Michael Franc asks, Will Obama Revive the Fairness Doctrine?
Holder’s evasive responses represent the first hint that the new Administration may re-open what has been “settled doctrine” within the Department of Justice and in the courts for over two decades; namely, that the old Fairness Doctrine is an unconstitutional restraint on free speech. Not to mention that the original argument used to justify these restrictions—that the scarcity of media outlets required the government to intervene in order to guarantee a “diversity” of political opinion—has long since been overwhelmed by the proliferation of cable channels, web sites, blogs, and so on.
Franc is right to ask. Open Market.org has a link-rich post on Holder and how Holder’s record shows him to be hostile to civil liberties.
Perhaps for these reasons, liberals want to avoid frontal assaults on this most tarnished of Doctrines. So they advocate burdening broadcasters with “public interest obligations,” the satisfaction of which will accomplish the same unconstitutional end. Broadcasters, for example, would be required to meet mind-numbing “community service” broadcasting requirements that would effectively crowd out time for popular conservative talk radio hosts.
The bottom line is beware—and stay tuned to your favorite talk radio host for further details!
There are a couple of approaches the Dems might take for broadcasters to meet “public interest obligations”: The most blatant, and probably least successful is to insist of 1 hour of solo-host liberal program for each hour of solo-host conservative program. As Air America found out, liberals aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to listen to liberals on the radio. So, how about a less direct approach: insisting that the solo-hosts in conservative radio have a liberal co-host, a la Hannity & Colmes (even when Hannity’s ratings have gone through the roof now that Colmes – who I like – is gone), and, better yet, a strong liberal debater paired with a weak conservative debater, lifting a page from Hannity & Colmes, as the HuffPo has been known to do.
The question is also, how will this affect blogging and podcasts? For instance, with podcasts like mine, where I am conservative when it comes to American politics, but sympathetic to people like Chile’s Michelle Bachelet, who is a socialist, am I meeting someone’s criteria of fairness?
You can’t expect the Republicans to do anything vaguely resembling an effective opposition when their own candidate for president introduced a bill in 2006 that would allow the federal government to regulate blogs.
What will it take for the Republicans to grow a pair? Or won’t they ever?
We shall soon find out, for sure.
Related post here.