Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

More Talk Of The Fairness Doctrine

Normally, I would leave this subject for Thomas. He is more well-versed in it that I am, given his profession. But, as he is not here, and I am, I figured I would take note of the exchange transcribed by Captain Ed Morrissey that occurred between Senator Dick Durbin and Senator Norm Coleman on that very issue today:

Mr. Durbin: I'm sorry to interrupt you but I really wish that through the commerce committee or the appropriate committee of jurisdiction, we can really get into this question. But the senator is arguing that the marketplace can provide. What is the senator's response if the marketplace fails to provide? What is the marketplace does not provide opportunities to hear both points of view? Since the people who are seeking the licenses are using America's airwaves, does the government, speaking for the people of this country, have any interest at that point to step in and make sure there is a despair balanced approach to the --a fair and balanced approach to the information given to the American people?

Mr. Coleman: Mr. President, I’ll respond to the final question here. Very clear disagreement here. The government does not -- does not -- have the responsibility to regulate content of speech. That's what the first amendment is about. It's exactly what the first amendment is about. Government's not supposed to be regulating content. And in a time in 1949 when you had three network TV stations, basically, when had you limited channels of communication, I presume there was a legitimate concern on the part of some that, in fact, government needs to step in and ensure balance. But now we're in 2007. We're at a time where we've got 20,000, you know, opportunities for stations and satellite, where you have cable, you have blogs, you have a whole range of information. I think it would be -- I -- I can't even conceive -- I can't even conceive that the market could not provide opportunities for differing positions because it does. And in the end -- in the end, consumers also have a right based on the market to make choices. And so if they make choices that say we want to hear more of one side than the other, that's ok okay. And I think it's very dangerous, I say to my -- my friend from Illinois, I think it's very dangerous for government to be in the position of deciding what's fair and balanced. Because as we see on the floor of the senate, oftentimes amongst ourselves, learned -- hopefully learned individuals who've the great humble opportunity to serve in the US Senate, we have differences as to what is fair and balanced. And so the reason I think we have a First Amendment is that we get government out of -- out of the -- the measuring, controlling, dictating, regulating content and that's my concern. ...

John Kennedy stated, "we are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people." Mr. President, I’m not afraid of of -- of the people. I'm not afraid of the people having access to the in information, ideas that they want to have access to. But I am afraid of the government stepping in and regulating content. We have a first amendment. That's the underpinning, the foundation of all the other amendments. The fairness doctrine flies in the face of that. It was rejected. It was rejected in 1987. The idea of bringing it back today is a very, very bad idea. This amendment specifically includes the Armed forces network. Our folks are out there on the front line fighting. They should be able to tune into whatever they want to tune into and they shouldn't be thinking that back home someone at the FCC is listening and monitoring and deciding what is fair and what is balanced. Let the people decide. Let the market decide. Let the first amendment flourish.

Mr. President, with that, I yield the floor.

Let me get this straight ... Dick Durbin does not think that the marketplace can provide the balanced coverage that it has been providing since 1987? I find that amusing. Norm Coleman, to his credit, points out that the marketplace has indeed provided precisely that. The "marketplace" goes beyond broadcast stations on TV. It goes beyond talk radio (of which the Left is represented well across this country despite their spinning lies to the contrary). It has evolved across the Internet at an amazing rate.

For example, if any conservative, on any given day, wants to read what the Left is thinking, doing, or planning, they only need to go to one of three places on the Internet. There is DailyKos, DemocraticUnderground, and MoveOn.org. Additionally, there is the Huffington Post, Atrios, Wonkette, TPM, The Plank, and a host of other sites. And there is a balnce on the right side, as well. We are versed in those -- they range from Hugh Hewitt to Michelle Malkin to LGF and Captain's Quarters. Throw Professor Reynolds in at Instapundit, and you cover pretty much the center-right.

The idea is preposterous that the Left does not get it's equal representation. People like Dick Durbin and Barbara Boxer seem to think that talk radio is bad because it is predominantly conservative. Would they be equally outraged at broadcast TV where the news is predominantly liberally-biased? Of course not. they do not want debate to flourish. They want it stifled. They want our side silenced and cowed like it was prior to the Fairness Doctrine's timely demise in 1987. This is not about levelling the playing field. This is about squelching debate altogether.

One side is not happy it's opposing side has a voice. The problem with their idea of bringing back the Fairness Doctrine is that those they wish to silence, such as Rush Limbaugh, will not be silenced. Should the Fairness Doctrine be reinstated, people like him have a large enough audience that he wills imply move to satellite radio, where the Fairness Doctrine cannot tread. As it is entirely pay-as-you-go, the Fairness Doctrine cannot regulate such a medium. But it can on the public airwaves, and that is where AM radio will die.

It will return to the gardening shows, the home improvement shows, the history shows, and the religious shows that seemingly dominate our normal weekends. This is why AM radio suffers on Saturdays and Sundays. They are the shows that few listen to, and normal talk radio people like Thomas and I will turn off the radio on the weekends in favor of listening to music from our library.

And I would like to add, in closing, that the Democrats obviously believe the supporters on their side are either inept, incompetent, or just plain stupid if they cannot find a differing view either on the Internet, or on the radio dial. A quick web search can provide progressive talk radio that can be heard in streaming audio via the Internet. We know because that is how we listen to the conservative talk show hosts we either do not receive in Arizona, or int he case of Hugh Hewitt, we prefer to hear it live rather than wait for the tape delayed one that comes on here in Arizona on 960 AM, KKNT.



Anonymous Gary said...

I think that the idea of the marketplace having to give balanced opinions sounds fantastic. However, the marketplace that we have right now is completely different than what was there when the doctrine went out of effect. It would be difficult to regulate, especially given the amount of laypeople who are now involved in it.

July 13, 2007 at 2:19 PM  

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