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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Fairness For All?

Fairness Doctrine.... would it be fair for "all"?

I have taken my time with this issue because I wanted to have the time to see a few reactions on both sides of the aisle.

Kucinich To Hold Fairness Doctrine Hearings.

Per his telegraph to a media reform conference last week, Ohio Democratic Representative and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has been named head of a new House Domestic Policy Subcommittee and he plans to hold hearings on media ownership with an eye toward a reintroduction of the fairness doctrine.

The doctrine, which was scrapped by the FCC in 1987 as unconstitutional, put an affirmative obligation on broadcasters to air both sides of controversial issues. It's absence is also credited with the rise of conservative talk radio.

Appearing on Lou Dobbs CNN program Kucinich said he planned to hold hearings on the doctrine. He said that since the doctrine was scrapped by the FCC, 50 media companies have shrunk to six. Kucinich, who voted against the war in Iraq and does not want to fund the administration's proposed troop increase, tied the absence of the doctrine and concentration of media to the launch of the war. "How in the world did we end up in this war in Iraq when one study said that only three news sources that opposed the war were able to get on the air out of 393. What does that say. Was there an uninhibited exchange of ideas." He did not identify the study.

"I think that this is an opportunity for America to revisit the issue of consolidation of the media," he told Dobbs. "And how it relates to whether the media is serving in the public interest.

I found what I was looking for over at Huffington Post, I held my nose and did what I had to...I clicked the link. (There is a really bad "smell" over there)

And any effort to bring back the Fairness Doctrine must include extending its umbrella to the cable news industry, as well.

Well, Well, Well..... For the record, I am against this supposed "fairness" Doctrine, but if we are arguing what should and should not go under the "umbrella" of fairness, what about publications such as the New York Times, Wapo, or better yet.....what about Associated Press... if we are insisting on "fairness", what would happen if those publications HAD to present all the news instead of gearing and distorting their news to fit in with their political agenda.

Imagine if Associated Press had to present an equal amount of time for the good news coming from Iraq as they do to the bad news and their once a week "milestones".... heh

What a joke.

The fairness Doctrine is simply a way for the liberal masses to restrict free speech because it seems that conservative radio does well and liberal radio, such as Air America goes under.

Instead of understanding the causes for this, which is that the masses do not seem to enjoy their "message" as much as the they do the conservative shows messages....they wish to cut off the conservative free speech.


U.S. Broadcasting Policy

The policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission that became known as the "Fairness Doctrine" is an attempt to ensure that all coverage of controversial issues by a broadcast station be balanced and fair. The FCC took the view, in 1949, that station licensees were "public trustees," and as such had an obligation to afford reasonable opportunity for discussion of contrasting points of view on controversial issues of public importance. The Commission later held that stations were also obligated to actively seek out issues of importance to their community and air programming that addressed those issues. With the deregulation sweep of the Reagan Administration during the 1980s, the Commission dissolved the fairness doctrine.

This doctrine grew out of concern that because of the large number of applications for radio station being submitted and the limited number of frequencies available, broadcasters should make sure they did not use their stations simply as advocates with a singular perspective. Rather, they must allow all points of view. That requirement was to be enforced by FCC mandate.

From the early 1940s, the FCC had established the "Mayflower Doctrine," which prohibited editorializing by stations. But that absolute ban softened somewhat by the end of the decade, allowing editorializing only if other points of view were aired, balancing that of the station's. During these years, the FCC had established dicta and case law guiding the operation of the doctrine.

In ensuing years the FCC ensured that the doctrine was operational by laying out rules defining such matters as personal attack and political editorializing (1967). In 1971 the Commission set requirements for the stations to report, with their license renewal, efforts to seek out and address issues of concern to the community. This process became known as "Ascertainment of Community Needs," and was to be done systematically and by the station management.

The fairness doctrine ran parallel to Section 315 of the Communications Act of 1937 which required stations to offer "equal opportunity" to all legally qualified political candidates for any office if they had allowed any person running in that office to use the station. The attempt was to balance--to force an even handedness. Section 315 exempted news programs, interviews and documentaries. But the doctrine would include such efforts. Another major difference should be noted here: Section 315 was federal law, passed by Congress. The fairness doctrine was simply FCC policy.

The FCC fairness policy was given great credence by the 1969 U.S. Supreme Court case of Red Lion Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. FCC. In that case, a station in Pennsylvania, licensed by Red Lion Co., had aired a "Christian Crusade" program wherein an author, Fred J. Cook, was attacked. When Cook requested time to reply in keeping with the fairness doctrine, the station refused. Upon appeal to the FCC, the Commission declared that there was personal attack and the station had failed to meet its obligation. The station appealed and the case wended its way through the courts and eventually to the Supreme Court. The court ruled for the FCC, giving sanction to the fairness doctrine.

