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View Diary: FCC Chair promises to kill Fairness Doctrine. WTF??? (202 comments)

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  •  The Fairness Doctrine deserves to stay dead. (11+ / 0-)

    The justification for it was the "limited" public airwaves, and the notion that anyone who used the "limited" parameters for reaching the public had some obligation to present opposing views.

    "Limited" airwaves (i.e., the over-the-air networks) is no longer a problem.  We have cable tv, satellite tv, satellite radio, and internet, all of which would not be governed by any kind of Fairness Doctrine, as they are not the "public airwavs."  People who want to hear different views have no problem finding them.  The government no longer needs to decide what people should hear for their own good.   In addition, there are so many political views out there.  What is the "opposing" view to Hannity?  Can Hannity have Beckel on (as he often does) and say that's an "opposing view"? Can MSNBC have Pat Buchanan?  Can Scarborough have Mica?  Or does Big Brother look over the shoulder of all these people to decide whether that "opposing view" was sufficient?  

    The Fairness Doctrine did not (as many here want to believe in some kind of revisionist history) promote wider dissemination of progressive views.  Instead, it operated to water down any kind of political viewpoint precisely because the networks did not want to bring government involvement to force them to present some kind of opposing views.  

    And frankly, I don't want the federal government deciding what is, or is not, an "opposing view" to a particular commentator.  

    Anybody who WANTS to hear conservative views knows where to find them.  Anybody who WANTS to hear progressive views knows where to find them.  And people like me, frankly, who want to hear a reasonable debate of opposing views (rather than listening to a commentator simply preach to the choir) knows where to find those (although my options are more limited these days).  The government shouldn't be telling me, or anybody else, what I "should" be forced to hear, nor should the government decide what "opposing view" is legitimate or not.  

    •  You clearly (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gustogirl, miller415, Betty Pinson

      Were not an adult (or maybe not even born) before 1988.  Or you'd fucking know better.

      Just in case you forgot today: REPUBLICANS VOTED TO END MEDICARE. AND THEY'LL DO IT AGAIN.

      by slippytoad on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 06:47:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree... (0+ / 0-)

      "anybody who WANTS to hear conservative views ( or progressive view)knows where to find them".   If you want the conservative view, just turn on your TV or radio.  It is only on 90% of the channels owned by transglobal corporations.  if you are looking for the progressive view, it's out there, somehow you'll find it.

      If the "government "shouldn't be telling you what to hear, should they be telling you how fast you can drive? How much mercury you can dump in the streams and oceans?

      Yes, the libertarian view is why should the "government tell me this or that.   The point you/they miss that in a democratic/republic we are government.  There are a few libertarian countire in the world.  but I don't think Liberia or Somolia are countries we should be emulating.

      I was the youngest in my family growing up therefore I WAS the remote control.

      •  It's actually a FIRST AMENDMENT view. (7+ / 0-)

        "Congress shall make no law . . .  abridging the freedom of speech."  

        To quote Justice Hugo Black, I read "Congress shall make no law" to mean Congress shall make no law.

        And if you are Ok with President Obama's FCC telling Hannity who he has to have on his radio show and how much time he needs to give them in opposition, I assume it would be just fine with you if President Palin or Huckabee's FCC gets to tell Maddow who she needs to have on her show or how much time she needs to give them.

        I'm not.  The First Amendment says that the government needs to keep its nose out of that completely.  The ONLY justification for the Fairness Doctrine was when there were "limited airwaves" and that absence of choices justified it.  

        The absence of choices exists no longer.  Yes, conservatives dominate talk radio, but there was a progressive option -- it failed commercially because, for whatever reason, not enough people in the markets where it was broadcast chose to listen.  (See this by the founder of Air America.)

        And liberals/progressives dominate the internet blogs.  I suppose you'd be ok with a President Palin's FCC telling this site what it needed in terms of "opposing views"?  

        People CHOOSE to listen to Limbaugh precisely because of what he says.  Nobody forces them to turn on the radio.  Nobody forces them to choose his station over NPR, music stations, or any of their other choices.  The government has no business telling people who CHOOSE to listen to Limbaugh that they have to listen to "opposing views" if they don't want to.  Government has no business deciding what political views the public needs to hear.  Because if it plays that role, it will certainly decide that the political views that the public "needs" to hear are the political views of those who run the government.  That's EXACTLY what the First Amendment is supposed to protect against.  

        The ONLY justification for the Fairness Doctrine EVER was back in the days when people generally got their news from one of three sources -- ABC, NBC, or CBS. Those days are long gone.  The Fairness doctrine is properly long gone as well.    

