pageok
pageok
pageok
Don't Fear the Fairness Doctrine:

Jesse Walker thinks that re-imposition of the Fairness Doctrine is highly unlikely, even under an Obama presidency. Alas, he thinks there are many other things to worry about:

First the good news: The fairness doctrine is still dead, and it probably will stay dead even if Barack Obama becomes president. . . .

On June 25, in a savvy political move, his press secretary sent an email to the industry journal Broadcasting & Cable. Deftly deflating the scare, the secretary stated flatly that "Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters."

Now the bad news. There's a host of other broadcast regulations that Obama has not foresworn. In the worst-case scenario, they suggest a world where the FCC creates intrusive new rules by fiat, meddles more with the content of stations' programs, and uses the pending extensions of broadband access as an opportunity to put its paws on the Internet. At a time when cultural production has been exploding, fueled by increasingly diverse and participatory new media, we would be stepping back toward the days when the broadcast media were a centralized and cozy public-private partnership.

Houston Lawyer:
George Herbert Walker Bush ran against raising taxes, but yet he signed a bill that did exactly that. The fact that Obama sent someone a letter once doesn't give me any comfort.
10.30.2008 11:11am
FantasiaWHT:
Given the steps he and his campaign have taken to use legal means to silence criticism, I don't believe his denial of interest in reviving this doctrine for a second. Combine that with Pelosi's stated support for it, I wouldn't be surprised to see it happen within the first year of an Obama presidency.
10.30.2008 11:13am
Constantin:
Pelosi has, on several occasions, announced her support for the Fairness Doctrine. Just this year she refused to bring to the floor a vote that would have "banned" it. So the real question here isn't whether Obama supports it in the abstract, it's whether that lack of support outweighs his reluctance to do battle with the House and his core constituency (outside of black voters), that being the netroots.
10.30.2008 11:14am
Cornellian (mail):
In the worst-case scenario, they suggest a world where the FCC creates intrusive new rules by fiat, meddles more with the content of stations' programs, and uses the pending extensions of broadband access as an opportunity to put its paws on the Internet.

In other words, pretty much what the FCC does now, to bipartisan cheers from Congress, whenever sex can be said to be involved.
10.30.2008 11:20am
RPT (mail):
Here is Los Angeles, I believe that you can listen to Dennis Prager ("all men are created equal"), Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly on three different stations all at the same time! What could be more fair?
10.30.2008 11:25am
Elliot123 (mail):
How can that be fair? More people freely choose to listen to Limbaugh than Prager. That's not fair.

Both public libraries and the airwaves are owned by the public. Perhaps we can extend this idea to public libraries, so librarians are forced to buy a balance of books determined by a fairness doctrine?
10.30.2008 11:33am
BChurch:
Is the Walker article really about hypothetical regulations that Obama hasn't "forsworn"?

You know what else Obama hasn't forsworn? Mandatory, federally enforced gay marraige for everyone. In a worst case scenario, this would mean Obama himself, armed with a shotgun, rides from town to town forcing every individual in the country to marry a homosexual. Dark times (could very well) be ahead.
10.30.2008 11:35am
Constantin:
"Here in Los Angeles America, I believe that you can listen to watch Dennis Prager ("all men are created equal"), Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly Katie Couric, Charlie Gibson, and the other guy on three different stations all at the same time! What could be more fair?"
10.30.2008 11:35am
Steve:
But will Prof. Adler attempt to talk Prof. Zywicki off the ledge?!?
10.30.2008 11:37am
FantasiaWHT:
Heck, newspapers are delivered via public roads, or dispensed on public streetcorners, so they should have to be fair, too! After all, the roads are scarce, only a certain number of people can use them at the same time.

At Marquette law school yesterday we had an interesting panel discussion on the doctrine hosted by the Federalist Society. Had a local conservative talk show host, a local liberal talk show host/columnist, a university communications professor and a national pundit (can't remember his name, some surprisingly young man with a national show).

The liberal's big argument was that conservatives were conspiring to actively shut liberals out of (AM) radio and that there was no liberal bias in newspapers or TV. The professor had some interesting ideas but was generally shut out by the talk show hosts' bickering. The pundit was sharp though, and essentially unrefuted in attacking the doctrine.
10.30.2008 11:39am
Steve:
I'm a mainstream Democrat on most things, but I've often despaired at the enthusiasm my fellow Democrats demonstrate for the Fairness Doctrine. Periodically when the subject would come up at Daily Kos or wherever, I was always in the minority, although I wasn't the only one in opposition.

To be blunt, rarely did you see anyone at all make an argument for the Fairness Doctrine rooted in the public interest. No, it was simply about diminishing the power of Fox News or Rush Limbaugh or whoever. Maybe I'm just not enough of a hardball partisan but this agenda strikes me as very anti-First Amendment, and I like all of the amendments. Look, Rachel Maddow has a show and Congress didn't have to legislate it or anything!

At the end of the day, I really don't see this as something the Democrats are likely to do at all, even though there's clearly a segment of the base agitating for it.
10.30.2008 11:46am
PC:
Is the Walker article really about hypothetical regulations that Obama hasn't "forsworn"?

It seems so. If I'm a single issue voter on anything it's technology issues. I like the fact that Lessig supports Obama. This article is full of "Obama could do this," but not much else.

Now only if we could get the candidates to commit to copyright reform...
10.30.2008 11:52am
Boonton (mail) (www):
The doctrine seems largely irrelevant. The two largest commentary programs sit on Fox News and MSNBC, two non-broadcasting cable channels that are not part of the Fairness Doctrine. In fact, if you asked people to name the 'Big Three News Networks' they probably would say CNN, Fox and have to guess for a third while 30 years ago the answer would have been NBC, ABC, and CBS.

Of course the newscycle has started to become dominated by the blogs and Internet rather than the big networks so even cries about the mainstream media bias (which is much more expansive than broadcast media but includes many heavy weights not covered by the FCC like newspapers, magazines and cable) are starting to look, well pretty dated.

