In response to the Center for American Progress's hit piece on talk radio imbalance, various Senators have expressed support for resurrecting the Cold War era "Fairness doctrine" which requires equal airtime for opposing points of view. Senator Feinstein (D-CA) specifically rejects she said they wanted a legislative fix for conservative talk radio, but still suspiciously supports the fairness doctrine as does Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). Senator Kerry (D-MA) has also expressed his support.

The underlying notion is that somehow conservative talk show hosts and conservative radio owners have colluded to produce an effective monopoly on talk radio. Instead of bringing anti-trust charges, they've decided to try to regulate it. They conveniently forget the frequent attempts (and failures) of left-wing radio to get and stay on the air. The fact that there have been so many left-wing radio shows that make it on the air (but eventually fail) shows that market entrance is not difficult.

There is a latent idea that the public is unable to come to the "correct" conclusions on policy because talk radio is indoctrinating them. This vicious, un-American and treasonous idea is unworthy of political debate in this country. People can be trusted to make up their own minds and much research indicates that people listen to conservative talk radio not to make up their minds, but because their minds are already made up. If people can't be trusted to make their own minds up, then we ought to be having a discussion on repealing the right to vote, not about media ownership.

One thing to notice is that the market of news and opinion is not synonymous with AM radio. There is the internet, television, movies, podcasting, print, books and lectures. While conservatives do apparently dominate talk radio, liberals dominate television, movies and certainly academic lectures. If one doesn't want to listen to AM radio, they can turn on the TV, surf the internet, or listen to a podcast. There is nothing even approaching a limitation of the flow of information.

Yet, the fairness doctrine is only to apply to talk radio which is obviously an ideological-based attack on certain speech. It is no mistake that Democrats are the voices supporting this (though to be fair certain Republicans are warm to the idea because politicians always like silencing criticism). The resistance to "immigration reform" (which is essentially legalizing at least 12 million illegal immigrants and then not addressing the problems that caused the issue in the first place) was based on talk radio and the cognizanti don't want the influence getting in their way.

As a compromise measure, if we are going to enact a "fairness doctrine" for the radio waves, we should do so also for television. Let's have fairness on NBC, ABC and CBS which are also transmitted over the air. Let's have fairness on the movies shown on those channels so that they fairly represent all viewpoints instead of the latent left-wing propaganda that animates Hollywood. Let's have fairness in the various sitcoms that all portray fast and loose morals. We could have real family-friendly entertainment again.

We could also apply the fairness doctrine to the Internet to balance left-wing biases outlets such as Wikipedia and the Daily Kos. Let's apply the fairness doctrine to colleges and the classroom where indoctrination is most prevalent (and most left-wing). The possibilities are endless and the lawyers could be well-employed. Let's empower the Family Research Council to litigate fairness on all our media outlets.

The "fairness doctrine" is a relic of the past for a reason which will accomplish little more than stifling speech and more accurately stifle only certain ideological forms of speech. In their benevolence, Democrats will allow conservatives to have "free speech" as long as they are not allowed audiences. Unfortunately for them, "free speech" doesn't work that way. The free market of ideas doesn't need to be socialized by those who would pre-ordain the ideas that we are to hold.


John Bambenek is the Assistant Politics Editor for BC Magazine and is an academic professional for the University of Illinois. By trade, he is an information security professional, part of the Internet Storm Center and a courseware author and certification grader for the GIAC family of security certifications. He is a syndicated columnist who blogs at Part-Time Pundit and the executive director of The Tumaini Foundation which helps AIDS orphans and other children in Tanzania to get an education.

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