Gather around, everyone, and let me tell you a story about rules. And greed and hypocrisy.
Once upon a time in America, there was something called the Fairness Doctrine.
Approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1949, this rule insisted that because the airwaves belong to all of us, every TV and radio broadcast licensee must “devote a reasonable portion of broadcast time to the discussion and consideration of controversial issues of public importance,” and allow “the expression of contrasting viewpoints.”
Translation: When you present points of view from the right on your station, it behooves you to also present views from the left — and others — so that everyone’s opinion gets a fair shake.Had the Fairness Doctrine remained in place, chances are the explosion of loud-mouthed bigotry on the air and across the internet might have been mitigated in part by a more balanced, countervailing progressive radio and TV to tell all sides of the story.
That was the rule, but it didn’t sit well with conservatives and in 1987, during the latter part of the reign of Ronald Reagan, the Fairness Doctrine was revoked. The disappearance helped encourage the rise of right wing, hate talk radio and the incubator it provided for the likes of Fox News, Alex Jones and Breitbart.
Had the Fairness Doctrine remained in place, chances are the explosion of loud-mouthed bigotry on the air and across the internet might have been mitigated in part by a more balanced, countervailing progressive radio and TV to tell all sides of the story. But the Fairness Doctrine is gone for good; there’s little or no chance it ever will be reinstated.
That’s because, as we’ve seen, many rules are meant to be broken, especially if you’re part of a Republican Party that believes government rules should be stomped into the ground and eliminated. Rules keep corporate America from getting its way, from allowing it to run unfettered and unregulated, and must be abolished.
Sometimes there’s a government rule that the right wing actually likes. Sometimes, in fact, there’s even an old rule that you bring back; one that could do your big-business buddies some good.