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The Bill Press Doctrine

Thursday, February 12, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

My old pal, lefty Bill Press, jeeps inviting Democratic senators on his radio show and getting them to speak kindly about the return of the patently unconstitutional Fairness Doctrine. (Yes, I know about Red Lion. I teach it. It came down before satellite radio and the internet destroyed the already lame idea that scarcity in available spectrum allowed for content non-neutrality by the government.)

Bill joined me on the program yesterday and, predictably, dodged the most obvious question about the operation of any “new and improved” Fairness Doctrine: Do stations that air criticism of al Qaeda have to air voices that favor mass terror? Do opponents of Hamas have to be balanced with admirers of Hamas? Does every sermon preached by a religious broadcaster have to be followed by an equal amount of time devoted to one of the new atheists?

The idea that the government can referee and balance viewpoint is an absurd cover for the liberal left that, having dominated public radio, broadcast television and MSM print for decades, finds it difficult to spread its already over-saturated messages into AM radio. Having captured so much of the market, it is hard to find new customers for the same old product available 24/7 on or in NPR/NBC/The New York Times etc.

The constitutionally-suspect nature of the drive for “balance” may not deter the Congressional left, but using a position of dominant political power to attempt to silence critics would unleash a huge blowback and not just from listeners, but from all Americans who would recoil from the idea that majorities would be used to silence opposition.

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