Donald Trump Wants ‘Equal Time’ on TV – And the Unintended Reason That’s a Fantastic Idea

It wouldn’t be Saturday morning without Donald Trump posting a flurry of frantic Tweets. True to form, his latest Twitter tantrum unleashed a stream of nonsense with more tedious swipes at the media. As usual he’s upset that there are reports that he considers negative. He’s right. But it isn’t the fault of the media that he screws up so much.

Donald Trump

This week the news about Trump included his troubles with White House staff, and particularly Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. NBC had multiple inside sources that heard Tillerson call Trump a “moron.” Trump further embarrassed himself by insulting victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. And he recklessly implied hostile intentions to both North Korea and Iran. If there was positive news about him last week it would have been reported. Followed by inane suggestions that he was finally pivoting to become presidential. So absent any of the good news Trump craves, he tweeted this:

Poor Donald. He simply cannot abide the sort of mockery that every president has endured since the founding of the nation. While he virulently insults his foes as “crooked, crazy, sick,” etc., he whines about being the butt of jokes.

As for the substance of his tweets, is Trump asking for an equal amount of “unfunny and repetitive” material? Because that can certainly be arranged by his comedy surrogates, if not by himself. Secondly, are there really “more and more people” who want to see more of Trump on TV? And are they currently under a doctor’s supervision? Finally, did he end his second tweet with a question mark because even he isn’t sure WTF he means?

More to the point, it’s his remedy for this perceived offense that is most worrisome. He actually believes that the media give him less time than his liberal and Democratic opponents. Hence his proposal to invoke the Equal Time rules to restore balance. However, the evidence shows that Trump has received far more airtime than any other public figure. This was true during the election when he received nearly three times the coverage of any of his opponents. After his inauguration he continued to dominate the press, as reported in a study by the Shorenstein Center of Harvard University:

“President Trump dominated media coverage in the outlets and programs analyzed, with Trump being the topic of 41 percent of all news stories—three times the amount of coverage received by previous presidents. He was also the featured speaker in nearly two-thirds of his coverage.”

The real world data clearly contradicts Trump’s self-serving bitchfest. But it’s also notable that he is, once again, demonstrating that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The Equal Time Rule was intended prevent television stations from influencing the outcome of elections by favoring one candidate over another. It has nothing to do with airtime distribution when an election is not in progress. He may be thinking of the Fairness Doctrine, but the sainted Republican Ronald Reagan did away with that thirty years ago.

As is often the case, the motivation for these tweets by Trump was likely a segment on Fox News shortly before he tweeted. And speaking of Fox News, they would have an interesting dilemma if Trump got his way with regard to Equal Time. Fox News has distinguished itself as the PR division of the Trump administration. They are the closest thing to state-run television that America has ever known. If they were required to provide Equal Time to Democrats it would mean that half of their schedule would be taken over by the party they are devoted to destroying.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

So let’s let Trump have his way. Let’s actually have an accounting of the network airtime distribution and require networks to balance their coverage. In all likelihood, that would result in Democrats getting significantly more coverage on Fox News, and even some marginally more coverage on every other network. It would be a welcome change in the broadcast environment that either favors Trump or the ratings-friendly melodrama he generates. So bring it on, Donnie.

GOP Leader Seeks To Reverse Ban On Snipe Hunting

SnipeIn a speech at the Akron Sportsman’s Lodge, Republican House Speaker John Boehner promised local game stalkers that he would soon be taking up legislation to remove snipes from the endangered species list. This action is a prerequisite for granting permits for snipe hunts. Boehner told the appreciative audience that he has long advocated this measure and that he believes there is no justification for continuing to protect the elusive snipe.

In other legislative news, Boehner told the National Religious Broadcasters convention that the House would act to pass legislation that would ban any attempt to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. He told the NRB gathering that…

“…some members of Congress and the federal bureaucracy are still trying to reinstate – and even expand – the Fairness Doctrine. To them, it’s fair to silence ideas and voices they don’t agree with, and use the tools of government to do it. […] Our new majority is committed to seeing that the government does not reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.”

Speaker Boehner did not name any of the congressmen or bureaucrats that supposedly want to reinstate the Doctrine. He did not inform the group that there have been no bills introduced or hearings scheduled on the subject. He also did not mention that both President Obama and FCC Chairman Genachowski are both on record opposing reinstatement of the Doctrine. So Boehner is taking a courageous stand in opposition to something that nobody has proposed or is working on.

