THE BLOG
05/08/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Does America Need "Enforced Media Accountability?"

I wrote this about a month ago and did not post it.

First: the "good news."

At this moment, no member of Congress has scheduled "rerun hearings" concerning the Fairness Doctrine.

The Fairness Doctrine, in theory, would require broadcasters to air contrasting viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance. Have you ever tried to have a discussion with your wife that was governed by any sort of "Fairness Doctrine?"

Former President Bill Clinton was recently asked the following idiotic (in my opinion) question. "Is it time for some type of enforced media accountability?" Just think about the question for a moment. What a horrid notion it was to ask this question in these United States. The words "enforced" or "accountability" should not be used in any sentence when discussing over the air media.

"Well, you either ought to have the Fairness Doctrine or we ought to have more balance on the other side," sadly Clinton said, "because essentially there's always been a lot of big money to support the right wing talk shows and let's face it, you know, Rush Limbaugh is fairly entertaining even when he is saying things that I think are ridiculous..." He went on to say: "...that there needs to be either more balance in the programs or have some opportunity for people to offer countervailing opinions." He added that he didn't support repealing the Fairness Doctrine, an act done under Reagan's FCC.

I'm a relatively liberal Democrat who admires the brilliance of Clinton in so many ways other than his policies concerning the media. The Communications Act "re-write" took place under his watch which allowed the really big guys in media to get really bigger and control so much more than they should. A variety of administrations have yielded to the pressures of the gigantic media companies who "owned many presses" and wanted to own more of them.

My son Steve is three years older than my daughter Eileen. He was able to go to sleep later then she did and was allowed to do things that she was not allowed to do when they were very young and she would incessantly cry, "It's not fair." I would try to tell her that neither was life, and she needed to learn to deal with it!

I am fine with a parent determining what is fair or unfair with their children, but for the Feds to determine anything about media content as Fair or Unfair is absolutely not OK with me. For me, all of the rules concerning Broadcast Television should be "CONTENT NEUTRAL!"

Someone somewhere once said, and I wish it had been me, that "freedom of the press is a good thing as long as you own one of the presses."

Wanna have fairness? Then the Feds should do two things that would help the situation.

First, severely limit the ownership of over the air broadcast properties to a single entity.

Second, reinstate the Financial Interest and Syndication rules of the early seventies, and not allow the existing consolidation of television station ownership and program ownership to remain in place.

Two simple changes.

I understand that the Feds have no jurisdiction over newspapers and magazines, but why not attempt to impose a "fairness doctrine" on newspapers in that there continue to be fewer of them than there had been. (That was supposed to be a small joke.)

I'm sure that many consider FAIR to be a noble and worthwhile cause, but without doubt, it is better for our country and its media delivery systems to KEEP THE FEDS OUT OF IT. It scares me to have them determine anything as ethereal as the Fairness Doctrine. Does America need any Democrat or any Republican determining what is "fair?" I think not.

If it is fairness you want, break up the Clear Channel stations into itsy bitsy pieces and you will get more "fairness" than the Fairness Doctrine" will yield, and the Feds and their notion of fair will not be needed.

The following was taken from the Clear Channel Website.

"Clear Channel Radio is a leading radio company focused on serving local communities across the U.S. with more than 110 million listeners choosing Clear Channel Radio programming each week. The company's content can be heard on AM/FM stations, HD digital radio channels, on the Internet, via iPods and cell phones and used via navigation systems from BMW, Volvo, TomTom, Garmin and others."

The Cross ownership rules that FCC chairman Kevin Martin attempted to change without success would have reduced the number of independent voices that America can watch, listen to, or read. It was a good thing for America that he did not prevail. The things that he was successful in promulgating were bad enough.

In conclusion: America should be able to rely on the availability of as many diverse voices as possible, and that will serve to establish its own "fairness doctrine" without any part of "big brother" being involved.

The most difficult part of all of this is the idea that "enforced media accountability" could possibly be in the hands of the federal government.

Now how scary would that be?

I am comfortable in stating that if you want media to be "fair" whatever that would be, have as many voices as possible speaking to America.