Friday, October 08, 2010

An Alternative to Tyranny: Restore the Fairness Doctrine

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The right wing is lying to you again. They have rolled out the media, which they now own, to tell you, to brainwash you, to intimidate you into believing that if the Fairness Doctrine is restored, you won't have free speech anymore. That is an egregious, bald-faced lie!

You don't have free speech NOW but only because you no longer have access to media. You might have had effective free speech if the Fairness Doctrine had not been trashed by Ronald Reagan, Reagan-heads and wing nuts.

Today --the airwaves are no longer yours; the 'airwaves' are owned by about five or six huge conglomerates which oppose fairness because, it is absurdly and fallaciously said that it would infringe their rights of 'free speech'. The only rights that have been infringed are YOURS!

What about your rights?

I can answer that: you are 'outta luck'! What had been your rights are denied you and given to big corporations with but a stroke of a pen! That just five or six corporations may exercise 'free speech' while you, a real living, breathing person may not is the inevitable, perhaps defining result of fascism.
When the Sinclair Broadcast Group retreated from preelection plans to force its 62 television stations to preempt prime-time programming in favor of airing the blatantly anti-John Kerry documentary Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal, the reversal wasn't triggered by a concern for fairness: Sinclair backpedaled because its stock was tanking.

The staunchly conservative broadcaster's plan had provoked calls for sponsor boycotts, and Wall Street saw a company that was putting politics ahead of profits. Sinclair's stock declined by nearly 17 percent before the company announced it would air a somewhat more balanced news program in place of the documentary (Baltimore Sun, 10/24/04).

But if fairness mattered little to Sinclair, the news that a corporation that controlled more TV licenses than any other could put the publicly owned airwaves to partisan use sparked discussion of fairness across the board, from media democracy activists to television industry executives.

--Steve Rendall, The Fairness Doctrine: How we lost it, and why we need it back
I wish Randall had entitled his article: FREE SPEECH: How we lost it and why we need it back! Fact is, there is no freedom of speech if it is reserved to just one percent of the population. That is the case today!

And it was so easy to deny you both free speech and fairness! Access that had been yours by right of free speech [First Amendment] and affirmed by law [Fairness Doctrine] was denied you with the stroke of Ronald Reagan's pen!

Huge corporations, now called 'real people' by a deluded, psychopathic SCOTUS which believes that only the very, very, very rich have rights like free speech. Because you are not rich, you must be silent. Because you cannot afford the millions of dollars it would require to buy the 'time' that is wasted by the likes of demagogues Billo Really? and Rush 'Lard Ass' Limbaugh, an opposing view, or even a correction of outright lies, is simply not possible.

Big Brother lives!

As a major market News Director, I administered the Fairness Doctrine which ensured that everyone, every group had a voice on the very airwaves that the Communications Act of 1934 said belonged to the people. Just try to get on the air today. Telling them that you worship and adore the marble bust of Reagan won't make any difference. You are just as out of luck as the rest of of us.

The domination of media by corporate power is a defining characteristic of fascism. A Fairness Doctrine was necessary to prevent the corporate/fascist powers form dominating public airwaves. It worked! Labor once had a voice! Dissenters once had a voice!

Progressives/Democrats once had a voice! Labor had a voice! And today --you don't have a voice! I don't call this outcome 'free speech' and I am incensed by the orchestrated campaign of lies that tell you that the 'Fairness Doctrine' is anti-free speech! George Orwell must be rolling in his grave!

That only legal abstractions may exercise free speech on what had been your 'property', I call a violation of the First Amendment. There is no 'freedom of speech' if only one percent, a ruling one percent of the total population, may exercise it.
The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) that required broadcast licensees to cover issues of public importance and to do so in a fair manner. Issues of public importance were not limited to political campaigns. Nuclear plant construction, workers’ rights, and other issues of focus for a particular community could gain the status of an issue that broadcasters were required to cover.

Therefore, the Fairness Doctrine was distinct from the so-called “equal time” rule, which requires broadcasters to grant equal time to qualified candidates for public office, because the Fairness Doctrine applied to a much broader range of topics. In 1987, after a period of study, the FCC repealed the Fairness Doctrine. The FCC found that the doctrine likely violated the free speech rights of broadcasters, led to less speech about issues of public importance over broadcast airwaves, and was no longer required because of the increase in competition among mass media.

The repeal of the doctrine did not end the debate among lawmakers, scholars, and others about its constitutionality and impact on the availability of diverse information to the public. The debate in Congress regarding whether to reinstate the doctrine continues today. In the 109th Congress, bills such as H.R. 3302 were introduced to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. In the 111th Congress, the proposed legislation related to the Fairness Doctrine would prohibit the FCC from reinstating it.

--CRS Report for Congress
Trashing the Fairness Doctrine is but one of many lingering harms inflicted upon us by one Ronald Reagan. Reagan is no hero. Read the Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters. Reagan ARMED Iran which was --at the time --an enemy of the United States. By law, that makes, Reagan a traitor. See FINDLAW or the Cornell University Law library online. As we have come to expect from right wing regimes, the laws that apply to you, do not apply to the rich, the powerful or to those entities newly 'created' people by SCOTUS:
In terms of abstract doctrine, the law of treason condemns anyone who owes allegiance to the U.S., who adheres to U.S. enemies, and who gives them aid and comfort by an overt act to which two witnesses testify. As courts have applied that doctrine, however, it threatens any citizen or resident of the U.S. who publicly expresses disloyal sentiments. The Internet has made it cheap, easy, and dangerous to publish such sentiments. It hosts many an expression that an eager prosecutor could cite both as proof of adherence to U.S. enemies—a subjective state of mind—and as proof of an overt act giving them aid and comfort—an objective fact to which any two of the expression’s readers could testify. Even if no prosecutions for treason arise, the alarmingly broad yet ill-defined reach of the law of treason threatens to unconstitutionally chill innocent dissent.

Clearly, Ronald Reagan and many throughout our government at various times since the right of the rabid 'right wing' have committed treason as it is legally defined. Should you try it, you will be prosecuted. That different laws, standards and procedures apply to you even as you are denied a voice upon what had been publically owned airwaves is tyranny!

I have defended the Fairness Doctrine on principle. But there is yet another case to be made. The Fairness Doctrine is essential, it is 'needed' as a practical matter. That so many have never heard of the Fairness Doctrine and at last as many misunderstand it, it proof that the corporate media has not and is not informing the population. Cynically, the ruling elites, just one percent of the total population, prefer to keep you ignorant, uninformed. Better to deny your rights; better to enslave you; better to effect the corporation domination which has, in fact, enriched a ruling one percent of the total population.

Edward R. Murrow: Restore the Fairness Doctrine

Dennis Kucinich on Fairness

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