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A Little Fairness Doctrine History

Eugene Volokh (via Instapundit) posts an excerpt about the effectiveness of the Fairness Doctrine from Fred Friendly's book The Good Guys, the Bad Guys and the First Amendment:

Bill Ruder, an Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the Kennedy years and an acknowledged leader in public relations, says frankly, "Our massive strategy [in the early 1960s] was to use the Fairness Doctrine to challenge and harass right-wing broadcasters and hope that the challenges would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited and decide it was too expensive to continue." ...

[Arthur Larson, chair of NCCR, one of the groups used for this purpose], who had long been a target of the radical right, recalls his role in the NCCR with embarrassment. "The whole thing was not my idea," he says, "but let's face it, we decided to use the Fairness Doctrine to harass the extreme right. In the light of Watergate, it was wrong. We felt the ends justified the means. They never do." ...


In a report to the Democratic National Committee, Phillips wrote: "Even more important than the free radio time was the effectiveness of this operation in inhibiting the political activity of these right-wing broadcasts ..." In a confidential report to Phillips and the DNC, Firestone stressed the nature of the campaign that "may have inhibited the stations in their broadcast of more radical and politically partisan programs." ... "... Were our efforts to be continued on a year-round basis, we would find that many of these stations would consider the broadcasts of these programs bothersome and burdensome (especially if they are ultimately required to give us free time) and would start dropping the programs from their broadcast schedule."

Note how the Fairness Doctrine appeared to affect only the right wing broadcasts, not the left wing ones. So when the Democrats insist that the Fairness Doctrine should be brought back in order to restore "balance" to talk radio, they're flat-out lying. They want it for the purpose of shutting up all dissenting opinion presented by conservative voices on talk radio, plain and simple.


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Comments (7)

The only thing the truth hu... (Below threshold)

The only thing the truth hurts is the Democrat party. It must be reigned in.

Unfortunately the Internets... (Below threshold)

Unfortunately the Internets are next.

They used to hint at that, but I think they're afraid of raising the ire of the nutroots.

jpmGood poi... (Below threshold)

Good point. However, the Dems are getting ready to come out of the closet on radio and the internet.....soon.
I sense a sea change in the last several years on all media subjects and venues. Conservatives have prevailed on a number of issues at the expense of liberal interests, which have historically been articulated and conveyed by traditional media.

Liberals look at media (internet, television, radio) as their only retreat...and that retreat is showing real signs of weakness.

The anchor of modern liberal thought is controlling the message and appealing to the worst of our instincts: absent that, the liberals have nothing to offer. Take away the anger and rage, what do we get? Nothing other than a power grab and intimidation. The threads of this blog demonstrate that clearly.

The resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine will fail as surely as the attempt to smear Limbaugh and O'Reilly. In fact, it will increase their audience. I don't want to turn this post and comments into a thread about them, but when Limbaugh said yesterday that he would auction the Reid/Senate condemnation letter on Ebay and donate the proceeds to the Marine Corp Law Enforcement Foundation he essentially told the entire liberal establishment to put it where the sun doesn't shine along with the Fairness Doctrine.

Again, Hugh, excellent and ... (Below threshold)

Again, Hugh, excellent and well said!

Basically its a means of "n... (Below threshold)

Basically its a means of "no fair! conservative radio makes money, leftist air america loses money and has no audience! no fair!"

While I think the Fairness ... (Below threshold)

While I think the Fairness Doctrine is unconstitutional and unworkable in a day with so many media outlets, there are so many more conservative voices today that would be willing to go on liberal shows that they would regret ever implementing it and shut it down.

Were they to prevail I firm... (Below threshold)

Were they to prevail I firmly believe this effort would progress to the internet. It need not be visited upon television as it already is a bastion of liberalism, except that conservatives could demand equal bashing of Democrats on TV and in the movies.

But as noted, this is not about equality and fairness. It is censorship.






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