Fairness in Broadcasting Just Ain't on the Radar Screen
(or How I learned to stop worrying and love the propaganda wars.)   by Pipecover
 
Back in June when uberslut Ann Coulter began hustling her book, "Slander," she did a phone interview with Howie Carr,
the local hate-radio quisling who follows Pigboy here in Boston. The two of them sat there blatantly lying about how
absurd it was to complain about the conservative bias in talk radio.
 
According to Herr Carr and Frau Coulter, all the liberal talk shows went down the tubes because their hosts were
laughably stupid, and therefore had no audience appeal. They started naming some good people who used to be
on the radio, laughing at them as if it were unquestionable what clowns these liberals were. "Obviously, conservative talk
is what the people wanted," Coulter lied. Carr, in his annoyingly supercilious way, concurred.
 
Oh yeah? Well, for starters, many of those liberals were at least as entertaining as anyone you get now -- and a
damn-site more truthful and intelligent. Jim Hightower was one they dismissed as a joke. Jim is more entertaining and
would expose more relevant truths about government in one broadcast than either of you nasty-ass truthbenders come up
with in a year! And he could do it without the low-road slurs, too. (Well, most of 'em, anyway.) ...It was along these lines
my mind raced as I struggled to remember the facts that I knew would confute these two obnoxious mendicants.
 
The truth, as I remembered it, is that around 1996 Newt and the house Pigboy-Wing gave the ax to the Federal Communication Commission's "Fairness Doctrine," that required stations to offer a fair representation of political issues
(actually it was deep-sixed in 1987, this was an attempted resurrection); and once that regulation was killed, it was like Dominoes: all the liberal talk show hosts went down. Across the country. It happened so fast, I could hardly believe it.
It was around that time, too, that left-leaning columnists and radio news commentators were being dumped wholesale
in small-market media outlets (probably owing to buyouts by konservative korporate amerika).
 
Now, these creeps, Coulter and Carr, have to know this -- they're in the damn business, after all! Still, there they were,
lying their asses off about liberals who lie about conservatives.
 
At any rate, that's how I saw it: there was this lying duo's thesis that wall-to-wall konservative political kommentary was
what the American public had chosen of it's own free will. And then there was my thesis (aka, "the truth"), that the American public had had this ubiquitous barrage of konservative propaganda foisted upon them as a result of a legislative coup.
 
Or could it be that I was wrong? Did the country really take a konservative turn and demand right-wing hate-mongering
and Limbaugh style harangues in place of a genuine debate over the issues of the day? Should we be fighting to reinstate
the Fairness Doctrine?
 
I decided to do some research on these questions. As a result, I still don't know how far to the right the country's gone; but now I am convinced that, at this juncture in the national debate, it would be pure folly to reenact the Fairness Doctrine (FD).
 
The FD was adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in 1949 in response to the realization by congress and others that the airwaves were a pervasive medium and therefore a valuable means of keeping the public informed and
engaged in the arena of important public issues. The Commission approached this task with a two-pronged program.
 
1. They required stations to provide reasonable coverage of controversial issues of public importance in the community.
 
2. They required stations to offer a reasonable opportunity for contrasting viewpoints on those issues.
 
The first prong would've yielded the desired result if only the second prong hadn't undermined it. You see, the stations had to supply rebuttal time -- for free! This led to the perverse irony of jeopardizing broadcasters for complying with the demand to air controversial issues by leaving them vulnerable to litigation and demands for free airtime for those with opposing opinions.
 
There are many examples in broadcast history of how this particular little glitch served to dampen rather than facilitate a meaningful dialog. But first let me pose a hypothetical and I think you'll get my point.
 
I think we can all agree that the "Bartcop Radio Hour" would be the perfect antidote to the Rush Limbaugh Show.
But what if the Fairness Doctrine were reenacted the day before poor Bart's debut?...
 
Now for this to work, we'd have to let ol' Bartcop be himself, right? So Bart (I hope) would call for impeachment, special prosecutors, investigations, criminal arrests of top government and korporate officials, a legitimate declaration of war by congress; he'd rail against the churches, slap the hypocrites, demolish the ditto logic of hapless monkey callers, ridicule
the ridiculous, and so much more. It would all be so intoxicating, except that...
 
Before he even got off the air, the station would have hundreds of freepers demanding free air time to rebut Bartcop's
positions. And that's only the freeps; there'd be Rush-led ditto-spanks; there'd be konservative pundicks, Repuglican
political operatives, and fundies by the score -- all demanding to be heard. For free, mind you.
 
There is convincing historical evidence to warrant that this would be the case. For example, past Democratic and Republican presidential administrations alike have taken advantage of the FD -- not to facilitate the debates, however, but more to silence their opposition. When the Kennedy administration wanted to pass the nuclear test-ban treaty, there were several konservative broadcasters across the country railing in opposition, so the DNC responded by establishing and funding The Citizens Committee for a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The function of this committee was to organize a massive protest campaign
against anti-test ban radio editorials, demanding free rebuttals under the Fairness Doctrine. It was a harassment technique
that succeeded so well that a little later the DNC began funding professional listening posts to monitor right-wing radio
shows. As a political operative under President Kennedy disclosed, "Our massive strategy was to use the Fairness Doctrine
to challenge and harass right-wing broadcasters in the hope that the challenges would be so costly to them that they would
be inhibited and decide it was too expensive to continue." (Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the Dems won, but this tactic is
not exactly conducive to the healthy kind of debate the FD was conceived for.)
 
