Wayne Phillips who was a Democratic National Committee staff member, admitted the following after the Red Lion Broadcasting vs. FCC ruling;
Even more important than the free radio time was the effectiveness of this operation in inhibiting the political activity of these right-wing broadcasts.
They just loathe and despise those who dissent against those who do not go along with their political agenda. But hey, nothing wrong with Norman Lear who created the sitcom All In The Family (based on the UK sitcom Till Death Us Do Part) and used situational comedy to mock and scorn the right wing for not embracing the change of the 1960’s. That kind of sitcom however, basically helped save such a program and move it away from much of the cheese that many 1960’s sitcoms embraced.
The Democratic Party and other Leftists are not alone in using the Fairness Doctrine. With the doctrine still intact after Red Lion Broadcasting Co. vs. FCC; the FD would also be used by the Richard Nixon admiration, and yes it was used to the advantage of Phyllis Schlafly in her fight to “Stop ERA” (the Equal Right Amendment), and least we forget that Schlafly was a trained Legal Eagle (no pun intended for her Eagle Forum that she founded…although the name fits). Also, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Accuracy in Media were for the FD when it helped serve their purposes.
Victor Pickard in a recent piece exploring the possibilities of reenacting a fairness doctrine for media; called out the likes of Moral Majority; “as fealty to market fundamentalism and conservative ideology were ascendant.” Granted those very people were helpful in getting Ronald Wilson Reagan elected as the 40th President of the United States of America. Reagan and his admiration likely agreed with someone like Justice William O Douglas and his unofficial decent and thus, Reagan and his FCC (coupled with then DC Circuit Judges Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia who helped out via a 1986 DC Circuit Court decision) were on the move to weaken and eventually abolish the Fairness Doctrine although the official and total eradication would not take place until years later.
I am sure many conservatives changed their mind on not having a Fairness Doctrine after the success of radio personality Rush Limbaugh and his national ascend into the News/Talk format in 1988. Rightful so, as he would agree with the intent of the First Amendment and its statement that the government cannot censor certain speech that it does not like. Rush declared that he was indeed equal time, and for the most he was proven right. The legacy news media said he was a passing fad in hopes that the masses would come back to them as the trusted guardians of what was right and wrong in the nation if not the world. That was not the case, and their smugness truly showed.
Granted there were a handful of successful liberal talkers, but the only one that was able to really make it on a national level was Larry King and he was a class act and give his guests respect regardless if he was in agreement with them. Others like Michael Robin Jackson (think of him as a liberal William F. Buckley Jr.) were successful on the local level in Los Angeles (although ABC Radio attempted national syndication with Jackson in the 1980’s). Would an Alan Berg (who worked at KOA radio in Denver and was sadly murder in 1984) make it himself? Would Berg become more conservative? Bob Grant was a conservative voice before the Fairness Doctrine was replied. So was Atlanta’s Neal Boortz and Denver’s Mike Rosen, although both were libertarian and/or libertine leaning.
In recent years, it has been the progressives and leftists that have be calling for a return of the fairness doctrine. Why? Could it be that the Conservative message connects with middle America especially in the heartland rather than the coasts which seems to find success with progressive messages especially in major cities? What is goal, and what is the outcome and endgame with such a revised Fairness Doctrine?
News/Talk Radio is indeed changing and certain heritage News/Talk outlets like WLW and WHIO have embraced entertainment and lifestyle topical programs on their afternoon drives as of late and they seemed to attract younger demos to the stations. 77 WABC in New York City has embraced his long heritage by embracing weekend program that reminds listeners of its vast heritage. If the Fairness Doctrine is about fairness, then why did both Republicans and Democrats use it as weapon to limit certain voices if not silence them alltogther? Granted if we must have such a rule, don’t you think that conservatives are just going to bend over and “take it?” Of course not. We would try to use a rule to our advantage…even if we honestly hated such a rule. Currently however, I do believe that hard left would use to crush the ideals and opinions of their enemies like myself and claiming to be moving “forward.”
We have new media now that is challenging the old AM/FM/TV airwaves. More voices are now being heard and not just “right wing.” The old media is in decline, yet some of us still want to bring back the old regulation in the name equality, fairness, and the development of some kind of panacea in media. Don’t forget this thing called Net Neutrality, that was attempted by the Obama administration but later was repealed under the Trump administration. Why don’t we demand music formats that are no longer heard these days? Oh, they are not mass appeal like they used to be and then…but let us regulate Talk Radio anyway…for the greater good. I say, ‘Regulation for thee but Not for Me.’ We have “Been There, Done That”; more less.
It pained me somewhat to go after this fellow broadcaster, but the Price of Liberty and the defense of the First Amendment costs. It does not always make me happy, but I made my choice. No wonder bad things (as well as evil and wickedness) happen and liberties and freedoms are violated. People just did not want to pay certain costs.
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Articles used in this commentary: