Kucinich: Congress to pursue media fairness doctrine

The Presidential candidate said that the committee would be holding "hearings to push media reform right at the center of Washington.

No votes yet

Also in consideration is the "Fairness Doctrine," which required broadcasters to present controversial topics in a fair and honest manner.

As much as I might hate listening to a broadcaster spewing bullshit, this type of law is sickening.

I see that they refer to individuals as "broadcasters" in order to encompass reporters and talk-show hosts...hmmmm....

Now that is going to be a shoot-out. Nothing like a Presidential candidate to make for a tenacious adversary. And the FCC has never come under attack like this...

If you're here to tell me it's my fault - you're right. I meant to do it. It was alot of fun. That's why I have this happy smile on my face.

Yes, bring it back.

I listened to one of the Congressional supporters of the fairness doctrine on Hannity yesterday. His case made absolutely no sense whatsoever. His opinion was that Americans don't have the ability to hear both sides of an issue, and this is at a time that Americans have more options than ever to hear varying viewpoints.

And I have a question about implementation; who determines what side of an issue needs to be discussed? When covering Martin Luther King Day would this law require all news shows and political commentary shows to include a segment on the benefits of segregation? What about a show that discusses American capitalism? Who they also have to include someone who wishes we would turn to communism? What about during election time when there are hundreds of candidates (think of the CA recall vote a few years ago)? Would a radio host have to mention all 231 candidates if he wanted to talk about one in particular? There are so many viewpoints out there that there is no way all of them could be presented on a single show. This law will necessitate that judgements of validity be made to these various opinions, but who will determine what should and shouldn't be presented? If it's a Democrat you'd better believe they won't force a radio station to cover the Republican point of view, and if it's a Republican you'd better believe they won't force a radio show to cover the Democratic point of view.

A law such as this would also require private citizens fund an opposing point of view. For example, Rush Limbaugh and Al Franken would be forced to give equal time to someone countering their positions. In a supposedly free country the government is going to force individuals to present an idea they don't agree with? How is that freedom? Who's to say they aren't going to do the same to all the bloggers on the internet? Why couldn't they do the same thing to newspaper editorial pages? Let's outlaw any newpaper endorsements for candidates because it doesn't give equal time to the opposing candidate!!!!

This is a law that takes away freedoms, and I can't believe people don't see that. This is a horrible idea that destroys freedome of expression and is unconstitutional the way I see it. This sounds like something Iran or Syria would do to limit the ability of the minority to make its voice heard.

The Fairness Doctrine is hardly a new idea. It was in place from the inception of the FCC until 1987, when Reagan got rid of it. It is not unconstitutional--in fact the Supreme Court in 1969 UPHELD it's constitutionality. In fact, in has been said that it ADVANCES First Amendment values. It doesn't take away freedoms, it protects against monopolizing the airwaves and allows both sides to be heard.

Here's an interesting article on the subject:


Pink Slip

If you want true fairness, then make it easier for people to to exercise their free speech - don't try to regulate their speech by telling them that they must present a 'balanced view.'

When government begins to determine what is fair and what constitutes "balance" in the information we can present, we're all in trouble.

We must all remember that government is comprised of people...who are fallible and have their own biases. What the 'fairness doctrine' is really saying is that some person is going to be responsible for making decisions about what information we receive. And that raises the next question - 'who watches the watchers?'

I would rather having people who are held accountable (i.e. gov't officials) to We the People help provide balanced coverage, than having corporate media (Sinclair Broadcasting, Clear Channel, etc) determine what we hear on the airwaves. The myth of "big gov't" is based on lies, so that corporate america determines how we live our lives. I repeat, government officials are held accountable by WE THE PEOPLE. The Fairness Doctrine doesn't supress opinions, rather it allow boths sides to be heard so the public can make informed opinions. Sounds like Democracy to me. I applaud Dennis Kucinich for bringing this up. Now, if we could just get to the meat of the problem with gov't--- public campaign financing, we'd all be better off.

And to the person who called CNN leftwing, then why is Glenn Beck have a CNN show?

