Democratic Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer wants to reinstitute the so-called Fairness Doctrine for talk radio. “I think we should all be fair and balanced, don’t you?” he told Fox News. And: “…the very same people who don’t want the Fairness Doctrine want the FCC to limit pornography on the air….I am for that . . . But you can’t say government hands off in one area to a commercial enterprise but you are allowed to intervene in another. That’s not consistent.”
Minor problem. These are two different animals. The first essential difference is this. Political speech, regardless of orientation, is a right embedded in the Bill of Rights. There is no earthly way anyone can “balance” it without violating the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. Pornography, on the other hand, being a matter of taste, is not protected by anything unless you view it as an issue of freedom of speech, either directly or as an art form (to me, ma-a-a-ybe). But, Bill of Rights aside, freedom of speech is not damaging to human minds, especially young ones. Pornography is. That is the second essential difference. The makes porn a rightful target for some kind of formal or informal regulation: we would keep it away from kids for the same reason that we seek to keep guns away from them.
The lack of consistency that Senator Schumer complains about simply does not exist. What really rankles, I suspect, is the spectacular success of conservative talk radio. So what does a disapproving bureaucrat to do except to legislate it out of existence?
I would not like to be in Senator Schumer’s shoes on this, but I can think of one way out his predicament. Let us give him consistency by instituting the Fairness Doctrine across the board: talk radio, TV, telephone campaigns, newspapers, magazines, anything at all on the Internet; in short any medium, existing or future, capable of delivering any message to anyone anywhere. Imagine the New York Times having to fire hundreds of left-leaning employees so they can attain 50% conservative staffing! Or the Huffington Post! Moreover, who will decide who is conservative and who is not? A governmental panel? Each organization that must reorganize? Senator Schumer himself? Talk about consistency issues in that bag of worms!
Come on, Senator! Nothing is stopping anyone from growing non-conservative talk radio shows on non-conservative radio stations. That is the only way to achieve fairness while remaining true to the Constitution.