Fairness Doctrine Watch, or Newspaper Publishers for Stronger Government Control of the Media

1. Commenter “Suzanne” thought my characterization of those attempting to connect the events leading to the firing of Don Imus to the movement to restore the fairness doctrine as having an agenda of getting the government to “limit the expression of certain viewpoints in order to promote civility” was unfair.
Well, here is Henry Brandt Ayers, publisher of the Anniston Star, an Alabama newspaper that has been named as one of the Columbia Journalism Review’s top 30, commenting on Imus and the fairness doctrine…

The Reagan era seems to be ending. A new president and Congress have an opportunity to refresh public debate and restore civility in a renewed Fairness Doctrine. Call it the Imus Act.
If that is not a call for content-regulation of media by the government, i.e. limiting how much of a certain viewpoint is allowed to be broadcast, in order to promote civility, then what is it?
2. Bizarrely, Mr. Ayres argues that one reason we need viewpoint regulation of broadcast media is to restore the faded credibility of print media…
Once the standards of good taste and fair play were removed, the way to be heard above the clamor of perpetual news was to shout louder, to make ever more outrageous statements. A confused public turned cynical, doubting the veracity of all news media.
In 1985, just 16 percent of the public gave low credibility ratings to their daily newspaper; by 2004 that number had nearly tripled to 45 percent.
Print media credibility improves, by definition, when people feel that newspapers are dealing it down the middle. Media credibility has suffered because people sense that the professional culture of journalism encourages a certain, usually leftward, slant on the news.
Given his position, Mr. Ayers should consider how much his call for voices on the right to be more strongly regulated by the government does to convince people that the fabled liberal bias in the media does not exist. Is print media credibility really damaged more by competition from broadcast media than it is by newspaper publishers who openly advocate for government enforcement of a certain slant on the news?
3. Even before l’affaire Imus, a bill to restore the fairness doctrine had been introduced in Congress. One supporter of the Senate version of the bill is Bernard Sanders of Vermont, a self-described socialist who caucuses with the Democrats. This brings America its least surprising headline of the year…
Socialist favors stronger government control of media.
I guess ya’ get what ya’ vote for.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.