Q&A – Should We Bring Back The “Fairness Doctrine”?

Today's note comes from Barney:

Since we only have a biased press and not a free press, we need to return to "The Fairness Doctrine." Just look at what happened with Buzzfeed and Trump's lawyer. Except for Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and occasionally the WSJ, all the means of communication are controlled by left in this country. This includes:

  1. Newspapers and TV 
  2. Late nite talk show hosts like Kimmel and Mahr 
  3. Hollywood 
  4. Broadway
  5. The Internet - Google and Facebook
  6. Professors on college campuses
  7. Teachers and their unions in public schools 
  8. Supposedly neutral groups like #Me Too and the League of Women Voters. 

Until 1987 we had the Fairness Doctrine, forcing TV stations to present both sides on anything political. We need to pass a new Fairness Doctrine forcing all the above to comply with this rule, so we are not bombarded 24/7 with only one viewpoint. As Goebbels and Stalin used to say if you repeat a lie often enough it will be believed. 

Bottom Line: While I generally agree with your premise, your solution isn’t a good one. You cited Fox News and Rush Limbaugh specifically as being outlets for non-leftist news. Consider that when we had the Fairness Doctrine you didn’t have Fox News or Rush Limbaugh. In fact, it’s not a coincidence that Rush’s show launched nationally within a year of the end of the Fairness Doctrine. Simply put you wouldn’t have Fox News or Rush Limbaugh as you know them today if the Fairness Doctrine is in place. 

For those who aren’t familiar, the Fairness Doctrine was the mandate that broadcast outlets have opposing points of view. It’s often thought of and confused with an “equal time” mandate that doesn’t exist outside of candidates running for elective office. The greatest flaw with the concept of the Fairness Doctrine is the notion that all opposing opinions are created equal. Would you be happy if the Fairness Doctrine led to network executives of the traditional networks picking the “conservatives” who will convey the “opposing” points of view?  

Getting rid of that doctrine led to the proliferation of talk radio as you know it today and gave voice to conservatives that network executives never did and likely wouldn’t. Don’t forget that in today’s world there are endless possibilities for media content. The fact that there’s anything but a leftist monopoly on information is why I’m inclined to remind people that if main-stream news media were as relevant today as it once was, and they wish they still were, there’s no way Donald Trump would ever have become President. Having people choose the media, news and information they identify with and having the marketplace determine content choices is the way to go. I assure you government mandates would ruin much of what’s already available for those seeking alternatives to the traditional networks.  

Submit your question by one of these methods.  

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com 

Twitter: @brianmuddradio 

Facebook: Brian Mudd https://www.facebook.com/brian.mudd1 

Photo by: Martin H. Simon - Pool/Getty Images

 

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