Fairness Doctrine Is Exactly What The Right Needs
The second best thing that could have happened to right wing talk radio would have been McCain winning the presidency. The first best thing: McCain losing.
Barack Obama’s victory gift-wrapped the AM broadcast Lords of Loud’s most excellent goody since Bill went Monica all over the Oval Office. They now have the four-year gift that they’ll make sure just keeps on giving.
Think Reverend Wright’s oft-repeated anti-American “not God bless America, G-d America” tirade - you would think if he had actually been doing this so incessantly for over 20 years, someone would have dug up another rant - has been placed in the archives? Not a chance. Less than a week as president-elect and the honeymoon that never was, is over.
Even when Fox News political reporter Carl Cameron told Fox News non-spinner Bill O’Reilly on Fox News cable, that McCain campaign officials told him that the dope on Palin was that she was a dope, there were some right wing talkers who hypothesized that the dirt was dished by the Obama campaign.
The Fairness Doctrine was a U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) policy that required the holders of broadcast licenses to present issues in a manner that was honest, equitable, and balanced. Not just say you’re balanced. Actually be balanced.
Right now, with broadcast monsters of the talk radio, Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage and company, right-wing radio controls about 95% of the airwaves. Liberal talkers like Stephanie Miller, Randi Rhodes, Ed Schultz and Thom Hartmann are limited by the lack of available stations willing to present liberal voices. Some cities have none. The closest to a liberal voice on The Big Talker (WPHT-AM) in major market Philadelphia might be Phillies announcer Harry Kallis and that’s only in describing a Ryan Howard home run.
Right wing talkers say that “forcing” equal and opposing views is an infringement on their right to free speech. This follows the same brilliant thought process that says allowing gays to marry will ruin heterosexual marriage. Or that the problem with giving Blacks equal rights was that it would ruin the country because it…well, it gave Blacks equal rights.
Conservative talkers like Bill O’Reilly like to say that they are balanced because they bring on the same amount of liberals as conservatives. How far can you throw that stone? Keep in mind, Bill offers himself as an Independent. An Independent who he said “gave Obama a fair shot.” It’s no secret Democrats who appear on O’Reilly’s shows and have a different viewpoint than Bill’s are incessantly interrupted or shouted down. Those who agree are allowed complete sentences.
During the recently completed presidential campaign, Fox News and O’Reilly presented themselves as “fair and balanced” proudly referring to a Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism study that showed they aired 40% negative stories on Obama and the same for McCain. The study reported that other than Fox, McCain had received far more negative stories everywhere else. What O’Reilly failed to mention to his Folks™ was that the study also reported that “Much of the increased attention for McCain derived from actions by the senator himself, actions that, in the end, generated mostly negative assessments.” It follows that with McCain running a far more negative campaign, a 40 vs 40 reporting of the campaigns, would in itself, not been fair nor truthful.
Equality as talk radio defines does not differentiate news from rumor, fact from fiction, actuality from innuendo. And with the capitulation of a so-called liberal media, has successfully pushed partisan conjecture into mainstream debate according it commensurate value with the truth.
Right wing talk allows opposing viewpoint the way masters allowed slaves their freedom. How many times have you heard a right wing host say to someone who is trying to give their point of view, “when you have your own show you can say what you want”?
While the Lords of Loud will shout from their megawatt tower rooftops that the Fairness Doctrine is anti-American (as well as figure out a way to make it anti-troops) and an attempt to put conservative talk out of business, right-wing talkers need not fear imposition of a Fairness Doctrine any more than they should fear an Obama presidency. As they’ve already shown only days after the election of Obama, the Fairness Doctrine is just the kind of red meat they need to ramp up the base.
And isn’t that what talk radio is all about?