I wouldn't support imposing the Fairness Doctrine but even if it was I'd be surprised if its application resulted in any noticable change in the media.
10.30.2008 11:54am
nrein1 (mail):
Granted I am biased towards Obama, but I have yet to see any indication that he supports the fairness doctrine. Can someone provide some sort of evidence beside the apaprent widespread belief on the right that as soon as he is president Obama will impose it?
10.30.2008 12:04pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
How many regulations has McCain not forsworn?

Who has a better record on civil liberties? McCain or Obama?
10.30.2008 12:04pm
Sarcastro (www):
nrein1 he's a Democrat. Some Dems like the Fairness Doctrine. By His Friends, You Shall Know Him.

QED.
10.30.2008 12:06pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
On June 25, in a savvy political move, his press secretary sent an email to the industry journal Broadcasting &Cable. Deftly deflating the scare, the secretary stated flatly that "Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters."


That's nice but I think the concern is whether President Obama would support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters. As FantasiaWHT pointed out, presidential candidate Obama has demonstrated that he has no qualms about using the threat of legal action to try to intimidate some of his critics so I’m guessing the answer is probably “you betcha.”
10.30.2008 12:13pm
Joey Plummer (mail):
Would those in the know please opine on what "reimposition" would most likely look like?
10.30.2008 12:17pm
xx:
einhverfr: If your civil liberties question is rhetorical, its not clear to me what the obvious answer is supposed to be.
10.30.2008 12:24pm
RPT (mail):
"Elliott:

How can that be fair? More people freely choose to listen to Limbaugh than Prager. That's not fair."

You guys misunderstand the point of my comments. I am not complaining about this saturation, as I believe that the approach of these commentators does not actually influence anyone who is not already a follower. Dennis' recent comments about equality being an anti-American/European value is priceless. Why would one want him off the air?

Re Couric, Gibson, et al, do you contend that they are somehow comparable to the talk radio guys? If so, how?
10.30.2008 12:33pm
Jiffy:

"Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters."


That's nice but I think the concern is whether President Obama would support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters.


Hah! Sarcastro, that's a good one.

Oh, wait . . . .
10.30.2008 12:41pm
MQuinn:

Now the bad news. There's a host of other broadcast regulations that Obama has not foresworn.

So, because Obama hasn't foresworn these "other broadcast regulations," we can assume that he will implement them? To my knowledge Obama has not foresworn the Holocaust either; should we expect that, too?
10.30.2008 12:55pm
D. J. (mail):
I dislike the Fairness Doctrine as much as the next libertarian-leaning centrist, but I have to ask:

What the heck are you guys talking about?! Do you honestly think an Obama administration is more likely to wield the FCC censorship stick than a McCain administration intent on appeasing/repaying its reluctant Focus on the Family supporters?
10.30.2008 12:55pm
Loophole1998 (mail):
Obama is too good of a politician to help Pelosi impose the fairness doctrine. Even if he supports it, which he claims not to, a veto (or threat of a veto) would be a nice Sister Soulja moment for him leading up to the 2012 campaign.
10.30.2008 12:55pm
Bored Lawyer:

I'm a mainstream Democrat on most things, but I've often despaired at the enthusiasm my fellow Democrats demonstrate for the Fairness Doctrine. Periodically when the subject would come up at Daily Kos or wherever, I was always in the minority, although I wasn't the only one in opposition.

To be blunt, rarely did you see anyone at all make an argument for the Fairness Doctrine rooted in the public interest. No, it was simply about diminishing the power of Fox News or Rush Limbaugh or whoever. Maybe I'm just not enough of a hardball partisan but this agenda strikes me as very anti-First Amendment, and I like all of the amendments. Look, Rachel Maddow has a show and Congress didn't have to legislate it or anything!


This well illustrates the difference between a liberal and a leftist. Unfortunately, it appears we are about to elect a leftist to the highest office in the land.
10.30.2008 12:57pm
Constantin:
"Re Couric, Gibson, et al, do you contend that they are somehow comparable to the talk radio guys? If so, how?"

Yeah. They're using public airwaves to disseminate biased political opinions. No thinking person would claim that their bias is as pronounced as the talk radio people--the latter's is declared, after all--but I don't think anybody serious (that means you, Alterman) would say they're playing it down the middle, either. The Obama championing joke that's been their coverage this election, first in the primary and then, now, illustrates it pretty clearly. So if we're going to make things Fair, let's make it Fair.
10.30.2008 1:10pm
Steve:
This well illustrates the difference between a liberal and a leftist. Unfortunately, it appears we are about to elect a leftist to the highest office in the land.

It doesn't look that way to me, but in order to settle the argument, can we agree to look back in four years and use the Fairness Doctrine as a litmus test?
10.30.2008 1:14pm
FantasiaWHT:

Obama is too good of a politician to help Pelosi impose the fairness doctrine. Even if he supports it, which he claims not to, a veto (or threat of a veto) would be a nice Sister Soulja moment for him leading up to the 2012 campaign.


I disagree. Obama is too good of a campaigner to admit supporting the fairness doctrine, but as a politician he has seemed quite inept, or at best ineffective. What in his political life has led you to believe that he has the cajones to stand up to the entrenched leadership of his party?
10.30.2008 1:27pm
Sarcastro (www):
Take it from Constantin, there are two kinds of journalists: declared right wingers, and those in the tank for Obama!

The one exception is NPR, which totally is in the tank for journalistic integrity!
10.30.2008 1:28pm
wm13:
"It doesn't look that way to me, but in order to settle the argument, can we agree to look back in four years and use the Fairness Doctrine as a litmus test?"

