Is the Fairness Doctrine really ‘dead and gone’?

Posted by: ST on August 22, 2011 at 6:25 pm

The Politico reports on the “death” of one of the left’s favorite speech-stifling tools (via Memeorandum):

The FCC gave the coup de grace to the fairness doctrine Monday as the commission axed more than 80 media industry rules.

Earlier this summer FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski agreed to erase the post WWII-era rule, but the action Monday puts the last nail into the coffin for the regulation that sought to ensure discussion over the airwaves of controversial issues did not exclude any particular point of view. A broadcaster that violated the rule risked losing its license.

While the commission voted in 1987 to do away with the rule — a legacy to a time when broadcasting was a much more dominant voice than it is today — the language implementing it was never removed. The move Monday, once published in the federal register, effectively erases the rule.

Monday’s move is part of the commission’s response to a White House executive order directing a “government-wide review of regulations already on the books” designed to eliminate unnecessary regulations.

While I’d like to break out the bubbly and fill up every glass in the room, I know better than to think that this superficial “erasing” of the Fairness Doctrine means we no longer have to worry, because I know just how much liberals despise free speech – especially when they’re losing in the arena of ideas and at the ballot box. Newsbusters’ Ken Shepherd is on the same page:

So the Fairness Doctrine is dead. But the spirit of the same could well live on as a regulatory specter forever.

Regulatory pushes for “localism” and “diversity” requirements could prove to be a back-door reinstitution of the Fairness Doctrine, a Republican FCC commissioner warned two weeks ago.

Here’s what that Commissioner had to say:

Though much of the discussion about a possible fairness doctrine for broadcasters went away when Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 2010, one Federal Communications Commissioner says there still could be an effort at finding a back door to the rules. Commissioner Robert McDowell told [Fox News’] Chris Stirewalt on Monday’s Power Play Live that localism, a proposal that gives the federal government the ability to make sure broadcasters serve their communities, could also be used to wedge in principles of the fairness doctrine.

“The government would be compiling data as to what kind of content you were airing and whether the government thought that was appropriate content,” McDowell said. “It could be political speech, it could be shows on baking or gardening. But we don’t know where the government is headed.”

Video of the full discussion is below:

In other words, more likely than not, this gesture on the part of the Obama administration’s FCC is purely symbolic and nothing more. Which we should be used to by now. Even shorter version:

It ain’t over.

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8 Responses to “Is the Fairness Doctrine really ‘dead and gone’?”


  1. Phineas says:

    I have to question whether the FCC even serves a useful purpose anymore. If we’re looking for places to cut…

  2. palooza says:

    Man, you people are crazy. It doesn’t matter what Obama does, you piss all over it, even if it is actually something good. Sad, really.

  3. PE says:

    Right. One rational, coherent voice in a morass of idiocy. Another data point like this and one could be tempted to believe that progressives will no longer be swimming upstream to spawn. Eternal vigilance and all that.

  4. allan says:

    “Man, you people are crazy. It doesn’t matter what Obama does, you piss all over it, even if it is actually something good. Sad, really.”

    Simple – without the House it doesn’t pass, might as well “show kill” it for the naive. But like Libya, immigration, dismissal of hate crimes against non-whites, and just about everything else they will achieve their anti-democratic ends with administrative fiat.

  5. Diva says:

    This is a cover for what the FCC also did today. They released a rule to take channel 51 from broadcast TV and give it to wireless broadband. This is the beginning of the spectrum grab ordered by the Prez to take a big chunk of the TV broadcast spectrum (channels 31-51) and give it to cell phone and wireless companies, against the wishes of Congress. Watch and see how many TV stations go out of business.

  6. Carlos says:

    palooza, ya jist ain’t bin payin’ attenshun the last cupla years.

    If Obhammud or one of his political appointees says something will be a certain way, you can pretty much bet your neighbor’s farm that he’s either about to do exactly the opposite of what he says, or is just about to do what he wants to by regal fiat.

    Did I just say “regal fiat?” My goodness, I wonder when Congress will get around to slapping our Narcissist-in-Chief down for evading constitutional constraints on the presidency and violating constitutional separation of powers? Seriously, do Boehner and McConnel really want a de facto monarchy?