Pink Slip

The Fairness Doctrine does not apply to movies, books, newspapers, cable tv, etc. I believe it applies only to radio airwaves, which have been deemed a public trust (We the People own them). Here's the Supreme Court's view of the Doctrine:

"A license permits broadcasting, but the licensee has no constitutional right to be the one who holds the license or to monopolize a... frequency to the exclusion of his fellow citizens. There is nothing in the First Amendment which prevents the Government from requiring a licensee to share his frequency with others.... It is the right of the viewers and listeners, not the right of the broadcasters, which is paramount."

"Monopolize the airwaves"--sounds exactly like what we have now. All you have to do is turn on the radio for proof.

Pink Slip

"fair and honest" is subjective. Why don't you just say "seperate and equal"? That's just as subjective.

Fair to one might not seem as fair to another. Honest to one doesn't seem as honest to another.

A neo-nazi may think Fox News is Moderate and NBC as far left leaning. On the reverse a PETA terrorist may see Fox as the newborn version of the Klan and NBC as moderate.

How do we judge with such subjective terms?



It isn't about who determines what's "fair and balanced", it's about allowing equal time to both sides of an issue--rather than suppressing one side

Pink Slip

NO. No, no, no.

It's about your thinking you are in a position to make such determinations. Well, you aren't. Neither is Congress.

I was asked what it meant when you called someone a 'Nanny'. I replied that it is a reference to a person with such an overblown ego that they think (erroneously), that they are in a position to decide what everyone else can and cannot do. Basically, all the real, true egotistical dickheads.

And the First Amendment closes your attempt at a Nanny position quite nicely:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

If you're here to tell me it's my fault - you're right. I meant to do it. It was alot of fun. That's why I have this happy smile on my face.

Definition of 'abridge'.....

Main Entry: abridge
Pronunciation: &-'brij
Function: transitive verb

'to reduce in scope : DIMINISH http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/abridge

If you're here to tell me it's my fault - you're right. I meant to do it. It was alot of fun. That's why I have this happy smile on my face.

Then who determines what must be presented? What would they do in an instance like the California recall election when there were 300 candidates? Does the government (this won't be decided by elected officials either, it will be decided by life-long employees) decide which candidates are warranted equal-time? How will they determine that? When Michigan was voting on affirmative action in November, would the Skinheads be given equal time to present their view? If not, why not? Is their view not also protected by the First Amendment? If so wouldn't the government be obligated to allow them their time?

What will happen is the government will deem certain opinions unworthy of consideration. In an environment where the Fairness Doctrine rules, how will little-known political opinions ever be presented to the public? How would the Libertarian Party or Reform Party or Green Party ever get airtime and the ability to compete for open seats? The Fairness Doctrine might give equal time to the mainstream Republican and Democratic views, but the political world is much larger than the mainstream of either party.

Secondly, because something was ruled constitutional in 1969 doesn't mean it would stand up in another SCOTUS opinion this time around. At one time Jim Crow laws and separate-but-equal laws were considered constitutional, but we all know Brown vs. Board of Education did away with those. There have been major advances in how the media projects itself to the public, and no one can honestly say any an idea is unreachable by the public. It is entirely possible for SCOTUS to rule (correctly) that the Fairness Doctrine is unconstitutional because it forces individual citizens to give up their rights to freedom of speech.

I feel like I'm on Green Acres, and I'm Eddie Albert.

The Supreme Court ruled unamimously that The Fairness Doctrine did NOT violate the First Amendment, but rather it ADVANCES the values of the First Amendment.

When The Fairness Doctrine is not enforced, that's when free speech is muzzled--not the other way around. The airwaves are owned by the public (you and I), and thus can legally be shared.

Pink Slip

Answer my question about enforcement. Who's going to determine what is a legitimate opinion? That's a real issue and one that affects minority view free speech.

Hey Hey, the stations would only be obligated to provide reasonable opportunity for opposing view on controversial topics. They wouldn't have to provide "equal time" to every candidate in the California recall election for example. On the Michigan Affirmative Action bill, if a station only had programs that advocated one position, then I believe a citizen group could call the station requesting time to provide their opposing view (for instance, in a news program, public affairs show, editorial, etc). As long as they provided a "reasonable opportunity for presentation of opposing points of view".

Pink Slip

while the First Amendment says: ""Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

He can tell ya' how to get around that pesky lil' ole problem.

Listen...there's a new breeze......

If you're here to tell me it's my fault - you're right. I meant to do it. It was alot of fun. That's why I have this happy smile on my face.

kate, you can quote the First Amendment all you want. I know it well. You however have not stated how you think The Fairness Doctrine actually violates it.

