Let the Sunshine In
By: Patti Bankson
Iâ€™ve learned something pretty basic about exercising outdoors in the summer… itâ€™s not as hot in the pre-dawn darkness as it is once the sun begins to rise. The lighter it gets, the hotter it gets. Before long thereâ€™s just too much sunshine… but only when it comes to exercise. When it comes to government and media, I say, â€œlet it shineâ€.
Sunshine Laws appeared in the mid-70s as a way to make government more transparent, so that the public would know what government was doing. Even when the publicâ€™s not allowed to attend meetings, this ensures that media and other public representatives can attend. Just another thing that sounds good in theory, but falls short in practice.
In June MSNBC investigative reporter, Bill Dedman, wrote on MSNBCâ€™s web site about a list the Federal Elections Commission has of journalists who contributed money to political candidates or organizations from January 2004 through March 2007. Thatâ€™s no secret; donor lists are public information. And although most news outlets have a policy forbidding journalistsâ€™ involvement in political activity, itâ€™s not a crime. I do find it interesting, however, that of 143 listed journalists, 125 gave to Democrats and liberal causes, 16 gave to Republicans and 2 gave to both parties. I could be wrong â€“ wouldnâ€™t be the first or last time â€“ but I donâ€™t think that supports the liberal contention that thereâ€™s no liberal bias in the media. Of course there is. And try as they might (if they do try) they canâ€™t help themselves â€“ it will eventually be reflected in their reporting. I mean, come on… is it even possible for a human being to be that objective without being a robot?
Whatever the answer, liberals are very upset that people who disagree with them have conservative talk radio. Theyâ€™re even more upset that liberal talk radio has not become the huge success they wanted, or needed, it to be. Consequently, flying in the face of free speech, which they supposedly support, instead of letting the market determine what information is or isnâ€™t available, the liberals want to resurrect the â€œFairness Doctrineâ€.
The â€œFairness Doctrineâ€ is a Federal Communications Commission policy that attempts to ensure that all coverage of controversial issues by a broadcast station be fair and balanced. The doctrine ran parallel to Section 315 of the Communications Act of 1937, requiring stations to offer â€œequal opportunityâ€ to all legally qualified political candidates for any office if they allow any person running for that same office to use the station. It was an attempt to balance… or force an even handedness. News programs, interviews and documentaries are exempt; the doctrine would include them. The major difference of note is that Section 315 was federal law, passed by Congress, while the fairness doctrine was simply FCC policy.
At one time journalists saw the doctrine as a violation of First Amendment rights of free speech/free press which allows reporters to decide for themselves the balance in a story. Contrary to the FCCâ€™s intent, the â€œfind contrasting viewsâ€ requirement had a chilling effect when some journalists avoided any coverage of controversial issues.
The Way I See It, so-called â€œglobal warmingâ€ notwithstanding, I definitely feel a chill in the journalistic air.
Happy Birthday, Denny. Youâ€™re a great gift from God. Love you, Patti
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