April 16, 2007

I Joined Blog Talk Radio Just In Time ...

... if the Democrats succeed in scaring people into re-enacting the Fairness Doctrine. According to Adam Thirer in City Journal, the Left believes that Blog Talk Radio might be part of the problem, however. Despite the explosion of communications outlets and choices for the consumer over the last twenty years since the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, Chicken Little on the Left continue their hysteria over media consolidation -- and their solutions will do far more damage to free speech than anything they decry (via Michelle Malkin):

Throughout most of history, humans lived in a state of extreme information poverty. News traveled slowly, field to field, village to village. Even with the printing press’s advent, information spread at a snail’s pace. Few knew how to find printed materials, assuming that they even knew how to read. Today, by contrast, we live in a world of unprecedented media abundance that once would have been the stuff of science-fiction novels. We can increasingly obtain and consume whatever media we want, wherever and whenever we want: television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the bewildering variety of material available on the Internet.

This media cornucopia is a wonderful development for a free society—or so you’d think. But today’s media universe has fierce detractors, and nowhere more vehemently than on the left. Their criticisms seem contradictory. Some, such as Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich, contend that real media choices, information sources included, remain scarce, hindering citizens from fully participating in a deliberative democracy. Others argue that we have too many media choices, making it hard to share common thoughts or feelings; democracy, community itself, again loses out. Both liberal views get the story disastrously wrong. If either prevails, what’s shaping up to be America’s Golden Age of media could be over soon. ...

Scarcity-obsessed Dennis Kucinich has recently introduced plans in Congress to revive the Fairness Doctrine, which once let government regulators police the airwaves to ensure a balancing of viewpoints, however that’s defined. A new Fairness Doctrine would affect most directly opinion-based talk radio, a medium that just happens to be dominated by conservatives. If a station wanted to run William Bennett’s show under such a regime, they might now have to broadcast wa left-wing alternative, too, even if it had poor ratings, which generally has been the case with liberal talk. Sunstein also proposes a kind of speech redistributionism. For the Internet, he suggests that regulators could impose “electronic sidewalks” on partisan websites (the National Rifle Association’s, say), forcing them to link to opposing views. The practical problems of implementing this program would be forbidding, even if it somehow proved constitutional. How many links to opposing views would secure the government’s approval? The FCC would need an army of media regulators (much as China has today) to monitor the millions of webpages, blogs, and social-networking sites and keep them in line.

It wasn't that long ago that Democrats extolled the Information Superhighway. The man who popularized that phrase, Al Gore, took credit for creating the Internet and its beneficial streams of information at the fingertips of ordinary Americans. It didn't take long before they discovered that democratizing information would unleash the electorate -- and they apparently fear that shift in information control.

Not many remember the era of the Fairness Doctrine, but I certainly do. It produced multiple flavors of vanilla on public airwaves, with hosts like Michael Jackson (not the singer -- trust me) insisting that they were non-partisan and apolitical. (As soon as the FCC lifted the Fairness Doctrine, Jackson declared himself a liberal -- and his show didn't change a bit.) We got call-in psychologists and funny DJs like Mark and Brian, and offensive ones like Howard Stern. What we didn't get was open political debate, because the headaches of monitoring who got what airtime for what purpose made it almost impossible to manage.

Ending the Fairness Doctrine and relying on the market to manage the message allowed AM radio to rise from the dead. It took an increasingly abandoned medium and revived it with another product, and consumers rewarded those whose products they preferred. Mostly, those talk shows were conservative, and why? The public perceived that the mainstream media presented enough opportunity for the liberal perspective to get air time. Even to this day, liberal talk radio struggles to gain an audience, with a few notable exceptions like Ed Schultz.

Now, with the multiplicity of media channels available, a Fairness Doctrine makes even less sense. With blogs, podcasts, and all sorts of options for all perspectives to publish their perspective, the last thing any of us need is the government replacing the market for political speech. Re-regulation of the airwaves will kill political talk radio -- and while that might please those who cannot compete in the marketplace, it still sets a dangerous precedent for government intervention in political speech.