        •  What coffeetalk said. eom (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bugscuffle
        •  It doesn't restrict free speech (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden

          that's a GOP argument.

          Its a regulation that protects the openness and public access to public communication.

          It prevents powerful and wealthy groups or individuals from controlling public communication in the US.

          It reinforces good journalistic standards and allows both sides of an issue equal access.

          If the Fairness Doctrine was bad for Democrats, Reagan never would have abolished it.

          Think for yourself, it can be very liberating.

          It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. ~ Aristotle

          by Betty Pinson on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 12:54:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Well I can't find a progressive view (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      miller415, kalmoth, Betty Pinson

      anywhere on my TV or radio.  

      There are huge swaths of this nation, mostly rural, where the only choices you have for news are right-wing or wing-nut.

      The right wing fears the Fairness Doctrine for a reason:  they are the ones responsible for the huge numbers of misinformed people in this country, because they present a "reality" that differs from the real world.

      So, I don't care how they do it, but the government needs to step in and step up to this problem.  No one is holding these propagandists accountable.

      Accountability is the problem.  They are licensed to lie.

      Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

      by Gustogirl on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 07:55:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The First Amendment means the (5+ / 0-)

        government can't do that.  The First Amendment was DESIGNED to prevent the government from deciding who the "propagandists" are.  The First Amendment was designed to prevent the government from playing any role whatsoever in weighing the merits, or accuracy, of political viewpoints.  

        If progressives don't like the choices in free speech, the remedy is more free speech, not less free speech.  That's the basic, most fundamental concept behind the First Amendment -- that there is almost never a reason for stifling political speech.   And the other fundamental, basic premise is that the government cannot do anything to promote one political view over another.  Even if it thinks that one political view is completely illegitimate (lies, propaganda, whatever) it cannot promote other political views over that one.  Period.  That's the basic premise of the First Amendment.

        Start your own progressive network (see this from the founder of Air America).  There are LOTS of rich liberals/progressives.  If there is money to be made in a progressive outlet, they could fund one.  Or they could buy a station and convert it.  There are more conservative talk radio outlets now for one reason -- ratings, which translates to money.  Limbaugh is on the air so pervasively for one reason -- ratings.

        And you certainly can find progressive views -- you found this site, didn't you?  The fact that conservatives dominate talk radio and progressives/liberals dominate internet blogs doesn't mean that people can't find the views they want to listen to or read.  And MSNBC has deliberately positioned itself as the left's alternative to Fox News.  Partisans on the left can watch MSNBC, and partisans on the right can watch Fox News, for reinforcement of their views.  Is it the government's role to tell MSNBC viewers that they have to listen to x minutes of right wing views?  

        I don't think the government should be in the business of tell Ed's listeners that they have to spend equal time listening to Hannity.  Of of telling DailyKos bloggers that they have to spend equal time on redstate.com.  

        •  You're right, the government (0+ / 0-)

          shouldn't tell me who to listen to.

          But the government does have a responsibility to ensure the public good.

          Lies, widely promulgated, do not serve the public good.  The spread of ignorance, hate, and disinformation does not serve the public good.

          So, if not the Fairness Doctrine, then what?  

          Because the dismal state of journalism in this country is actually turning into a threat against our national security.  When we have militias being formed because of Glenn Beck's lies, I think we have a problem.  When we have a misinformed citizenry, I think we have a problem.  When media is the architect of a permanent national polarization, I think we have a problem.

          You have not addressed the issue of accountability.  I get it that you don't like the Fairness Doctrine, but can you at least recognize that we have a big problem?   I mean take your example that Ed/Hannity viewers must spend equal time between them.  How ridiculous is that?  They can't even begin a conversation because they aren't even remotely in the same reality.  That is the fruit of 25 years of the FCC ignoring the public good.

          I don't have the resources, the expertise, the capital, the time to start my own progressive national television cable company.  That is a ludicrous argument - Rich Liberals are not the equivalent of multinational, mega corporations.  In the world of wealth, Rich Liberals are at the bottom.

          The bottom line is that the people who own these tools have so much power and wealth that they are flagrantly abusing it.  Wall Street, Banksters, Oil, Media - all are abusing the public good with their power and wealth and all need to be reined in.

          Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

          by Gustogirl on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 08:58:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nope. The Government does not have the (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pico, Rashaverak, bugscuffle, nextstep

            responsibility to promote the public good when it comes to speech.  

