THE BLOG
10/03/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Issues You Won't Hear on Cable News

A new low point in cable news occurred this week with the focus on Sarah Palin's family issues. Even after Barack Obama correctly and firmly said that family matters should be kept out of political coverage, cable news bloviators, like the gossip junkies they are, couldn't help themselves. CNN's Wolf Blitzer, as usual, was the worst offender.

But there was one issue that I never heard covered on cable news, network news, or even NPR, and that was a plank in the Democratic platform that was touted to "clarify" the public interest obligations for broadcasters. http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6590162.html .

Here's the last sentence in a paragraph titled "A Connected America" in the platform. See if you think it clarifies anything:

We will encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation's spectrum.

The entire issue of regulating broadcasting was relegated to one relatively short sentence in a long paragraph about how a Democratic administration would deal with the Internet. This positioning reflects the relative importance of broadcasting versus the Internet in the minds of the Democrats and of the American people.

American parents are probably more concerned about predators on the Internet than about their children seeing half a second of Janet Jackson's uncovered breast. Would that the FCC felt the same way, but its prudishness was at least overturned by the courts.

One ambiguous phrase in the Democratic platform dealt with the proposed reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, proposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other liberals hoping to muzzle Rush Limbaugh and other conservative bloviators. The phrase "clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation's spectrum" clarifies nothing and will leave a Democratic-majority FCC clueless if Obama is elected.

The FCC should not reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, and clarifying broadcasters' public interest obligations is a good idea in principle, but almost impossible to implement. Plus, any "clarification" will apply only to radio and television stations and not to terrestrial television networks and, more importantly, not to cable networks where unfairness and indecency are rampant and serving the public interest is a joke, except for a few cable networks such as CSpan.

CSspan became the star of convention coverage by allowing people to judge for themselves about the conventions and the speeches. Even PBS got tiring with its old, mostly ugly, and holier-than-thou pundits and historians boring us to death. Come on, guys, let the politicians bore us; don't prolong it.