Friday, November 14, 2008

LA Times Media Commentator Says Fairness Doctrine Paranoia Is Baseless; Millions of Conservatives Breathe a Sigh of Relief

Rainey Demonstrates His Lack of Ability to Properly Use Search Engines

The "Fairness Doctrine" issue - the possible re-imposition of political balance requirements for radio broadcasters - is going to be a hot one for the next year.  Many eyes are trained on President-elect Obama with concerns about how far left his agenda will be, and the "Fairness Doctrine" is near the top of many conservative watch lists.   According to James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times, conservatives don't need to worry our pretty little heads about it one bit.

The sub-headline of the story reads:

Impose a mandate on broadcasters to balance their political views? That would be onerous indeed. But memo to Rush: Nobody's asking for that.

I know Rainey didn't write the headline of the sub-head.  Still, any readers not managing to make it past the bold print take away the notion that conservative talk radio hosts across the country are held in the grip of paranoid delusion.  But, in the commentary body, Rainey cites two senators - Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) - as having publicly called for the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" to be reapplied. 

Of all people that I would ever expect to be referred to as "nobody", Chuck Schumer would be eternally absent from that list.

Rainey's contention, though, seems to be that the voices of two influential senators do not constitute the political will necessary to change the way the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) currently regulates broadcasters.  In support of his hypothesis that a lack of enthusiasm is present for such action, he offers the following:

If the left wing is gearing up for such a push, I had trouble detecting it. A search of the liberal Daily Kos website turned up almost no mentions of the Fairness Doctrine.

Mr. Rainey, you must always remember to turn the detection device on before using it.

Mr. Rainey should educate himself in two areas: how politics works in America and a knowledge of search engines. 

I donned my wet suit and went to Daily Kos for myself and found that Mr. Rainey is partially correct.  When I searched for the terms "fairness" and "doctrine" in "stories" - commentaries and postings by Daily Kos staff writers and contributors - I only find two results within the last two weeks.  This, however, is where the understanding of American politics comes in.  Movements always gain strength from vocal activists, sometimes known as people.  These are the kind of folks who hop on the computer and comment on blogs like the Daily Kos, they even write letters and make phone calls to elected officials.

imageSo what happens when we search through "comments"?  During the past 2 weeks, those same search terms found 511 results.  When we search through "stories and diaries" - diaries are the personal blogs kept by Daily Kos users - we get 56 results.  Reminder: That's just in the past two weeks.  One one liberal web site.

When Mr. Rainey wrote of finding "almost no mentions" of the "Fairness Doctrine", I would have given him a bit of leeway to accept four, five, maybe even fifteen results, but 511?  That's a margin of error even exit pollsters wouldn't be comfortable with.

Furthermore, if Mr. Rainey actually did the work read the content of posts, he would have learned that there are examples of people who are actively advocating the return of the anti-free speech "Fairness Doctrine".

'shpilk' is one Daily Kos user who keeps a blog on the site.  In a diary post with the tag "Fairness Doctrine" attached - for context - they wrote on November 7:

We've got to find the Achilles Heel of the newspapers and local TV and radio stations that refuse to play fair, that give favorable borrowing terms to Republicans like they did with Reichert a few scant weeks before the election.

Another offering comes from 'lfurman97', who wrote on November 8th:

"Now the work begins. The first order of business will be to re-instate the "Fairness Doctrine" and reverse the policies that have proven so disastrous..."

Another Kos user, 'Troubadour', comments as follows to explain how President-elect Obama could begin moving the "Fairness Doctrine" into place.  (Be careful, it's Daily Kos so the language gets a little rough.  Cover the eyes of small children and refrain from reading aloud.)

Obama would give a speech on it.

He would explain that the airwaves belong to YOU, the American people - they are not the private property of the corporations to whom YOU the people grant conditional licenses to operate for the public good.  He could even quote directly from the text of those licenses, and perhaps Edward R. Murrow if he's feeling saucy.  And the wingnuts would be left with what?  Their usual - their dicks in their hands.

Naturally he would consult with legal experts first and have built up a substantial base of support for it, but that would just be icing on the cake.  Obama speeches are irresistible when they confront some deep truth and seek to exercise leadership.  My only advice to him: Keep making speeches from a standing position - don't do the desk thing.

This comment came after this one by 'methinsaw':

Although I think the Fairness Doctrine is a good idea, the wing-nuts will go crazy saying their first amendment rights are being taken away by the liberals.  That would be a salient argument for them to use to attract voters that might not understand the issue very well.

These are not the only citations I could find on the mother ship of all liberal chatter, I just don't have time to keep cutting, pasting and hyperlinking for the remainder of the day.  There are more liberal web sites, and plenty of blogs that are operated independent of a parent site.  Perform a Google blog search for yourself and get back to me with what you find.

Before Mr. Rainey dismissed conservative impulses to protect the first amendment something akin to staying mad at your wife because you dreamt she cheated on you, he should have taken the time to really acknowledge that there are people on the left who wish to silence conservative media voices.  Just saying it isn't so won't make the threat go away.


1 comment:

  1. I think you have hit the target, Bryan; I believe that now with the control Dems find themselves with there will be any number of issues whcih will be pursued . . . not immediately as they will likely want to make a good first impression with the people they know they can rule over.

    This paticular issue may not be at the top of the list; but it is on their list


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