I don't think it's fair to say that Obama gets a pass no matter what else he does so long as he doesn't reimpose the Fairness Doctrine, but I do agree that every person who professes to be a libertarian or to care about the First Amendment should agree now to vote against President Obama in four years if the Fairness Doctrine has been reimposed in that time. Deal?
10.30.2008 1:30pm
Calderon:
he's a Democrat. Some Dems like the Fairness Doctrine. By His Friends, You Shall Know Him.

As I said in a separate post, I'm not worried about the Fairness Doctrine because I think even if were reinstituted it would be struck down by the court in this age of cable television and the internet.

That said, Sarcastro's quote above and other statements like it seem badly misplaced. Pelosi has stated her support for the Fairness Doctrine, as have other key Democrats in Congress. Even if Obama would not impose the Fairness Doctrine in a hypothetical world where he was a dictator, what's the basis to believe he wouldn't logroll the issue to get Congressional Dems on his side for legislation he feels strongly about but which they're ambivalent about? (And of course, even if he said "Read my lips, no new Fairness Doctrine," that wouldn't dictate what he actually did in the future)

Indeed, if Obama thinks (like I do) that the Fairness Doctrine is doomed in the Courts, then this would be a particularly easy issue to let Congressional Dems have their way.
10.30.2008 1:30pm
Gilbert (mail):

"In the worst-case scenario, they suggest a world where the FCC creates intrusive new rules by fiat, meddles more with the content of stations' programs..."


Yet more fantasy and speculation. The article makes it very clear that "they" doesn't refer to Obama or his campaign.

Come on people.
10.30.2008 1:33pm
FantasiaWHT:

Indeed, if Obama thinks (like I do) that the Fairness Doctrine is doomed in the Courts, then this would be a particularly easy issue to let Congressional Dems have their way.


So you're condoning politicians who violate their oath to uphold the constitution?
10.30.2008 1:42pm
Sarcastro (www):
Calderon is right. If the question is irrelevant, then Obama's hypothetical answer might change!

I think we should dwell on this more, as the undecided voters who come to this blog might be swayed by speculation about whether Obama will do what he says when he is elected or do something else entirely.

The way I see it, it all depends on how close Obama is to Stalin/Hitler. I think we should discuss that issue more.
10.30.2008 1:45pm
GTT:
When people aren't exposed to multiple points of view, especially ones that they disagree with, do you really think that this is good, both individually and in the public sense?

Do you think it is good that if someone trashes you on public airwaves, that you don't really get a shot at giving your side to the same audience without spending a big bunch of $$$? Do you think there are any ethics that apply in this situation?

All of this "conservative vs. liberal" bullshit aside, I'm asking in the intellectual, ethical, and public good senses.
10.30.2008 1:47pm
FantasiaWHT:

When people aren't exposed to multiple points of view, especially ones that they disagree with, do you really think that this is good, both individually and in the public sense?


If people aren't exposed to multiple points of view, it's because they choose not to be. The liberal on our panel tried to make the same sort of argument, and it's futile, because (a) the person belonging to a group not favored by a certain genre of media can turn to other (also free) types of media, and (b) that person can also find the rare opposite side in that same media genre and listen to that. There ARE liberal talk shows out there after all.

The argument also assumes that liberals don't listen to conservative talk radio, which is patently false. Some people go to talk radio TO get the opposite point of view from their own.
10.30.2008 2:00pm
byomtov (mail):
On June 25, in a savvy political move, his press secretary sent an email to the industry journal Broadcasting &Cable. Deftly deflating the scare, the secretary stated flatly that "Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters."

Perhaps what some see as "a savvy political move" is really just an honest statement of a political position. Again, we essentially have accusations based on paranoia rather than facts.

The article itself says the fairness doctrine is dead, and then goes on to discuss some other issues, including criticism of current FCC policies.
10.30.2008 2:08pm
Calderon:
FantasiaWHT -- I never said I condoned it, just that it's politically expedient. The circumstance also could be that Obama think the Fairness Doctrine is constitutional, while simultaneously believing the Courts will have a different opinion.

Sarcastro -- you're completely right! This issue is irrelevant because some anonymous lawyer on the internet said he thinks the Fairness Doctrine will not survive a constitutional challenge. What makes anonymous me such a good lawyer is my unerring ability to predict court decisions with 100% accuracy. Clearly no one could be concerned about the courts upholding the Fairness Doctrine, especially when a previous Supreme Court decision did in fact uphold it!

Moreover, you're clearly correct that voters shouldn't be concerned with what politicians will do when they're elected. Instead, we should focus solely on the amount of times they say the words "hope" and "change."
10.30.2008 2:09pm
Floridan:
Perhaps Prof Adler should have included this quote from the Walker article: "The Democrat's official technology plan condemns violent, sexual, and bigoted speech and images in the media, but it also states directly that the candidate 'values our First Amendment freedoms and our right to artistic expression and does not view regulation as the answer to these concerns.'"

Who thinks that the McCain-Palin campaign unambiguously agrees with this?
10.30.2008 2:12pm
FantasiaWHT:
Calderon - Thanks, I wasn't sure where you stood on that from your first post on that question.
10.30.2008 2:13pm
Sarcastro (www):
GTT is right! People really do need education of alternate points of view. Close mindedness is one of the main problems in politics today.

That is why the government really needs to force people to take in media they disagree with.

The Fairness Doctrine really doesn't accomplish this, though. People might turn off the radio for the part they don't like and remain ignorant.

Thus, the only real way to accomplish this is some kind of compulsory political education system wherein the government figures out your political position and then sends you to a camp school of the opposing point of view.

No cheating, government! We need two separate, but equal schools! I’m trusting you on this!

I see no problems with implementation or ethics with this plan at all!
10.30.2008 2:14pm
U.Va. Grad:
Do you honestly think an Obama administration is more likely to wield the FCC censorship stick than a McCain administration intent on appeasing/repaying its reluctant Focus on the Family supporters?

