Besides the fact that the Fairness Doctrine is all but unenforceable, there are many other flaws with the concept of dictating political fairness to a free media.
First off, the Fairness Doctrine only refers to the obvious and would require an Alan Colmes for every Sean Hannity. But what about less obvious political partisanship? For example, how would the biased agenda setting of a network like CBS be addressed? In this way, the Fairness Doctrine would be superficial at best, allowing more classic forms of political bias to slip under the government radar undetected. Unless the government plans on require hiring practices based on political party affiliation in the news rooms of every television and radio network, this is doomed to failure.
Secondly, how would an individual’s personal politics be determined? There are Conservatives who lean liberal on certain issues and liberals who happen to skew more conservative on some issues.
Those who say that the Fairness Doctrine will bring about a return of “media democracy” are selling you a bill of goods, as a matter of fact, the effects of the fairness doctrine would be quite the opposite. A return to the Fairness Doctrine would take control of program content from the listener, and put it in the hands of a government regulatory commission. Under private ownership, the public determines what the public interest is. That relationship between the public and content can not exist with overburdensom regulations. It’s enough that the FCC combs the airwaves for indecency do we really need them combing for ideology?
Let’s face it, the government can’t even control the blaitant bias of the publically financed PBS and NPR.
For more on The Fairness Doctrine, American Thinker’s Selwyn Duke makes a good case against it:
Of course, many may wonder why I’d take issue with fairness. Shouldn’t we give the “other side” its day in court, one may ask?
The problem is that this regulation would be applied to talk radio but not arenas dominated by liberal thought, a perfect example of which is the ever-present mainstream media (which presents the “other side”). This is because talk show hosts trade in red meat commentary, whereas the mainstream press is more subtle in its opinion-making.
Fine then, say the critics, that’s as it should be. We don’t have to worry about “responsible journalists”; it’s those acid-tongued firebrands who pollute discourse with their pyro-polemics who bedevil us. And on the surface this sounds convincing, which is why I tell you of the talker and the shill.
The dirty little secret behind the Fairness Doctrine is that it punishes the honest. Think about it: Radio hosts are the talkers; they wear their banners openly as they proclaim who and what they are. Sure, they may be brash and hyperbolic, loud and oft-sardonic, but there is no pretense, little guile, and you know what they want you to believe. You know what they’re sellin’ and if you’re buyin’.