Sunday, December 28, 2008

The 'Fairness Doctrine' Looms on the Horizon

I felt, with the ‘historic’ Obama inauguration looming, it would be fitting to address the issue of the Fairness Doctrine. This fancy little bit of legislation is causing concern for many, regardless of political affiliation. I hope you are among those concerned. If you have no idea what this is about – find out.
A quick definition from our friends at Wikipedia:
According to Steve Rendall of FAIR (
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting),
The Fairness Doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented.
This is not an appropriate action for the government to take. In conjunction with HR.1955 (Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007),
which enables the government to label innocent people terrorists, as well as McCain-Feingold, it is a nightmare. George Bush and Congress have done enough to demolish the Constitution and our Civil Liberties. The Fairness Doctrine, like so many other schemes with pretty names, is not Fair. Have you noticed that the nicer the name of the bill sounds, the more knives government is shoving in our backs? The larger issue that many are missing is that it is not the government’s job to determine what is fair. Whenever the government endeavors to level the playing field, someone gets screwed. Even if you are naive enough to believe that it’s fair to stick it to the evil rich, you’re cutting your own throat. With the exception of greedy and corrupt individuals, the average rich guy is doing the rest of us a favor. Who do you think is creating jobs? Where do you think the goods and services that make our lives comfortable are coming from? Whose money is going to keep the economy running when corruption in government and dishonest people of power screw up the economy? Who do you think pays the majority of taxes in this country?
Because the Fairness Doctrine affects speech as well as business, you would think more Liberals would be crying foul. One of their universal mantras is, after all, free speech. Most of them, however, are suspiciously silent. As a political artist and blogger, I stand to be adversely affected by this legislation because the same people working to pass it are now making noise about regulating the internet. Yes, I am looking out for myself. I certainly don’t expect anyone else to do so.

If I have an opinion, I should be able to voice it without scrambling around to find someone who opposes it and giving them space on my webpage. I did all the work to put it together. It is for the promotion of my work. There should be no other content. Anyone who has worked hard to make a name for themselves deserves the reward their success has brought them. If you want to be a famous blow-hard, get off your butt and make it happen.
If you don't like a particular station, don't watch or listen to it. Lord knows I can’t stand Hannity and O’Reilly makes me nauseous. I wouldn’t listen to Air America if you ripped out my fingernails, and I have yet to figure out why tax money is used to support Public Radio and PBS. There are plenty of other avenues for news, Digg being a good example. The internet is a limitless source of information from all points of view.

You have a right to your own opinion and freedom of speech. You do not, however, have a right to be protected from things that ‘offend’ you. If there’s something out there that is beyond your ability to bear, find a constructive outlet for your displeasure. Stop worrying what other people think and live your life how you see fit. You might find you feel better.
The last thing any of us needs is Big Brother breathing down our necks.


huck said...


What should happen is the current media market which has roughly 6 corporations owning almost all TV, radio, and newspaper outlets across the US needs to be broken apart. This might happen as these corporations near bankruptcy and are forced to sell off assets. If that does happen then many people with opposing views from the current neo-conservative and neo-liberal media need to buy up radio and TV stations and begin broadcasting opposing views.

Only when the media is in the hands of many is it hard to control.. the current situation has the media in the hands of the few, so it's easy to have the vast majority of the media spewing out the same propaganda.

machinepolitick said...

I agree, and that may be a good solution. Everytime I turn on cable news, I feel like I'm looking at a zealot who is browbeating me from their pulpit. This goes for Conservatives and Liberals equally. For this reason, I don't watch the news on tv anymore.
However, the last thing I want to see is the government getting involved. I suspect the notion of the airwaves being public has alot to do with the current state of media.
I am not sufficiently knowledgable on the history and legislation regarding media to have an opinion. All I know is the government shouldn't be dictating what people say for any reason. They can pretend their objective is fairness, but the result will be to silence people who don't have the time and resources to comply with the legislation.
I am working on a follow-up post to this article. Hopefully it will clarify my points.