Boehner also spoke to the NRB about his opposition to Network Neutrality, or as he called it, “the Fairness Doctrine for the Internet.” In the process he repeatedly mischaracterized the matter as a “government takeover of the Internet.” His remarks were somewhat confusing as he sought to define the issue:

“It’s a series of regulations that empower the federal bureaucracy to regulate Internet content and viewpoint discrimination. The rules are written vaguely, of course, to allow the FCC free reign. The last thing we need, in my view, is the FCC serving as Internet traffic controller.”

Of course the truth is that Network Neutrality has nothing whatsoever to do with “content and viewpoint discrimination.” In fact, it is just the opposite as it’s only purpose is to preserve a purely non-discriminatory environment on the web. Not only does it not designate the FCC as a “traffic controller,” it prohibits the corporations who presently have that power from abusing it. Boehner’s position is to deny the FCC a magisterial role that isn’t in the initiative, but allow it for AT&T and Comcast.

To recap: Boehner wants to stop an Internet policy from doing something that it doesn’t do. He also wants to block a broadcast doctrine that no one is proposing. Those are tall orders that should keep him busy in the coming weeks and months while the nation is struggling to recover from an economic calamity and is crying out for solutions to stubborn problems like unemployment, the national debt, and enduring wars.

At least we can wish Boehner well on his snipe hunt – something with which he is apparently well acquainted.

Fox News Commits Censorship Against Itself

For much of the past year, Fox News squawking heads have bitterly complained that President Obama and his secret Muslim socialists have been plotting to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. Never mind that no one in the administration has advocated this, no one in the Congress has drafted legislation or even held hearings on the subject, and the President himself is on record opposing it. Nevertheless, the panic on the part of the right-wing mouth brigades is threatening to cause a Prozac shortage.

The fear expressed by these mongers is that free speech would be obliterated and the Constitution rendered moot. And we all know that the right has been a stalwart proponent of free expression, just ask the Dixie Chicks and Bill Maher – and Jon, the YouTube news junkie who has posted hundreds of Fox News clips under the name of News1news.

While Jon’s clips contained no added commentary, they were often segments in which Fox News personnel looked foolish. This was not Jon’s doing. He just posted the unadulterated video and the FoxPods acted naturally. Fox News has filed numerous complaints against Jon for copyright infringement, and now, YouTube has suspended Jon’s account and removed his videos.

Why would Fox do this? It certainly wasn’t because they were upset that their content was being recorded and distributed without their permission. They have not bothered to remove other Fox-owned content posted by sycophantic fans like TheRightScoop, BuckFarack, GlennBeckDailyClips and ConservativeNewMedia. But the liberally-inclined News1news has been shut down.

Granted, News Corp has been making noises lately about securing their content by charging Internet users and barring Google indexing (although to date it has been all talk and no action). But clearly this is not a case of protecting intellectual property. The selective nature of Fox’s legal actions prove that they are only interested in squelching liberals. Well, that and erasing the record of their dubious broadcasts, replete with lies and embarrassing behavior that reeks of anger, racism and ignorance.

Recently, Glenn Beck lost his bid to shut down a satirical web site with the name: The argument was that the public might confuse it with an official Beck site because the URL had the name Glenn Beck in it, along with 32 other characters. I wonder why they haven’t come after me. My URL has the name News Corp in it with only two additional letters. If they think the public is so stupid they would mistake the Beck parody site as official, what’s to stop those morons from thinking that I represent Rupert Murdoch?

What Fox is doing here is an unabashed curtailing of speech – THEIR OWN! They are prohibiting the dissemination of information and ideas based solely on political criteria. I wonder if the First Amendment advocates at Fox will now mount a campaign exposing Fox as anti-speech. What is it about their own broadcasts that they are seeking to hide from the public? Will Rush Limbaugh take to the air and lambaste Fox for destroying the American values of open dialogue and expression? If these hyper-alarmists are afraid of a Fairness Doctrine that exists only in their delusional imaginations, then shouldn’t they be doubly ascared of a cable news network that strongarms harmless citizens who are merely passing on the broadcasts of the very same cable news network?

Jon has created a new YouTube account under the name NewsPoliticsAmerica. Let’s see how long this one lasts.