Pink Slip

Not that I was trying to paint you as a Socialist.....far from it....


If you're here to tell me it's my fault - you're right. I meant to do it. It was alot of fun. That's why I have this happy smile on my face.

"The airwaves are owned by the public (you and I), and thus can legally be shared." The government doesn't "own" the airwaves. They took control of the airwaves. There is a difference. The government would only "own" the airwaves if they created them. They didn't create anything.

Furthermore the money that radio stations pay for their licenses is used to fund National Public Radio. This was done as a way to ensure that competing viewpoints recieved airtime.

Now NPR should be kept under the fiarness doctrine because that is government's representation in radio but as far as the government telling businesses what they should or should not put on the air that is clearly an infringment of that organizations rights to broadcast their message.

Freedom of speech is not only the right to say whatever you want it is also the freedom to not say what you want.



The public doesn't own the airwaves either. They are as free as the air you breathe. By your justification the government should regulate the air you breath as well "for the common good" because I could argue that your air is cleaner and I have a right to it. Or why not an "air tax" so that those areas with cleaner air can pay to clean up the air in other areas? How much is your air worth to you?

"There's nothing in the First Amendment stating these public airwaves can't be shared, and as part of the licensing agreement, it should be expected that these public commons be shared."

We have no problem with sharing airwaves. If Air America wants to broadcast in Toledo it has a right to. It can buy a license there and broadcast and there is no infringment. However telling WSPD that they need to eliminat Rush Limbaugh's show for Al Franken's because they have Glenn Beck on in the morning is a clear infringment of WSPD's right to say what they want.



Clean air is not free. If not for the efforts of tax-supported EPA, that air you breathe wouldn't be so clean. Your history of NPR is a little sketchy...it is not a radio station...it's a distributor of content. Stations that carry NPR decide what NPR content to air or not. And it's privately funded (only 1-2% funding from gov't). And it doesn't always offer opposing viewpoints--as I remember, they were very pro-Iraq war. It's not like someone can just provide NPR with an opposing viewpoint--the radio station affiliate still decides what content to air.

Pink Slip

I realized some years ago that something like the Fairness Doctrine is itself an anathema to the American way of life, inasmuch as it affects the foundation of American culture. Sure, the Doctrine sounds good, doesn't it? After all, who doesn't like and promote "fairness"? However, America started out with biased news media from the beginning. And that strongly suggests that the Doctrine is a bad move for the continued operation of the Republic.

It's inescapable that in accordance with freedom of speech and the press, one is actually free to opine, even lie outright. Who's to really say what's a bad opinion or even a lie, if such opinion really can't be uttered in its own medium in the first place? From that stance, we can then see that We The People have the moral responsibility to not let liars mislead us without opposition. That opposition is ... more speech, of course. We're then perfectly free to opine ourselves in outlets we have our own access to.

Don't get me wrong; an outlet as outrageously bad as Fox News ("all the news that's right-- rightwing") should not have all the privileges it has, and the same applies to any other news outlet that censors the news in such ways. But largely, if Rupert Murdoch really wants to buy an FCC license to spew his wingnuttery, then the public interest has been well enough served by such a subscription. There are always more frequencies for the Air Americas of the nation to try to get their OWN view out into the public eye and ear. With the Internet, we have even more options (albeit more limited in audience).

I suppose Michael Moore will have to direct "fair and balanced" movies too?

it's good to see you're using an unbiased website for the reference.

Hey Hey, according to what I have read from a fair.org article "it did not require that each program be internally balanced, nor did it mandate equal time for opposing points of view. And it didn

Pink Slip

Okay - so if the airwaves can be shared, then let someone develop a show and let the market determine whether or not it's successful. Why should the government get to mandate that a company provide a product that causes them to lose money? That was the main issue with Air America...

Pink - based upon your understanding of "reasonable opportunity," how would such a doctrine work in our local market?

Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levine (two syndicated talk show hosts on WSPD) have differing opinions on topics...or does this only apply to local programming and not to syndicated shows?

Pink - may I suggest that, since "Congress can make no law...abridging the freedom of speech" that to dictate to anyone - including a media outlet - that they MUST include a view other than their own, they've just abridged the freedom to speak. Sort of 'you can say what you want, but you must also ensure that anyone who disagrees with you also gets the same exposure.' Many would say 'I took the time, effort and made the investment to share my viewpoint - you can do the same. But there's no guarantee of success.'

