Saturday morning at 8:25 AM, the now-ritualistic email from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "right-wing guy" Patrick McIlheran shows up telling me his Sunday column will be devoted to talk radio's panic over the "fairness doctrine." The fairness doctrine, for those thankfully oblivious to recent right-wing blather, was the rule governing the public airwaves suggesting that when one side of an issue dominates broadcast opinion, the other side ought to be allowed a rebuttal. The policy was repealed decades ago.
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.
I didn't care about the column when I got the email, and didn't even pay attention enough to read it. But McIlheran followed up on his column with a blog post that picked up on the line from his column that really explains everything. See if you can spot it:
This, as Brian C. Anderson told me, would kill talk radio as we know it [. . .]. Anderson has written about this, in the New Criterion along with Adam Thierer, his co-author on a new book on the subject.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.