The doctrine, nevertheless, disturbed many journalists, who considered it a violation of First Amendment rights of free speech/free press which should allow reporters to make their own decisions about balancing stories. Fairness, in this view, should not be forced by the FCC. In order to avoid the requirement to go out and find contrasting viewpoints on every issue raised in a story, some journalists simply avoided any coverage of some controversial issues. This "chilling effect" was just the opposite of what the FCC intended.

By the 1980s, many things had changed. The "scarcity" argument which dictated the "public trustee" philosophy of the Commission, was disappearing with the abundant number of channels available on cable TV. Without scarcity, or with many other voices in the marketplace of ideas, there were perhaps fewer compelling reasons to keep the fairness doctrine. This was also the era of deregulation when the FCC took on a different attitude about its many rules, seen as an unnecessary burden by most stations. The new Chairman of the FCC, Mark Fowler, appointed by President Reagan, publicly avowed to kill to fairness doctrine.

By 1985, the FCC issued its Fairness Report, asserting that the doctrine was no longer having its intended effect, might actually have a "chilling effect" and might be in violation of the First Amendment. In a 1987 case, Meredith Corp. v. FCC, the courts declared that the doctrine was not mandated by Congress and the FCC did not have to continue to enforce it. The FCC dissolved the doctrine in August of that year.

However, before the Commission's action, in the spring of 1987, both houses of Congress voted to put the fairness doctrine into law--a statutory fairness doctrine which the FCC would have to enforce, like it or not. But President Reagan, in keeping with his deregulatory efforts and his long-standing favor of keeping government out of the affairs of business, vetoed the legislation. There were insufficient votes to override the veto. Congressional efforts to make the doctrine into law surfaced again during the Bush administration. As before, the legislation was vetoed, this time by Bush.

The fairness doctrine remains just beneath the surface of concerns over broadcasting and cablecasting, and some members of congress continue to threaten to pass it into legislation. Currently, however, there is no required balance of controversial issues as mandated by the fairness doctrine. The public relies instead on the judgment of broadcast journalists and its own reasoning ability to sort out one-sided or distorted coverage of an issue. Indeed, experience over the past several years since the demise of the doctrine shows that broadcasters can and do provide substantial coverage of controversial issues of public importance in their communities, including contrasting viewpoints, through news, public affairs, public service, interactive and special programming.

Captain's Quarters take on the Fairness Doctrine:

The Fairness Doctrine did not require broadcasters to present issues in a "fair and honest manner"; it required them to turn their stations into ping-ponging punditry if they allowed opinion to appear on the air at all. It created such a complicated formula that most broadcasters simply refused to air any political programming, as it created a liability for station owners for being held hostage to all manner of complaints about lack of balance.

Congress and the Reagan administration repealed the Fairness Doctrine in the mid-1980s, and it allowed a market for political opinion to flourish. It also revitalized the AM band, which had been badly eclipsed for music broadcasting during the 1970s due to the rise of static-free FM stations. Radio stations could air local and syndicated talk shows without having to worry about metering time between differing viewpoints, allowing the station owners to reflect the market and their own personal preferences for politcal viewpoints.

Why would Kucinich want to reimpose the Fairness Doctrine and kill off the AM band and talk radio? Because his allies have proven less successful than conservatives at building a market for their broadcasts. Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt, and a slew of conservative thinkers carved out an industry out of the AM wilderness, and the Al Frankens and Wendy Wildes can't keep up without government intervention. Air America would lose as well in this scenario, but I'm sure Kucinich sees that as a fair trade, and for good reason.

Democrats aren't wasting much time in rolling back free speech now that they have the majority. Putting Kucinich in charge of domestic policy reform was no mistake on their part. They want to kill talk radio, and if they manage to hold their majority and win the White House in 2008, they just might do it.

A message from WND:

Silencing conservatives on the airwaves

A final thought for this week is a personal one.

I've been the target, as have a number of other conservative talk-radio hosts, of an effort by liberal bloggers to get me fired for engaging in what these far-left activists are calling "hate speech."

The move by liberal activists to silence conservative radio hosts comes after the failure of the left-wing Air America radio network. Given that liberalism couldn't compete and win in the marketplace of ideas, liberals now want to silence conservative radio hosts.

