The “Fairness Doctrine” is un-American
On a recent edition of Fox News Sunday, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said this of talk radio, before going on to advocate for the so-called "Fairness Doctrine":
In my view, talk radio tends to be one-sided. It also tends to be dwelling in hyperbole. It's explosive. It pushes people to, I think, extreme views without a lot of information.
Re-implementing the "Fairness Doctrine" has been something that top Democrats have wanted to do since the Democrat Party took over Congress in the 2006 elections. Republicans in Congress have fought back and have thus far prevented it from passing the House. The last time Democrats wanted to put the "Hush Rush" law into effect, disgraced ex-President Clinton was whining and crying about Rush Limbaugh, but this time Congressional Democrats do not have an ally in the White House.
The "Fairness Doctrine" is as un-American as any piece of legislation can be. Democrats actually want to regulate the content of political speech. One wonders if Feinstein and company have bothered to read the First Amendment lately, or if they simply think they are above the law.
Some people argue that the "public" owns the airwaves and therefore government should ensure that multiple points of view are heard on the radio. This argument is laughable. The Internet, blogs, podcasts, cable TV news programs, newspapers, and public protests are just a few ways to provide "balance" to talk radio. We are living in the information age. There is more than enough opportunity for views opposing Limbaugh to be heard and/or read. There is absolutely no need for the government to step in and regulate the content of political speech in the marketplace of ideas.
Leftists have the opportunity to counter conservative talk radio right now. All they have to do is present a product that radio stations will carry because people will listen to it. If people listen, advertisers will buy time on the station. Air America tried to do that, and failed. Present a superior product, and people will buy it. That's how the market works. What Leftists want, however, is for the federal government to regulate the content of political speech because Leftist talk show hosts have failed to offer a product to compete with Limbaugh.
Some argue that the "Fairness Doctrine" is not unconstitutional because the Supreme Court upheld it in Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC. It is worth pointing out, however, that the SCOTUS is made up of fallible human beings, not gods, and they can be wrong. SCOTUS rulings might have force of law, but that doesn't make them right. If we are to honestly examine the constitutionality of the "Fairness Doctrine, the Supreme Court's flawed interpretation of the First Amendment is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what the Constitution actually says, specifically: Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."
Regulating the content of talk radio is not comparable to assigning broadcast frequencies to stations and prohibiting others from broadcasting on the same frequency. There's a world of difference between time, place and manner restrictions on speech and regulating the content of political speech. Assigning specific frequencies to specific stations is in effect a time, place and manner restriction, to make sure the airwaves aren't the Wild Wild West of who can overpower whom. There's also a public safety element here, for things such as the Emergency Broadcast System.
The reason Democrats are pushing to revive the "Fairness Doctrine" has nothing to do with "fairness". Talk radio is a thorn in their side and has been for 20 years now. It is politically inconvenient for Democrats to have Rush Limbaugh and others criticizing them on a daily basis and mobilizing their audiences. It is not as if talk radio has crippled the Democrat Party. Disgraced ex-President Clinton was re-elected in 1996 (although 51% of voters chose someone else) and Democrats took control of both houses of Congress last year. But that is not enough for socialists like Feinstein, who want to silence their critics.
Democrats have bitterly complained about Republicans questioning their patriotism in the years since the September 11 terrorist attacks. It is perfectly reasonable to question the patriotism of Democrats when they attempt to pass clearly unconstitutional legislation to limit the First Amendment rights of those who criticize them. After all, the United States of America is a nation founded on the principles of freedom. What better way is there to provide aid and comfort to Islamic terrorists who hate freedom than to pass legislation that restricts freedom?