            "Congress shall make no law" means Congress shall make no law.  The government has no role in promoting political speech "for the public good."  The First Amendment was put in place precisely so that the government would not get to decide what kind of speech is "for the public good."  That is because your idea of what speech is "for the public good" is very very very different from what President Palin's idea of what speech is "for the public good" would be.  So, when it comes to speech, the government must stay completely out of decided what's for the public good.  SCOTUS case after SCOTUS case has held that any restrictions on political speech -- such as time, place, and manner restrictions limiting protests or the like to certain places -- must be completely content neutral.  That is, the First Amendment means that government must treat all political speech alike -- regardless of whether those in power think the speech is "for the public good" or not.  

            The system is not perfect.  No system involving human beings is. But it is far, far, far  better than giving those in power the ability to decide what speech is "in the public good" and giving those in power the ability to promote speech that they think is "in the public good."  

            The optimistic thing is that it is getting easier and easier to get a political point of view out there, or to find the views you want.  This site, and others like it, are the best example of that.

            With respect to things like cable tv, which are private ventures (and thus their speech is protected under the First Amendment) the government has no business whatsoever promoting speech it thinks is "in the public good."  The speech you dislike stays on the air because enough people -- relatively speaking -- choose to tune in.  That's it. If and when people stop -- if and when ratings drop -- they go off the air.  It's that simple.  

            •  There are constraints on free speech (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kalmoth

              and as far as I'm concerned, blatantly lying to the public and inciting violence with such lies is equivalent to yelling "fire" in a crowded theater.

              I'll be first in line to fight for free speech - equal free speech.

              And today, it ain't equal.

              Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

              by Gustogirl on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 10:50:35 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No again. (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                pico, Rashaverak, bugscuffle, nextstep

                That "falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater" notion comes from Schenck v. United States,  which is no longer an accurate statement of the law.  

                The test for when speech loses its First Amendment protection is in Brandenburg v. Ohio, where the SCOTUS said that speech is protected unless it is directed to incite imminent lawless action -- imminent as in, right at this second and right at this place, as in "take this gun here in my hand and shoot that cop over there" -- and is likely to cause that imminent lawless action.  Under that test, everything Limbaugh and others say on the air is clearly, clearly protected by the First Amendment. (It's important to keep in mind that the Brandenburg type precedents were, at the time, considered important milestones to protect the speech of Vietnam War protesters.)  

                While the First Amendment guarantees that government will not interfere in your exercise of free speech, it most assuredly DOES NOT guarantee that speech is ever going to be "equal."  There is no constitutional right -- none, zero, zilch -- to "equal" free speech. The constitutional right is that the government won't stop speech, not that it will do anything to make sure that speech is "equal."  It would be patently and obviously unconstitutional for the government, for example, to do anything to limit the free speech rights of the Koch brothers on the notion that others need "equal free speech."  There is no such notion as "equal free speech."  If speech is not "equal," it is up to the people -- not the government -- to remedy that.  "Equal" is a value judgment about the content of speech -- who needs to have it, what views should be equal to what other views, what views are "fringe" views (for example, does the KKK get "equal free speech"?) and the government is absolutely prohibited from making value judgments about the content of speech, especially political speech.  

                Again, if you don't like the majority of the political speech out there, the only constitutional remedy is more speech to compete with it.  And it's up to the people -- not the government -- to provide that speech. Government cannot subsidize or promote one view or another in an attempt to make speech "equal."  

                •  The government IS the people. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Betty Pinson, neroden

                  At least, that used to be the idea.

                  We, the individual people, do not have the means to "compete" with high dollar messaging.  It is the government, acting as the agent for the people, that has the means to protect.

                  I was just checking out your comment history and noted an inconsistency:  you defend Fox's right to lie yet are appalled when the diapered Vitter is mentioned, because it's a lie!

                  This really isn't your kind of blog, is it?

                  I won't be responding further except to demonstrate to others your history here.

                  Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

                  by Gustogirl on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 11:33:27 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  No, I'm a lawyer. And I'm pointing out (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    pico, Rashaverak, bugscuffle

                    First Amendment law, with links.   If you think I'm wrong about the Constitution and the First Amendment, I'd be happy to hear your thoughts.  

                    The government may have the "means" to have the speech of individuals "compete" with the speech of, say, the Kochs or Michael Moore.  The government has the "means" to fund individual speech so as to achieve some notion of "equal" speech.  It's just that the First Amendment prohibits it.   The government has the "means" to do a lot of things that are prohibited by the First Amendment, like support smaller, less popular churches so that there will be "equal" religious freedom for those who want to exercise those religious beliefs.  It's just that the First Amendment prohibits it.  

                    For First Amendment purposes, the Constitution does not consider the government to be the people.  It says "Congress shall make no law . . .  abridging the freedom of speech."  That's a limit on Congress.  The First Amendment is not a right granted to the people -- it's written as a limit on the power of the government.  