Republicans Yearning For Fairness Doctrine At Healthcare Forum

For at least the past six months, conservative pundits and politicians have fashioned their fear of the Fairness Doctrine into an obsession. Despite the fact that liberals and Democrats, including the President, have expressly stated that they do not favor the Doctrine’s reinstatement, Republicans continue to scamper like frightened ducklings in the shadow of an enemy that doesn’t exist.

How ironic then, that it is the Republican Party and their media mouthpieces who are now crying foul and demanding fair treatment. The object of their scorn is the upcoming ABC News broadcast of a healthcare themed town hall held in the White House. The cry has gone out from the right that this is nothing more than an infomercial for Obamacare and further evidence that the media is “in the tank” for Obama.

There is good reason to maintain a general skepticism with regard to how the press will cover any event, but common sense demands that assessments be made based on what actually occurs and not on imaginary prognostications. How these critics can claim that they know what is going take place before the forum is held, I don’t know. But that is exactly what they are doing.

Immediately after ABC announced the program, the Republican National Committee fired off an indignant letter complaining that they were…

“…deeply concerned and disappointed with ABC’s astonishing decision to exclude opposing voices on this critical issue”

However, there was no such decision made by ABC. To the contrary, they clearly stated that multiple views would be represented and that the President’s policy proposals would be challenged. The RNC’s position went even further saying that…

“Today, the Republican National Committee requested an opportunity to add our Party’s views to those of the President’s to ensure that all sides of the health care reform debate are presented.”

How cute that the RNC now wants to ensure that all sides are presented, and that they believe the media has an obligation to provide this balance. That view has been parroted by everyone in the right-wing mediasphere. All of the usual suspects: Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Drudge, Hot Air, Human Events, and, of course, Fox News, have weighed in on this perceived violation of journalistic ethics. They have all agreed with the RNC’s demand that ABC provide equal time for their views and their spokespeople.

Setting aside for the moment that ABC has promised that there will be multiple views represented, why is this Republican demand not seen as an endorsement of the Fairness Doctrine? How do they reconcile their past abhorrence of fairness with their new found affinity for it?

The truth is, Republicans are only interested in fairness when they feel that they are the aggrieved party. They never mentioned it when Fox News presented infomercials for George Bush. It isn’t an issue when Dick Cheney gets wall-to-wall coverage to bash Obama. And it is wholly irrelevant in the context of the right’s domination of talk radio. But if a TV network should propose to question the President on one of the most important issues of the day, Republicans believe that the media should guarantee them a seat at the inquisitors table.

To illustrate the absurdity of their claims, try to imagine how Fox News would have handled this program. Would they have refused to come to the White House for such an event? Of course not. Any news enterprise would have jumped at this opportunity. Would they have invited Howard Dean to join their panel of reporters? Yeah, sure they would, and Hugo Chavez too. Would they have altered their programming plans to facilitate critics? Well, they never have before, so…..

The hypocrisy of Republicans pretending care about fairness is really only part of the story. In all likelihood, they are just attempting to work the refs. By complaining about bias they hope to influence ABC reporters to overcompensate by taking a harder line against the President’s policies. That’s a pretty good tactic that usually works, given the mushiness of the mainstream media. The RNC is also exploiting this issue to raise money, and have already sent out fund raising appeals tied to the ABC broadcast.

When this is all over, it will be interesting to see how the right-wing opponents of the Fairness Doctrine continue to justify their opposition. Scratch that. It won’t be the least bit interesting. They will just ignore this episode and act as if nothing has changed. That’s how hypocrites operate.

Rush Limbaugh: Obama Will Own The Media

Sean Hannity recently interviewed Rush Limbaugh and much was made of Limbaugh’s warning to Osama Bin Laden that, if he wanted to “demolish the America we know and love,” he had better hurry because “Obama’s beating them to it.” That was certainly worthy of attracting attention as a classic articulation of Limbaugh’s patently asinine opinion. However, there was another segment of the discussion that didn’t get much play despite being at least as disturbing and stupefying:

Limbaugh: “People ask me about the Fairness Doctrine all the time and I’ve been watching something here – newspapers are losing money. Advertising revenue is down, circulation. But radio companies, too, Sean. Television companies – their advertising revenues are down. Advertising as a whole is down.

Now, what happens if they have to file Chapter 11? What if all these radio companies can’t make their debt payments next year or the year after that and have to go Chapter 11? If Obama is controlling the banks and the banks then will or will not lend to the broadcasters and the newspapers to make them solvent, we could reach a point where Obama controls radio and TV, because he will own it by virtue of the banks he controls owning it.

