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L. Neil Smith's
Number 505, February 8, 2009

"I am not kidding."

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Fairness Doctrine?
by Curt Howland
Howland -+at+-

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The National Review had an article on the possibility of bringing back the Fairness Doctrine, which featured mostly the questions put to Attorney General Holder in his confirmation hearings: [LINK]

National Review reaches the conclusion that the evasive answers are in keeping with an administration avoiding the "settled doctrine" that the obsolete Fairness Doctrine was an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.

I agree completely, especially due to the fact that there are no longer only 3 national TV networks using "the public airwaves". The myriad "channels" of cable TV is merely the most obvious challenge to any revival of a so-called Fairness Doctrine.

Both "Liberals" and "Conservatives" now have their peculiar outlets: Liberals have CNN, NPR, PBS, ABC, NBC, CBS, TBS, and the 'Net, Conservatives have Fox, AM radio talk shows, and the 'Net.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, merely an illustration.

Libertarians have some syndicated radio shows like Free Talk Live, Penn and Teller's Bullshit on cable, and of course the 'Net.

Will the Obama administration try to reassert the Fairness doctrine? Maybe. At least their lapdogs (or is Obama the lapdog? Does it matter?) in the Senate are using trial phrases where they can be overheard.

And we know who the targets of such a re-established "fairness" doctrine would be, considering who is in power: Talk Radio, and especially the 'Net. I say this because NPR is considered, by government, to be the embodiment of "fairness", and anyone who listens to it for 5 minutes knows that's merely because it carefully toes big-government party line. The further one strays from the NPR "middle" (HA!), the more annoying one is to those who would be enforcing this Fairness Doctrine.

I believe the reason that it seems to the establishment that the 'Net is overwhelmingly Libertarian is simply because there is no barrier to entry on the 'Net. Anyone can speak up, and the basic human nature of free trade and voluntary interaction comes through as a general undercurrent that isn't seen in the mass media where only select individuals choose what is to be broadcast.

The Fairness Doctrine certainly is an issue to be kept track of, and everyone concerned might take a moment and call their "representatives" in Washington City with a preemptive suggestion on the matter.

Considering the overwhelming bias toward the state in the Conservative and Liberal media, any actually "fair" Fairness Doctrine would have to air Libertarian opposing viewpoints in equal measure to their Big Brother worship. But I just don't see that happening.

Nor, in fairness, would I force them to do so.

See Also:

"Is there sinister plot to squelch talk radio?" by Drew Zahn [LINK]

This article includes a link to an on-line petition: [LINK]


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