Don't forget McCain's crusade as chair of the Senate Commerce Committee to regulate video game and movie advertising in the wake of Columbine.
10.30.2008 2:16pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
Can someone provide some sort of evidence beside the apaprent widespread belief on the right that as soon as he is president Obama will impose it?


Well, we can look at the Obama campaign's recent acts, given that Obama has pointed out his campaigning ability as executive experience. Under that metric, we've seen :

Lawsuits threatened against broadcasters who ran ads negative toward Obama, including loss of broadcasting license, and even subtle criminal violation threats.

Obama Campaign official e-mails encouraging individuals to call in, and presumably overload, a radio show to prevent an interview from occurring. The e-mail, in particular, said
"It is absolutely unacceptable that WGN would give a slimy character assassin like Kurtz time for his divisive, destructive ranting on our public airwaves."


The Obama campaign has cut off further interviews to an entire network for a single woman asking combative questions, for at best the remainder of the election.

These are well within the Obama campaign and Senator Obama's rights; stomping off in a hussy should any hard questions be asked, shouting over the voices of dissenters so they can not be heard, and initiating frivolous lawsuits are what make us American, after all. But it really doesn't look good if you want to see how a Presidential Candidate is going to interact with the press.
10.30.2008 2:16pm
Morat20 (mail):
I find this amusing as hell.

Guess what? Neither President Obama, nor Communist Nancy Pelosi, or Evil Reid are going to reimpose the fairness doctrine.

They're not even going to try. Assuming some random Congressmen tries, it won't even get out of committee.

I hate to break this to you, but no one really cares -- it's moot in this day and age.

Someone brought up Daily Kos -- they mock the idea of bringing back fairness doctrine on Daily Kos, because what's the point? You've got a zillion news channels and an entire internet, free to get whatever you want.

Hell, most of Daily Kos thinks the media would work better if they just started wearing their partisan biases on their sleeve like they do in England.

Worries about the fairness doctrine are right up there with worries that UN black helicopters are going to take your guns.
10.30.2008 2:20pm
Sarcastro (www):
Calderon has foiled me for the last time!

He may not be able to predict what the Supreme Court will do, bt he can predict what Obama thinks the Supreme Court will do and how he will act based on this thought.

People's concerns about Presidential candidate's future policies means it's our duty to speculate based on little or no information!

Only through rampant accusation and fear mongering can the truth be found!
10.30.2008 2:21pm
David Warner:
Calderon,

"As I said in a separate post, I'm not worried about the Fairness Doctrine because I think even if were reinstituted it would be struck down by the court in this age of cable television and the internet."

This was the line on McCain-Feingold, and that Bush was against it as well. And yet its law.
10.30.2008 2:23pm
Calderon:
People's concerns about Presidential candidate's future policies means it's our duty to speculate based on little or no information!

I disagree! Since it's impossible to know what presidential candidates will do, we should never speculate on their policies. That's especially true when other leading members of their party like the Speaker of the House of Representatives is on record supporting a particular policy, since that's little or no information. Instead (and I hate to repeat myself), we should focus on the "hope" and "changeyness" instead of the actual policies that might be enacted by a particular President in concert with a particular Congress. Where the amount of hope and change speak is equal, we must flip coins since we can never know what policies they'll pass, since that's impermissible speculation!
10.30.2008 2:31pm
GTT:
FantasiaWHT, good comment:

If people aren't exposed to multiple points of view, it's because they choose not to be. The liberal on our panel tried to make the same sort of argument, and it's futile, because (a) the person belonging to a group not favored by a certain genre of media can turn to other (also free) types of media, and (b) that person can also find the rare opposite side in that same media genre and listen to that.

I understand what you are saying. However, I'm talking about something slightly different. Don't you think that in some sense that the "spirit" of the fairness doctrine falls under the heading of "Libertarian Paternalism" by getting opposing points of view in front of people? After all, they're free to disagree with them as the wish, yes? Is getting opposing points of view in front of people should an improvement to the public good?

Also, you kind-of ignored my second question about the ethics of a situation where someone getting trashed on public airwaves might not have the resources to respond...

Again, please leave "conservative vs. liberal" at the door for a minute.
10.30.2008 2:35pm
Sarcastro (www):
To continue this meta-conversation with Calderon, I must disagree with his above post.

I think it is important to focus on issues where there is little evidence about what sorts of decisions a candidate will make. After all, everyone knows Obama's health plan, tax plan and foreign policy will be, right? I mean he talks about those issues all the time! All one can really do with that is concentrate on a small ambiguity and say it's evidence Obama's a Marxist and McCain's some kind of tax-cutting Socialist. Bor-ing!

Thus, we must turn to issues with one, maybe two ambiguous statements and no concrete actions have been taken. That leaves us open to let our creativity and paranoia blossom as they were meant to do on the internet!
10.30.2008 2:41pm
second history:
I'm a mainstream Democrat on most things, but I've often despaired at the enthusiasm my fellow Democrats demonstrate for the Fairness Doctrine. Periodically when the subject would come up at Daily Kos or wherever, I was always in the minority, although I wasn't the only one in opposition.

My sentiments exactly. I have argued that we should leave TV and radio alone, since they are ultimately dying methods of delivering information. Debating the Fairness Doctrine just gives right-wing talk radio something more to rail against (like Bre'r Rabbit, they probably would love to see a fight about the FD for their ratings.) What the left should do is deprive talk radio of its oxygen.

The liberal/left is much better organized in cyberspace, where websites, like DK, Talking Points Memo and Huffington Post (which has had some great original reporting, such as Obama's "bitter" remarks), have really taken over. From Politico:


. . . . as the 2008 campaign progresses, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the absence of any websites on the right devoted to reporting — as opposed to just commenting on the news — is proving politically costly to Republicans.

While conservatives are devoting much of their Internet energy to analysis, their counterparts on the left are taking advantage of the rise of new media to create new institutions devoted to unearthing stories, putting new information into circulation and generally crowding the space traditionally taken by traditional media. And it almost always comes at the expense of GOP politicians.

