Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

What is the “Fairness Doctrine”? And would it be fair to bring it back?

The Fairness Doctrine is a kind of assault on broadcast speech that has not been enforced since the 1980s. It compelled broadcasters to give so-called “equal time” to the so-called “opposing viewpoint” . . . as if there were only one. We may have a two-party system in this country, but we don’t have a two-opinion system.

Of course, the doctrine is nothing but a club for clobbering freedom of speech, not expanding it.

At National Review Online, Barbara Comstock and Lanny Davis note that all manner of absurdity erupts when equal time to somebody else’s podium is guaranteed by law. In 1978, NBC aired a program about the Holocaust, then spent three years in court dealing with a lawsuit brought by a group which believed the Holocaust is a myth and wanted NBC to give it “equal time.” Only “fair,” right?

Today, many believe that the Fairness Doctrine would be used against conservative talk radio, which happens to be a lot more popular than liberal talk radio, and that this is why some on the political left are talking about restoring the rule. But nobody who talks in public for a living, or even as just a hobby, would be safe from harassment if this monstrosity comes back to life. Comstock and Davis say Congress should bury the Fairness Doctrine for good.

Yes, with a stake through its evil heart.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Hank G says:

    Some in Congress?!?!?!A great many, including a whole bunch of phonies who call themselves Republicans so they can be elected by the idiots who cast ballots these days.

    There is no doubt in my mind that, within the first 100 days of the new dictatorship, this monster will rear its ugly headand be passed with great glee by those of the ilk who gave you the unflushable toilet.

    Then we might get to hear Rush on some five or ten statons throughout the country before they finally shut him up for good, if they don’t try to put him in jail for sedition.

    Maybe the current Supremes will kill the thing if the right wing radicals on it dont either die or get shot first.



  2. Rick L says:

    Has anyone noticed they don’t intend to apply the “Fairness Doctrine” to the “mainstream” media?

  3. Dunscotis says:

    Fairness depends on a zero-sum mentality which sees only two possible points of view on any issue. Applied to energy policy, it could result in a choice between solar panels and windmills and the dismantling of all our nuclear reactors since they don’t fit such an unreal dichotomy.

  4. Judy Kopulos says:

    Another idea that “sounds” good but with vast unintended (or intended) consequences.

  5. Bryon Beaulieu says:

    I agree with you about the Fiarness Doctine but all I’m hearing is everyone running around screaming it’s coming it’s coming. So fine, let it. THEN, CBS, MSNBC, ABC and NBC etc will ALL have to allow CONSERVATIVE’S time on THEIR LIBERAL SHOWS!!!

    Why can’t two play at the same game? Start talking THIS up big and scare the hell outta them, enuff that they might get behind a background push to quietly drop the whole thing before it comes back to bite them on the rump.

    Just a thought.


    PS: Thanks for what you do. I appreciate it.

  6. Sumner says:

    All the words used to describe all the vices and all the beneficences cannot explain why the populace thinks the “Free Speech” amendment is in the Constitution – nor is there a uniforomity of public opinion.
    Cupidity, Avarice Stupidity, Greed – et al – any and all possibilities of thought can be derived because of the extended liberality of ‘use definition’ extended to individual use of our language.
    The subject is too broad to be addressed here.
    Have fun trying.

  7. Rubicon says:

    In the final analysis, application of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” or even a legislative alternative, will obviously be intended to silence speech those on the left cannot stand or match.
    Yet as pointed out earlier, it would only be applied to talk radio. It would not apply to the old establishment media.
    This inequity is obvious, except to those who think only “their” opinions count.
    Years ago Al Gore addressed a number of media types & told them Fox News upset him because their “fair & balanced” approach permitted both sides of an issue to be aired. Gore felt that meant people would hear two sides to an issue and be “confused.” He felt if average people heard these two opinions, they could be led down a path by opposition leadership who had a different opinion. He never mentioned people could also be led down a path by him or people like him. Such time wasted defending their positions would cause difficulty. Gore said he saw
    “balance as bias.”
    The Fairness Doctrine is supposedly
    to permit opposing views to be heard. Yet radio station owners cannot find advertiser to pay for air time when liberal talk is on the air. Seems no one wants to sit down & listen to what liberal commentators have to say. Radio station-owners would not be able to air conservative talk anymore since they could not pay for liberal talk. That way, radio would become obsolete. In effect, it will have been totally silenced. Which is exactly what liberals want. Air America failed abysmally. The public simply did not tune in. The public rejected liberal talk radio in this instance
    & numerous other attempts.
    Yet again, old establishment media would not have to live up to this onerous restriction.
    Why would Keith Olbermann not face the same restrictions Rush Limbaugh faces? Why would that be “fair.”
    Personally, I want no restrictions.
    I want all media to be able to express itself openly. Let the people decide to whom or what they want to listen.
    We must also consider Nancy Pelosi’s plan to “edit” internet content. Apparently she thinks content on the net must be edited so we keep our children safe. Now if this was being applied to the rest of our lives, I might buy it. But if we can teach kids almost anything in school or fail to notify a parent of a pending abortion by a minor daughter, editing the internet content is just ridiculous.
    If these issues are already being discussed by Democrats, just exactly what other freedom suppressing actions do they contemplate?
    We all may find that all those alleged threats we faced from George Bush, pale in comparison to what an Obama administration w/a Democrat controlled Congress will do to us!
    This time around, there will be a serious legal challenge to plans to silence opposing viewpoints by a political party machine.

  8. Rockerbabe says:

    Fairness Doctrine was the mandate to provide a voice to the voiceless and present a more diverse set of opinions and perspectives on the topics of the day. When it was repealed or expired, then we got, well, nonsense.
    Opinion and commentary [mainly from shrill men]instead of fact based reporting and investigation.
    The “fair and balanced” reporting from Fox News that was neither.
    We have infomercials faking news reports and local stations allowing it, even though they know better.
    More religious shows, “reality based TV” – or shall I say “stupidity”.
    More phoney challenges to science, overall fairness and now we have less diversity, less quality and less interest. Cable and satellite TV doesn’t seem to have these issues.
    We have less content, more commercials, more violence, more sex, more nudity, more inappropriate behavior and oh, yes, more fake righteous indignation that all of this is going on!
    The airwaves belong to the people and we should have more voices being heard, not less. Reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine.

  9. apostolate says:

    We live in a Free Enterprise System. The airwaves and the communication are a part of free speech. These tools should not be in control of the government. What we will have is the activists spoonfeeding society the propaganda that MSNBC and CNN have been dishing out for years. The far left, the dictatorship that is secularism, cannot stand it that the American people hear it like it is on the radio. I see it as they feel threatened as they see the more wholesome programming and the religious shows gaining in popularity.

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