23 January 2007

In All Fairness ... (BR)
Nothing more than a power grab by the Demoblicans

The presentation of an editorial on this site which concurs with the opinion of Frothmeister Sean Hannity is about as rare as the appearance of Kohoutek, so get out your high-powered telescopes.

The revival of the issue of the "Fairness Doctrine" -- quotes mine -- by newly-empowered congressional Democrats is a flimsy smokescreen meant to guarantee the two-party stranglehold on political broadcasting in perpetuity.

On this issue everyone in the public sphere is clueless. The Republicans who don't know better see this strictly as a liberal move to silence conservative thought on Fox News and particularly talk radio, which is seen as a bastion of grassroots populist political movement on the Right. Liberals, on the other hand, imagine reinstatement of the Doctrine, repealed during the Reagan administration, the antidote to the right-wing media apparatus increasingly, visibly playing footsie with Republican politicians. Both are wrong.

The Fairness Doctrine should not be reinstated. There is nothing fair about it. It is a naked ploy by Republicans and Democrats to hijack our public airwaves, use them to trick the American people into believing that there are only two sides to any given issue, and squelch any serious independent or third-party political movement.

Freshman Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) appeared on Fox's weeknightly car bomb called Hannity & Colmes to tout the resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine, and faced an unexpectedly uppity Alan Colmes, who prefaced his interview with the Congressman by stating his personal opposition to the Doctrine on free-speech grounds. Cohen, perhaps taken off guard by this, made an utter fool of himself in a flailing defense of his position.

When asked his view on Congress' responsibility in regulating broadcast content, Cohen responded, incredibly:
The proper role of government, I think, is to see that the media does not have too much influence, like they did, say, in Nazi Germany, when the media was used to take over peoples' minds.
The media during the Third Reich would not have wielded the power it did had it not been under the total authority of the regime. Cohen's use of Nazi Germany as an example either highlights his own ignorance of history or his assumption of similar ignorance on the part of Americans. That he was not challenged on this point by Colmes or Hannity indicates the latter.

I'm truly shocked that my fellow Democrats, who read fascist and imperialist designs into anything said or written by a Republican, don't recognize the creeping Orwellianism of something called a "Fairness Doctrine". People who rightly sneered at the ideas that a certain education bill would prevent children being "left behind" or that there could be anything "PATRIOT"-ic about empowering the government with Total Information Awareness are now falling like dominoes for the same deceitful sloganeering, now that their party is in control. Markos Moulitsas breathlessly essayed back in June about the growing contingency of "Libertarian Democrats," words which today ring hollow given Kos' silence on this matter.

It's nice to believe that an enlightened and democratically-elected government might use all the tools at its disposal, including the media, to prevent one party or school of thought from monopolizing the marketplace of ideas. Nice, but foolish, and ultimately destructive. Democrats should think long and hard about how the decisions they make today, and the power with which they endow themselves, might be used and interpreted later on, once the electorate inevitably swings back to the Republican side. If a law loosening pollution regulations can be called the "Clear Skies Act" and passed by Congress, surely the "Fairness Doctrine" can be used to kill political opposition.

The fact is, we already have a real fairness doctrine on the books, and it has worked remarkably well lo these past 231 years of American history; it goes a little something like this:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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