Even if one buys the argument that government should control the content for those using the public airwaves, the Left wants to push regulation further than that. Cass Sunstein wants to force websites to have "electronic sidewalks" and make proprietors link to sites with which they disagree. Why? Are people on the Left (or Right) too stupid to Google? Do they fear that someone will only look at the NRA's site and figure that no one else has a contrary opinion? Do we need to have government oversight to address the problems of the few idiots who can't find their way around the Internet?

In fact, the hard Left appears to think that most Americans are too stupid to think for themselves. It permeates every policy they support, and this is no exception.

The Left has indulged its hysteria about conservative media for far too long. The paranoids have begun to run the asylum. All I can say is that -- as a non-broadcast medium -- Blog Talk Radio will avoid at least the first round of regulation. Glad I'm starting my new job now.


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Adam Thierer has a lengthy piece at City Journal about efforts to revive the Fairness Doctrine, something we thought was dead and buried years ago. But since liberals aren't satisfied dominating just 99% of the media, they need to come after those ou... [Read More]

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Captain Ed writes that he may have joined Blog Talk network just in time: It wasn't that long ago that Democrats extolled the Information Superhighway. The man who popularized that phrase, Al Gore, took credit for creating the Internet and its bene... [Read More]

Comments (7)

Posted by docjim505 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 5:41 AM

Cap'n Ed wrote:

... Despite the explosion of communications outlets and choices for the consumer over the last twenty years since the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, Chicken Little on the Left continue their hysteria over media consolidation...

This is how your liberty-loving, free speech-supporting, tolerant, lovable lefty chokes off speech he doesn't like even while he proclaims to all the world and the voices in his head that he just loooooves the First Amendment: those nasty ol' media conglomerates have gotta be stopped! This isn't about the First Amendment! It's about breaking up monopolies! Yeah, that's it!

O' course, the really sick libs actually think not only that the media marketplace speaks with one voice, but that its voice is conservative. They're comin' to take me away ha-ha, they're comin' to take me away ho-ho hee-hee ha-ha to the funny farm...

Here's a helpful tip for you libs who still have at least a tenuous grasp on reality: if you AND conservatives gripe about bias in the media (and we certainly do), then there's at least some balance.

And the Records Department, after all, was itself only a single branch of the Ministry of Truth, whose primary job was not to reconstruct the past but to supply the citizens of Oceania with newspapers, films, textbooks, telescreen programmes, plays, novels -- with every conceivable kind of information, instruction, or entertainment, from a statue to a slogan, from a lyric poem to a biological treatise, and from a child's spelling-book to a Newspeak dictionary. And the Ministry had not only to supply the multifarious needs of the party, but also to repeat the whole operation at a lower level for the benefit of the proletariat. There was a whole chain of separate departments dealing with proletarian literature, music, drama, and entertainment generally. Here were produced rubbishy newspapers containing almost nothing except sport, crime and astrology, sensational five-cent novelettes, films oozing with sex, and sentimental songs which were composed entirely by mechanical means on a special kind of kaleidoscope known as a versificator. There was even a whole sub-section -- Pornosec, it was called in Newspeak -- engaged in producing the lowest kind of pornography, which was sent out in sealed packets and which no Party member, other than those who worked on it, was permitted to look at.

George Orwell

Posted by ERNurse [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 6:29 AM

You have to remember something: Liberals are not about to reward excellence- an act which is anathema to them.

Liberals exist for one thing: to penalize excellence in a manner that serves to level the playing field for the bums who are too lazy to think for themselves.

Even worse, liberals strive to crush opposing opinions. These are the morons who rally under the banner of 'free speech.'


Who is trying to hamstring the freedom of speech of Limbaugh, O'Reilly, et al?


Bloody dangerous hypocrites, those liberals. Watch them, because they'll rob you blind.

Posted by NoDonkey [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 7:32 AM

We all know that there will be nothing at all that's "Fair" about the "Fairness Doctrine".

It would be back to the traditional heavy left thumb on the scales.

At Err America, it will be business as usual. Every conservative will be off the air.

To Democrats, this will be "fair".

Because Democrats are more equal than you are.

Posted by Keemo [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 8:27 AM

Now here is a topic that gets my goat...
Why did the leading Liberals just back out of a "debate" on Fox News?