I think that many see this as government mandating not just equal access, but equal outcome: that is...anyone can put together a show and try to market it. If it's a good show and people like what the host says/does, it will attract advertisers and be successful, eventually being syndicated and widely distributed. However, if people don't like it, aren't willing to advertise on it, etc...it won't be successful. Many think that the FD is just a way to mandate that unsuccessful shows/messages/hosts are ensured an audience...

Besides, what if I don't want to present the other side of an issue? Isn't that my perogative under freedom of speech? If a talk show host wants to express a particular opinion, the government can't abridge that freedom. If a company wants to present a conservative or a liberal perspective in their selection of talk show hosts, the government can't abridge their freedom to do so.

I think that's how people see the Fairness Doctrine as being contrary to the Constitution - regardless of SCOTUS rulings... That, and the fear of WHO (usually some bureaucrat in DC) gets to decide what is 'fair.'

Mikeya, I never said the government owned the airwaves. In fact, you quoted me as saying "the public owns the airwaves" Congress set up exclusive licenses to prevent signals interferring with each other. The FCC acts as a trustee. And as a public commons, licenses were (and still should be) granted to "to serve the public interest". There's nothing in the First Amendment stating these public airwaves can't be shared, and as part of the licensing agreement, it should be expected that these public commons be shared.

Pink Slip

We do regulate the air, with the EPA. And it's funded with the taxes we pay.

"If Air America wants to broadcast in Toledo it has a right to. It can buy a license there and broadcast and there is no infringment."

I don't know that it's that easy. There may not be an available frequency in this area

"However telling WSPD that they need to eliminat Rush Limbaugh's show for Al Franken's because they have Glenn Beck on in the morning is a clear infringment of WSPD's right to say what they want."

I don't think it would work that way. I doubt that Al Franklin would call WSPD to request a chance to provide an "opposing viewpoint". He has his own show.

Pink Slip

Rightwing media? Hey give me a break. The news has been dominated by the leftwing media for as long as I can remember. Along comes cable news and begins to balance out the news with rightwingers and you liberals begin to cry. CNN...leftwing,fox....rightwing. Pick your poison.

"All evil and unhappiness in this world comes from the I-concept."

"All evil and unhappiness in this world comes from the I-concept."

So with this definition, the government mandates what the stations must broadcast.

If this is such a good idea, why not apply it to all media, instead of just radio?

If fairness in presentation is the goal, why not mandate that the NYTimes editorial page (not syndicated columnists) offer balanced views? (or any newspaper or tv show, for that matter).

The simple matter is that the 'Fairness Doctrine' only applies to the conservative viewpoints needing to be "balanced" in radio...I suspect it's because of the 'slant' you find in radio talk shows.

Conservatives have been complaining for a long time about the 'liberal bias' in the mainstream media. However, their solution wasn't to mandate what needed to be broadcast - rather, they eliminated such requirements and opened up the market. The result was that MSM continued in their 'liberal biases' and conservatives found a home in talk radio. Some would say that talk radio IS the balance to other media...

Besides, with today's technology, people have access to all kinds of views, opinions and news sources. I see no need for government to try to control the market.

Here's an example of how it worked when it was enforced:

"In 1982 WTVH-TV in Syracuse, New York, ran ads promoting the Nine Mile II nuclear power plant as a "sound investment for New York's future." The Syracuse Peace Council asked for time to point out that the plant, originally budgeted at $400 million, had by then cost $5.1 billion and was far from a sound investment. The station appealed to the FCC, which ruled that WTVH must air the opposing point of view"

Locally, I think it may work something like this---If a local station took a controversial subject (like a bikepath, or a new arena) and continually railed about how bad it was, and only presented one side, then a group who was in favor of it could call the station and ask to present thier side.

Would you see that as taking away someone's right?

Pink Slip

Mag--you can't think of radio the same as print media. "Unlike publishing, where the tools of the trade are in more or less endless supply, broadcasting licenses are limited by the finite number of available frequencies. Thus, as trustees of a scarce public resource, licensees accept certain public interest obligations in exchange for the exclusive use of limited public airwaves."

"That, and the fear of WHO (usually some bureaucrat in DC) gets to decide what is 'fair.'"

