Talking about a Fairness Doctrine Is the Easiest Way to Piss Off a Republican

The Fairness Doctrine is not coming back, except as a boogieman spectre for Republicans to get riled up about and tone-deaf Dems to occasionally mention to give those Republicans material.

The Doctrine was an old FCC policy stemming from the now-archaic and quaint idea that the airwaves were a public resource and that private corporations merely leased them and were expected to take good care of them. Well, it all sounds nice, in a Civics Class sort of way, but it didn't actually do much. A common misconception has it that the Fairness Doctrine was about providing "equal time" to "both sides" of every issue, but that's not true, which is why the Communist Party never got on NBC to refute Joe McCarthy. All it actually said was that different views of controversial issues were to be represented. Here is a fun fact, from your Wikipedia:

In the history of the Fairness Doctrine, only one broadcaster permanently lost a license to operate a television station due to bias in coverage. WLBT 3 Jackson, Mississippi attained significant notoriety for its open support of racial segregation in Mississippi in the 1950s and 1960s and its opposition to civil rights. The station also routinely removed portions of network news broadcasts covering civil rights issues, often under the pretext of technical difficulties, causing civil rights groups and the United Church of Christ to complain to the Federal Communications Commission. Several FCC warnings to Lamar, the station's owner, went unheeded and the issue was contested in the U.S. Court of Appeals. The court ordered the FCC to revoke the station's license in 1969.

Hah, it sure would be terrible to bring that rule back, right?

Anyways it was repealed by Reagan, then came the deluge: talk radio! And, on the whole, that was fine, because while it would be nice if the government could actually mandate that broadcasters be reasonable and serve the public interest, we know that is not actually possible. What would be nice would be more reasonable directives about media ownership and local interest, so that we don't get more stories of small towns that don't hear about tornadoes or something because all their radio stations are owned by Clear Channel (is that just a media studies urban legend??).

But it gets the crazies excited when dumb liberals respond to their inability to find a popular media figure as "charismatic" and talented as Rush Limbaugh by claiming it's time to bring back the fairness doctrine. Then they can send out emails saying "they're gonna ban Rush!" and that fat addict's victim-cult can all blame the uppity women and blacks for them losing their jobs.

So, Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, you are not helping anyone's cause but Rush Limbaugh's when you off-handedly mention your desire to see some new Fairness Doctrine-ish rules be introduced. Even if what you are actually talking about here is hearings on media ownership, which won't happen anyway because the Dems are just as in the pocket of the telecoms and media conglomerates as anyone, all that will make it out to the angry AM Radio masses is "they're gonna take away Rush!"

Though maybe it is helping! The Republican party is bereft of ideas and leadership, and so that angry unpleasant talk show host is becoming their voice. Which is fantastic news for the incredibly small and shrinking demographic he represents, aging white males. Rush repulses every other demographic in America, of course, so good for the Republicans. They are letting Mr. Limbaugh have the closing speech at their annual convention, CPAC. Also on the guest list: Ms. Sarah Palin!

We went to the 2007 CPAC, after they lost the midterms, as the Bush era ground to a miserable halt. Ann Coulter delivered a routine that would've been very timely in 2003. They ate it up, and their party lost the presidential election.

So stop mentioning the fairness doctrine, Democrats, because you need not be threatened by talk radio. (Though if you're still outraged, there is some guy who put up a "HELP STOP RUSH LIMBAUGH" sign outside who you can call.)