The first step to complete and absolute power is silencing your critics. It goes beyond just outright censorship. It comes in many forms.
First, it comes as impassioned pleas to "come together" and "finally stop the hate and rhetoric ". That generally happens only AFTER your guy gets elected. Before that point, it was perfectly acceptable to spew bile and hatred on TV, in the classroom, and on the street corner.
It also happens in the form of violent removal of legal rights. We're not quite there yet, but I certainly wouldn't put it past some.
And, it comes in a more subtle form as well. It's an age old argument that we all learn on the playground when we're young. Fairness. We have to be fair, right? We share the ball. We take turns on the slide. We break the cookie in half to share it. That's fair? Right? Everything should be 50/50. Split. Equal. Dare I say, social?
My biggest beef with the new political makeup of our country, is this policy of "spreading the wealth". But I'm not talking about money, or food, or jobs. I'm talking about free speech, the free market system and the abomination known as the "Fairness Doctrine".
The long and short of the Fairness Doctrine, is that Talk Radio leans disproportionately to the conservative side. Host like Rush Limbaugh (who I don't listen to), Sean Hannity (ditto), Dennis Prager (who I very much enjoy) and others have the lion's share of the market. Democratic "leadership" in Congress like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, John Kerry, Dick Durbin and of late Senator Debbie Stabenow (D. from Michigan and not-so-coincidentally married to a liberal talk radio host) are pushing to reintroduce the Fairness Doctrine. This doctrine, if passed and reinstated (it was in effect from 1949 to 1987), would force Radio stations to split their airtime equally over competing messaging.
As it has been mentioned by the politicians above in various forms, it would ONLY affect Radio. Not television. Not movies. And not newspapers. I guess if you have a monopoly on the television news and the theaters are filled with hack job movies for your cause, there's no reason to be fair there. But on Radio, where conservative talk beats liberal talk by a 1000 to one, well, there's suddenly a problem.
This leads us to discuss why that is. It's not that conservative talk radio gets any advantage. There are no grants or funding. (Note that our tax dollars pay for NPR which is highly biased the other way.) Radio is supported by advertisers. Advertisers generally support messages they approve of or are at least savvy enough business people to buy ads where people are listening. For some reason, more people like to listen to conservative talk radio than liberal talk radio. I was in radio when Air America went live. Air America was a liberal talk radio network that had hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment behind it. I received numerous calls (as Program Director of an AM station) trying to get me to pick up the feeds. I had built a conservative / slightly moral lineup for my station and politely refused, but said I would watch the ratings and consider adding shows if I needed filler (154 hours to fill each week was a lot!). So what happened? Air America pretty much went to crap. No one listened, ad support and sponsorship dried up. It declared bankruptcy, left a lot of debt, was sold and is sputtering along. It still exists in some form but the fact is, no one wanted to hear that message or didn't want to hear it the way it was presented. That's called the free market system. The market determines what it wants and rejects what it doesn't. It's economic Darwinism. It reminds me of when Bill Maher made the idiotic comment on his show that the 9/11 hijackers were "the real patriots". After his show was canceled, he screamed "censorship!" It wasn't censorship at all. His advertisers, Sears being one of the biggest, was smart enough to realize that America didn't want to hear that garbage and they pulled their ad spend. The network saw the writing on the wall, realized that they were not going to be able to fill the spots in that show and canceled it. Censorship? No, the free market system in action.
So the intention of the Fairness Doctrine is essentially designed to force Air America or whatever gets set up to fill this gap down the throats of American's who rejected it the first time. If a conservative host talks for 4 hours, then under the Fairness Doctrine, a liberal host gets to talk for four hours. Right there, you have a radio station who just lost half of their TSL or time spent listening.
Now, I don't think for one minute that the Fairness Doctrine will pass. There are democrats in Congress that have openly said they wouldn't support this. I'm sure there are a lot of people who want it to pass, but I think just like this moronic, pork-bloated "stimulus package", people will see the legislation for what it truly is. Control. Silencing. Socialism.
I love Radio. It was the most rewarding job of my life and every day a small part of me is sorry I left. But I saw what government intervention has done to an industry that used to be the major source of information and entertainment in the world. Think radio sucks? Think all the stations sound the same? You can thank Bill Clinton for that. Tucked away inside the 1996 Tele-Comm Bill (remember that one? It was guaranteed to lower your cable bill. Did that EVER happen?) there was a provision that loosened ownership restrictions on radio station buyers. This allowed corporate vampires like Clear Channel and CBS to buy up thousands of radio stations, site-unseen, fire over 20,000 personnel, and homogenize the entire industry. Why does every radio station sound alike? Because every 5 stations have the same jocks, liners and music lists. The only real plus here is that these large radio groups are now tanking. The free market system at work, again.
I suppose we'll all see what happens together. But this is certainly an issue I'll watch with great interest. Like I said, this is the first step and a number of the most powerful lawmakers and gleefully waiting to make it happen.