Back in January, Congressman and dark horse Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich expressed interest in bringing back the Fairness Doctrine, an old FCC rule that required broadcast media companies to present issues in a "balanced" manner. The rule hasn't been in effect since 1987, and for good reason. Not only was it a violation of the First Amendment, but it was arbitrary, in that there's really no way to define what a balanced reporting of an issue might be. Today the rule makes even less sense, because the proliferation of new media acts as a countervailing force to any bias, real or perceived, on the part of major media outlets. At the time Kucinich made his proposal, it seemed like mainly a theoretical issue, considering the fact that he's pretty far out of the mainstream, even within his own party. But word is that the new House leadership is now interested in the matter (via TLF) and wants to pursue the issue in the coming months. It should be stated at the outset that the magazine making these claims is the conservative American Spectator, which bases its story on anonymous sources close to the house leadership, so you may choose to take the whole thing with a grain or two of salt. However, if the sources are to be believed, the desire to reinstate the fairness doctrine is motivated by a desire to see more Democratic voices on the air in the hopes of countering major talk radio hosts, like Rush Limbaugh. In other words, the goal is expressly counter to the First Amendment. It's pretty plain to see why the Fairness Doctrine should stay in mothballs. Not only is it irrelevant in a world that's trending away from broadcast media, but it's too easily used as a tool to influence political discussion on the air.
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