Friday, July 20, 2007

Fairness is unfair

By Capt. Fogg

Marie Antoinette never really did say "Well let them eat cake," but Mark Fowler, former head of the FCC evoked the spirit of arrogant royalty when he said "Well, let them have unfettered access to information" in response to the attempt to re-instate the "fairness doctrine" that once required broadcasters to provide air time for rebuttals to editorial content.

The fairness doctrine was eliminated in 1987, under the wise leadership of another George Bush and the excuse was that anything designed to protect the people from distortions and propaganda espoused by the few people who own the media was unwonted interference with corporate free speech. 20 years later, we have even fewer people in control of what we hear and more of them are ultra conservative corporations with an ever deeper involvement in the editorial policies of media outlets.

To Fowler, "unfettered access to information" would suffer if the fairness doctrine were to return and people like Bill O'Reilly had to listen to their lies being analyzed by someone not hand picked by Rupert Murdoch.

An anti-Fairness doctrine bill introduced by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota was beaten back by Senate Democrats this week despite arguments such as Coleman's assertion that "There is no limitation on the ability of anyone from any political persuasion to get their ideas set forth." Of course that sentiment ignores the 400 pound corporate gorilla that controls much of what people do hear and that is well insulated by its size, wealth and government support, from public accountability.

Of course the internet has done something to provide an alternative source of information, at least so far, as a free internet is an idea rapidly being undermined by telecommunications interests, but as it is now, several million blogs can hardly compete with the platform given to people like Limbaugh, or Coulter or Hannity or O'Reilly. It's not about freedom of speech, it's about freedom to profit from without responsibility to the country that provides that profit.

(Cross-posted at Human Voices.)

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