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June 10, 2008


CMI Deconstructs Arguments to Revive Fairness Doctrine, Exposes Falsehoods

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ALEXANDRIA, VA – 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. 

 “Unmasking 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 findings:

  • 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 conservative sources.   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 abuse.  Presidents Kennedy and Johnson both used the Fairness Doctrine to stifle criticism and force radio broadcasters to give them free air time.

Media Research 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 Doctrine

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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