Fairness, pornography – what’s the difference?


From a regulatory standpoint, imposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters is not much different than allowing the FCC to keep pornography off the airwaves, according to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). He was asked about the Doctrine by Fox News, and said, “Well, I think we should all try to be fair and balanced, don’t you?” When pressed on the issue, Schumer said, “The very same people who don’t want the Fairness Doctrine want the FCC to limit pornography on the air. I am for that. But you can’t say government hands off in one area to a commercial enterprise but you are allowed to intervene in another. That’s not consistent.”

Although there have been few overt attempts to revive the Doctrine on Capitol Hill, warnings about attempts to bring it back to life have been coming with accelerating frequency, mostly from conservative Talkers and their watchdog fans. Legislation was crafted in the House by Louise Slaughter (D-NY) a few years ago, but it has gone absolutely nowhere. However, legislation from Mike Pence (R-IN) to make sure it never springs back to life has also been thwarted by Democratic leadership.

RBR/TVBR observation: We’d prefer very narrow FCC powers on broadcast content period. But it’s one thing to keep hardcore material off the airwaves, and another thing entirely to restrict opinion. The worms in the opinion can are legion. For example, you need not travel as far down the road as someone stating an opinion on a given matter – merely deciding what story deserves to be covered is an opinion. And matters of public interest are not coins and have more than two sides, as was demonstrated during both presidential primaries most prominently by Ron Paul (R-TX) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) – and others. Everybody is for fairness, but the Fairness Doctrine is unworkable, and it should remain in its crypt.