Friday, November 14, 2008

George Will as Epicenter of Fairness Doctrine Paranoia

People (Steve Benen, Kevin Drum, Matt Yglesias) keep wondering where the recent wingnut fixation with the Fairness Doctrine comes from. The answer is, it seems to come from George Will, with an assist from Charles Krauthammer.

George Will, August 17:
Two Democratic priorities in the next Congress would placate two factions that hold the party's leash -- organized labor and the far left. One is abolition of workers' right to secret ballots in unionization elections. The other is restoration of the "fairness doctrine" in order to kill talk radio, on which liberals cannot compete. The doctrine would expose broadcasters to endless threats of litigation over government rules about how many views must be presented, on which issues, by whom, for how long and in what manner.

George Will, September 18:
Unless McCain is president, the government will reinstate the equally misnamed "fairness doctrine." Until Ronald Reagan eliminated it in 1987, that regulation discouraged freewheeling political programming by the threat of litigation over inherently vague standards of "fairness" in presenting "balanced" political views. In 1980 there were fewer than 100 radio talk shows nationwide. Today there are more than 1,400 stations entirely devoted to talk formats. Liberals, not satisfied with their domination of academia, Hollywood and most of the mainstream media, want to kill talk radio, where liberals have been unable to dent conservatives' dominance.

Charles Krauthammer, October 31:
What will you get [if Obama wins]?
(2) The so-called Fairness Doctrine -- a project of Nancy Pelosi and leading Democratic senators -- a Hugo Chávez-style travesty designed to abolish conservative talk radio.

It's hardly a surprise that Michael "The Decency of George W. Bush" Gerson would pick up on a theme already pushed by Will and Krauthammer.


MR Bill said...

Instead of a Fairness Doctrine, how about a mechanism whereby the public can call out outright lies?
I know, I know, it would be a legal nightmare. But there has been so much absolute falsehood and lies spouted by the Right..
I'm trying to see how such a thing would work.

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