This is a very stealth way – you don’t need the Fairness Doctrine. You don’t need localism. […] So, if you think that the media in this country cannot also be owned by Barack Obama, think again.”

So, just to break this down…Obama is somehow going to wind up owning all of the banks. Then, he will instruct the banks that he owns to attach conditions to any loans they make to failing media companies. Those conditions will, presumably, include the forced carriage of liberal programming and, perhaps, even the cancellation of programs like Limbaugh’s. In this way the Fairness Doctrine will have been implemented by stealth and Obama will emerge as the owner of all of the media, in addition to the banks, the auto manufactures, the health care providers, the United Nations, the World Wrestling Federation, and Disney World.

This is conspiracy theorism run amuck. Limbaugh is connecting dots that only exist in his OxyContin riddled brain. The right wing’s incessant paranoia with regard to the Fairness Doctrine – which no one is pursuing in Congress or regulatory agencies, and for which Obama has publicly stated his opposition – is warping their their judgment beyond any hope for normal human comprehension (see the related posts below). This obsession is threatening to turn their entire movement into either a political relic or a pathetic joke (most likely, both).

And I still can’t figure out why these people, who regard Obama as an incompetent who could not survive without his TelePrompter, are still terrified of his omnipotent evil genius that will subjugate them all to slavery were it not for the eternal vigilance of superheroes like Rushman and his Boy Hannity.

The Fairness Doctrine Of The Undead

Never mind that President Obama has repeatedly stated his opposition to the Fairness Doctrine.

Never mind that no one in congress has drafted, introduced, or advocated a bill reinstating the Fairness Doctrine.

Never mind that almost every liberal organization, including the most prominent media reform group, Free Press, has come out against reinstating the Fairness Doctrine.

Never mind that it’s been 20 years since anyone has taken an official action in support of the Fairness Doctrine.

The Fairness Doctrine is presently the most serious threat to the United States short of Al Qaeda.

And now we can add an actual vote to prohibit the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine – an overwhelming vote by a Democratic Senate of 87-11 – to the list of things that we can ignore because hysterical right-wingers STILL believe that the Fairness Doctrine is lurking just around the next bend in the road, waiting to pounce on their loudmouthed radio ranters and deflower the virtue of America.

In a bill aimed at giving the District of Columbia a vote in the House of Representatives (along with a new seat for Utah), the Broadcasters Freedom Act was added as an amendment. The text of this legislation prohibits the FCC from reimposing the terms of the Fairness Doctrine. The margin of approval for the amendment should put to rest any discussion that Democrats are endeavoring to bring back the Doctrine. It should be put to rest, but it won’t be. Republicans are so wedded to the fear they seek to generate with this issue that they will embrace it with all their might rather than recognize that they are battling a phantom.

This is not so much a case of a zombie doctrine rising from the dead, as it is the GOP reanimating a corpse for their own exploitation. Rush Limbaugh began raving about the return of the Doctrine almost as soon as the Senate had voted to prohibit it. And he did it in typical racist Limbaugh fashion. He attempted to explain that completely unrelated media reform measures like local programming, and ownership diversity, were really just new disguises for the Doctrine. On diversity, he described why that wouldn’t work saying that it would be faked by corporate schemers who…

“…would go down to the barrios of Los Angeles, and they would pick somebody out, ‘Hey, you, Hector, over here,’ and they’d put Hector in charge of the company…”

In that brief citation, Limbaugh managed to double down his dumbness. First, he insulted Latinos by implying that they are all residents of barrios and none are qualified to run a business. Second, he admitted that companies are too corrupt to entrust with minor social contrivances like obeying the law – companies like the one that employs Limbaugh.

So now there has been a vote, and everyone is on the record. But the Fairness Fairies are clapping as hard as they can and they refuse to let this go. Obviously, this will never end. No matter how many spikes pierce the heart of the Fairness Doctrine, delusional conservatives will exhume the body and pretend that it still lives.

Rush Limbaugh’s Ego Is Fatter Than He Is

President Barack Obama reiterated today that he is does not support the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. He said so previously, during the campaign, and has been consistent in this regard. That hasn’t stopped the hysterical ranting of rightist fear mongers who seek to use the issue to stir panic amongst the peasants, and to shake them down for contributions.