Was it; moveon.org ordering them to stay away from Fox News due to their own personal hatred. Or, was it; scared to death of the "debate"; not having a firm grip on the contents of the debate; not having the network sponsoring the debate that is in their back pocket.

Do you remember when one of the Powerline boys threw a tough question at a leading Dem during a press conference (04 convention)? The Dem wanted to know who this guy was, what paper he represented, and threw an obvious temper tantrum, all because he was asked a tough question by a media person in an environment that Dems normally control. I can only imagine what went on behind closed doors following that little episode.

What dynamic consistently reveals itself regarding this topic? Answer: Liberals will not debate Republicans "or anybody for that matter" in an environment that they don't have complete control over. Liberals must "squash" & "destroy" all opponents (politics of personal assassination) simply because they realize that their ideology will not win general elections; their ideology is void of ideas, solutions, & adaptations. Liberals must "squash" all other voices by any means necessary (reference; stacking the bench with Liberal activist judges). Hugh Hewitt has been interviewing leading writers from newspapers such as the WAPO; what do all of these people have in common, they are all Liberal and have never voted for a Republican. The so called MSM is stacked to the hilt with Liberals; net result = complete control. The Democrats were successfully implementing the same game plan for the judiciary system when Mark Levin exposed this strategy with his book "Men in Black", and conservative talk radio took the ball and ran with it.

Make no mistake about it folks, Democrats want complete control over the communication highway in America and throughout the world.

Freedom of Speech is a "one way street" to all Liberals.

Posted by biwah [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 9:40 AM

I think for most lefties, the salient issue now is not resurrecting the fairness doctrine, but rather a somewhat knee-jerk distrust of of media conglomerates. There are good reasons for apprehension as local papers and radio stations get swallowed by the bigt boys, but as with many things, regulation doesn't promise anything better. The government should just let it go and private groups can continue to monitor the availablity of different perspectives.

But the current state of the left on this issue is not a freakish desire to control everything. I would say it's more ambivalent, coupled with distrust of corporations and an attachment to certain outlets, i.e. public broadcasting.

For the record, I agree with most of the article.

Posted by Lew [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 3:07 PM

The fundamental notion that drives all liberalism is that liberals and their friends are the only ones who are smart enough to see "the truth" and that ordinary people are just too stupid to get it. In a way, it kind of reminds me of my experience years ago when I owned my own investment management firm and several of my clients asked me why I wouldn't invest at least some of their money in an up and coming company down in Texas that was making a lot of the right headlines and noises in the investment world. They kept telling me that these guys were geniuses and knew the secrets and were going to make everybody who invested in their new age company rich as Croesus.

Well, I told them that there were two reasons why I wouldn't invest their money with those "geniuses"; first of all, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't for the life of me understand their financial statements. And secondly, I wouldn't go near these guys with a ten-foot pole because they were the very same ones who were telling everybody that they were "the smartest guys in the room" and that anybody who disagreed was just too stupid to get it.

Sound familiar? It should, because when you think about it, a lot of liberal attitudes and pious posing sound an awful lot like the crowd that ran Enron into the ground. They were the smartest guys in the room, and if you couldn't see it, well you were just too stupid to get it.

So now, every time I hear liberals pontificating about the fairness doctrine or campaign finance reform or gun control or a whole range of issues, I just hear another echo of "the smartest guys in the room" and just keep wondering how much longer its going to take for them to finally "get it"?

Posted by NoDonkey [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 3:21 PM

"The fundamental notion that drives all liberalism is that liberals and their friends are the only ones who are smart enough to see "the truth" and that ordinary people are just too stupid to get it. In a way"

Witness how all the liberals get on this site, to tell us conservatives pretty much what the MSM and our education system have told us every day, since we were six.

Do they really think we haven't heard their arguments before? There is no escaping left wing arguments in this country, unless you're an absolute hermit.

The MSM, education, TV shows, movies, popular music, political shows overwhelmingly tilted with liberals and Democrats - who can't recite each and every liberal slant on each and every issue?

But somehow, they think if those of us who disagree hear the same half-baked, tired arguments just one more time, we'll become one of them.