To which political messages will you listen? The “fairness” doctrine…


Recently, I’ve noticed two political talk show hosts talking about the Fairness Doctrine.  When both Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh denounce something, it makes me wonder what’s going on with this topic. Or was it the Equal Time Rule?

Do you remember the old days when some media (television? radio?) apparently had some kind of legal obligation to air opposing political views? I actually don’t remember a lot about it. Do you? Then recently, at a party, one of my oldest friends brought up the idea again.  Now, I’m looking.  My friend was specifically saying that since Air America syndicated radio shows flopped in the radio market, that proved that the topics handled by them were proven failures.  Commercial advertisers didn’t support Air America by purchasing advertising, but they would support Rush Limbaugh.  Therefore – I’m not sure what exactly – perhaps political ideas not supported  by paid advertising naturally disappear from the air waves, and that disappearance is the way things should be. Was that how it happened?

Or…… was it because Air America never drew an audience large enough to be worth while for a commercial advertiser? Do you know?

Personally,  I am not comfortable with many of the political messages I hear coming out of the mouth of Michael Savage  and Rush Limbaugh; perhaps you remember the former endlessly saying that liberalism is a mental disease, or the latter having an overly hearty laugh from Barack the magic negro?   I listen to them to know how some people reason incorrectly,  and to challenge myself about what I think.

Let’s go back to the Fairness Doctrine: why are these two big-mouths worried about the Fairness Doctrine? Is there something to fear from hearing many sides of a political debate on your local radio station.   Is the only political dialog worth hearing, that dialog which is paid for, and approved by a business with pockets deep enough to buy time on clear channels and in big markets?  Or is the fear that adding more time for “other ideas” will drive up the overall costs of radio time, and thereby raise costs for those buyers? Are views supported by commercial advertising inherently better for us citizens of the USA, because such ideas are wiser, better balanced than the ideas of citizens who don’t own a business.  Are commercial advertisers just more likely to come to better conclusions than ordinary citizens? On the other hand, is there such a thing as silly worship of business?  Back  when Enron controlled the assets of its employees pension funds, what kind of “advertising buys” did Enron make in the radio and TV marketplace? Did the advertising buys of Countrywide Mortgage have more inherent worth than your neighbors’ blogs?

Savage and Limbaugh were selling Senator McCain before the election, and warning that  Senator Obama was a bad choice. Luckily, these two don’t control the internet.  Anyone who can connect to the internet, can place their political ideas in front of the public – even me.  Is the internet inherently more “fair” than commercial radio, because access to publishing costs little or nothing.

So many questions, so little time. It’s time to research the Fairness Doctrine and the Equal Time Rule.

Jay

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