October 09, 2007

Why am I not surprised? Fair for me but NOT for thee.....

The American Spectator reports:

Rep. Henry Waxman has asked his investigative staff to begin compiling reports on Limbaugh, and fellow radio hosts Sean Hannity and Mark Levin based on transcripts from their shows, and to call in Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin to discuss the so-called "Fairness Doctrine".

"Limbaugh isn't the only one who needs to be made uncomfortable about what he says on the radio," says a House leadership source. "We don't have as big a megaphone as these guys, but this all political, and we'll do what we can to gain the advantage. If we can take them off their game for a while, it will help our folks out there on the campaign trail."

Now that's creepy.

But not surprising.

Let me sum this up for you, in case you don't understand just what's at stake here: The Fairness Doctrine was a policy implemented by the FCC in the earliest days of TV and radio, when small media markets were dominated by a handful of stations, or in many cases, just one station. And, as is often the case when you have a media monopoly, FCC regulators were concerned that all views wouldn't be broadcast fairly and some candidates for office might lose out because of a lack of coverage.

Fast forward to 1987. It was the end of the Reagan era, and the rise of mass communications in the US. In 1987 the FCC overturned the Fairness Doctrine because the market had grown so much that there was enough market pressure to allow for opposing viewpoints to be presented, not to mention an increased expectation of such presentation from the media-consuming public. With so many opportunities for coverage and so much media to keep track of, enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine became obsolete and the policy was ended.

In the two decades since, the US has seen an exponential increase in the amount of political speech broadcast through the media. Commercials, debates, opinion and news shows, radio talk shows, etc. have all increased the public's awareness of political issues and political thought. Admittedly, much of this increase has been on the conservative side of the fence. However, the financial disaster formerly known as "Air America" clearly highlights that this is likely due to purely market forces; that Americans want to hear conservative political thought in the media more than they want to hear liberals.

You can come up for your own explanation for that one. I'm sure it's not hard to think of a dozen reasons why, but left-leaning media (other than, it can be argued, mainstream "news") is simply not commercially viable in this country.

Faced with the fact that they can't compete in the open marketplace, what do the liberals do? As usual, they try to level the playing field... to their advantage. If the market won't admit "liberal" political thought, then it's time to simply break down the doors to the market. With the Fairness Doctrine bulldozer.

While it might seem, naively, that the more speech accessible to the masses, the better; in reality this is nothing more than censorship. Reinstating the Fairness Doctrine limits the amount of political speech that can be presented for either side to an amount that can be feasibly presented by the media in consideration of their need (under the FD) to present opposing viewpoints. Is that what we want? Sound bites and snippets? Well, if that's all you're getting anyway, and your opposition has a three-hour talk show, you might just say yes, and damn the consequences.

Let's look at this economically, too: the consumer prefers conservative media (e.g. Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc.), and we know this because these ventures are commercially viable. By limiting the supply of the preferred goods, and forcing the consumer to take some non-preferred goods (Liberal media) instead, the re-institution of the Fairness Doctrine forces the consumer's choice. Sounds a lot like Communism to me...

Let me ask you this: Why is it ok to have NO Fairness Doctrine for 20 years while the left consolidates their power base and makes in roads into the MSM, but the SECOND that conservative media shows some strength, it's time to put it back? Why is the playing field level until the other team goes ahead? Why didn't ANY of these things matter until people started to challenge the status quo?

Funny how the First Amendment gets bought and sold by the left like so much cattle, depending on whether they're winning or losing.

h/t FRED who makes his own case for a Free Press.

Posted by caltechgirl at October 9, 2007 09:29 AM | TrackBack

I contacted the FCC to complain about this atrocity. And I'm working on letters to Bush, my reps, Pelosi, all the powers that be- to scorn this ridiculous investigation and perhaps quell it.

We have power- to complain, demand this end and move on to the issues that truly divide this country...Waxman is a nut and it's time everyone started seeing this. He has a personal vendetta against all things GOP and he's not the right person to be heading up ANYTHING.

Posted by: Raven at October 9, 2007 10:18 AM

Nice summation. Salient points.

Posted by: Persuader at October 11, 2007 04:50 AM