                    And you have misinterpreted my comment history, of course, but I don't have any intention of arguing with you about that.  Misconstruing my posting history is a statement saying "I don't have any answer to your argument here, so I'll try to taint you personally."  I understand.  

                  •  That's a really sad comment. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Rashaverak

                    coffeetalk is correct on the history and correct on the principles: if anything's been demonstrated, it's that you're not arguing this point in good faith.  

                    The central question here is whether there is or should be a set of guidelines for anyone holding a broadcast license, and the parameters of justification established by the original Fairness Doctrine no longer exist.   So, as kalmoth is asking above, are there a new set of parameters to justify a new version of the FD?  Personally I don't think there are, because whatever justification you use has to be narrow enough to survive a constitutional challenge, and where that narrowness may have existed in the 1940s because of the level and accessibility of the time's technology, it certainly doesn't exist now.  Not liking the stuff you see on television isn't justification enough: the courts will decide, correctly, that you have more than enough alternatives for getting your news and viewpoints.

                    Do I agree fully with that you have a plethora of alternatives?  No, but that's an issue of media consolidation, which is an entirely different issue: break up the monopolies, and the landscape will change considerably.  But you won't solve that problem with a weak-tea FD, like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound.

                    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                    by pico on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 11:52:13 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Still wrong. Original parameters still exist. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Gustogirl

                      In the radio market, which is the ONLY market when outdoors in a rural area, the conditions have not changed, and the original justifications (limited airwaves) for the Fairness Doctrine still exist.

                      I don't really give a damn about the "Fairness Doctrine" in other media, but in radio, with limited airwaves, we need it back.

                      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

                      by neroden on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 02:03:15 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Wrong: (0+ / 0-)

                        The original parameters were based on FCC requirements that anyone who held broadcast licenses had to devote a certain portion of the day to news and public interest information.  If the FCC maintained that requirement, much less their belief in radio as the primary vessel of news communication to the public, then it would have justification for setting parameters on that requirement.  But it doesn't - nor would it, so it doesn't.*  

                        Already in the early 80s the judges were questioning whether the access justification was still relevant: see FCC v. League of Women Voters of California.  Why do you think that would stand a court challenge thirty years later?

                        Attacking media consolidation would accomplish pretty much everything you wanted, except in a constitutionally defensible way.

                        * for what it's worth, kalmoth isn't arguing a return to the original version, but I challenge anyone to suggest a version that wouldn't run afoul of a First Amendment challenge based on the majority comments in the case I cited.

                        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                        by pico on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 03:22:53 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  You're exactly right (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    neroden, Gustogirl

                    Freedom of speech doesn't just belong to only those who can afford it.

                    I suspect those arguing otherwise also know better.

                    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. ~ Aristotle

                    by Betty Pinson on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 12:57:49 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  Not true (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden

          Keeping the airwaves open and fair doesn't hinder your right to free speech, it protects it.

          The Fairness Doctrine enhances and supports the right to free speech by preventing one POV from monopolizing the airwaves.

          It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. ~ Aristotle

          by Betty Pinson on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 12:56:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yes and No (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden

      The Fairness Doctrine is dead, and it will stay dead, since it was the courts that ultimately killed it.  And in many respects, I'm just as happy to see it stay dead.  You're also right in noting that the Fairness Doctrine never did apply to cable TV.

      But to suggest that cable TV is any part of the remedy to limited airwaves is a point I strongly disagree with.  In a broadcast universe,  the number of gatekeepers matches the number of separate broadcast station owners in a given market.  With cable (or satellite), you have a single gatekeeper who is selecting programming offerings from a highly consolidated group of media conglomerates.  Independently owned networks need not apply.  If anythng, cable makes the situation worse, not better.

      Right now, the Internet is more open -- and we need to ensure (through net neutrality rules) that it stays that way.  Net neutrality is our best bet for at least ensuring that diverse views can be expressed -- although it certainly provides no guarantee that those views will be heard by anyone other than fellow true believers.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 10:58:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The airwaves are still limited (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden

      They're controlled by people who own them who charge the public to view them.

      No, if you like democracy, the public should own the airwaves, not mega-corporate monopolies.

      It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. ~ Aristotle

      by Betty Pinson on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 12:50:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Limited airwaves remains a problem. (0+ / 0-)

      Ask yourself what's available on the radio in your car, then get back to me with a retraction of your ENTIRE argument.

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 02:00:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Um, in my market (0+ / 0-)

        Limbaugh's only on one station.  The same one that has Hannity and those others.  I don't listen to that station.  I have a lot of other choices.  Like WWL radio in New Orleans, NPR, and some pop stations, some rap, and too much country music for my taste.  And I don't have satellite radio.  

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