When you have a balance scale and you put weight on one side of it, it tilts until you have something on the other side to balance it. The Fairness Doctrine, that the Left would love to bring back, works on this same principle; opinions being presented should represent all opinions, never mind the ratings. In essence, this is yet another anti-market-forces argument for what would essentially be government-controlled media.
What this would really do for discussion on the public airwaves is a topic for another day. What I’m here to note is that the free market has already worked its magic. On the Internet, there are plenty of opinions to choose from from the entire spectrum. No need for a Fairness Doctrine there. But it’s in TV and radio where Democrats really want this doctrine to work. Never mind all the liberal bias that has been the monopoly for decades, when Rush Limbaugh (who just signed a $400 milllion contract) and Fox News are mentioned, Democrats suddenly discover media bias, though through polarized lenses, and rant on about anything to the right of Ted Kennedy.
But Limbaugh himself noted that, “I am balance”, meaning that with all the liberal bias out there on one side of that balance scale, he was on the other side, working to get the information out that the Left wasn’t. In total, both sides were finally getting aired. (And the people have apparently agreed in a big way.)
Which brings us to the latest glaring example of this free market balance in action. Fox News’ “Special Report with Brit Hume” reported on some extremely good war news last night.
BRIT HUME: Welcome to Washington. I’m Brit Hume. The White House is giving Congress a new indication of how far Iraq’s leaders have come in hitting performance standards established by the U.S. Chief White House correspondent Bret Baier has the story.
BRET BAIER: In a new nine-page progress report obtained by Fox, U.S. officials in Iraq assessed that 15 of the 18 original political, security and economic benchmarks set for the Iraqi government are satisfactory, while two are unsatisfactory, and one has a split result. The May 2008 report card has almost twice the number of satisfactory marks than the assessment one year ago when the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker were grilled by Congress over the ’07 report card that showed eight unsatisfactory marks, eight satisfactory marks, and two benchmarks that could not be determined.
Later in the show, there is a discussion segment with folks from the Left and the Right. During this, Hume made a bold prediction.
HUME: Let me ask you this question, Mara, before you get to that. Both of you [Mara Liasson and probably Mort Kondrake] suggest that the word of this progress is going to get through. I suspect that this broadcast tonight — and maybe some others on this channel — are the only ones who are going to make a headline out of this. This is not going to be a big story elsewhere.
LIASSON: I think, over time, if the violence goes down, over time-
HUME: The violence has gone down.
LIASSON: Yes, and if it continues to, that’s going to change people’s opinions.
(Emphasis mine.) The Media Research Center indeed found this to be true.
Indeed, neither the CBS Evening News nor NBC Nightly News mentioned Iraq while on ABC’s World News anchor Charles Gibson read a short update about “increasing dangers for U.S. troops in Afghanistan” since “in the month of June there were 28 American fatalities in Afghanistan, just one less than died in Iraq last month.” CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 was also silent Tuesday night about the benchmarks.
No mention of this improvement, and indeed no mention that the fact that “28 American fatalities in Afghanistan, just one less than died in Iraq last month” means that Iraq casualties are at historic lows for the war. In this, as in other things, Fox News is the balance the Left says is missing.
We don’t need a Fairness Doctrine. We need the free flow of information and opinions that the public can then sort out themselves. If the mainstream media won’t report thing that don’t fit their narrative, they are not living up to their own stated standards, and have only themselves to blame for the destruction of their market- and mind-share.
Doug Payton blogs at Considerettes.