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I Am The Anti-Cheney

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Here's a Good One From Wikipedia

This is a basic rundown from Wikipedia. It tells the story pretty well. I'll be putting up much more soon. For now though, this is a good rundown on what happened and the resulting decay of our discourse into the maddening nuthouse it is today.

The Fairness Doctrine is a former policy of the United States's Federal Communications Commission. It required broadcast licensees to present controversial issues of public importance, and to present such issues in an honest, equal and balanced manner.

In Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC [1] (1969), the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Fairness Doctrine, under challenges that it violated the First Amendment. Although similar laws had been deemed unconstitutional when applied to newspapers (and the court, five years later, would unanimously overturn a Florida statute on newspapers), the Court ruled that radio stations could be regulated in this way because of the scarcity of radio stations. Critics of the Red Lion decision have pointed out that most markets then and now are served by a greater number of radio stations than newspapers.

Critics of the Fairness Doctrine believed that it was primarily used to intimidate and silence political opposition. Although the Doctrine was rarely enforced, many radio broadcasters believed it had a "chilling effect" on their broadcasting, forcing them to avoid any commentary that could be deemed critical or unfair by powerful interests.

The Doctrine was enforced throughout the entire history of the FCC (and its precursor, the Federal Radio Commission) until 1987, when the FCC repealed it in the Syracuse Peace Conference decision in 1987. The Republican-controlled commission claimed the doctrine had grown to inhibit rather than enhance debate and suggested that, due to the many media voices in the marketplace at the time, the doctrine was probably unconstitutional. Others, noting the subsequent rise of right-wing radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, suggest the repeal was more likely motivated by a desire to get partisans on the air.

The two corollary rules, the personal attack rule and the political editorial rule, remained in practice even after the repeal of the fairness doctrine. The personal attack rule is pertinent whenever a person or small group is subject to a character attack during a broadcast. Stations must notify such persons or groups within a week of the attack, send them transcripts of what was said, and offer the opportunity to respond on the air. The political editorial rule applies when a station broadcasts editorials endorsing or opposing candidates for public office, and stipulates that the candidates not endorsed be notified and allowed a reasonable opportunity to respond.

The Court of Appeals for Washington D.C. ordered the FCC to justify these corollary rules in light of the decision to axe the fairness doctrine. The commission did not do so promptly, and in 2000 it ordered their repeal. The collapse of the fairness doctrine and its corollary rules had significant political effects. One liberal Pennsylvania political leader, 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."

Conservatives, in contrast, see attempts to revive the Doctrine as an attempt to silence conservative voices, noting that sectors of the media they believe to have a liberal bias (major newspapers, newsmagazines, evening newscasts of the broadcast networks) would not be touched by the Doctrine.



Obviously the righties that shout "LIBERAL BIAS" every time you mention the FD are just addicts keeping us away from their stash. There isn't a liberal I know who doesn't scream at the TV and newspapers about right-wing bias. The notion that they are liberal is the most absurd thing I've ever heard. But it's become the bread and butter of right-wing media. They will never admit there's no liberal bias in media, and all their slanted polls showing one are complete nonsense.

2 Comments:

Blogger Arne Langsetmo said...

Hey, see you got a blog up. Congratulations, and I wish you (and it) the best. I'll peek in on a regular basis and see what's up.

And looks good so far, keep slugging!

Cheers,

9:15 PM  
Blogger Rep. Mark B. Cohen said...

I am pleased to see that we agree on the fairness doctrine and the obvious right-wing domination of the media. If one reads all too many of the "liberal" positions taken by various media, one will see that they are phrased as attacks against Democrats, so the effect is quite often to help conservative elements.

Let us be clear what freedom of speech means to all too many media outlets: writers can attack Democrats from the left, right, or center, or on ad hominem basis.

Similarly, writers can praise Republicans from the Left, right, or center, and on their sterling personal character.

Republicans can only be attacked when there is a more conservative alternative, either electorally or in public policies.

The above does constitute universal truth, thank goodness,
but it speaks for all too many situations in all too many many media outlets.

The Democrats have an excellent chance to regain control of Congress in 2006. Restoring the Fairness Doctrine should become a top priority. We cannot improve America if we are acting in a Soviet-like situation in which reality is presented as merely a political construct.

7:44 PM  

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