Who Defines 'Fair and Balanced,' Sen. Schumer?
The most interesting question will be how liberal bloggers will react. If they truly believe in the First Amendment, they will put partisan considerations aside and join the fight to keep the Fairness Doctrine where it belongs, in the regulatory graveyard.
Question for Chuck Schumer: Who appointed you - or anybody else in government for that matter to decide what qualifies as "fair and balanced" political news and commentary on radio and television?
The question arose earlier this week when the Democratic senator from New York was asked during an interview on Fox News whether he supports restoration of the Federal Communications Commission's Fairness Doctrine: "I think we should all be fair and balanced, don't you?" That's an especially rich retort coming from one of the most zealously hyper-partisan members of the Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate.
The truth is that Democrats like Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, have been talking up bringing back the Fairness Doctrine because they hope to use it to stifle conservative dissent, particularly that which is heard daily from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Examiner columnist Michael Reagan on Talk Radio. The Fairness Doctrine empowered the FCC the regulate political content on broadcast airwaves, including radio and television. Instead of protecting the public interest in hearing a diversity of political commentary and perspectives, however, the Fairness Doctrine was used by JFK and LBJ to shut religious and conservative commentators out of radio. The Nixon administration later tried to use the FCC to browbeat the television networks to be less critical of Viet Nam policy. Former CBS News president details these abuses in his landmark book, "The Good Guys, the Bad Guys and the First Amendment." President Reagan repealed the Fairness Doctrine in 1987.
With Pelosi assured of continued dominance of the House of Representatives and Majority Leader Harry Reid an expanded Democratic majority in the Senate, one of the first orders of business will surely be to encourage the new administration to restore the Fairness Doctrine in some form or to somehow mandate it legislatively.
Talk Radio and the Right side of the Blogosphere will protest long and loud, but don't expect CBS, NBC or ABC to come to their defense, as the giant broadcast networks are quite comfortable with the FCC so long as Democrats are in charge.
The most interesting question will be how liberal bloggers will react.
If they truly believe in the First Amendment, they will put partisan considerations aside and join the fight to keep the Fairness Doctrine where it belongs, in the regulatory graveyard.