While online Republicans chase the allure of punditry and commentary, Democrats and progressives are pursuing old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting, in a fashion reminiscent of 2004.


Let the right-wing talking heads keep blathering. New media (Internet, satellite, cable) is where it is at.
10.30.2008 2:44pm
PC:
Thus, we must turn to issues with one, maybe two ambiguous statements and no concrete actions have been taken. That leaves us open to let our creativity and paranoia blossom as they were meant to do on the internet!

In order to reach the noble goal of paranoia we should focus on what candidates have not forsworn. Reparation camps for whitey!
10.30.2008 2:45pm
Calderon:
Sarcastro -- I agree! Other people must focus on issues that are important to me, me, me! If other people have concerns about different issues, screw them, they should only talk about the issues I deem important!
10.30.2008 2:46pm
Sarcastro (www):
Calderon's sarcasm manages to make a great point! If an issue is important, it's always worthwile to speculate about, regardless of how accurate such speculation is!
10.30.2008 2:49pm
PC:
While conservatives are devoting much of their Internet energy to analysis, their counterparts on the left are taking advantage of the rise of new media to create new institutions devoted to unearthing stories, putting new information into circulation and generally crowding the space traditionally taken by traditional media.


Someone missed the hard hitting countertop analysis by Michelle Malin. Onward citizen journalists!
10.30.2008 2:50pm
Thales (mail) (www):
The best evidence that Obama would not support the fairness doctrine (in addition to the total lack of evidence that he would and the fact that he's a student of the Constitution and a civil libertarian) is that fact that he has had spectacular success *despite* the utter and unconstrained mendacity of certain segments of the right wing portion of the mainstream media toward him. He doesn't need to "balance" out Hannity and Limbaugh, because the viewers, listeners and voters are perfectly capable of doing that on their own.
10.30.2008 2:50pm
Constantin:
Yeah, Thales. It's been a real uphill media battle for Obama. A few pictures of him didn't even have the glowing halo.
10.30.2008 2:55pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"I think we should dwell on this more, as the undecided voters who come to this blog might be swayed by speculation about whether Obama will do what he says when he is elected or do something else entirely."

He told the country he would change NAFTA, then sent his guy to tell the Canadians he really wouldn't.
10.30.2008 2:59pm
Calderon:
Calderon's sarcasm manages to make a great point! If an issue is important, it's always worthwile to speculate about, regardless of how accurate such speculation is!

Thankfully, we're in agreement again! Particularly in that we agree we can measure "how accurate such speculation is" before someone is elected. I know predictions about Obama's tax plans is accurate since politicians always do what they say they will do, and Congress also agrees to the President'splans without any changes, and that speculation about the Fairness Doctrine is inaccurate for the same reason. Moreover, we all know once getting into office politicians only focus on the things they talked about extensively on the campaign and ignore everything else. And we also know that politicians are never influenced by other powerful politicians within their own party!
10.30.2008 3:00pm
Sarcastro (www):
[Thales there is also what Obama said, as highlighted by the OP.]
10.30.2008 3:02pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
I for one, welcome our new FCC masters!

I fearlessly predict that the FCC in an Obama administration will suppress freedom of speech and freedom of the press in many dreadful ways.

Because they’re doing it now under the Bush administration.

There is only one certain way to protect freedom of speech and freedom of the press from the FCC. Kill them all.

FCC Probe Signals Democratic Attack Machine

by Rowan Scarborough (more by this author)
Posted 10/30/2008 ET

A Federal Communications Commission investigation of on-air military analysts is providing a glimpse of what Democrats and an Obama administration will do to critics once they capture Washington.

The FCC has sent letters to some of the nation's most prominent military analysts -- some of them pro-President Bush and pro-war -- suggesting they may have broken the law when they appeared on television stations to comment on and explain the war on terrorism.

The FCC investigation raises the question of whether a Democrat-controlled Congress and White House next year will investigate -- and perhaps criminalize -- all sorts of actions taken by the Bush administration. Obama is leading in all presidential polls, while Democrats are set to greatly increase their hold on the House and Senate.

The FCC letters came at the behest of two House Democrats, who say the analysts parroted on air the private briefings they received at the Pentagon. This may have broken the law, the lawmakers said.

The probe is sending chills through the ranks of military commentators, some of them decorated war heroes who share their expertise with millions of lay viewers. They see it as one in a series of moves the Left is making to intimidate and shut up its critics.

"We are seeing the dawn of a new era of the current Democratic leadership trying to muzzle free speech and the First Amendment," retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, a Fox News analyst, told HUMAN EVENTS. "It may be the most invasive intrusion that we have seen in our history. There will be more of these tactics to follow."

Said retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, one of Fox's first defense analysts, "It's an affront to freedom of speech. As retired officers, we're private citizens and can say anything we want under the First Amendment. The whole thing was to explain to the American people what was going on in war and analyzing it."

Democrats have more in store to try to muzzle conservatives. They talk of reactivating the so-called Fairness Doctrine in which federal government bureaucrats monitor radio and TV programs and rule on their fairness. Conservatives say the real goal is to kill right-leaning talk radio.

Talk radio is the one medium conservatives can turn to for their point of view amid a sea of liberal dogma from the New York Times, Washington Post, Public Broadcasting, the TV networks and Hollywood. If the government forces Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to present liberal points of view, ratings will slip and the shows might be taken off the air.

"They're going to implement the Fairness Doctrine to basically do away with Right-wing radio," Vallely said. "In their minds, balance means Left wing. It's Socialists trying to infringe on our First Amendment rights."

Begun in 1949 as an FCC policy and then a regulation, the agency abolished the doctrine during the Ronald Reagan administration as an infringement on free speech. Democrats passed a bill to reinstate the policy as law, but Reagan vetoed it. There would be no Reagan to veto the next bill Democrats are likely to enact should Obama win the election.

