At least one observer thinks that getting rid of the Fairness Doctrine may have a very bad effect on the very people getting rid of it is supposed to protect – radio talk show hosts. The theory is that the next time there is a particularly slow news day, or somebody in Congress complains about something they heard on the radio, the hosts will have lost a valuable topic of conversation.
The article is from Atlantic Monthly’s John Hudson and was made available on Yahoo News.
Every once in awhile, somebody on Capitol Hill will mention reviving the Fairness Doctrine – we’ve heard both Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) go there, and Hudson mentions Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA).
But at no point has a Congressional attempt to reinstate the Doctrine gained any traction, at least as long as we’ve been covering Capitol Hill, and probably since it was done away with during the Reagan administration.
Even the most combative of the current crop of FCC Commissioners when it comes to content, Michael Copps, has consistently stated his opposition to the Doctrine. And the issue came to a head very recently when FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski threw his weight behind scrubbing the last vestiges of the Doctrine out of the entire body of US regulation.
Hudson quoted a platoon of talkers who have weighed in on the possible apocalyptic effects of a reinstated Doctrine.
Rush Limbaugh said, “All dissent is going to be squelched…It’s been going kind of slow, like a trickle effect so that people haven’t really noticed it. The people losing their liberty have. But it’s been very, very gradual over years. This is going to be a giant grab of federal power, if these people get everything they want in the upcoming election.”
Glenn Beck said it was coming back, for sure.
Sean Hannity said an obscure bureaucrat would be monitoring everything talkers say (watchdog Media Matters does that now).
Ann Coulter said the Fairness Doctrine would be revived as a bailout of liberal talk radio.
While conservative talkers may have lost a topic, some liberal talkers may have lost a dream – of access to more radio stations.
We checked a few liberal talkers with radio experience. Ed Schultz and Randi Rhodes have both expressed support for bringing it back.
But the former lynchpin for failed liberal talk network Air America Al Franken is on record opposing the Doctrine. He has of course since hung up his mic and now is know as Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).