California Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein “is looking at bringing back the Fairness Doctrine“, a controversial policy designed to ensure equal time for all political viewpoints on radio. On Fox News Sunday, Feinstein told Chris Wallace, “…I think there ought to be an opportunity to present the other side. And unfortunately, talk radio is overwhelmingly one way.” The California senator said talk radio tends to be one-sided. “It also tends to be dwelling in hyperbole. It’s explosive. It pushes people to, I think, [to] extreme views without a lot of information.”“It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine,” says Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”
Personally, I think Americans got both sides of the story last year when Dick Durbin said, in describing the terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay, “, …you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime – Pol Pot or others – that had no concern for human beings…“Department of Peace advocate and frequent Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich scrambled aboard at a media reform conference in Memphis where the Ohio Democrat said that as head of the Domestic Policy panel of the House Government Reform Committee, his panel would begin hearings on reviving the Fairness Doctrine and on media ownership issues.
Former presidential candidate John Kerry weighed in today with, “These are the people that wiped out … one of the most profound changes in the balance of the media is when the conservatives got rid of the equal time requirements and the result is that they have been able to squeeze down and squeeze out opinion of opposing views and I think its been a very important transition in the imbalance of our public eye.”
I don’t know what John Kerry’s position on the Fairness Doctrine will be tomorrow though as he may have been against it before he was for it.
Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has a radio audience of over 13.5 million listeners. Ultra-liberal Al Franken, before he left the failing liberal radio station Air America last February, barely managed to squeak in about 1.25 million listeners a week. Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes co-host the highly rated Fox TV’s Hannity & Colmes show, but conservative Hannity’s radio audience has propelled him to the number two spot with over 12.5 million listeners while the liberal Colmes radio show has numbers similar to Franken’s show, about 1.25 million per week – 900 % fewer listeners than Hannity.
It should be no surprise that these “anti-free market” liberals are limiting the Fairness Doctrine to AM talk radio alone. It is the only media outlet they do not control. The Democratic liberal viewpoint dominates three of the four television networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC. Of the three cable news networks, CNN and MSNBC could not be twisted any farther left without kissing their backsides. The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and practically every other major newspaper in the country is an agent of liberal agenda. Apart from the Fox cable news network on television, you can’t walk from here to there without stepping on a liberal media outlet.
Also unsurprising is the liberals supporting the Fairness Doctrine have excluded television and the newsprint media. Apparently Feinstein, Durbin, Kucinich, and Kerry believe the MSNBC nightly roundup of liberal hosts Tucker Carlson, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and Joe Scarborough present a “fair and balanced” viewpoint and opinion. And of course I should mention the “fair and balanced” views of the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, etc, etc editorial boards and commentators like Paul Krugman, Bob Herbert, E.J. Dionne, Jr., David Ignatius, Ellen Goodman and so many others.
The only media channel in which the conservative viewpoint is more dominant than the liberal viewpoint is AM talk radio. For a few liberals, however, even the AM talk radio is too much conservatism for their agenda. One cannot say liberals did not try to compete against the likes of Rush and Hannity and Medved. They did. They tried with Jim Hightower and failed. They tried with Mario Cuomo and failed. And they tried again with Air America and still liberal talk radio flopped.
Unable to viably compete in the marketplace of ideas on AM talk radio, liberals are now turning to the government and the courts. If American’s won’t voluntarily listen to the liberal agenda, then the liberals will have the government make Americans listen…whether we want to or not.
Adam Thierer, a senior fellow at the Progress and Freedom Foundation sums it up in the City Journal.
“When Rush Limbaugh has more listeners than NPR, or Tom Clancy sells more books than Noam Chomsky, or Motor Trend gets more subscribers than Mother Jones, liberals want to convince us (or themselves, perhaps) that it’s all because of some catastrophic market failure or a grand corporate conspiracy to dumb down the masses. In reality, it’s just the result of consumer choice. All the opinions that the Left’s media critics favor are now readily available to us via multiple platforms. But that’s not good enough, it seems: they won’t rest until all of us are watching, reading, and listening to the content that they prefer.”
President John F. Kennedy once said, “We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”