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Monday, June 23, 2008

Fairness Doctrine Farce?

Last Friday, Laura Ingraham, subbing for Bill O'Reilly, made Talking Points Memo about the Fairness Doctrine. Now, the whole thing was rather convincing and provocative, however was it mere theatrics by Ingraham or are we really on the verge of the Fairness Doctrine.

First here is a summary of her argument. Ingraham believes that Rush Limbaugh innovated A.M. Radio with his conservative talk radio format. In the last twenty years, talk radio has become the most effective niche of the media. (this again is according to Ingraham)

Because liberal talk radio can't compete in the market (case in point Air America), the Federal government is stepping on to silence conservative talk radio.

There is currently a couple months left until a moratorium runs out on a current one year ban on the Fairness Doctrine. As such, Congressman Mike Pence has introduced the Broadcast Freedom Act. This would outlaw the Fairness Doctrine forever. This bill is stuck in committee and it needs 22 votes to get it on the floor. So far, not a single Democrat has signed on for the Broadcast Freedom Act.

Now, Ingraham explains that the Fairness Doctrine was supposed to demand that on any "controversial" topic each side must be presented. Because the word controversial is so vague it winds up only affecting talk radio. The practical effect would be Rush Limbaugh needing a liberal on his show in order to have a show. As such, there would be no more Rush Limbaugh show. It's the way for Democrats to do what the market can't.

I don't how much of this is mere bluster on the part of Ingraham, though I do know that this is a good issue for Republicans. It's one of the issues that the base sees eye to eye with McCain on as well. In fact, it is probably one of their best domestic issues. Now, I think that McCain should immediately go onthe record. and demand that Obama does the same. He should propose that they go back to the Senate to help outlaw the Fairness Doctrine.

Though, if you thought about this in a machiavellian way, the best thing is that nothing happens in this election cycle. Then, it could continue to be brought up. If the Fairness Doctrine is abolished so is the issue. If it isn't, it remains an issue for the general campaign. Then, Ingraham's nightmare scenario could be the centerpiece of any number of advertisement.

The debate over the Fairness Doctrine maybe back, and for once the Republicans are smiling.


Anonymous said...

I would be more worried if I were you about these two factors killing talk radio:

Most of it is on AM. And most of its listeners are over 55. It's a struggle getting younger people to listen to radio at all, much less AM.

By the way, there are two powerful disincentives to stations throwing in the towel on talk and going back to music -- music doesn't work on AM, which is why they started talk in the first place, and the record companies are about to get the Democrats in Congress to force radio stations to pay more royalties for their songs. That's going to cost radio stations more than hiring a boatload of liberals to balance things out.

mike volpe said...

First of all, Conservative talk radio is nowhere near dead and in fact it is thriving. Second, if market forces kill it that is one thing. If the government kills it that is something totally different.

Third, there is plenty of talk that is "non controversial" that can go on A.M like sports.