So, for the better part of the past year, right-wing radio talkers have been sore afraid that President Barack Obama was going to reimpose this piece of legislation called the "Fairness Doctrine." And right along, I've been trying -- vainly! -- to chill people out, and let them know that no such thing was going to happen.
What is the "Fairness Doctrine?" Imposed in 1949, the Fairness Doctrine mandated that the scarcity of media resources made it necessary that FCC license holders allow competing points of view to have equal time and access. In practice, the Fairness Doctrine was always tricky to enforce, and so in 1987 is was done away with. In the immediate offing, right wing radio flourished. Of course, since then, the media has expanded to include satellite radio and cable television and the internet, eliminating the original "scarcity of resources" argument that underpinned the Fairness Doctrine in the first place, while greatly complicating a media sphere that the law couldn't handle well when it was implemented nearly sixty years ago.
Since I took up my position on the Fairness Doctrine watchtower, I've written about it a bunch of times. I called it a "fake right wing firestorm," and pointed out that many liberals were against it. I called it a "phantom menace" that was maybe being caused by "brain worms." I went looking for something that looked like a fervent supporter of the Fairness Doctrine, finding only an obscure backbencher from California. I also wrote some stuff about something Ann Coulter said in an email, which somehow applied to this discussion.
Yet the paranoia that Obama would be getting all up in the radio tubes and force talk radio to start presenting an equal array of opposing viewpoints, thus destroying America, has persisted. So, will today's news, via Broadcasting & Cable settle the issue, once and for all?
Julius Genachowski, President Obama's nominee for chairman of the FCC, said Tuesday that he did not support reimposing the fairness doctrine.
He was asked at his nomination hearing by ranking Senate Commerce Committee Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) to publicly state the opinion he had expressed to her in a meeting--that he did not support the doctrine, even if it were arrived at by ancillary routes like localism mandates.
Genachowski said he strongly believes in the First Amendment and doesn't think the FCC should be involved in censorship based on political speech and opinion.
It should! But it probably won't!