Links to essays promoting the Fairness Doctrine II.
Here’s the irony. Two cases appeared before the Supreme Court regarding the Fairness doctrine. In the last case it was the liberal side of the court that condemned it. William J,. Brennen thought it was unnecessary in 1984 and this led to its being repealed. Of course in this instance it was the viewpoints of PBS that were being examined and it seemed as if the idea of balancing the opinions of PBS were not necessary.
The irony of this and the origins of the Fairness doctrine is that it was institutionalized as a aresult of Republican complaining. After the Roosevelt terms in office and then the Truman election the Republicans beleived they were getting screwed by the media that was unfair to them. I suspect that the Red-bating going on and the fear of Communists in the media allowed the edict to be accepted by both parties. All that has really changed since the repeal of the Fairness doctrine is the rise of Right-wing talk radio and specifically Rush Limbaugh who pioneered the idea. The fact of the matter is that only a scant few talk radio hosts are as as successful and in fact Limbaugh is the real target of any change. It’s kind of pathetic that tis is the only way to get his goat. He’s just one guy. And just as the Democrats are getting a handle on how to do this sort of partisan boosterism this comes along. Olberman, for example, would have problems. Only Hannity and Colmes would be immune since there is a built-in mechanism — Colmes — who is the counter-argument.
All that someone would have to do is model the show after Hannity and Colmes to get away with the continuing to promote an agenda. Just make the opposing view spokesperson an out-and-out idiot.
Cruriously in 1987 before Regan killed the Fairness Doctrine it was the Republicans who wanted to make it a Federal Law. This effort was Led by Gingrich and Helms.
In 1987 a bill to place the Fairness Doctrine into federal law passed the House by 3 to 1, and the Senate by nearly 2 to 1, but it was vetoed by President Ronald Reagan. Among those voting for the bill were Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.). In 1989 the Fairness Doctrine easily passed the House again, but didn’t proceed further as President George Bush threatened to veto it. In 1991, hearings were again held on the doctrine, but President Bush’s ongoing veto threat stymied passage.
Mario Cuomo argued heavily against the Fairness doctrine, another forgotten fact. An interesting article describning this is here. What makes this article interesting is that is promotes the re-institutionalizing of the Fairness doctrine for one reason only: to give Islam and Muslims equal time. The way I interpret this would mean that any Christian, for example, broadcast that promoted, say Jesus or Christian principals, there would have to be an Imam pushing the Koran.
It’s likely that the entire push towards a return to the Fairness Doctrine has nothing to do with Limbaugh at all, but it’s a smokescreen to promote Islam or to de-emphasize Christian broadcasting.
As I mentioned above, using the Hannity and Colmes model right-wing talk radio would continue unabted but religious broadcasting, which only began to blossom in the 1980’s and nobody noticed the impact until after 1987 when the Fairness Doctrine was killed. Two attempts by the Republicans to make it into law were vetoed by Reagan then Bush Sr.
It’s hard to say what prompted this action against the wishes of the party. One thing was for sure, the Christian Broadcasters, specifically Pat Robertson, were highly politicized (and very much anti-Islam) and it’s possible that it was recognized that these folks would be on thin ice if the fairness doctrine was re-instated and operations such as CAIR which has gone after columnist Daniel Pipes and then discovered conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage with a boycott campaign.
Here is an a maniacal interview with Bill Moyers and Louise Slaughter discussing her attempts to revitalize the doctrine.