Day Of The Living Fairness Doctrine

TV studio with camera and lights

The fact that the Federal Communications Commission has retreated from its plan to place monitors in newsrooms across the Nation probably rates a minor celebration. The fact that it even considered trying to place monitors in newsrooms across the country definitely rates major concern. The FCC may have abandoned its Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs (CIN), which it claimed was research into minority media ownership. But CIN had about as much to do with racial identity as National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s Benghazi excuses had to do with the actual events in that godforsaken Libyan hellhole.

According to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai (the whistle-blower who turned the spotlight on his agency’s plan to make the Nation’s media at least as independent as Pravda was during the Josef Stalin era), CIN represents more than just an incursion into news dissemination by precisely the people who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the process. CIN represents an attempted return to the dark days of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine.”

For those of you who have forgotten the Fairness Doctrine, it lurched into existence in the late 1940s as a Federal attempt to regulate the content of media reportage on politically charged topics. Specifically, it mandated what liberals like to refer to as “equal time” and sane folk refer to as “wasted time.” Under the strictures of the Fairness Doctrine, stations were forced by the government to give as much airtime to opposing viewpoints as they did to any expressed on their share of the airwaves. As an example, under the Fairness Doctrine, any station that aired a report on the rapidly expanding arctic and Antarctic ice sheets would be required to give equal shrift to a “report” crediting the changing weather to pseudoscientific claptrap like so-called “global warming.”

The Fairness Doctrine finally met its ignominious end in the late 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan signed an executive order recognizing that the Bill of Rights absolutely negates leftist attempts at control of the national discourse. But the CIN proves the left never gave up on the dream of an America in which free information exchange is replaced with governmentally homogenized talking points. The fact that CIN met the same end as the Fairness Doctrine in no way mitigates the fact that the Democrats tried to reanimate the Fairness Doctrine’s corpse and send it out for another attack on free speech.

These people are literally trying to do to America what Stalin did to Russia, though they’ve replaced the show trials and gulags with MSNBC and death panels. Ironically, the people who continue to watch MSNBC, support death panels and generally back any and all liberal attempts at government incursions against freedom ought to be among the last to line up behind such tyranny. After all, when Reagan finally drove a stake through the heart of the Fairness Doctrine, they were among the biggest beneficiaries. Were the Fairness Doctrine still law, CNN would be hamstrung by actual ethical standards.  Moreover, were the Fairness Doctrine still law, MSNBC wouldn’t even exist.

Allowing unelected Federal goon squads to stalk media outlets is about as bright a plan as allowing former President, admitted perjurer and sexual predator Bill Clinton to babysit your chubby teenage daughter. Whether one considers the multitrillion-dollar fraud masquerading as Obamacare; the endless array of scandals birthed by Barack Obama and his accomplices through seemingly reflexive mendacity; or even the tendency of Obama surrogates like Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder to lie under oath with sociopathic ease, the Obama Era has been defined by dishonesty at a level that makes Clinton’s lackeys look like George Washington.  To be honest, the only people less qualified than liberal bureaucrats to interrupt the informational chain of custody are the people who blindly support liberal bureaucrats.

The real tragicomedy lies in the fact that much like the abominable Fairness Doctrine, the CIN is entirely unnecessary. Despite the endless government attempts to sanitize the information available to the Nation, the truth nearly always finds its way out. For every Fairness Doctrine, there’s a Wikileaks. For every CIN, there’s an Edward Snowden. For every MSNBC, there’s a Personal Liberty Digest™.  I’ll allow the eloquent Pai to have the final word:

The American people, for their part, disagree about what they want to watch. But everyone should agree on this: The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.

–Ben Crystal

Personal Liberty

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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