In the analysts case, the FCC is looking at the practice of the Pentagon providing exclusive briefings on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to retired military officers, who would then use the information on the air.

In the Oct. 2 letters to 19 analysts and various TV networks, the FCC cited a New York Times article which accused the analysts of receiving the Pentagon information in exchange for positive commentary on the air. The letters, signed by Hillary S. DeNigro, chief of the agency's investigations and hearings division, said such an arrangement might violate the Communications Act of 1934.

The FCC sent the letters after receiving a complaint from Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, (D-Conn.) and Rep. John Dingell, (D-Mich.). Dingell has a history of using committee staff to browbeat and investigate Republican administrations.

"In their complaint, Representatives DeLauro and Dingell express concern that the analysts and [TV stations] may have failed to disclose this exchange of consideration to the stations, as required by section 507 of the Communications Act of 1934," said the FCC letter. "They also suggest that the stations may have aired your commentary without making appropriate sponsorship identification announcements at the time such material was aired, as required" by the act.

Some analysts also work for defense contractors who produce weapons systems used in the war. There were suggestions in the Times article that analysts pitched those systems during TV appearances.

McInerney, a hawk on the Iraq war, said the information the Pentagon supplied him and other commentators was the same as provided to the news media.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ended the private analysts briefings. Besides the FCC probe, the Pentagon inspector general is reviewing the program, which was started by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld after the September 1, 2001 attacks.

The DeLauro-Dingell letter to the FCC says, in part, "Our chief concern is that as a result of the analysts' participation in this DoD program, which included the DoD's paying for their commercial airfare on DoD-sponsored trips to Iraq, the analysts and the networks that hired them could have run afoul of certain laws or regulations."

The FCC is giving the 19 analysts 30 days to respond to the charges. [HUMAN EVENTS Editor Jed Babbin was a member of the group of military analysts who met frequently with senior Pentagon officials and participated in the program. He did not receive a letter from the FCC.]
10.30.2008 3:07pm
Sarcastro (www):
[Calderon (note, I am using my +3 brackets of sincerity)

Not only did you give me a great time arguing on the internets, but you've convinced me!

Discussing the fairness doctrine is as useful as discussing any other policy concern. Campaign promises are useful as a predictor of ideals, but not of policies. The Fairness Doctrine is an important issue, and therefore arguing over what will happen is at least somewhat useful. Even if our predictive power is low, it is not zero.

That being said, I still am not terrible confident that Obama will try to bring it about.

Though if Congress passes it, he is less likely than McCain to veto it.

But I only hear a few Dems talking about it, about the same as talk about impeachment or the draft. Granted, one of them is Pelosi, but I still don't hear much more than rumbling.]
10.30.2008 3:19pm
Fub:
Joey Plummer wrote at 10.30.2008 11:17am:
Would those in the know please opine on what "reimposition" would most likely look like?
Likely enforcement of 47 CFR 73.1910 with specific regs:
§ 73.1910 Fairness Doctrine.

The Fairness Doctrine is contained in section 315(a) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, which provides that broadcasters have certain obligations to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance. See FCC public notice “Fairness Doctrine and the Public Interest Standards,” 39 FR 26372. Copies may be obtained from the FCC upon request.

[43 FR 45856, Oct. 4, 1978]
Beyond that broad statement, all bets are off, and the opportunities for statutory and regulatory mischief are endless.
10.30.2008 3:20pm
Calderon:
Sarcastro -- I'm not 100% positive if you're serious or not, but I'll be. Thanks for the sarcasm opportunities, it's fun to be creative.

On the Fairness Doctrine, as I said above I personally don't think it's a big issue because I think it would be struck down by the courts. Though as David Warner points out, I could be entirely wrong on that.

As far as whether it actually will be passed, it's always hard to know how much of what politicians do is just talk and what is serious. I agree with you that Obama probably won't try to bring it about, but Pelosi and other Dems have said they're in favor of it. I do think that Pelosi and other might try to re-impose the doctrine as a kind of "red meat" (or is that "blue meat"?) to their base, and that Obama would have a much harder time vetoing it than McCain. For that reason, I think the Fairness Doctrine coming back is higher under Obama than McCain, even if it's probably pretty low under both.

Finally, of course the Fairness Doctrine is only one issue among the many, many that are out there among the parties, and any individual may or will decide that other issues or combinations of issues are more important. That said, I think/hope we agree it's at least something worth talking about.
10.30.2008 3:29pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
Jesse Walker has shown himself, time and again, to be a complete idiot.

The Dems will push the FD or something like it. They'll have to, of course, come up with another Orwellian name for it first.

However, note that CAP - a group linked to BHO - supports changing station ownership rules. So, the FD might come back disguised as that.
10.30.2008 3:34pm
Sarcastro (www):
[Calderon I am serious with the brackets, really!

But just because Pelosi wants it doesn't make it so. And, not that this is determinative either, has Reid said he wants it too?

And there is also public opinion to think about. I think most opinion leaders nowadays think that the fairness doctrine is a bad idea, though it does seem good at first glance (see GTT). In fact, a public debate about it could be a great thing, assuming it goes down in the end.

As for the sarcasm, I highly recommend it. It's insulated me from the anger of most political arguing (except I still had to stay away from early Palin threads). It's made this blog the highlight of my day!]
10.30.2008 3:40pm
Sarcastro (www):

CAP - a group linked to BHO


OMG! Obama is supported by a liberal group! I think he's adopted everything they support.

Also: Orwell.

I win! Nothing stops the Orwell!
10.30.2008 3:48pm
RPT (mail):
Constantin:

Your problem is apparently that everyone everywhere (except Fox and townhall.com) is biased against McCain.

Your solution is that McCain should invite more people to his barbeques.