There are even reports of clandestine meetings between mysterious plotters in Congress and the FCC. The purpose of these cabals is to impose the evil specter of fairness on America. Never mind that the alleged FCC and congressional participants flatly denied that any such meetings took place – and, of course, that the President wouldn’t sanction it anyway.

It is, however, no longer sufficient for one to unequivocally state opposition to the Doctrine. The anti-Fairness fanatics now insist that such proclamations are simply not to be believed. The plotters are purposefully prevaricating to permit them to proceed with their plot. What’s more, they contend, without any evidence, that the threat now extends to cable TV and the Internet, mediums for which the Doctrine never applied. None of these accusations are supported by facts – or reality – they are just regurgitated repeatedly by right-wing conspiracy theorists.

At the top of that heap is Rush Limbaugh. On his radio program today, he rambled through all of the usual delusional blather about the Fairness Doctrine, but strayed into territory even further from sanity. He now says that ACORN is “gearing up to enforce the same type of restrictions on broadcasting that the Fairness Doctrine would require.” He doesn’t bother to explain when ACORN got into the media business. I guess they are just a proxy for anything these braying asses feel like wailing on. After falsely accusing ACORN of voter fraud, and blaming them for the mortgage meltdown, and asserting that they are behind the return of the Fairness Doctrine, I expect the next startling revelation will be their membership in Al Qaeda (A-Qaorn?).

But Limbaugh is not off the crazy train yet. In a grand feat of self-obsessed paranoia, Limbaugh imagines that his thoughts on the Fairness Doctrine are being stolen:

“The Wall Street Journal, two days ago, asked me for an op-ed on this. I submitted the op-ed this morning. It is an open letter to President Obama asking for clarity and definitive answer on — on censorship of the media. Now, I’m wondering. I am just wondering if somebody along the line did not leak my op-ed and the White House heard of it coming and they want to preempt its publication.”

That’s the Wall Street Journal – Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda rag – that Limbaugh is accusing of sabotaging his op-ed.

“And outta nowhere, out of nowhere, on Fox, some spokesman says Obama’s not even considering it? Why now? I mean that didn’t come up at the housing meeting today. It didn’t come up in Denver yesterday. It hasn’t come up on Air Force One. Where did it come up from? I didn’t tell anyone. I mean, I told, you know, a couple friends that I was going to write this thing. It’s fascinating stuff going on there. The intrigue, ladies and gentlemen.”

That’s Fox News – Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda cable net – that Limbaugh is accusing of invading his mind.

The only problem with this exhibition of ego gone wild is that the issue of the Fairness Doctrine has been coming up for weeks. It has been written about in numerous conservative publications and web sites (see Human Events and World Net Daily). Robert Gibbs, the President’s Press Secretary, has taken questions about it in White House briefings – TWICE. It seems to be the most talked about issue in the media other than the Stimulus Bill. Just ask Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and even Rush Limbaugh. Yet Limbaugh says that it hasn’t come up, and some unseen enemy with access to his dementia is leaking his brain droppings to Fox News and the White House. The dark forces are descending upon him even as he laments that he must refrain from speaking it aloud:

“I’m reluctant to talk about this, because I don’t want to sound like a victim. I don’t want to sound like, ‘They’re coming after me! They’re coming after me! (crying).’ But they’re going after any area there is dissent.”

For a guy who doesn’t want to sound like a victim, he sure seems to be focusing a lot on how the world is conspiring against him.

Even More Right-Wing Stupidity On The Fairness Doctrine

I’m getting a little tired of writing these responses to the paranoid rightist Chicken Littles who persistently pretend to be aghast at the prospect of the return of the Fairness Doctrine. I mean, how many ways can you say that it isn’t going to happen? There is no legislation being drafted. There are no hearings being held. There are no advocates speechifying on it. There are no agencies studying it. And yet every conservative blowhard with a pen or a microphone is fretting about it and attempting to incite panic (and donations) amongst their followers.

Now Jed Babbin and Rowan Scarborough at Human Events have aggregated what may be the most comprehensive collection of inane and fallacious griping related to the matter. Here I will respond point by point in the hopes of settling the issue once and for all (yeah, right).

1) “Conservative talk radio is the most potent political weapon in America.”
That’s why it was so successful in turning back Barack Obama and the wave of Democrats cresting over Congress. That’s why President Bush will leave office with such a high approval rating. That’s why Americans overwhelmingly prefer the Republican agenda over the Democrats’. Oh, wait…..reverse that. Contrary to being a “potent political weapon,” conservative talk radio is more like soggy, day-old pasta.

