The “Fairness Doctri…
The “Fairness Doctrine” is rearing its ugly head again, this time as House Bill HR501, submitted on February 1st of this year and sponsored by (Democrat) Louise Slaughter and co-sponsored by 12 others (all Democrats). A web site has been put up promoting this as well.

As is typical, these folks decry any medium where they detect a conservative slant, but are utterly tone-deaf to all the liberal onesidedness out there. The petition they’re trying to get folks to sign contains this paragraph.

News consumers, particularly those of talk radio, are overwhelmingly exposed to a single point of view. A survey conducted by Democracy Radio this year revealed that 90% of all broadcast hours on talk radio are fairly characterized as conservative. This imbalance results in issues of public importance receiving little or no attention, while others are presented in a manner not conducive to the listeners’ receiving the facts and range of opinions necessary to make informed decisions.

I’ll grant that talk radio is more conservative than it is liberal, but there’s a reason for that. It’s not because of some corporate neocons, it’s because of demand. I’ve always thought that, overall, the American public leans somewhat right-of-center, and the popularity of conservative radio programming bears this out. For example, “Air America”, a liberal talk-radio network, and “Bill Bennett’s Morning in America”, one show on the conservative Salem Radio Network, both started at same time, and both recently just turned one year old. While the Air America network has expanded to a bit over 50 markets, Bennett’s program is in 124 markets. Further, Air America’s ratings have been tanking, unable to, for example, beat the ratings WLIB in New York had when it was a Caribbean music station before it switched to Air America. Comparing “broadcast hours” is misleading because it’s a simple matter of responding to the ratings. If fewer people listen to a particular format, there will probably be fewer stations with that format (ignoring the Soros factor for the moment).

So the foundation upon which this idea is built is made of sand right from the start. But beyond that is the audacity these folks have to bring up only talk radio when the mainstream news media has been utterly rife with liberal bias for decades. But when liberals talk about media bias, suddenly the entire media world consists of Fox News Channel, the Washington Times, and Rush Limbaugh. You will not find anything about the “myopic zeal” at CBS News from the Fairness Doctrine folks; they don’t mind that kind of nearsightedness at all.

What we have then, in effect, is a backdoor attempt to get more of a market for Air America by forcing stations to maintain some sort of balance in “broadcast hours”. Stations will be forced to run Al Franken or someone like him to offset any conservatives on the air. While the introduction of HR501 and the 1st anniversary of Air America and the report of its lousy ratings are probably not connected, it does sound like an interesting time for this doctrine to be rehashed. Perhaps since Soros has a horse in the talk radio race now, some folks in Washington may be hoping to be the recipients of some cash to really push this hard. And Bush’s veto record is, well, non-existent. For politicos viewing the media landscape with liberal-blocking polarized lenses, this may be the perfect time for a move like this.

If liberals can’t compete in the arena of ideas, they pass laws against the competition. This is desperation.

(Cross-posted at and the Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

Filed under: Uncategorized

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!