In All Fairness

By: Thomas Lindaman

There are a lot of things out there that have the potential to bring down this great nation of ours. International terrorism. A weak dollar on the international market. The Spice Girls getting back together. At times like these, we look to our leaders in Washington to do something, and Democrats in Congress are doing something.

They’re going after conservative talk radio.

Yep, they consider Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, and other conservative radio hosts to be a bigger threat than terrorists. Actually, I see their point with Savage, but the rest of them don’t pose that big a threat. Instead, Democrats are approaching their attempts to bring back the Fairness Doctrine as a means to bring back fairness to the radio airwaves. Yeah, and I’m supporting Dennis Kucinich for President in 2008.

Since the Democrats got control of one house of Congress and a majority in name only in the Senate, they’ve been doing their best impression of Pavlov’s dogs at the possibility of using their power to stick it to conservatives at every turn. But just like Wile E. Coyote, their great plans will fail spectacularly and conservative talk radio will zip by like the Road Runner, completely unharmed.

One of the main reasons is that the Fairness Doctrine is obsolete. At the time it was devised and passed, the Fairness Doctrine was necessary because there weren’t that many alternatives, and certainly none with the reach of radio. When one side of a debate controls the medium, it limits the number of voices in the marketplace of ideas. That’s why “Marconi in the Morning” was number one in the ratings for so many years. And his phone pranks to Alexander Graham Bell were priceless!

Today, though, we have choices. Not only do we have the regular broadcast stations, but we have online radio shows, podcasting, and satellite radio. And in most cases, the FCC doesn’t have a say in these areas at this time. If the Democrats get what they want and reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine just on talk radio, you’ll see a number of hosts moving to those formats, thus defeating the entire purpose of the Democrats pushing the Fairness Doctrine on talk radio. In other words, using the Fairness Doctrine to go after talk radio today is like going after a stealth bomber in flight with a slingshot and a stone, like David and Goliath. It’s almost like Bob Shrum is running this campaign.

Another reason that the Fairness Doctrine will be the “Gigli” of modern politics is because it sets up an unwieldy slippery slope that can’t do what it intends to do. Let’s say the Fairness Doctrine comes back. Under the terms of it as the Democrats are sure to enforce it, that will force radio stations to air liberal talk radio shows with conservative talk radio shows. But who determines if the balance is right? It would have to be the government! And given the fact that government can’t even figure out how to balance the federal checkbook, I wouldn’t trust them with balancing content on radio stations.
Finally, the reinstitution of the Fairness Doctrine will be a flop because of sheer volume. No, I’m not talking about Howard Stern or Mancow. I’m talking about the sheer number of people who would tell Democrats to shove their Fairness Doctrine where the sun don’t shine: DNC Headquarters. We saw a glimpse of the power the grassroots still have in this country with the amnesty bill a couple of weeks ago. When you get that many conservatives torqued off at you, you will feel it. And knowing how many of these same conservatives love talk radio, attempting to force conservative talk radio to play by the Fairness Doctrine will make France’s “Reign of Terror” look like a picnic for the National Association of Narcoleptic Pacifists.

Instead of trying to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine as a means to level the playing field in talk radio, Democrats might want to consider a different strategy. Now, I’ll admit it’s a radical idea, one that the modern left has not wanted to try legitimately yet, but it’s the worth a shot if they’re up to it.

Make liberal talk radio entertaining.

Somewhere between the Yoko Ono-esque shrieking from Air America and the don’t-operate-heavy-machinery-while-listening tones of National Public Radio, there has to be a liberal who can put together an informative, entertaining, and interesting program. And once that host emerges, he or she will bring balance to the talk radio marketplace, thus rendering the need for the Fairness Doctrine obsolete.

And he or she will get stomped in the ratings by Rush Limbaugh. But at least it will be fair for all parties, right?

Thomas Lindaman is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. and The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. He is also Publisher of

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.