Investor’s Business Daily | Jun 27, 2008
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi intends to restore the “Fairness Doctrine” regulating political speech — proof that in the Internet Age, Democrats have lost the communications war.
Forty years ago, Walter Cronkite could declare on the evening news that the Vietnam War was lost, and that’s the way it was. Do Americans want to return to those days by reviving the so-called Fairness Doctrine?
Think of it in terms of consumer choice. You’re on vacation, and you take your family into the $10.95 all-you-can-eat buffet. How would you like it if, when you walk up to fill your plate with lobster and ribs, you find the government has made the restaurant replace those with liver and brussels sprouts?
That’s the approach the Democratic Congress is taking to political speech on the airwaves: You as an American don’t know what’s good for you. If you listen mostly to conservative talk radio, or watch Fox News, then you should be force-fed things you don’t want. (It takes government force because, as the Air America debacle proved, people don’t listen to liberal talk radio.)
Back when the Fairness Doctrine was enforced, radio and TV stations would have to broadcast sleep-inducing lectures by cranky middle-aged ladies, or rants from fringe-group agitators. But today, even the poorest among us can log onto our local public library computer and blog our views to millions.
The most ordinary of Americans this election year have actually used Web cams to appear on national television and ask questions in this year’s presidential debates. There has never been more access to national political discourse. We all enjoy the true fairness of freedom.
Yet Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have Uncle Sam again become speech policeman — because in the free market of mass communication, her party’s message is losing.
Pelosi won’t allow former talk radio host and now Congressman Mike Pence’s legislation permanently banning the Fairness Doctrine to be voted on this year. Why not? “The interest of my caucus is the reverse,” she says.
It obviously is. A discharge petition to bring Pence’s “Broadcaster Freedom Act” to the floor for an up-or-down vote is fewer than 20 signatures away from succeeding. But as of last week not a single House Democrat had signed on.
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