Walden Takes a Bold Stand Against Fairness | The Wandering Eye | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
The Source Weekly’s reporting is made possible by the power of your support. Be a part of it!
Pin It

Walden Takes a Bold Stand Against Fairness 

Our own Congressman Greg Walden is carrying the conservative banner against attempts to reinstate the broadcasting "Fairness Doctrine."

Our own Congressman Greg Walden is carrying the conservative banner against attempts to reinstate the broadcasting "Fairness Doctrine."

At a press conference in Washington this week, the Oregon Republican and Rep. Mike Pence, a Republican from Indiana, introduced the "Broadcaster Freedom Act," an attempt to legislatively block the Federal Communications Commission from re-imposing the doctrine, which required radio and TV programming to maintain at least a semblance of political balance.

"The founders would spin in their graves at the thought of the government censoring speech on many of today's radio and television stations," Walden said in a prepared statement on his website. "Yet that's just what some Democratic leaders seem to be after. Whether as a throwback to the old Fairness Doctrine or under a less controversial guise, any effort to exert government control over speech on the airwaves is an insult to the principles behind the First Amendment."

The Fairness Doctrine was instituted in 1949 and remained in force until 1985, when Ronald Reagan's FCC repealed it. The doctrine didn't require broadcasters to provide equal time to opposing views, simply to give opposing views some airtime.

Walden and other conservatives like to portray the doctrine as an infringement of freedom of speech and of the press, but that's a distortion. Under the Fairness Doctrine broadcasters were free to air any point of view they chose - they just were obliged to give a nod to other points of view.

In applying the First Amendment, American courts have long recognized a distinction between the print media - which pay for their own printing presses and their own paper - and broadcast media, which use a finite, publicly owned resource (the airwaves). The idea behind the Fairness Doctrine was to prevent broadcasters from using this resource to exclusively promote their own (or their advertisers') political agenda.

As the US Supreme Court put it in upholding the constitutionality of the Fairness Doctrine in 1969: "A [broadcast] licensee has no constitutional right ... 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."

Despite the huffing and puffing from conservatives about "censorship," it's simply not true that the Fairness Doctrine censored anybody or prevented conservative opinions from being heard. "Indeed, the talk show format was born and flourished while the doctrine was in operation," writes Steve Rendall of the progressive watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). "Before the doctrine was repealed, right-wing hosts frequently dominated talk show schedules, even in liberal cities, but none was ever muzzled. The Fairness Doctrine simply prohibited stations from broadcasting from a single perspective, day after day, without presenting opposing views."

Although a good logical and constitutional case can be made for renewing the Fairness Doctrine, it seems unlikely to happen any time soon. President-elect Barack Obama has said he has no interest in doing it, and Walden's bill has 130 co-sponsors.

Pin It

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Coyote Willow @ Crosscut - Warming Hut No. 5

Coyote Willow @ Crosscut - Warming Hut No. 5 - Crosscut Warming Hut No 5

Wed., June 29, 6-8 p.m.
Submitting an event is free and easy.

Newsletter Signup

Get Central Oregon daily news
directly in your inbox

Get Social

Latest in The Wandering Eye

  • Moonshine Magic in Bend Still on the Down Low

    • Aug 9, 2012
    Get ready for our great close-up on the home distilling community out next week in our "Best of" issue. We interviewed a mixed bag of legal and anarchist distillers in Bend to find out why distilling is so very, very against the law in one's home. More »
  • The Eye Wanders Off Into the Sunset

    • Dec 26, 2010
    I’m really sorry to break the bad news to them during this season of peace and goodwill, but after this week the right-wingers in Bend and vicinity won’t have The Wandering Eye to kick around anymore. The decision to stop writing this blog was my own, and it was prompted by several factors. More »
  • DADT, Gay-Bashing and the "Icky-ness" Factor

    • Dec 19, 2010
    For the past week or so, “Zeo” of the NW Republican blog has had his jock strap in a knot over the prospect of Congress repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” rule. To hear Zeo tell it, if DADT is repealed and gays are allowed to serve openly in the US military it will mean the end not only of our armed forces but of America, its economic system and civilization in general. More »
  • More »

More by The Source Staff

Want to advertise with us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here

© 2022 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA AVE, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation