Just how fair is the “Fairness Doctrine”?
Another name for this doctrine, something democrats have said they’d like to resurrect under the Obama administration, is the “Hush Rush” law. In a nutshell, it consists of forcing radio stations to give equal time to those with opposing views. Conservative talk radio stations would have to ensure there’s a liberal to counter Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Back, and so forth.
There are, of course, many problems with this. Here are a few:
1. Radio, just like any other entity, is money-driven. Air America, a liberal talk radio network, ended up going bankrupt and had to financially scale itself back for this simple fact: not enough people were listening. If I remember right, Al Franken had a talk show on Air America in New York City. He never even got close to Rush’s ratings, and before long the Air America affiliate there moved to a station with a smaller broadcast signal. I believe that Franken was even working without a salary for a while, and that many of AA’s creditors complained about bounced checks. In San Antonio a few years ago, there was the liberal talk radio station KRPT. After a few months of bottom-feeder ratings, it switched to a country music format. Many station managers would object to this “Fairness Doctrine” because many of their listeners want to hear conservative talk.
2. The Fairness Doctrine seems to ignore that many newspapers in America have very strong liberal slants, and that while the conservatives like Cal Thomas and Jeff Jacoby are few and far between, many of the other columnists lean to the left. Will these papers now be forced to print more conservative viewpoints?
3. Does the Fairness Doctrine mean that Oprah Winfrey now will have to give equal time to conservatives? She went on and on during her show about Barack Obama, but refused over and over again to have Sarah Palin or John McCain on. Is Her Majesty above fairness?