Thursday, July 31, 2008

Turning Back the Clock

It's bad enough that we Americans are facing the prospect of a serious recession, a continued hike in gas prices, and other reminders of the not-so-recent past. But now, apparently, the Democrats in Congress would like to resurrect another relic from that era: the Fairness Doctrine:
A bill to permanently ban the “Fairness Doctrine” – a dormant FCC rule that says broadcasters, mainly talk radio, must grant equal air time to opposing viewpoints – probably will not be voted on this year in Congress, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told on Wednesday.

Hoyer also joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in strongly suggesting that he would support reactivating the Fairness Doctrine, telling that he is interested in “ensuring the availability of fair and balanced information to the American public.” [...]

“There is a real concern about the monopoly of information and the skewering of information that the American public gets,” said Hoyer. “First, is to the monopoly.

“Obviously, if one group, or a large group, controls information and only allows one perspective to be presented, that’s not good for democracy. That is not good for the American public. That is, of course, what the Fairness Doctrine is directed at, and it can have great merit. But there are obviously complications involved in that as well,” he said.
Now, you can say what you like about right-wing talk radio--and I'm not really a fan of very much of it. But you can hardly say that it's a monopoly controlling all the information that the American people receive--to do so is to ignore the huge amount of information available to the American public through television news, newspapers, and this nifty little thing called the Internet.

The truth of the matter is that Democrats--and liberals in general--aren't all that good at providing the kind of insightful opinion/commentary programming that conservatives have tended to excel at. You could come up with all sorts of explanations as to why, but it's true--liberal attempts to create liberal counterparts to conservative talk radio have tended not to do very well. Now, it's fair to suppose that liberals will eventually find their niche in these formats--but it's not fair, "Fairness Doctrine" notwithstanding, to force conservative broadcasters to offer "equal time" to less compelling liberal voices in the interim.

The Fairness Doctrine is one of the many examples of liberals seeking to apply a government solution to something that isn't even a problem, let alone a dire situation needing immediate relief from the government. There are no laws preventing liberals from starting and hosting their own talk shows, and no unfair or discriminatory efforts to exclude them from doing so. But they have to play by the same rules as everybody else, and come up with something interesting, insightful, compelling, and unique to say--and then draw in enough listeners to start attracting advertisers, as well. If they can't do this, then nobody owes them a platform or a microphone--least of all one provided by government mandate.


LarryD said...

I think one of the problems the Left has with conservative talk radio is that it is successful. Air America has been a black hole of funding - companies are not compelled to advertise where there is no audience - while conservative talk radio (read: Rush Limbaugh) has been of great benefit to advertisers. It's all about the money, and, to the Left, it's not fair that they're not profitable. Their message isn't all that compelling, either.

As to playing by the same rules...everyone knows that, in the eyes of the Left, there are two sets of rules: one for those who Aren't Like Them, and then the ones for themselves. How is that fair?

~~~mary said...

Christian radio stations are very concerned about this matter. It may be used to silence Christ centered and anti-abortion messages. Dr. Dobson's group had a program discussing this and, if their scenarios are accurate, it is quite chilling.
It is a matter of freedom of speech - if your speech is something I want to hear. Peace. ~~~mary