Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

“Holy crap!” said Free Speech

Jerry Stratton, January 17, 2007

Merry Christmas! In the spirit of the “please don’t talk about candidates and issues at the same time” portion of the McCain-Feingold censorship act, Democrats are attempting to bring back the “fairness doctrine” to radio and television. You may recall that political opinion on the airwaves blossomed in the late eighties. That’s because the “fairness doctrine” was abandoned, and radio stations could air political speech without fear of reprisal. Dennis Kucinich, in charge of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Government Reform Committee, wants to bring it back.

The fairness doctrine wasn’t fair. It was a means of making it difficult and unappealing for stations to air political speech except when it came from politicians (when it counted as news). From Ed Morrissey:

The Fairness Doctrine did not require broadcasters to present issues in a “fair and honest manner”; it required them to turn their stations into ping-ponging punditry if they allowed opinion to appear on the air at all. It created such a complicated formula that most broadcasters simply refused to air any political programming, as it created a liability for station owners for being held hostage to all manner of complaints about lack of balance.

This from the folks that the ACLU poesized “would soon bring the Bill of Rights back into style”. That’s what you get when you support a party rather than a principle.

Nat Hentoff remembers working for a Boston station during the era of the Fairness Doctrine:

Soon after listener complaints of unfairness to the FCC resulted in mounting legal costs to answer stern FCC inquiries, the boss ordered us to cease all controversial broadcasting.

The fairness doctrine is a means by which the government can punish broadcasters who air undesirable opinions, either directly (as Nixon did) or indirectly by simply making it too expensive to air anything controversial.

In response to ACLU supports the right to bear arms?: Does the ACLU now support the right to own and carry weapons, or does it think that this power has been stripped from the military and police?