Friday, February 13, 2009
Bill Clinton And The 'Fairness Doctrine'
Former President Bill Clinton gave apparent support to the reinstating of the so-called Fairness Doctrine during an interview on a talk radio show.
Democrats are beating the drums for the rule, which would require radio and TV talk show hosts to balance their content because the number and influence of conservative talk shows overshadows liberal programs.
The FCC abandoned the doctrine decades ago on the grounds that it was limiting to free speech. That decision was a wise one and should not be overturned, either by the Congress or by the commission.
Most radio and TV talk shows reflect the political or ideological leanings of the host or owners. It just so happens that conservative shows tend to garner greater audiences than liberal shows.
If liberals want a greater say on these shows, they should put on more entertaining programming that attracts more listeners or viewers. In otherwords, let the marketplace decide.
The government has no business judging the "fairness" of commentary on the airwaves. In fact, imposing government oversight could lead to horrible and disquieting abuses. Imagine an FCC composed of a majority of commissioners from the, say, "Blue" party declaring that talk shows that support the view of the "Yellow" political party are unfair and must be "balanced" with the Blue's point of view. This happens in other nations, like Russia, where opposition voices are routinely muzzled (sometimes permanently by gunfire).
No one told the talk show host who gave Bill Clinton airtime that he had to give an equal amount of time to George W. Bush. Nor should anyone, save the show's management.
The broadcast industry is suffering as it is. To restrict its voices as compared with, say, those heard in newspapers or on the Internet, would place them at an unfair competitive disadvantage.
Congress and the FCC: leave things alone. The so-called Fairness Doctrine would be far from fair and would have exactly the opposite results from its stated goals.
We talk about these issues and more weekdays at 5 PM New York time on News Talk Online on Paltalk.com
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mojodenbowsphotostudio/2237357107/