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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Unfairness Doctrine

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I like freedom and I like the free market. I know it’s not perfect but I think it results in the least amount of people being oppressed. Just ask yourself, what is the alternative? I can hear some of you say, “Let the government determine what’s fair,” because your man is now in the Whitehouse. But what about people like me; Christian-conservatives, is it ok for those of my kind to be oppressed?

In this presentation I’m going to tackle the folly that is the fairness doctrine and I’m going to try and make the argument that every American has a dog in this fight.

The fairness doctrine basically states the following: Holders of a broadcast licenses who cover controversial issues, must cover those issues in a manner that is balanced and fair. The FCC took the view, in 1949, that station licensees were "public trustees," and as such had an obligation to afford reasonable opportunity for discussion of contrasting points of view on controversial issues of public importance. Sounds benign, it even sounds noble. Who would be opposed to radio stations being fair and balanced? As a matter of fact, Fox News has made fair and balanced reporting an end unto itself, and now they are No. 1. So what’s the big deal?

Let me start by saying that building this website was the easy part of my goal to be a prominent political pundit/ talk show host. Granted I did get a 13 week taste of being a talk show host (see the “Radio Show Archives”). But let me tell you, building an audience for this site is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. It’s not easy finding that chemistry that clicks with all of you on a large scale. Chemistry of the sort that make you want to tell someone else about this site and keep you coming back can be quite elusive and for some hopelessly elusive. Now let us expand outwards to the bigger outfits; CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX, Radio ONE, Clear Channel, and on it goes. They spend a lot of money to get all of you (all of us) to tune in. In the broadcast industry your ear is everything. What am I trying to say? At such time in the future when I figure out that right chemistry that makes people in masses tune in, you can be sure that I will allow nothing to ruin that. Conservative Talk radio for whatever reason, has figured out that right chemistry, and liberal talk radio has not. The government now wants to tell me your humble host, that I must now after all my hard work, present a view that is known to have been rejected by you, for the goal of being fair and balanced. Well as I have said before, your ear is everything in media and advertisers only buy ad space based on how many ears are listening to their programming, not to mention the subjective nature of what constitutes fair and balanced programming. I for example, think that as a whole, there is balance in the media with the advent of conservative talk radio. And yet democrats in congress think things are so far out of wack, that we need a fairness doctrine.

Nat Hentoff, the prominent writer and civil liberties advocate, described his own ordeal under the old restrictions:

“I was in radio under the reign of the Fairness Doctrine, at WMEX in Boston in the 1940s and early 50s. We did not have any of the present-day contentious talk radio shows, but we covered politics and politicians. I was often the announcer for the mellifluous appearance of the legendary James Michael Curley (played by Spencer Tracy in The Last Hurrah). And we did offer political opinions on the air. I, for example, did so on my jazz and folk music programs.

Suddenly, Fairness Doctrine letters started coming from the FCC and our station’s front office panicked. Lawyers had to be summoned; tapes of the accused broadcasters had to be examined with extreme care; voluminous responses had to be prepared and sent. After a few of these FCC letters, our boss announced that there would be no more controversy of any sort on WMEX. We had been muzzled.”

This is the logical conclusion to the fairness doctrine: The removal of all things controversial and/or the loss of revenue to radio stations; basically the end of conservative talk radio. The democrats in congress know this and so what we have here is a direct violation of the first amendment – the government creating laws that violate free speech and freedom of the press. I fear that the new administration has such a deep hatred for how our country functions that they will stop at nothing to reshape it in their mold, even if it means shredding the constitution and silencing opposition. Please note that as of late, only talk radio will be affected by this new doctrine. If that doesn’t raise a flag for even the staunchest liberal, I don’t know what will. I wonder what Nancy Pelosi, Debbie Stabenow and Senator Tom Harkin would say if the republicans in congress introduced a fairness doctrine for the congress of the United States. That no matter how people vote in elections, congress shall always have equal number of democrats and republicans represent the people. Of course the democrats would object saying, well the people voted and we don’t want to mess with that. And to that foolish comment I would say, “Well the prominence of conservative talk radio represents a vote of the people and more importantly their free speech. If the American people decided tomorrow that they no longer want to listen to talk radio that is the moment conservative talk radio will end.

How long will it be before the government forces my pastor to preach atheism in our church? I want all of you to think about that thing in your life that is of benefit to you, that thing in your life that promotes your wellbeing. Now think of the government stepping in and dictating to you that you must now do the opposite with equal time. What would you say to that?

This is not strictly a conservative problem, this is your problem. Because what we have in the passing of this stimulus bill and now, talk about censoring descent, are the rudiments of an irreformable socialism. Stand guard my friends, stand guard!

Danian Michael
Political Agenda


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danian, you make some good points here. And this would be horrible for the already struggling radio business. Just like the new push by some in congress to have radio pay money to recording artists for playing their songs on the radio (even though that's one of the big ways their songs are exposed to the music buying public--and it used to be the ONLY way). Radio, like many businesses, is going through major trauma...and these congress people may think they are punishing some big "corporation" ...or the guys on top, or big pay check talk show hosts...but they will make the industry bleed even more jobs. Radio is cutting THOUSANDS of jobs both on air and off at a frenetic pace already. Jobs that feed families...and they want the companies to lose more money so they well cut even more jobs...all in the name of some pie in the sky ideals that are just not practical, but only cater to some part of their base. And even if either of these things was a viable idea...can we please wait until the economy is such that people can find jobs when they are displaced? It's very calous of them...these people who supposedly care about working folks.

February 19, 2009 at 6:44 AM  
Blogger Danian Michael said...


I heard about this new development. As I understand it; owners of the music being played on radio stations are compensated by the radio stations. And whatever contract the artist and the producer worked out, is how that money gets divided up. Now a few in congress want to create a new law forcing the radio stations to pay the artist also. The radio stations will be paying twice in essence.

When liberal people think of big corporation all they see is a bunch of overpaid executives; never the hard working people who work for those corporations. They don't care about the jobs being cut, the "corporations" must be taken down. And what compounds the problem is that there are no adults in Washington anymore, no one with any self control.

We really need to vote all these guys out and we need to do it yesterday.

Great information Anonymous.

February 19, 2009 at 2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't argue with you on this one, Danian. Everyone has the option to listen to the station they desire or to turn the radio off. I can't stand listening to Limbaugh, Hannity, and some of the other conservative talk shows that rant and rave. Some are more intellectual and open-minded and I'll tune those in occassionally. Your site fits this mold.
- Tom

February 23, 2009 at 3:39 PM  
Blogger Danian Michael said...


As a matter of fact, Americans have been turning on and off their radios for a long time now. I know I don't want the government turning of my radio.

Thank you for the compliment; I don't want to be the next Sean Hannity or the next Limbaugh, I just want to be Danian Michael and I would like the freedom (apart from government)to pursue that goal.

February 24, 2009 at 10:24 AM  

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