Currently posted on the website of Rep. Lamar Smith, R-TX. is a blog by him referring to the Media Fairness Initiative (MFI). This is an initiative proposed by conservative Representative Lamar Smith in response to what he claims is a biased liberal media. There is no doubt that he is correct as all polls show. He cites “During a telephone town meeting last night, I asked my constituents, â€œDo you think the media are fair and objective in their news coverage?â€ “Ninety-one percent of the almost 400 respondents said the media are not fair; only 7 percent said they are fair.”
Smith goes on to say,”Thomas Jefferson once said, â€œThe only security of all is in a free press.â€ The Media Fairness Initiative (MFI) will strongly support a free press and not condone any form of censorship. Instead, we will examine the causes of one-sided reporting, develop strategies to combat media bias, promote an open dialogue between members of the media and elected officials, and remind the media of their profound obligation to provide the American people with the facts. We will avoid personal attacks or gratuitous criticism of media representatives.
Goals of the MFI center on stressing the need for objective and fair reporting. We will focus on finding better ways for elected officials and the media to communicate openly in order to encourage fairness and balance in reporting. In addition, we will point out biased coverage in a fair and reasonable way.”
I find these paragraphs to be contradictory. Representative Smith is the government and when the government gets involved in regulating a free press in any way , we, the people, lose some freedom.
The nature of all media communications is to balance itself out. There will always be opposing viewpoints and news reporting that is skewed to obtain the end results that represent the views and opinions of the reporting entity. Most times there are more than two ways to look at an issue and it is truly up to the individual to glean and obviate the truth of any matter. There is no single purveyor of truth.
“The policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission that became known as the “Fairness Doctrine” is an attempt to ensure that all coverage of controversial issues by a broadcast station be balanced and fair. The FCC took the view, in 1949, that station licensees were “public trustees,” and as such had an obligation to afford reasonable opportunity for discussion of contrasting points of view on controversial issues of public importance. The Commission later held that stations were also obligated to actively seek out issues of importance to their community and air programming that addressed those issues.”
“With the deregulation sweep of the Reagan Administration during the 1980s, the Commission dissolved the fairness doctrine. [yet] “The fairness doctrine remains just beneath the surface of concerns over broadcasting and cablecasting, and some members of congress continue to threaten to pass it into legislation. Currently, however, there is no required balance of controversial issues as mandated by the fairness doctrine. The public relies instead on the judgment of broadcast journalists and its own reasoning ability to sort out one-sided or distorted coverage of an issue. Indeed, experience over the past several years since the demise of the doctrine shows that broadcasters can and do provide substantial coverage of controversial issues of public importance in their communities, including contrasting viewpoints, through news, public affairs, public service, interactive and special programming.” -Val E. Limburg, Museum of broadcast communication http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/F/htmlF/fairnessdoct/fairnessdoct.htm
You can’t legislate fairness anymore than one can legislate morality. People just have to learn to think and be aware of domestic and international social and political activities and how they currently affect and may affect their lives in the future. The truth will always out itself even in the face of the lie. Those broadcasters, journalists, bloggers, et al who choose to be sheep and follow the ideologies of others without merit or substance are doing us all a major disservice with their disinformation agendas. Yet, it is a free society and all deserve to be heard.
I believe that the Media Fairness Initiative is an unwarranted use of energy in response to frustration, and a weak attempt to fuel what can only become another debate about a debate. Congress is already full of blowhard entities talking about nothing important and wasting our time and money. We do not need a new Fairness Doctrine with a new name. Representative Smith, how about just being fair to your constituents while you deal with the important issues of our time?