can we? How will the government (or leftist socialists) be able to keep the citizens under control if they are openly and honestly discussing issues of concern, getting excited about issues, taking an interest and forming their own educated opinions!? Stop that dang discussion...let's get back to a day when we all relied on Walter Cronkite to tell us what to think. Dang that Al Gore for inventing the internet! Dang that Rush Limbaugh for giving a voice to the conservative movement which it had never been allowed before!


shak el said...

From Scopes:

Claim: Vice-President Al Gore claimed that he "invented" the Internet.

Status: False.

Origins: Despite the derisive references that continue even today, Al Gore did not claim he "invented" the Internet, nor did he say anything that could reasonably be interpreted that way. The "Al Gore said he 'invented' the Internet" put-downs were misleading, out-of-context distortions of something he said during an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "Late Edition" program on 9 March 1999. When asked to describe what distinguished him from his challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey, Gore replied (in part):
During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.
Clearly, although Gore's phrasing was clumsy (and perhaps self-serving), he was not claiming that he "invented" the Internet (in the sense of having designed or implemented it), but that he was responsible, in an economic and legislative sense, for fostering the development the technology that we now know as the Internet. To claim that Gore was seriously trying to take credit for the "invention" of the Internet is, frankly, just silly political posturing that arose out of a close presidential campaign. Gore never used the word "invent," and the words "create" and "invent" have distinctly different meanings — the former is used in the sense of "to bring about" or "to bring into existence" while the latter is generally used to signify the first instance of someone's thinking up or implementing an idea. (To those who say the words "create" and "invent" mean exactly the same thing, we have to ask why, then, the media overwhelmingly and consistently cited Gore as having claimed he "invented" the Internet, even though he never used that word, and transcripts of what he actually said were readily available.)

If President Eisenhower had said in the mid-1960s that he, while President, "created" the Interstate Highway System, we would not have seen dozens and dozens of editorials lampooning him for claiming he "invented" the concept of highways or implying that he personally went out and dug ditches across the country to help build the roadway. Everyone would have understood that Ike meant he was a driving force behind the legislation that created the highway system, and this was the very same concept Al Gore was expressing about himself with his Internet statement.

Whether Gore's statement that he "took the initiative in creating the Internet" is justified is a subject of debate. Any statement about the "creation" or "beginning" of the Internet is difficult to evaluate, because the Internet is not a homogenous entity (it's a collection of computers, networks, protocols, standards, and application programs), nor did it all spring into being at once (the components that comprise the Internet were developed in various places at different times and are continuously being modified, improved, and expanded). Despite a spirited defense of Gore's claim by Vint Cerf (often referred to as the "father of the Internet") in which he stated "that as a Senator and now as Vice President, Gore has made it a point to be as well-informed as possible on technology and issues that surround it," many of the components of today's Internet came into being well before Gore's first term in Congress began in 1977.

It is true, though, that Gore was popularizing the term "information superhighway" in the early 1990s (although he did not, as is often claimed by others, coin the phrase himself) when few people outside academia or the computer/defense industries had heard of the Internet, and he sponsored the 1988 National High-Performance Computer Act (which established a national computing plan and helped link universities and libraries via a shared network) and cosponsored the Information Infrastructure and Technology Act of 1992 (which opened the Internet to commercial traffic).

In May 2005, the organizers of the Webby Awards for online achievements honored Al Gore with a lifetime achievement award for three decades of contributions to the Internet. "He is indeed due some thanks and consideration for his early contributions," said Vint Cerf.

Jacke M. said...

Oh, good grief, Shak el, I was KIDDING! :P

The Libertarian Guy (tm) said...

Oh, and I heard Hillary wasn't really named after Sir Edmund Hillary... but it sounds good to bump up ones' political career. ;)

Jacke M. said...

Yew jest cain't bleve everthang yew heer an everthang yew reed enymore, kin yew?