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


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Dr. Rus Jeffrey said...

Hey Gary;

Wow! I can't believe you've received no comments on this post! I must admit it's interesting to watch how this whole "fairness doctrine" thing is spinning out of control. It's the age old adage, if you don't like what you hear on the radio, change the channel.

Many conservatives, especially what I call the "radical right" are screaming over this whole issue. But, lets step aside from the fact that it's wrong, and realize this is yet another step toward government control over every aspect of our lives. The government now owns the banks, insurance companies, medical companies and even more! Now it wants to own the airwaves too.

Maybe it's time to realize the "hope" proclaimed by now President Obama included the "hope of the government involved in every aspect of our lives." That's called socialism and it's failed miserably in any other country it was tried in.

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, guess what, it's a duck.

What's next? Will the government come into our bedrooms and tell us we're sleeping wrong?

Dr. Rus

Anonymous said...

It seems congress just wants to control every aspect of our lives. Personally I'm really getting irritated with it. Our country is supposed to be a country of freedom and in many aspects that freedom is being taken away from us. This has been happening for many many years now. It needs to stop. Something I am not understanding here is this....Government is supposed to be "For the people, of the people, by the people" (not sure if I quoted that correctly) If this is the way its supposed to be, how are all these bailouts, stimulus packages and laws being passed when so many of the people are very much against them?

Anonymous said...

There's nothing fair about the Fairness Doctrine.

It was the left that called for its elimination originally. But now that the conservatives have more listeners, the left wants it reinstated.

Well, if it is, thank God that the FCC doesn't control the Internet. There will be no muzzling of News Talk Online, will there?