One anonymous online blogger compiled audio clips edited to make it look like I was calling for the murder of Nancy Pelosi, when I did no such thing. (You can listen for yourself and understand how they are now trying to impugn my credibility by misrepresenting my words).

One blogger called for fining me and my station $325,000 for each "offense" so as to shut down our station. Another liberal blogger is lining up activists to do a drill to get Congress to pass a new Fairness Doctrine. Another blogger said they were going to work until they got me "off the air."

I've been on the air for 12 years at KSFO radio in San Francisco – one of the highest-rated talk-radio stations in the nation.

Every day for four hours I sit behind a radio microphone, fighting for a better America that promotes freedom, liberty, security, honesty and integrity. That calculates to be about 1,200 minutes every week. That's a total of more than 60,000 minutes each year for 12 years.

Over the course of all these years, I have of course said things I regretted, or worded things in a way I wished I hadn't. When that happens I've retracted the statement and made a public apology, such as I did concerning comments made about Sen. Barrack Obama. You should read my statement on this matter here.

Despite the efforts by liberal censors to silence me, I will never back away from what I believe in: a strong national defense, respect for the men and women of the United States military, a secure border and enforcement of our nation's immigration laws, lower taxes, less government regulation in our lives and in business, respect for the values of decency, honesty and morality.

Any efforts to silence me are just further proof of how desperate and pathetic liberals have become.

So they have become that pathetic and desperate.

How many of you have read the book Atlas Shrugged? I suggest you read it now.......

The theme of Atlas Shrugged is that independent, rational thought is the engine that powers the world.

The main conflict of the book occurs as the "individuals of the mind" go on strike, thus no longer contributing problem-solving analysis, new ideas, inventions, medical breakthroughs, research, or inventions of any kind to the rest of the world, allowing a near-total collapse of a society that they had not only been crucial in holding together, but a society which they had even been forced to subsidize. The previous peaceful cohesiveness of the world had required those individuals whose productive work comes from mental effort. They had always naturally created in direct disproportion to forceful interference by others. But given no alternative, they eventually start disappearing from the communities of "looters," Rand's term for others seeking a free dependency on productive people.

Like the Greek Titan Atlas, individuals rationally and circumspectly seeking their own long-term happiness hold the world on their shoulders. The novel's title is an allusion to the titan, discussing what might happen if those supporting the world suddenly decided to stop doing so. In the novel, the allusion comes during a conversation between two protagonists, Francisco d'Anconia and Hank Rearden, near the end of part two, chapter three, where Francisco suggests to Rearden that if he could suggest to Atlas that he do one thing, it would be to shrug.

In the world of Atlas Shrugged, society stagnates when independent productive achievers began to be socially demonized and even punished for their accomplishments, even though society had been far more healthy and prosperous by allowing, encouraging, and rewarding self-reliance and individual achievement. Independence and personal happiness flourished to the extent that people were free, and achievement was rewarded to the extent that individual ownership of private property was strictly respected. The hero, John Galt, lives a life of laissez-faire capitalism as the only way to live consistent with his beliefs.

Atlas Shrugged is a political book. It portrays fascism, socialism and communism – any form of state intervention in society, as systemically and fatally flawed. However, Rand claimed that it is not a fundamentally political book, but that the politics portrayed in the novel are a result of her attempt to display her image of the ideal person and the individual mind's position and value in society.

Rand argues that independence and individual achievement enable society to survive and thrive, and should be embraced. But this requires a "rational" moral code. She argues that, over time, coerced self-sacrifice causes any society to self-destruct.

Editorial Review for Atlas Shrugged:

With this acclaimed work and its immortal query, "Who is John Galt?", Ayn Rand found the perfect artistic form to express her vision of existence. Atlas Shrugged made Rand not only one of the most popular novelists of the century, but one of its most influential thinkers.

Atlas Shrugged is the astounding story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world--and did. Tremendous in scope, breathtaking in its suspense, Atlas Shrugged stretches the boundaries further than any book you have ever read. It is a mystery, not about the murder of a man's body, but about the murder--and rebirth--of man's spirit.

* Atlas Shrugged is the "second most influential book for Americans today" after the Bible, according to a joint survey conducted by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club

This women had vision, she correctly portrayed what our world would look like and the damage men like Kuncinich could do.

In her book, the men and women with brains withdrew from the world to allow the politicians and the "leeches" of the world to self destruct before they would come back.

I suggest you read her book and then look around you, read your papers, look at the news on the internet and understand that she predicted all of this.

Where is OUR John Galt?

We need you.