Sarcastro:

Did you influence the Cuban American Foundation's endorsement of Obama?
10.30.2008 3:56pm
Calderon:
Sarcastro — you're completely right about Pelosi wanting the Fairness Doctrine not making it automatic. And I certainly don't mean to imply that if Obama is elected the Democratic Congress will definitely try to re-implement the fairness doctrine. Since we're talking about the future, it's all a matter of probabilities.

That said, according to this link, Durbin and Feinstein both supported it publicly in 2007. So there are powerful Democrats in both chambers of Congress who at least outwardly support it. And I think it's fair to say there's a high likelihood that conservative talk radio and news programs will be putting in an effort to strongly criticize Obama and the Democratic Congress, which may encourage those parties to try to bring back the Doctrine.

On the public debate front, I agree that it could spur a discussion reminding people of why we have the First Amendment, but making sure it goes down in the end will be much easier with McCain than Obama in the White House. (And again, to be clear, I'm in no way suggesting this is the only issue and any one should single vote on the Fairness Doctrine; it's just one issue to be weighed in the scale among many)
10.30.2008 4:00pm
Conrad Bibby (mail):
While I would agree the letter to the Broadcasters' Assn saying Obama "does not support" the FD makes it less likely he would go along with reimposing it, supporters of free speech are completely justified in drawing attention to this issue. The dismissive attitudes of some people here is not at all reassuring, for several reasons:

1. The FD is not some kind of delusional invention on the part of paranoid conservatives. It REALLY EXISTED for a lot of years, and not so long ago.

2. A number of prominent Dems are on record as supporting the FD, including Speaker Pelosi.

3. The Dems are expected to control the WH and both houses of Congress.

4. In the present media environment, the most noticeable effect of reimposing the FD would be to force the cancellation of radio talk shows, the most successful of which are overwhelmingly conservative. Cable and internet programming would be unaffected. Thus, the Dems would have a strong strategic incentive to reimpose the FD. In predicting they won't do so, you're basically asking conservatives to TRUST Obama, Pelosi and the Democratic Congress not to take a step, clearly within their reach, to cripple a major medium of conservative communication.

5. Although reimposition of the FD may seem preposterous even to a majority of Dems, that doesn't mean it won't be attempted. I remember when the idea that gay marriage would be legalized seemed preposterous; that was only a few years ago. Or, to take another example, it seemed preposterous to me that anyone would seriously object to the idea of voters being required to present photo ID in order to cast a ballot; yet it took a recent USSC decision to usher in that common-sense reform. In an America where the Kelo decision can happen, you'll have a hard time convincing me that an idea as bad as the FD could never make a comeback. We've seen nuttier things happen.

To be clear: I'm not predicting the Dems will bring back the FD. I just don't trust them not to. Obama in particular has flipped on a number of issues (e.g., opting out of public financing), and has a history of using hardball tactics for political gain (e.g., getting opponents kicked off the ballot). He's already earned my skepticism. Perhaps ascending to the seat of power will enlighten him and enhance his civic-mindedness. We'll see.
10.30.2008 4:08pm
Boonton (mail) (www):
I think a few things need to be kept in mind:

1. As Sarcastro pointed out, a handful of Democrats supporting the Fairness Doctrine does not amount to a stealth campaign to bring it about.

2. For 1st Amendment supporters, the Fairness Doctrine is hardly all that important. It has NOTHING to do with Fox News (Fox is a cable channel, not broadcast). The only people impacted are people who get broadcast licenses. These are not treated as personal property but as public goods that are given away to broadcasters because they are supposedly 'serving the public' Suppose techonology was such that only two or three TV and radio stations were possible. Something like the Fairness Doctrine would probably be a good idea. What has changed is that there are numerous competitors to broadcast media, inside the world of broadcast there are more 'channels' than before and technology holds out the hope for even more broadcast capacity (wi-fi, cell phones and so on).

If you're going to judge the candidates from a 1st Amendment POV you should consider that John McCain is known for his campaign finance reform and has made it clear that is one area he will not reconsider his stances relative to his right-wing base. Obama has, perhaps unintentionally, reset the entire campaign finance debate by demonstrating it is possible to build a hugely effective campaign off of numerous small donars. The traditional argument for campaign finance reform, that big donars will corrupt campaigns, has been turned on its head. McCain, likewise, is stuck in what sounds like a version of 'speech socialism' arguing that there needs to be some type of cap on campaign spending. Of course a cap would impact not just the broadcast media that the fairness doctrine does but also all types of media spending.

So on the fairness doctrine you have Obama with the right words but as of yet we don't know what his actions will be should the issue come up.

On the larger issue of campaign finance you have McCain with the wrong words and actions.

I report, you decide.
10.30.2008 4:29pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Dennis' recent comments about equality being an anti-American/European value is priceless.

RPT - Didn't you know? I blame the schools. Equality of legal treatment (equality of persons before the law) was an American value. Equality of income, basketball scores, or brains never was (save among the squishy Left).

Leftie Kurt Vonnegut wrote the best fictional attack on mandatory equality back in 1961: Harrison Bergeron.
10.30.2008 4:33pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
The FD would probably fail a retry of Red Lion with the current Supremes -- at least until Barry has the chance to replace a lot more judges. Even Leftie judges would tend to vote 'no'. There are an awful lot more channels of communications now than when Red Lion was decided.

In any case, Right Wing Hate Radio (RWHR) would migrate to netcasting. With everyone soon carrying mobile comm devices with full time high speed networking, access would be as widespread as transistor radio.

Cable wouldn't be affected so Fox would still be there.

Other regs would be more problematic. Lefties have proposed putting political officers on the boards and in the management of licensees. These "community representatives" could force programing changes.

Major problem for the regulators is that they could seize the existing outlets only to find those outlets fading away either because of straight economics or customer abandonment in favor of uncontrolled media.

I grew up with very early RWHR station KTRG in Honolulu during the '60s. Owner, management, talent, and guests were prosecuted for census resistance in 1970 by the US Attorney. The 9th Circuit upheld a rare "selective prosecution" defense to the action. License challenges for fairness and personal attack forced its closure in 1972.

