Return of Fairness Doctrine would be good

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I‘ve made no secret that I support a return of the old FCC rule called the “Fairness Doctrine” that was removed in 1987. I feel that the obscene conservative bias in talk radio is hurting the country more than the Fairness Doctrine would “hurt” people like Rush Limbaugh. Steve Almond had a good op-ed about it today in the Boston Globe.

Predictably, the abolishment of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 spurred a talk radio revolution. Why? Because talk radio’s business model is predicated on silencing all opposing viewpoints. If Rush Limbaugh and his ilk were forced to engage in a reasonable debate, rather than ad hominems, they would forfeit the moral surety – and the seductive rage – that is the central appeal of all demagogues.

Would talk radio’s bullies freak out? Absolutely. They know the Fairness Doctrine would spell the end to their ongoing cultural flim-flam. Besides, there’s nothing so intoxicating to a fraudulent moralist as the perfume of fraudulent martyrdom.

The real shock is that journalists haven’t supported the Fairness Doctrine. Then again, consider the state of “mainstream media” outlets. Increasingly, they dine on the same fears and ginned-up wrath as talk radio. Rather than wondering, “Does this story serve the public good?” they ask, “Will it get ratings?”

Who’s afraid of the big, bad Fairness Doctrine?

I agree. Real journalism should be asking “Does this story serve the public good?” and we might see that if talk radio were forced to have other voices on their shows as well.


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