There you go again with anti-government statements...bureaucrats in DC are at least accountable to We the People, aren't they?

Pink Slip

"We do regulate the air, with the EPA. And it's funded with the taxes we pay." Yes but using the clean air is free and open to anyone. The airwaves used to be but are not free anymore.

The government took control of the airwaves to basically create more opportunites for others to use them. When obtaining a license wasn't an option then those others could turn to NPR to broadcast their show.

NPR is what was created to give a voice to "opposing viewpoints". Unless if they've been oppressing viewpoints then there is no need to make others provide other viewpoints. It is where our tax dollars go. Not to the private companies who also broadcast views. It's NPR and NPR alone who should comply with the fairness doctrine.



Once you learn to read, you'd realize that that is essentially what I said. I said the Fairness Doctrine doesn't serve American liberty. Even an outrageous lie network like Fox News serves the public interest since even extreme rightwingnuttery is the right of the license holder (in this case, Rupert Murdoch). What you recall from all your early days was some leftwing bias in the news establishment. ANY BIAS is bad, as long as it is enforced. But bias is GOOD as long as We The People have a choice in biased outlets. Other than continued injustices like self-censorship of investigative reporters, that is what we have now, without the Fairness Doctrine.

The Fairness Doctrine could have given us that choice by force, but as you implied, that really didn't work, now, did it? Once again, the basis for the American model of liberty did not mislead us; we just forgot it for some time. Wiser now, it's just good sense to accept the use of that model. The Fairness Doctrine should remain dead ... no matter how much Limbaugh enjoys American soldiers torturing people, or how much Moore ignores the 2nd Amendment, or how much power the Anti-Smoking Nazis accumulate, etc. The actual fairness of our media system is up to us to establish as watchers and investors.

Maggie, The Fairness Doctrine only applies to airwaves, which are publically-owned...not print media like newspapers. Radio frequencies are limited. "liberal bias in MSM"?? You've got to be kidding

Pink Slip

no, pink, I don't think bureaucrats are accountable to us...they work for the elected officials and only the elected officials are accountable to the people. You can infer accountability, but many of these individuals are protected in their jobs by unions, civil service rules, etc...(not saying that they should or shouldn't be protected, but we can't fire someone because we don't like their decisions - like we can with elected officials)

When push comes to shove, my concern is that an individual sitting in an office somewhere will have to decide if an entity has complied with the law. Such a law will be arbitrary based upon perspectives. (see my comment about you thinking MSM isn't liberal while many others do - versus thinking FOX is conservative while many others see it as balanced)

Even our perspectives about what constitutes 'fair' would be different, I'd guess...so either the law will be so complicated as to be impossible because of trying to accommodate all types of circumstances, or it will be more general in nature and rely upon the discretion of the enforcer - a bureaucratic agency - for decisions.

Either way...I go back to the powers specifically granted to our federal government and don't see the ability to dictate (and that's what's happening) content...

and pink - please stop saying that I'm anti government. I resent that you're trying to classify me in this way.

I'm against the expansion of government powers...not anti government. Government has a legitimate role in our society...but that role is limited.

Very true GZ. Mr. Kucinich should make Mr. Finkbeiner is running mate since they both enjoy the platform of removing first amendment rights of the press.



pink - that's why 'liberal bias in MSM' is in quotes....

Interesting how liberals think Fox is biased and conservatives think MSM is biased...

And we expect that we'll get FAIRNESS from a government bureaucrat? Your questioning of this phrase proves the point of concern about WHO will decide what is fair...

I think it would actually be pretty easy to determine if a station had complied. All they would have to do is show that they allowed time for an opposing view. We don't have to quibble about the meaning of "fairness". The Fairness Doctrine worked for 40-50 years, before the Reagan administration squelched it during the "deregulation craze", and thus silencing a large portion of America all in the name of corporatocracy

Pink Slip

"Fairness" is a subjective term, agreed. However, if you instead think of "opposing viewpoints" it becomes a little clearer

Pink Slip

I can find a room with 100 people and get 100 viewpoints. Are all entitled to broadcast? Seems to me the evening news would be an all day affair.



It doesn't work that way. They wouldn't have to provide equal time to anyone with an opinion. Only to show that they allowed time for "an opposing view on a controversial topic"

Pink Slip

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.