Today the Media Research Center’s Culture and Media Institute
(CMI) released a position paper that argues powerfully why the
United States should not bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine,
a federal regulation that the government has used in the past to
attack the free speech of radio broadcasters.
the Myths Behind the Fairness Doctrine,” by CMI Senior Editor Brian
Fitzpatrick, explains why America should not empower government
regulators to force radio stations to air opinions with which they
disagree in an unnecessary quest for “balance.” Among the main
The Internet has exponentially increased the number of
sources of news and opinion available to the public.
When the Fairness Doctrine was imposed in 1949, Americans had to
rely on a handful of local television stations, radio stations
and newspapers for their news. Today, anybody with Internet
access can choose from thousands of news sources, including
newspapers, television stations and radio stations from coast to
coast and around the world.
Conservatives may dominate talk radio, but liberals are
well represented on the radio waves. At least 850 of the nation’s 2,200 talk radio
stations broadcast predominantly liberal programming.
Liberals dominate television and the press, so liberal
news and opinion sources reach a far greater audience than
Liberals dominate four of the five major news and opinion media:
broadcast television, cable television, newspapers and news
magazines. The medium with the biggest audience, broadcast
television, has no major conservative sources at all.
The Fairness Doctrine has an ugly history of political
Presidents Kennedy and Johnson both used the Fairness Doctrine
to stifle criticism and force radio broadcasters to give them
free air time.
Center President L. Brent Bozell III said, “The effort to bring back
the Fairness Doctrine is one of the most shameful chapters in recent
American history. This is all about liberals trying to shut down
conservative talk radio. Have they forgotten the First Amendment?
Don’t they respect political free speech? Without the free exchange
of ideas, there cannot be a democracy.”
Culture and Media
Institute Director Robert Knight added, “America should not return
to the bad old days of the Fairness Doctrine, when radio
broadcasters avoided talking about controversial topics for fear of
triggering a government crackdown. Americans enjoy an embarrassment
of riches in news and opinion. We have so many sources of
information from every point of view that the motives of politicians
who want to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine must be questioned.”
Read the full report:
Unmasking the Myths Behind the Fairness
To schedule an interview with MRC President
Brent Bozell or another MRC spokesperson,
please contact Tim Scheiderer (x. 126) or Colleen O’Boyle (x.
122) at (703) 683-5004.
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