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In the Media

article imageOp-Ed: FCC Commissioner Says Fairness Doctrine Could Regulate Web Content

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By Johnny Simpson
Aug 12, 2008 in Politics
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FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell raised the possibility that the proposed 'Fairness Doctrine' bill, if enacted, could result not only in regulation of the bill's main target, conservative talk radio, but of Web content as well. Feel better about it now?
From Business and Media, via Drudge:
'There’s a huge concern among conservative talk radio hosts that reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine would all-but destroy the industry due to equal time constraints. But speech limits might not stop at radio. They could even be extended to include the Internet and “government dictating content policy.”
'FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell raised that as a possibility after talking with bloggers at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. McDowell spoke about a recent FCC vote to bar Comcast from engaging in certain Internet practices – expanding the federal agency’s oversight of Internet networks.'
From its inception, the Fairness Doctrine has been a very bad idea. Though not directly stated, its ultimate goal is to silence and ultimately subvert successful radio talk show programming by forcing such conservative talk show hosts as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck to allow equal time for opposing viewpoints, i.e. the Left Wing Democrat View.
Considering how poorly such Liberal radio talk shows as Air America have performed and continue to, and how desperately the Left in this country (and even on the Right as of late) wish to quash Rush Limbaugh and others with burdensome federal regulation, the motivation for this bill is clear.
One key driving factor was no doubt the response by the American people toward the proposed Amnesty Bill last year. Millions of Americans called into Washington, and knowing where their bread is buttered, Congress quashed the bill. But they did not go quietly.
What was Senator Trent Lott's response? Not "The American People have spoken, and we have heard them." Ha! This is Washington you're talking about. His exact words were "we have to do something about talk radio."
In other words, we have to shoot the messengers. And the Fairness Doctrine is the gun.
The fact is, commentary on all political sides is quite rife on any conservative talk show you listen to. Rush, Hannity and Beck get plenty of grief from left-wing callers on their shows.
But that is all beside the point.
Let's talk web content now. Let's talk about us. Let's talk about the principle of hands-off net neutrality that has allowed sites like Digital Journal and others to flourish without stifling regulation and political meddling.
Take this DJ OpEd I'm writing now. Under the Fairness Doctrine, will I be compelled to also provide the opposing view, or will the government force Digital Journal to assign a DJ to post it as required under that federal law? If Digital Journal does NOT post an opposing view, will they be fined or worse?
Perhaps eventually shut down with enough violations of the Fairness Doctrine code?
What about the major blogs like Little Green Footballs, Powerline and Michelle Malkin? Will they have to post opposing viewpoints for all they write? Will the Fairness Doctrine also apply to HuffPo, KOS and Air America? I tend to doubt it, considering which political sphere the bill is targeting.
If the Fairness Doctrine IS enacted, this is all only the tip of the iceberg. Think of the new Fairness Monitoring Bureaucracies and the thousands of new GOVT employees whose jobs it will be to determine what is fair and what is not in free speech on radio and on the web. And who knows where else? Publishing? Works of nonfiction? Even novels?
Calling this bill the Fairness Doctrine is like calling Big Brother a benevolent leader. It's a Pandora's Box of censorship and political meddling in free speech just waiting to be opened.
To be fair, I have no love for KOS or HuffPo or all the other over-the-cliff left-wing lemming sites, but I would not deny them their First Amendment rights. Why is Congress so intent on doing just that to the rest of us? Other than the fact they're a bunch of control freaks, that is?
The huge irony here is, left-wing liberal Democrats purport themselves to be the vanguards of personal freedom and liberty against the Neocon Nazi hordes, yet every time a bill like this comes out their closet Stalinist fingerprints are all over it.
Remember one thing, Lefties: you might think the Fairness Doctrine is a great idea, but a bill like this affects everyone eventually. This is not a Right or Left issue. This is about the First Amendment, and those who seek to modify it to their own ends. Rush would only be the beginning, not the end, so be careful what you wish for.
It all comes down to this: which do you want regulating free speech in this country, the First Amendment, free minds and the marketplace of ideas, or some mousy, beady-eyed federal politico bureaucrats who have their own ideas of what constitutes acceptable, fair and balanced free speech?
Maybe I'm being dramatic here, but this is massive government involvement in personal free speech issues we're talking about here. Considering how well the federal government manages the rest of its business, how can you not think worst case scenario?
Final Question: Is this bill in the interest of the American people or against it?
I for one intend to find out whom in my Congressional district is for this so I know whom to vote against in November. Regulating free political speech is about as un-American as it gets, and I'll do my damnedest to boot anyone in my district who holds that position.
Feel free to the same.
BTW President Bush swore to veto the bill. Pelosi, Kerry, Durbin and many other liberal Democrats are pushing it. How revealing is that?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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