Fairness Doctrine Ghosts Revived In George Will Column

Will is apparently among the paranoid-schizophrenics who have come to believe that the Fairness Doctrine is poised to make some sort of comeback.

Matt Yglesias points out that George Will has penned a piece in this past Sunday's Washington Post about the Fairness Doctrine, of all things. Will is apparently among the paranoid-schizophrenics who have come to believe that the Fairness Doctrine, which sought to balance the political viewpoints found on terrestrial radio back when that was a scarce commodity and which never really worked to anyone's liking, is poised to make some sort of comeback. You'll note in Will's piece that there is not one single name of anyone of any import who could play even an ancillary role in making the revival of a shopworn, unwanted policy possible. That is because the only people who want to bring back the Fairness Doctrine are the hobgoblins and banshees that are conjured up in the ether-sleeps of conservative op-ed writers.

Let's review, shall we?

Does President-Elect Barack Obama favor reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine?

Does anyone else?

Today, the doctrine has almost no support from media-reform advocates. According to Mark Lloyd, co-author of the CAP report, "I don't think there's any movement [to restore the fairness doctrine] at all. ... We don't support it. " Craig Aaron of the media-reform group FreePress says, "[I]n reality, the fairness doctrine as it existed is never ever coming back."

Responses from the offices of most of the Democrats who have been pegged as fairness-doctrine proponents -- Schumer, Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, and others -- have ranged from a firm denial that the issue is a priority at all to disbelief at finding themselves at the center of a manufactured controversy. "Somebody plucked this out of the clear blue sky," says the press secretary for New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat who was questioned about the issue by a conservative radio-show host a few weeks ago. "This is a completely made- up issue." Senator Durbin's press secretary says that Durbin has "no plans, no language, no nothing. He was asked in a hallway last year, he gave his personal view"--that the American people were served well under the doctrine--"and it's all been blown out of proportion." In fact, as recently as last year, the House voted by an overwhelming three-to-one margin to temporarily prohibit the FCC from imposing the dead policy; 113 Democrats voted to support the move.

So: reformers don't support the Doctrine, and lawmakers -- when they aren't being weirded out by inquiries over an issue that's the furthest thought from their minds -- are choosing to vote against it in droves. I'm sorry, paranoid conservatives, but this dumbassed dog of yours simply won't hunt.

So, look, editors, the next time George Will pitches you an editorial on the revival of the Fairness Doctrine, please, please do the right thing: pin him to the wall and wave smelling salts under his nose until he returns to consciousness.

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