Fairness Doctrine Officially Dead: Why That Means Absolutely Nothing


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Yesterday, the FCC officially killed the fairness doctrine.  While it hadn’t been enforced since the late 80’s, the left would occasionally state the desire to resurrect it, and the right always feared it.  Here is coverage from The Blaze…

The last nail was finally driven into the Fairness Doctrine’s coffin when the FCC eliminated more than 80 media industry rules, ending the obsolete post WWII-era regulation. The doctrine, that sought to ensure inclusiveness of different viewpoints broadcast on the airwaves, was officially erased by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on Monday.

Conservative critics of the Fairness Doctrine believed the rule violated broadcasters’ rights to free speech and feared Democrats would try revive the regulation to silence conservative talk radio programs. While the doctrine was essentially abandoned in 1987 during the Reagan administration, it remained on the books until Monday.

Apparently, the FCC tossed over 80 old regulations, and you know what?

It doesn’t mean a single thing!

Yes, the statists had been periodically dragging out the corpse of the fairness doctrine, using it to get Conservatives in an uproar, but in reality, they never really intended to re-instate it.  Instead, they were looking at different ways to implement something similar, while calling it something else.  I have covered that quite a few times in the past.  Here is some more background…

Our “progressives” are no different in their desire to control the flow of information. Over the last several years, they have pressed on with various “packages” for controlling information, and therefore, us.  I think a review of the various agendas is in order, as they have evolved.  Following the tendency to “call it something else,” the “progressives” have been morphing and relabeling their narrative, seeking something that will resonate sufficiently to implement.

Since I started the CH, I have been covering these efforts, as have my blogging friends.  So I think reviewing the last two years is in order.

First, back in later 2008 and early 2009, Henry Waxman was discussing a new Fairness Doctrine.  Of course, they would “call it something else.”

According to The Prowler, Waxman and his staff are already looking at ways to police content on the web. (emphasis mine throughout)

Senior FCC staff working for acting Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps held meetings last week with policy and legislative advisers to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman to discuss ways the committee can create openings for the FCC to put in place a form of the “Fairness Doctrine” without actually calling it such.

Waxman is also interested, say sources, in looking at how the Internet is being used for content and free speech purposes. “It’s all about diversity in media,” says a House Energy staffer, familiar with the meetings. “Does one radio station or one station group control four of the five most powerful outlets in one community? Do four stations in one region carry Rush Limbaugh, and nothing else during the same time slot? Does one heavily trafficked Internet site present one side of an issue and not link to sites that present alternative views? These are some of the questions the chairman is thinking about right now, and we are going to have an FCC that will finally have the people in place to answer them.”

Waxman and his staff are also thinking about creating congressionally mandated advisory boards to police both radio and TV programming:

One idea Waxman’s committee staff is looking at is a congressionally mandated policy that would require all TV and radio stations to have in place “advisory boards” that would act as watchdogs to ensure “community needs and opinions” are given fair treatment. Reports from those advisory boards would be used for license renewals and summaries would be reviewed at least annually by FCC staff.

What about policing internet content?  According to The Prowler, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is already looking into this.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is also looking at how it can put in place policies that would allow it greater oversight of the Internet. “Internet radio is becoming a big deal, and we’re seeing that some web sites are able to control traffic and information, while other sites that may be of interest or use to citizens get limited traffic because of the way the people search and look for information,” says on committee staffer. “We’re at very early stages on this, but the chairman has made it clear that oversight of the Internet is one of his top priorities.”

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Then, I covered that the they were seeking different means to acheive a “fairness doctrine,” again, calling it something else.

To accomplish this piece of fascism, the messiah has created a “diversity committee” at the FCC to address the lack of minority and female ownership of radio stations.  Why is this important?  Well, according to a think tank put together by the messiah early in his campaign…

It also was reported when a think tank headed by John Podesta, co-chairman of Obama’s transition team, mapped out a strategy in 2007 for clamping down on conservative talk radio by requiring stations to be operated by female and minority owners, which the report showed were statistically more likely to carry liberal political talk shows.

That report found the best strategy for getting equal time for “progressives” on radio lies in mandating “diversity of ownership” without ever needing to mention the former FCC policy of requiring airtime for liberal viewpoints, known as the “Fairness Doctrine,” a plan thrown out in the 1980s.

Then, facts about the “regulatory Czar,” Cass Sunstein, were revealed.

Now comes a more insidious form of thought control a la 1984, courtesy of long-time friend and probable new regulatory czar Cass Sunstein (who recently married another long-time confidant of Barack Obama’s, foreign policy guru Samantha Power).  Kyle Smith writes in the New York Postabout one aspect of Sunstein’s ideology:

Cass Sunstein, a Harvard Law professor who has been appointed to a shadowy post that will grant him powers that are merely mind-boggling, explicitly supports using the courts to impose a “chilling effect” on speech that might hurt someone’s feelings. He thinks that the bloggers have been rampaging out of control and that new laws need to be written to corral them.

Advance copies of Sunstein’s new book, “On Rumors: How Falsehoods Spread, Why We Believe Them, What Can Be Done,” have gone out to reviewers ahead of its September publication date, but considering the prominence with which Sunstein is about to be endowed, his worrying views are fair game now. Sunstein is President Obama’s choice to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. It’s the bland titles that should scare you the most.

In “On Rumors,” Sunstein reviews how views get cemented in one camp even when people are presented with persuasive evidence to the contrary. He worries that we are headed for a future in which “people’s beliefs are a product of social networks working as echo chambers in which false rumors spread like wildfire.” That future, though, is already here, according to Sunstein. “We hardly need to imagine a world, however, in which people and institutions are being harmed by the rapid spread of damaging falsehoods via the Internet,” he writes. “We live in that world. What might be done to reduce the harm?”

Sunstein’s book is a blueprint for online censorship as he wants to hold blogs and web hosting services accountable for the remarks of commenters on websites while altering libel laws to make it easier to sue for spreading “rumors.”

Smith notes that bloggers and others would be forced to remove such criticism unless they could be “proven”. The litigation expense would be daunting; the time necessary to defend a posting (or an article) would work to the benefit of the public figure being criticized since the delay would probably allow the figure to win an election before the truth “won out”. The mere threat of retaliatory actions would be enough to dissuade many commentators from daring to issue a word of criticism or skepticism.

This strikes me as interesting, as “progressives” tend not always ban activities.  Many times, they use regulations to make it so expensive, or so laborious, that the activity isn’t worth the time or expense.  This would be a prime example.

And, of course, a discussion on this matter would be incomplete without mention of Mark Lloyd.

“It should be clear by now that my focus here is not freedom of speech or the press,” he said. “This freedom is all too often an exaggeration. At the very least, blind references to freedom of speech or the press serve as a distraction from the critical examination of other communications policies.”

“[T]he purpose of free speech is warped to protect global corporations and block rules that would promote democratic governance,” said Lloyd. “[T]he problem is not only the warp to our public philosophy of free speech, but that the government has abandoned its role of advancing the communications capabilities of real people.”

My general point is that if they had wanted the fairness doctrine back, they would have done it long ago.   Instead, they have spent considerable time and effort towards creating something that would accomplish the same thing, and would be called something else.  The result would be the same-the end of dissent, but it would be phrased and presented in a slightly different way.   So, while they have been busy scaring folks with the fairness doctrine, they have been working on other options to slide past us while we’re distracted.  Think of it this way, while one person is distracting us with something shiny, another is sneaking up behind us with a tire iron.

In other words, beware!  The “death” of something that was long dead anyway is nothing more than a distraction.  We need to be looking at what they ARE doing.