Under FCC Chairman Mark S. Fowler, a communications attorney who had served on Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign staff in 1976 and 1980, was appointed by Reagan to head the FCC. The commission began to repeal parts of the Fairness Doctrine, announcing in 1985 that the doctrine hurt the public interest and violated free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.
While the Repeal of the Fairness Doctrine will play a minor role in Reagan's overall policy legacy, it will play a major role in shaping his legacy. That's because the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine ushered in Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh all but created the talk radio format now dominated by conservatives.
During the Fairness Doctrine, if you were to put on someone like Rush, you also had to put on someone with his opposite beliefs...to be FAIR. Little did anyone know that there were a lot more conservatives wanting to talk politics with the people at large for hours at a time than Democrats. During the Fairness Doctrine days conservative talk radio had no place because you also had to have liberal talk radio.
With the handcuffs taken off, Rush Limbaugh ushered in a new age. A lot of people are so called Reagan Conservatives. Talk show hosts have a special place in their hearts for Ronald Reagan. That's because he created them.
Winston Churchill once said, "I don't fear history for I intend to write it." Reagan didn't likely set out to write history but repealing the Fairness Doctrine has effectively done that. He created an army of history writers in talk radio that will until the end of time write history favorably to him. Now, my liberal readers will say that history won't only be written by talk radio. That's true. Nothing is as organized against Reagan's legacy, however, as talk radio is organized in favor of it. He's effectively insured that history will be written in his favor with the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine.