Would Obama Bring Back the “Fairness” Doctrine?

October 20, 2008 · Filed Under News 

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There has been buzz since the Democrats took over Congress two years ago that they were interested in restoring the “Fairness Doctrine,” a regulation that would require TV and radio broadcasters to give balanced airtime to opposing viewpoints or face steep fines or even loss of license.

The regulation was phased out under President Reagan, but the likes of John Kerry, Al Gore, and Nancy Pelosi are keen to bring it back, according to the New York Post.

The Fairness Doctrine was an astonishingly bad idea. It’s a too-tempting power for government to abuse. When the doctrine was in effect, both Democratic and Republican administrations regularly used it to harass critics on radio and TV.

Second, a new Fairness Doctrine would drive political talk radio off the dial. If a station ran a big-audience conservative program like, say, Laura Ingraham’s, it would also have to run a left-leaning alternative. But liberals don’t do well on talk radio, as the failure of Air America and indeed all other liberal efforts in the medium to date show. Stations would likely trim back conservative shows so as to avoid airing unsuccessful liberal ones.

Of course, the Democrats would reel in the unbalanced coverage in the mainstream media if the Fairness Doctrine were to come back. Yeah, right.