2) “Liberal talk radio has been a huge failure.”
Don’t tell that to Ed Schultz, Randi Rhodes, Stephanie Miller, Bill Press, Rachel Maddow, etc. They are top performers in many of the markets in which they play. The rightist mantra about radio’s alleged rejection of liberals is based on the tale of Air America’s financial woes. What they don’t tell you is that Fox News lost $80-90 million a year for its first five years. They were fortunate to have Rupert Murdoch’s deep pockets to keep them out of bankruptcy. Air America is still not five years old. And they won’t talk about failures either, including John Gibson, Michael Reagan, and Bill O’Reilly who just ditched his struggling radio show.

3) “[T]he liberal control of both sides of Capitol Hill, along with a compliant Obama Administration, may bring [the Fairness Doctrine] back…”
As noted above, no side of Congress is planning any such thing. And on what basis are they alleging that Obama’s administration will be “compliant” toward Congress?

4) “The Censorship Doctrine would require conservative talk radio to spend a large part of its time praising liberals and their ideas […] Can you imagine what talk radio would sound like if every time a host talked about the newest liberal outrage, he then had to give the liberals equal time?”
Now they’re just making stuff up. There has never been a provision of the Fairness Doctrine that mandated any party “praise” any other party. And “equal time” was never a part of the Fairness Doctrine. Do these guys have even an inkling of understanding of the subjects about which they’re writing?

5) “Liberals now control the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, providing the political left its most absolute hold on power since the 1960s.”
Or the 1990’s, when Democrats held all three branches. Babbin and company were only 30 years off.

6) “Other than the Supreme Court, there’s nothing to prevent them from trying to attach the same rules to other media, including cable television and the Internet.”
That’s like saying that other than gravity there is nothing preventing you floating off into space. Plus, the Fairness Doctrine has never applied to anything but publicly owned and scarce assets like broadcast spectrum. Thus, cable and the Internet would never have been subject to its jurisdiction. Later in this article they claim that the FCC will expand the Doctrine to include Network Neutrality. That doesn’t even make sense since Network Neutrality is about open access to the Internet and has nothing to do with content. This is the right’s way of paying off the big Telecom corporations who benefit from closed systems from which they can gouge both web businesses and consumers.

7) “What left-wing blogger would not like to see Rush Limbaugh led await [sic] in handcuffs from his Palm Beach, Fla., estate for failing to present balanced programming?”
Wasn’t Rush Limbaugh already led away in handcuffs from his Palm Beach, Fla., estate for drug possession and forcing his housekeeper to purchase his contraband? I must admit, that was great to see. However, Babbin and Scarborough are once again showing their ignorance by suggesting that violations of the Fairness Doctrine were ever criminal offenses that would lead to arrest. In fact, the Doctrine was never codified into law at all. It was a regulatory statute and the worst that could happen to a violator was a fine or license review.

8) “The problem is that Limbaugh has a sense of humor. Liberals don’t.”
That’s why Jon Stewart is so reviled and Dennis Miller is so adored. Seriously, did any of these dolts ever see the abominable Half-Hour News Hour on Fox News? The problem is that conservatives actually regard Limbaugh and Ann Coulter as comedians, but everyone else considers them clowns.

The lies scattered throughout this column are typical of the ethical vacuum from which the right operates. They have no shame when it comes to propagating falsehoods for their greedy self-interest. In one particularly abhorrent instance they claim that former Sen. Tom Daschle got overheated because Limbaugh called him an “obstructionist.” That truth, ignored by these authors, is that Limbaugh also called him a traitor and routinely referred to him as the devil. Dashchle’s alleged anger was actually just an admonition that that sort of shrill rhetoric has the potential to incite people to act out violently. And on this issue Dashcle can speak with authority. He was, you may recall, the target of a terrorist Anthrax attack in the days following 9/11. But Babbin and Scarborough can’t be bothered with insignificant facts like that. Just as they can’t be bothered to display some sensitivity to a victim of an attack that infected 22 people and killed five.

As much as I would like for this to be the last time I have to shoot down fraudulent fulminations such as this, I expect that there will be more forthcoming. The Babbins and Scarboroughs of the world have so little upon which to base their ranting, they will cling to non-issues like these until their readers eyes have nothing left to bleed. And they will lie with abandon because they regard the truth as just an impediment to their propagandizing.

