Jay Reding.com

In The Spirit Of “Fairness”

The left wing is all in a tizzy that four years after Air America, left-wing talk radio still hasn’t caught on. What is the answer to this terribly vexing problem of having dissenting voices providing a counterbalance to the almost monolithically liberal world of network television and newspapers.

Oh, that’s right, calls for government intrusion into the radio marketplace. Or more plainly, government mandated censorship in the guise of “fairness.”

Fortunately, radio guru Mitch Berg tears those arguments to shreds. The “Fairness Doctrine” apparently only applies to speech that the left dislikes — I’ve yet to see them policing their own.

So, in the spirit of “fairness” how about applying the concept to the rest of the media?

For example, the editorial pages of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune are only right-wing if you compare them to Granma — and even that’s questionable most of the time. So, in order to be “fair” that liberal content simply must be balanced with an equal number of column inches of conservative content. Therefore, each time that the Star Tribune runs an editorial explaining why we have to raise taxes, they should be forced by the government to run an article by Neal Boortz on why we need a flat tax.

After all, the left-wing has used liberal newspapers for years to pump up the EMOTION of left-wingers, because that’s what gets left-wingers to the polls and left-wing New York Times readers vote…

The same tactics are continued on the major broadcast networks throughout the country. It is quite simply the most formidably dangerous weapon the Democrats have to wield against Republicans come election time. National liberal hosts like Dan Rather or Katie Couric gain trust with listeners to great affect. It hurts Republicans at the polls.

Therefore, under the new “Fairness Doctrine” this content must be balanced with equal time given to the opposite viewpoint. For instance, the next time CBS uses a crudely-forged memo that implicates a Republican, another crudely-forged memo should be used that implicates a Democrat. Sure, that hand-written recipe for aborted fetus slurpies isn’t remotely in Hillary Clinton’s handwriting, it’s written in crayon, and several letters are written backwards, but I’m sure that CBS can find a few document experts that would testify that it was written by a period typewriter — and if they can’t, the government will ensure that they do.

Cable, thankfully, is more balanced. However, to make it more “fair” Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly must be placed in a steel cage and forced to fight to the death for the nation’s amusement. Two blowhards enter, and only one leaves. Preferably neither of them do.

Fine, so that last one is less to do with pressing needs for government regulation and more to do with personal preference…

In all seriousness, as Mitch Berg explains, there’s a good reason why conservative talk radio has dominated their airwaves for nearly two decades now. It’s not because of some sinister cabal of evil conservative radio networks conspiring, it’s because more people like conservative talk radio than like liberal talk radio. Nor is radio as a whole unbalanced — NPR is everywhere, and they certainly don’t swing to the right by any reasonable standard. 90% of people listen to radio, but that sure doesn’t mean that 90% of Americans listen to Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. The fact that the left is moaning that talk radio leans conservative is a sign about just how insecure they are about their ideas — apparently having failed in the competitive marketplace, the next step is to force the hand of government to make people listen.

That isn’t “fairness” — that’s a betrayal of the First Amendment. Liberal talk radio failed not because of some external factor, it failed because it was painfully amateurish, difficult to listen to, and the people who might form enough of an audience for it already get what they want with NPR — and at least NPR has decent production values. Conservative radio succeeded because conservative hosts like Rush Limbaugh understood the medium and realized that the rest of the media had left a natural opening for dissenting points of view.

Free speech is free speech, and the radio spectrum is not government property — it is licensed to those who want to use it. At the end of the day, stations have to serve the needs of their listeners, and it’s already been well-established that people don’t listen to left-wing talk radio in anywhere near the numbers that they listen to right-wing talk radio. To force stations to broadcast material that few listen to is just committing economic waste and showing the kind of silly partisan rent-seeking that nearly destroyed AM radio before Rush Limbaugh personally salvaged it. There’s nothing fair about enacting forced government censorship of speech, and the fact that the left so warmly embraces it tells one a lot about where their inclinations lie.

One response to “In The Spirit Of “Fairness””

  1. Tom says:

    More people listen to conservative talk radio becuse they tend to be the crowd who doesn’t actually read. Why do you think the written media is largely liberal?