Democrats Continue to Push “Fairness Doctrine”
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday defended the so-called Fairness Doctrine in an interview on Fox News, saying, “I think we should all be fair and balanced, don’t you?”Schumer’s claim that if government can limit pornography on the airwaves, it can limit political discourse is bizarre. The Founders, who wrote the First Amendment, never intended it to protect pornography but did intend it to protect political discourse.
Schumer’s comments echo other Democrats’ views on reviving the Fairness Doctrine, which would require radio stations to balance conservative hosts with liberal ones.
Asked if he is a supporter of telling radio stations what content they should have, Schumer used the fair and balanced line, claiming that critics of the Fairness Doctrine are being inconsistent.
“The very same people who don’t want the Fairness Doctrine want the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] to limit pornography on the air. I am for that… But you can’t say government hands off in one area to a commercial enterprise but you are allowed to intervene in another. That’s not consistent.”
In 2007, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a close ally of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told The Hill, “It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine. I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”
Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last year said, “I believe very strongly that the airwaves are public and people use these airwaves for profit. But there is a responsibility to see that both sides and not just one side of the big public questions of debate of the day are aired and are aired with some modicum of fairness.”
Conservatives fear that forcing stations to make equal time for liberal talk radio would cut into profits so significantly that radio executives would opt to scale back on conservative radio programming to avoid escalating costs and interference from the FCC.
They also note that conservative radio shows has been far more successful than liberal ones.
Anybody who actually think the “Fairness Doctrine” is about fairness needs to read George Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language,” or better yet 1984.
The urge to shut up those who disagree with you is embedded deeply in human nature, especially among people with strong (but perhaps misguided) moral conventions. And when people with strong moral convictions get power, they inevitabily use to to shut up speech they think harmful.
For about the last couple of decades, the left on college campuses has had the power to shut up speech it didn’t like. Now liberals, flush with victory in the 2008 election, are trying to bring that fascism to broader American society.