by John Hawkins | May 1, 2003 3:25 pm
The Fairness Doctrine & Muzzled Dissent: I ran across an editorial entitled, “Media Monopolies Have Muzzled Dissent”. Oddly enough, the writer, Ian Masters, was dissenting from the pages of the LA Times, one of the nation’s biggest & most influential papers. Oh wait a second….am I “squashing his dissent” by pointing that out? That’s pretty much what they’re calling criticizing left-wing viewpoints these days isn’t it? It’s hard for me to have any perspective on the issue since we Conservatives are never, ever, criticized for anything we say…yeah, right. Anyway, I digress, let me get back to business.
Masters pulls out the rhetorical shotgun and fires both barrels at Fox & talk radio. Here’s the meat of what he had to say…
“…Now the marriage between a government and its volunteer information ministry has been consecrated by the blessed victory of “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” the geopolitical equivalent of an O.J. meets “Joe Millionaire” wrapped in the flag.
Totalitarian regimes don’t tolerate any distinction between journalism and propaganda, but in most democracies it is unprecedented for the free press to abandon Joseph Pulitzer for the methods of Joseph Goebbels
…TV’s Fox could not get away with its shameless shilling for the White House if the Fairness Doctrine were still in place, and radio’s Clear Channel monopoly would not be able to impose wall-to-wall Limbaugh, Hannity and Savage, etc., on the public if broadcasters were accountable to public opinion rather than the dictates of plutocrats.
Dissent has not gone away; it has just been marginalized by monopolies and relegated to the interstices of the Internet.
So speak up, America: It’s your country, they’re your airwaves. Maybe you can pursue the American dream while you are asleep, but it will be too late to reclaim your country’s freedom when you wake up.”
There’s so much here I could comment on, but let me focus on the, “Fairness Doctrine.” The left wants to implement the “Fairness Doctrine” primarily because it would destroy talk radio.
Here’s about how it would work. Let’s say you’re a local station and you syndicate Rush Limbaugh. Rush does great ratings, in fact he’s #1 in the market and pulling a 10 share. Sounds great right? But, if the Fairness Doctrine was in place, suddenly you’d be forced to put a left-wing host on the air for three hours a day as well. Well, both shows are probably not going to have the same base audience and more importantly, as talk radio stations have learned over and over again, very few left-wing hosts draw ratings. So the station either has to pay a lot of money to syndicate some dog of a left-wing show or they can put the locally hosted, “Joe The Left-Wing Loon’s High Taxes And Abortion Show” on the air. Either way, to get Rush’s top ranked show, they’re probably going to be stuck with a bottom of the market loser that they won’t be able to make any money from. Then they have to decide, “Is it worth it to even stay with a talk format?” For many stations, the answer will be “no” and they’ll switch over to Salsa music or shilling Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne.
Ironically, people like Masters who are crying about “muzzled dissent” in actuality want to use the Fairness Doctrine to stealthily silence the people they disagree with on the right. This is quite hypocritical because in reality, talk radio is actually an alternative medium. The reason that Limbaugh, Liddy, Hannity, and the rest of the Conservative talk show hosts became so popular was because people were looking for alternates to the left-leaning mainstream media.
Furthermore, today people have more choices than ever before. They can read their local news paper which probably slants left or listen to a talk radio host who probably slants right. Now that Fox is around, people actually have a choice between ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, & a network that leans to the right. Then there’s the web where anyone can peruse news sources from all over the world that come from editorial orientation imaginable. In short, since 1987 when the Fairness Doctrine was repealed, the number of media sources available to the average American have become more diverse and FAIR than ever before…
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