Monday, November 24, 2008

Fairness Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

McIlheran, going along with the rest of the herd (or do squawkers come in flocks?) had a column in yesterday's paper regarding Sykes' favorite bogeyman, the Fairness Doctrine. He then followed up said column (hey, Paddy, how come I'm still not on your mailing list? Where's my previews of your column?) with an inane blog post, which gives away the other main reason for the column/post/fear mongering.

There are two main problems with his argument.

The first problem, as pointed out at The Chief, is that there is no realistic expectation that the Fairness Doctrine will ever be reinstated. After listing the fact that both McIlheran and the author he cites admit that President Elect Barack Obama has come out on record as opposing the Fairness Doctrine, the Chief continues with this:
But, of course, it's not the end of the story -- not so far as Anderson and McIlheran are concerned. Instead of just accepting Obama's position -- a position both gentlemen agree with -- both men seem the astonishing: absent any evidence to back up their claim -- and contrary to the very official statement released by the campaign, they promote the idea that Obama does, in fact, support the fairness doctrine.

This breach of good faith argumentation genuinely makes my head ache.

Where are the secret memos advising legislators to unleash the Fairness Doctrine bills in the next congress? What about the discretely recorded speeches at fund-raisers with Obama telling liberal contributors that the first thing he's going to do is shut down Rush Limbaugh and the rest of his ilk? Were are the college classmates who remember Obama arguing passionately in his Intro to Comm Law class for the reinstatement of the Doctrine?

Anderson's article, which McIlheran merely appropriates, offers absolutely no evidence to support his claim that Obama actually support the Fairness doctrine. Instead, Anderson glosses over what the broadcasting industry would look like if it were reinstated. No substance, but plenty of tangentially related speculation.

Absent any empirical evidence to the contrary, the only thing we have to go on is Obama's word, which neither Anderson nor McIlheran seem satisfied with, which might strike some as odd since Obama's position is also Anderson and McIlerhan's position!

I think we all know why this is the case: it's better to be on the offensive -- and to smite one's enemies -- than to expend valuable column inches on defending, justifying, or admonishing one's colleagues with regards to the phenomenal failure the party and ideology has been during the last eight years.

That would take a degree of intellectual courage that McIlheran frankly doesn't have the balls for.
Do read the rest of the post by The Chief, in which he goes on to put a spit through Sykes, and roasts him nicely.

Jay Folkbum, aka Jay Bullock, points to the real motivation behind PaddyMac's lamentation - profit making by a colleague:
The idea frightens talk radio radio hosts, as well as it should, since by the hosts' own admission, they often will purposely keep the objects of their attack off the air even when the victims try to call in and offer their side of the argument.

However, the fairness doctrine is not coming back. President-elect Barack Obama does not support it. There are no bills pending in Congress, which, frankly, has better things to do. TNR reporter Marin Cogan couldn't find anyone willing to go on or off record suggesting the doctrine's return is anything but fantasy. The last time anyone introduced the idea, it barely got out of draft form. It's just not going to happen.

But that hasn't stopped the right from believing it will--just as they seem to believe that Barack Obama is coming for their guns.


Yes, friends, someone is out there trying to sell a book opposing the fairness doctrine. Like Hugh Hewitt's How Sarah Palin Won the Election ... and Saved America, a book on the return of the fairness doctrine is a book about an imaginary thing, and won't sell very well unless the authors' allies can really gin up the fear for them. Bravo, authors Anderson and Thierer, for working the market like pros. Boo McIlheran, for shilling for them.
So, you see, it's not that Paddy and Charlie are afraid that they will not be able to continue to spew their vitriol. It's just that they realized that some of us still have a couple of bucks despite eight years of Bushonomics, and they want the rest of our money for themselves and their buddies.


  1. Squawkers come in 'Wrecks'. Take a look:

  2. I am of the mind that there are some reasons why the conservative talkers should be worried, but in the end, there is probably nothing to worry about.
    There have been plently of Democrats who want to have the fairness (censorship) doctrine. Pelosi, the guy from New Mexico and more.
    However, if they try and bring it up, it would be political suicide. You talk about getting the right riled up, this would do it. It would be the talking points for weeks and the commercials that would be produced would just about kill any momentum that Obama/Democrats would have. It would be stupid to bring it up.
    Besides, the censorship doctrine is probably unconstitutional and it would be in the court system for years.

  3. How is it censorship, Dan? Seriously. I'm curious to your reason(s) for characterizing the Fairness Doctrine that way. Nobody's speech is being censored.