McCain takes swipe at Fairness Doctrine; Edwards takes another approach


The House of Representative put a nail in the coffin of the Fairness Doctrine before it could even rise to the level of a bill. Now John McCain (R-AZ), with the help of John Thune (R-SD) and Norm Coleman (R-MN), has introduced the "Broadcaster Freedom Act" in the Senate.

He said, "With the great number of media sources available today, divergent viewpoints do not have to be offered on the same radio or television show, but can be found simply by channel surfing, reading a newspaper or browsing an Internet blog. The legislation would prevent the Federal Communications Commission from reinstating the 'Fairness Doctrine,' a regulation that had required broadcasters to present opposing viewpoints on issues of public importance."

At the same time, presidential candidate John Edwards (D-NC) demonstrated an excellent way to counter speech he objects too without cutting off the speech itself. Edwards is in a select group of candidates that have drawn comment from pundit Ann Coulter, commentary which the candidate and his wife have frequently gone over the edge of the legitimately political and into the realm of personal insult. But the Edwards campaign has found a way to respond that does not require the provision of equal time on whatever electronic medium used by Coulter in the first place (although the internet is buzzing over a confrontation between Coulter and the candidate's wife Elizabeth on an edition of Chris Mathews' MSNBC show Hardball last week).

Instead, the Edwards campaign is using Coulter's notoriety to drum up campaign contributions. In fact, this is the second time the Edwards campaign has tied a fund-raising goal to Coulter remarks. The first time, back in March, he picked up a quick 300K from supporters.

SmartMedia observation: It doesn't matter where you sit on the political spectrum – the fact that the spectrum is not comprised of two and only two points is all you need to know to see that the concept of the Fairness Doctrine is unworkable. It's the rare issue which affords two and only two viewpoints. What's your favorite flavor of ice cream? Chocolate or vanilla? All it takes is for one person to say strawberry and the Doctrine collapses. The plus side, no matter where you sit on the political spectrum, is that freedom of speech is a double-edged sword. It is a good thing that the law of the land makes it almost impossible to disarm your opponent. Better to keep your own sword sharp and know how to wield it. Regardless of what you think of Edwards and his platform, you have to give him credit following the age-old, peculiarly-American dictum of not just getting mad, but also getting even.