The Nixon administration, during the Watergate scandal, used Fairness-Doctrine threats against the major networks' license-renewal proceedings to evil effect, too. The Washington Post owned three television stations and Haldeman would
send Colson around regularly to threaten their licenses with FD-related charges. (The Post's newspapers were never in
danger, though, because you don't need a license to publish a newspaper.)
 
Now I ask you, with a reinstated Fairness Doctrine in place, given the well-funded, vast, right-wing conspiracy of today,
what radio station in its right mind would even consider giving Bartcop his show?
 
And given the bottom-line mentality of modern media, who do you think would want to get involved in trying to set up
a truly fair debate?
 
Remember that the media are now a wholly owned subsidiary of korporate konservative amerika: why SHOULD they be fair?
 
** If I want to find out anything, I´m not gonna read Time magazine, I´m not gonna read Newsweek, I´m not gonna read
any of these magazines. Because they have too much to lose by printing the truth."
-- Bob Dylan (Don´t Look Back, 1965) **
 
Remember, too, that in fact there never would have been a Rush Limbaugh if it hadn't been for the scrapping of the FD in 1987, about the time pigboy started.  Propaganda is effective without a fairness doctrine, and it's time we got OUR propaganda out there!
 
BTW, wanna hear Rush's take on the FD?
 
** The American model of democracy was firmly grounded on the imperative of free speech-and an absolute rejection of licensing or regulating the press. But absurd as it may seem, these bedrock rights and freedoms do not necessarily apply to broadcasting. The US has freedom of the press. until we get to the electronic press. The American Revolution has not yet spread to the nationís airwaves. Radio & television broadcasters must be licensed by the federal government-and there lies a slippery slope.

To beg any governmentís permission to speak is to ask for trouble. That kind of government shackling of freedom of speech-in defiance of the First Amendment-is precisely what we will have in store if the Fairness Doctrine is re-enacted. As we go to press, "fairness" legislation is popping up [in several bills].
 
Would somebody please find "fairness" for me in the Constitution? You canít.
Yet somehow we have gotten this notion that fairness is a guiding principle.
 
Source: See, I Told You So, p.361-64 Jul 2, 1993 **
 
The cat is out of the bag. The konservatives have spread their propaganda far and wide, permeated the very air with their poison. The last thing we need now is to put that filter back in place and stifle the debate. Either we pull out all the stops and say it the Bartcop way, or we get the debate shut down and turned back into bland public service announcements. With a fairness doctrine in place, controversy would be too much trouble, not profitable.
 
So screw the fairness doctrine. I don't want to be "fair" with these konservative pricks anyway. Not when night after night shows like Crossfire can come on the air and allow liar after liar to repeat the same arguments that have been refuted 5, 10, 15 times before, on the classic propaganda principle that if you repeat it enough it's as good as true. Is that "fair?" Is it fair that konservative broadcasters can still refer to the "trashed White House" when it's been proven that no such thing occurred? How about Bill and Hillary's "gift register?" Al Gore's "Invented the Internet?" and the latest outré slur: "President Bush was handed an economy that was in a shambles." Over and over they repeat the same lies. Over and over they are refuted, but it doesn't matter. Say it enough and it is believed. So, what if there WERE a fairness doctrine in place? How could that stop them from lying? What -- we could appeal to Powell's FCC? Ha, ha. Don't make me laugh. Or to a higher court? The Supreme Court, maybe? Ha, ha!
 
One alternative was proposed by Bill Bradley during his Presidential bid. It was to make the writer of an ad on a political issue pay for the other side's rebuttal. (I think Bartcop likes this idea, too.)
 
I think it's silly. Just imagine how ol' Bartcop would feel about publishing his page if he had to pay for publishing the
Bird's page, too.
 
** On Sept. 21, Republican National Committee chairman Jim Nicholson asked Bill Bradley the following question:
"If the NAACP ran an ad promoting racial equality, would Bradley's bureaucrats impose 'a 100 percent tax' on the
NAACP to pay for equal time ads by the Ku Klux Klan?" -- Nat Hentoff (who sees it my way)**
 
No, we don't need no stinkin' fairness doctrines. We need more and bigger hammers.  Although Bartcop, MWO,
Democrats dot com, AlterNet, and a host of other web sites are certainly on the right track, we need to get our hands
on more microphones. The Internet doesn't seem to be doing the trick. Not by itself.
 
Additionally, we Internet readers should think globally and act locally. More Bartcop stickers. And, hey, we all have computers: we can print and distribute flyers, pamphlets, put stickers up on walls. And, most important of all,
WE CAN SCREAM. The propaganda war can be won. But a fairness doctrine ain't gonna help.
 
Ann Coulter eats those for breakfast.
 
--Pipecover
 
 

Privacy Policy