alien & sedition.
Monday, June 25, 2007
  The Fairness Menace

The editors of the Washington Times are angry with Trent Lott for speaking out in favor of the immigration bill. But they're especially upset with the Mississippi Senator's criticism of right-wing talk radio (Lott told the NY Times that "Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem.") -- because they fear his comments will undermine the right's case against revival of the Fairness Doctrine:
Mr. Lott's comments about the immigration bill are unfortunate in their own right. But his suggestion that talk radio is a problem that someone has to "deal with" because it makes it harder to ram the immigration bill through the Senate is even worse, because it raises the specter of reviving the "Fairness Doctrine" — the Federal Communications Commission policy (repealed in 1987 at President Reagan's urging) that effectively barred any serious political debate from occurring on the airwaves.
Paranoia about a return of the Fairness Doctrine has been a staple of conservative commentary over the past couple of years -- and no wonder, since the explosive growth of right-wing talk radio was a direct result of the Doctrine's repeal. Most recently, comments by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and a major report by the Center for American Progress have fueled the fire.

The fear is misguided: for instance, as Think Progress points out, the CAP report specifically did not call for revival of the Fairness Doctrine, instead suggesting that "we should address the more significant problem of concentrated ownership and ineffective regulation in order to push the market structure to better meet local needs." But if conservatives want to uphold their tradition of fighting the wrong war at the wrong time, perhaps that will give progressives a little more space to pursue more effective reforms.

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