Friday, January 13, 2006


Three years from now, there will be a new US President inaugurated. This article suggests the Republican race is going to come down to media darling Sen. John McCain vs. Sen. George Allen of Virginia, who would be the party's establishment candidate. Before Democrats get too excited about McCain, who they see as the anti-Bush, they should consider the following:

Yet McCain has made many smart moves. The turnaround came first with his intense campaigning with President Bush when the President's reelection was far from a sure thing. Bush needed McCain badly, and McCain showed up without attitude. Then, McCain's fervent backing for the administration's Iraq policy provided vital ballast when Bush was being buffeted on all sides in 2005. In addition, McCain has begun to reemphasize his conservative positions on social issues, such as gay rights and abortion. Amazingly, this has cost him little support from his legion of media friends who, while far more liberal than he, enjoy his free-wheeling company and the 'bipartisan' aura he extends to their shows.

While on the subject of McCain, there's an excellent piece in the most recent edition of the City Journal which suggests that the spirit of his campaign finance reform laws will lead to eventual regulation of the Internet by the Federal Election Commission, including blogs. More alarming is the possibility of re-regulation of the broadcast sector to rein in the influence of talk radio in particular, through the re-implementation of the Fairness Doctrine, cancelled by Reagan in 1987, whereby the state apparatus decides what is fair and balanced coverage and what is not, all in the "public interest". An excerpt:

It’s easy to dismiss the Orwellian policy prescriptions of small-fry like these. But look who else has been talking about the Fairness Doctrine:

“There has been a profound and negative change in the relationship of America’s media with America’s people,” John Kerry told the Boston Globe’s Thomas Oliphant after losing the 2004 presidential race. “We learned that the mainstream media, over the course of the last year, did a pretty good job of discerning,” he said, inaccurately. “But there’s a . . . sub-media that talks and keeps things going for entertainment purposes rather than for the flow of information,” he complained. “This all began, incidentally, when the Fairness Doctrine ended,” Kerry maintained. “You would have had a dramatic change in the discussion in this country had we still had a Fairness Doctrine in the course of the last campaign.”

Former vice president and Democratic standard-bearer Al Gore, in an overheated October speech bemoaning the purported hollowing out of the American “marketplace of ideas,” blamed it in part on the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, after which “Rush Limbaugh and other hate-mongers began to fill the airwaves.” And here’s current Democratic Party chair Howard Dean, in a 2003 interview railing against Rupert Murdoch: “I believe we need to re-regulate the media . . . so we can be sure that the American people get moderate, conservative, and liberal points of view.” Dean noted that he wouldn’t need legislation to do this—he could just appoint “different kinds of people” to the FCC.

Finally, in early 2005, an online petition drive called for Americans to “renew the Fairness Doctrine.” The imbalance favoring conservative media voices, especially in talk radio, the petition argued, “results in issues of public importance receiving little or no attention, while others are presented in a manner not conducive to listeners’ receiving the facts and range of opinions necessary to make informed decisions.” One of the three sponsors of this paternalistic document: Media Matters for America, a left-wing press watchdog group, founded by conservative-turned-lefty David Brock, with help from ex–Clinton advisor John Podesta.

These aren’t marginal figures; they’re the heart of today’s Democratic Party. Their calls for reform rest on a preposterous claim: that “media consolidation” has led to a sharp narrowing in the range of viewpoints available to the American people. In an era of newspapers, magazines, books, broadcast radio and television, cable and satellite television, and the Internet—now joined by satellite radio, podcasts, and even newer forms of “technological abundance”—the involved citizen has never had more information, more debate, more ideas from all political perspectives at his fingertips. What’s really happening is that the Left, having lost its media monopoly, has had trouble competing in a true “marketplace of ideas” and wants to shut that marketplace down.

Please read it for yourself.


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