Several Democrats, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), want to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine. This poorly named law was cancelled during the Reagan administration. What it did was dictate that media providers had to give equal time to opposing viewpoints.
An obvious result (and the aim of Pelosi and crew) were this enacted is that a radio station airing a show such as Rush Limbaugh would have to provide the same amount of air time for a liberal radio host.
The first problem with this is the obvious hit the First Amendment would take. We would have the Federal Government dictating to media outlets what programming they could air. We are not talking preventing pornography or foul language. The though police would be assessing political speech and deciding it needed balance from another viewpoint.
Further we need to ask, who decides what political slant a show has? Are we going to set up a panel to decide that a radio station has to balance someone like Rush? How do they decide who should balance him? We will have a situation I which the government is rating programming as either conservative or liberal. What criteria will they use?
This is not only too ambiguous but also set up for significant abuse. Because of the ambiguity, any panel seated can decide anything they do not agree with is conservative or liberal, whichever their bias, and would therefore be targeted for “balance”.
The second problem is economic. The reality is that conservative radio sells and liberal radio does not. If a station has to provide 3 hours of programming for the 3 hours of Rush, will anybody listen? You have to look no further than Air America for an answer. Air America was a liberal radio network. It was given strong financing, aired in large markets, had a strong cast of household name liberal commentators, and failed miserably. If no one was listening to Air America, who is going to listen to 3 hours of a liberal program a station is forced to air? This will cause stations to choose between taking a financial hit for the 3 hours of liberal programming for the ability to run 3 hours of a profitable program like Rush Limbaugh.
The likely scenario is that the station will eventually have to drop programs like Rush Limbaugh or Shaun Hannity because of the financial hit. Therein lies the true reason for re-enacting this law, to silence commentators like these. These programs are a thorn in the side of liberals and a potent political tool for the right.
People on the left like Nancy Pelosi will not admit to themselves that the real issue here is their message. Liberal radio does not fail because of Limbaugh or Hannity. It fails because no one wants to listen to what liberal commentators have to say. So instead of self-examination and realizing that their message is out of the mainstream of America, they will turn to censorship and force us to listen. What we have is just more the tired old liberal attitude that they know what is best for us, even if we are too stupid to see it ourselves. Usually this attitude is annoying, occasionally it’s humorous, this time it is downright ugly and scary.