More Fairness Doctrine Stupidity From The Media

Paul Bond, writing for Reuters, has produced an outstanding object lesson in how NOT to write responsible journalism. His article, that has appeared in the Washington Post, the Hollywood Reporter, and many other Reuters affiliates, is filled with novice mistakes – at least I hope they’re mistakes.

Bond’s very first sentence asserts that the end of the Fairness Doctrine…

“pav[ed] the way for talk radio to take the opinionated — and popular — form it has today.”

In fact, talk radio was already opinionated and popular prior to 1987. Its opinions just became less diverse as radio stations consolidated under fewer owners who had their own political agendas to peddle. But Bond contradicts himself a few sentences later saying that reinstating the Doctrine would result in…

“government-mandated programing restrictions that [could] hobble an already struggling industry.”

Make up your mind Paul. Is the industry popular or struggling? In Bond’s second paragraph he asserts that…

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and such influential Democratic senators as Barbara Boxer and Chuck Schumer are pushing for its return, or something like it.”

In fact, while those people have expressed positive opinions of the Doctrine over the years, none of them are “pushing” for its return. There are no bills pending in either house and no recent public comments calling for the Doctrine’s reinstatement. And Bond didn’t bother to contact any of them to find out what their current views are.

Bond’s use of the phrase “something like it,” is vague and unexplained. Most likely he means something he later refers to as “so-called localism.” First of all, the adjective “so-called,” is an editorial device meant to dispute the meaning of localism, and it was inappropriate for Bond to use it. More to the point, localism is a program that calls for the FCC to gather information from consumers, industry, civic organizations, and others on broadcasters’ service to their local communities. It is nothing like the Fairness Doctrine, which requires the holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that is honest, equitable, and balanced.

Then Bond drops this…

“With the year drawing to an end and Barack Obama moving into the White House, talk about the Fairness Doctrine has heated up. Obama likely will name a new FCC chairman and make Democrats a majority on the five-person panel for the first time in eight years.”

Talk about the Fairness Doctrine has only been heating up in conservative circles and on right-wing radio shows. They are hysterically fuming over an action that nobody knowledgeable thinks will occur. Obama himself is on record as opposing its reinstatement. Plus, Bond makes it sound unusual that the new administration would result in a new make-up for the FCC when, in fact, every administration appoints new commissioners that tilt the majority to the President’s party.

Bond isn’t through misrepresenting the situation. His next target is an advisor to Obama on technology issues. Bond says that Obama tapped…

“…Henry Rivera, who was a commissioner in the 1980s when the Fairness Doctrine existed, to oversee the FCC transition process. Rivera is a supporter of bringing back the provisions.

This may be the most egregious example of Bond’s absence of journalistic ethics. He says Rivera was a commissioner in the 1980s when the Fairness Doctrine existed. So what? Rivera was also a commissioner in the 1980s when the Fairness Doctrine expired. The truth is, Rivera was no longer on the panel in 1987 when the Reagan-controlled board let the Doctrine lapse. But he was there in 1985 when the FCC produced the Fairness Report, a study that was the basis for the ruling in 1987. And, once again, Bond offers no proof of the claim that Rivera supports “bringing back the provisions” today. There is no statement from Rivera. Did Bond even try to reach him? Finally, Rivera is not even overseeing the FCC transition process as Bond says. He is on the “Science, Tech, Space and Arts” team. Dale Hatfield is overseeing the FCC group.

As for journalistic balance, Bond quoted five individuals for the article – every one of them vested opponents of the Fairness Doctrine. He also noted that radio executives are arguing against the Doctrine because…

“Shares of such publicly traded radio companies as Salem Communications, Citadel Broadcasting and Cumulus Media are all down more than 90 percent in the past year…”

To me that sounds like an argument in favor of doing something radically different than whatever it is they’ve been doing so far. It certainly doesn’t suggest that anyone should be listening to the radio execs presently in charge.

To be clear, I am not in favor of reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. I think it is an anachronism in a media era where so much less of the content distribution occurs on public airwaves. But I am also not in favor of manufactured outrage from disingenuous blabbermouths. And I am not in favor of using innuendo to tarnish positive reforms like localism, market share caps, and effective enforcement of anti-trust law.

And most of all, I am also not in favor of shoddy journalism and hack reporters spreading disinformation to promote their own unscrupulous agendas.