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.