I’ve always wanted to launch my own grassroots political organization dedicated to protecting our Third Amendment rights, collecting donations, and then just sitting back while turning out glowing annual reports about how, thanks to our tireless efforts, no citizen was compelled to house soldiers in their place of residence during times of peace for 217 consecutive years.
While it is not quite as ingenious as my idea, it looks like the Media Research Center is launching it’s own version of this sort of can’t-possibly-fail initiative, as Alex Koppelman points out:
Whether they know it or not, the staff at the Media Research Center — a conservative press watchdog — seems to have hit upon an ingenious new strategy: make a big deal about getting involved in fights in which your enemy is nonexistent. You can’t possibly lose!
Monday, the MRC announced the formation of the Free Speech Alliance, a group dedicated to fighting against the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, an old FCC regulation that mandated equal time for opposing viewpoints in opinion programming. The move was announced in a post on MRC’s blog, Newsbusters, that was titled “The Free Speech Alliance Declares War on the ‘Censorship Doctrine.'”
The MRC is also asking people to sign a petition against revival of the regulation. “In 1987, President Ronald Reagan rescinded the Fairness Doctrine and since then, talk radio has flourished. Conservatives dominate it, and liberals can’t stand it. By re-instating the Fairness Doctrine, liberals would effectively silence the conservative leaders of the day … and would essentially take control of all forms of media,” the group says in an introduction on the Web page that hosts the petition. On the same page, the MRC warns, “In recent months, the groundswell for reinstatement is intensifying. In fact, a growing number of liberal leaders in Washington, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have openly stated their intent to do so.”
According to the MRC, Fairness Alliance member organizations include Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, Concerned Women for America and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
Of course this sort of right-wing effort to save America from the return of the Fairness Doctrine is almost guarantee to succeed without those involved having to do anything at al since, as Marin Cogan explains, there is no effort underway or desire whatsoever to actually reinstate it:
Today, the doctrine has almost no support from media-reform advocates. According to Mark Lloyd, co-author of the CAP report, “I don’t think there’s any movement [to restore the fairness doctrine] at all. … We don’t support it. ” Craig Aaron of the media-reform group FreePress says, “[I]n reality, the fairness doctrine as it existed is never ever coming back.”
Responses from the offices of most of the Democrats who have been pegged as fairness-doctrine proponents–Schumer, Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, and others–have ranged from a firm denial that the issue is a priority at all to disbelief at finding themselves at the center of a manufactured controversy. “Somebody plucked this out of the clear blue sky,” says the press secretary for New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat who was questioned about the issue by a conservative radio-show host a few weeks ago. “This is a completely made- up issue.” Senator Durbin’s press secretary says that Durbin has “no plans, no language, no nothing. He was asked in a hallway last year, he gave his personal view”–that the American people were served well under the doctrine–“and it’s all been blown out of proportion.” In fact, as recently as last year, the House voted by an overwhelming three-to-one margin to temporarily prohibit the FCC from imposing the dead policy; 113 Democrats voted to support the move.
Meanwhile, the president-elect himself has said in no uncertain terms that he does “not support reimposing the fairness doctrine on broadcasters.” Republican paranoia is nothing more than that.