Mercifully, with all of the ways of communicating in the modern era, such control is no longer possible.
10.30.2008 4:56pm
Pauldom:
I'd be comfortable with a return of the fairness doctrine. The airwaves are a limited resource and they belong to the public; because of that, they should be operated for the public good. We can argue about what it means "to operate for the public good," but I don't believe that public good always equals private profit, which is the way things operate now.

The existence of many new communications media, to me, is an argument FOR the fairness doctrine--individuals have plenty of ways to communicate their message, so no one needs to monopolize the public airwaves.

That said, I have zero expectation that we'll get another fairness doctrine, and I don't think it's the most important issue facing the nation, so it didn't play a role in my vote.
10.30.2008 4:56pm
Constantin:
Constantin:

Your problem is apparently that everyone everywhere (except Fox and townhall.com) is biased against McCain.

Your solution is that McCain should invite more people to his barbeques.


I do not know what the barbeque reference means. I can say I don't think everyone except Fox and Townhall is biased against McCain. Just (pretty much) everyone in the media. Even most Obama supporters confess as much.
10.30.2008 5:10pm
Sarcastro (www):
Constantin: pretty much everyone in the media except Fox and Townhall is biased against McCain.

Sweet! It's not me that's biased, it's the rest of the world!
10.30.2008 5:20pm
Conrad Bibby (mail):
The fact that the "airwaves are a limited resource" doesn't imply that Washington should be the arbiter of what goes on the air. Every market has dozens of radio frequencies. If there's enough of an audience for a particular viewpoint, some station will put it on the air. It makes zero sense to require that every individual station maintain a balance of conservative and liberal programming. Plus, it requires the government to sit in judgment as to what is "conservative" and what is "liberal". In other words, government will be regulating content.

In practice, we already know that the effect of the FD is to drive political/current events talk shows off the air completely, because it forces for-profit stations to air programming their audiences don't necessarily want to hear.

Those of you who are skeptical that an Obama administration would permit the reimposition of the FD need only read some of the comments on this board. Clearly, a lot of people think, for one reason or another, that it would be no big deal to bring it back. They may not especially want the FD, but they are clearly not motivated to stand up against it. A determined Dem leadership and president could easily push this through, invoking exactly the kind of "ho-hum" rationalizations that are being used on this board: "These are public airwaves"; "Limbaugh can do his show on the internet"; "This won't even affect Fox News"; "All they have to do is give equal time." They'll make it sound as innocuous as possible and all the Dems will fall directly into line.
10.30.2008 5:26pm
Fub:
Pauldom wrote at 10.30.2008 3:56pm:
I'd be comfortable with a return of the fairness doctrine. The airwaves are a limited resource and they belong to the public; because of that, they should be operated for the public good. We can argue about what it means "to operate for the public good," but I don't believe that public good always equals private profit, which is the way things operate now.
Except for all the noncommercial broadcasters, which would also be subjected to government inflicted "fairness".
10.30.2008 5:28pm
Sarcastro (www):
Conrad Bibby's logic that "Some people posted in support of this on the internet" is equivalent to "Obama will totally want this" troubles me, since I think it means Obama's going to step down in favor of Ron Paul.
10.30.2008 5:29pm
Pauldom:
Like I said, we can argue about what "for the public good" means in practice. A new FD wouldn't necessarily need to look the same as the old FD. But clearly the FD wouldn't lead to the downfall of the 1A . . . we had the FD for a very long time and we had popular talk shows too, if memory serves.

But again, for me, this isn't a priority issue.
10.30.2008 6:49pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"The existence of many new communications media, to me, is an argument FOR the fairness doctrine--individuals have plenty of ways to communicate their message, so no one needs to monopolize the public airwaves."

Who is monopolizing the airwaves? How are they doing it? I get about 20 AM stations and 20 FM stations. I detect no monopoly. Where does such a monopoly exist? How is it enforced? Does anyone live in an area where there is a monopoly over radio stations?
10.30.2008 10:07pm
Smokey:
The Dems will push the FD or something like it. They'll have to, of course, come up with another Orwellian name for it first.
Oh, no, that would never happen. According to folks like Duncan Frissel, there is no need whatever for the FD or anything like it. So why would Obama and Pelosi even waste their time pushing it?

It is obvious to even the most casual observer that this move is directed at the only segment of the broadcast and print media not completely dominated by liberals.

Silencing the only remaining conservative forum is what Obama and Pelosi desperately want to do. They can not abide any point of view contrary to their own, little dictator-wannabes that they are.

If it walks on webbed feet, has feathers and quacks, it's government censorship of free speech by a fancy new name. Let's trust that the SCOTUS will see clearly what this proposal is: a direct attack on the 1st Amendment and freedom of expression by requiring a gang of leftist naysayers disputing everything a non-Kool Ade drinking citizen dares to say. To mix metaphors, a rose by any other name smells the same.

That's what the country will get if it elects the complete empty suit who failed upward through affirmative action, and only has friends and acquaintances who are coming from the far, Socialist left, or who are or outright Communists intent on destroying the First Amendment... first.
10.30.2008 10:24pm
Anon1111:
RPT, parroting Keith Olbermann, said:


"Elliott:

How can that be fair? More people freely choose to listen to Limbaugh than Prager. That's not fair."

You guys misunderstand the point of my comments. I am not complaining about this saturation, as I believe that the approach of these commentators does not actually influence anyone who is not already a follower. Dennis' recent comments about equality being an anti-American/European value is priceless. Why would one want him off the air?



Um, yeah, you may actually want to know what Prager was talking about, unlike Olbermann. Prager was making the point that equality of outcome is a Eurpoean/leftist value, while equality of opportunity is an American one.

Try actually listening to Prager, since you live in LA.
10.31.2008 9:30am