Restore The Fairness Doctrine!

It is time to restore the Fairness Doctrine!
How many of you have heard of the Fairness Doctrine? Public broadcasters are licensed to use OUR airwaves. It used to be that in order to be licensed they were required to serve the public interest. One part of that public interest was to present a balanced view of different political viewpoints and to cover controversial issues of public importance. This “Fairness Doctrine” requirement was intended to protect the public from the possibility of moneyed interests buying up all of the information sources, leaving the public hearing only their viewpoint.
There was also a personal attack rule, which required stations to notify people or groups who were attacked on their broadcasts and give them the opportunity to respond on the air. And, candidates were given the opportunity to respond to attacks or endorsements of opponents.
Ronald Reagan’s FCC stopped enforcing and then got rid of the Fairness Doctrine. Congress restored it but Reagan vetoed that. Under President George HW Bush Congress again restored it but it was vetoed. Then, under President Clinton the House passed it but the Republicans in the Senate blocked it with a filibuster. In the last six years Republicans controlled the House, Senate and Presidency and were quite happy with broadcasters presenting only a narrow corporate viewpoint, and allowing personal attacks to go unanswered.
It is time to restore the Fairness Doctrine!
Restoring the Fairness Doctrine would open up America’s “marketplace of ideas.” It would help to restore civility to our public discourse. It would help restore our democracy.
If the Fairness Doctrine were restored we would begin to see a variety of issues covered by the broadcast media, from a variety of perspectives. Currently we only see subjects that the corporate world is interested in, covered from a pro-corporate perspective. Imagine the effect on the country if the public were exposed to a variety of viewpoints on issues like trade, consumer protection, sustainability, unions, health care, global warming and energy, religion, the environment, nutrition, and SO MANY other issues!
Imagine the effect on our civic discourse if stations had to give time for a response to everyone that Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter smeared on the air!
It is time to restore the Fairness Doctrine!

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Coulter Everywhere — Informed Public Nowhere

After listing just some of the disgusting things Ann Coulter has contributed to the national discourse, Atrios writes,

There’s nothing these people can say which will stop the mainstream media from putting them on.

I would like to add to this that “our side” CAN’T say ANYTHING that is able to reach the public.
I was on a conference call with Democratic Minority Leader Pelosi yesterday, during which she outlined some of the things she has been doing and saying. The thing is, there is almost not way you would know what “the Democrats” have been saying if you don’t hear it from her directly, or read lots and lots of blogs. You don’t hear about it on TV. It is occasionally in the newspapers — but no one reads newspapers anymore.
America’s “marketplace of ideas” is not a marketplace at all, it is a rigged system. It is rigged entirely in favor of the corporate viewpoint. When was the last time you head or saw someone discussing the benefits of joining a union, or perhaps an open discussion of what it would mean to nationalize the oil companies? What ARE the merits for, and arguments against, such an idea anyway?
Did you just snort coffee out of your nose when I wrote “nationalize the oil companies?” Is the very IDEA of someone saying such a thing so far beyond imagination? More to MY point – is that somehow more far-out of an idea than Ann Coulter being invited on national TV over and over again to say the things she says? But we’re USED TO that sort of thing on TV – we expect it – but we no longer expect rational discussion of how we as a democratic society should manage our commonly-owned resources.
Anyway, what I am trying to get at is that there are signals that are sent out to a society about what is and is not acceptable public discourse. Putting Ann Coulter on TV is a signal from which the public infers what can and can not be considered. Dick Cheney appearing on stage with Ann Coulter is a signal. President Bush refusing to meet with the Black Caucus or NAACP is a signal. NOT ALLOWING rational discussion of unions and allocation of public resources is a signal. More on this later.