Saturday, July 21, 2007

Blunt: Fairness Doctrine is anything but fair

Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt hits the nail right on the head when he decries the recent attempts to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.
The Doctrine, which at one time purported to make sure television and radio stations provided equal time to opposing points of views, has been off the books for the past two decades:

Luckily, there's a good number of us in the House who believe strongly in the free flow of opinion and the fundamental right of speech — and, led by my friend and colleague Mike Pence of Indiana (a former radio man himself), we were able to pass an amendment last month to make sure not a single penny of taxpayer money would be used to enforce the so-called fairness doctrine in the future.

The provision ended up cruising through with more than 300 members in support. But though the final tally was overwhelming, the fact we didn't get the entire chamber on our side reminds us that, at least among 115 members of the House and more than a few members of the Senate, the restoration of the un-fairness doctrine isn't only a serious possibility — it's a real priority.

Thankfully, the latest attempt to resurrect the doctrine didn't need a ruling from the Supreme Court or a veto from the president to be brought to heel. But that's not to say they won't be needed in the future, especially as powerful interests line up with the objective of having government regulators control the content of opinion and the terms of public debate.

The Fairness Doctrine was a nightmare when it was in place, that never lived up to its lofty purpose. Instead of being exposed to both sides (which is already a flawed concept since many times there are far more than two sides to an issue), we were often exposed to neither side by broadcasters who simply did not want to go the trouble.
We live in an era in which the internet has given rise to voices from all corners of the spectrum. The last thing we need to do is to return to an era in which the public was kept blissfully unaware of what they needed to know to participate in our government.

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