What is good for the Fox is good for the Gray Lady
By hunter Posted in Archived — Comments (2) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Requiring a medium to carry something to the standard set by the government is censorship. Censorship is not just a flensing of content. It is also imposing content. In the days of the so-called 'fairness doctrine', the public square was not free and vibrant. It was simply suppressed and more quiet. It was in short anemic and oligarchic.
The other argument I see here, that somehow people are 'too extreme' in their discourse, so the government is justified in censoring media that happens to use the airwaves, is simply an argument from the 'philospher king' school of public discourse - that the poor plebes, inflamed and ignorant, need the self declared wise ones to quiet their ignorant heated blood.
Ask this: If the "fairness doctrine" is so good on media that is broadcast, why not apply it to print? After all, the capital cost of establishing a large newspaper is terribly high. Additionally, in nearly every market, there is a very limited number of newspaper outlets - it is in fact nearly exactly the situation of broadcast media in years past. And all large newspapers are owned by large corporate interests.
Is not the public good of only having one newspaper in most markets inherently unmet due to this reality?
If 'fairness doctrine' should be applied in radio and TV, where nearly every market has many radio outlets, should it not apply even more to markets served by only one newspaper?
If a fig leaf is needed to justify censoring newspapers, one can say that since newspapers sell advertising, they are actually engaged in commercial activities, not free speech, and they use public roads to deliver their print, and advertise on public airwaves to promote it. So not covering issues 'fairly' they are discriminating against those whose side the newspaper's editorial policies ignore or belittle.
That is about the same argument for re-imposing censorship in broadcast media, and what is good for goose is good for gander. Or rather, what is good for the Fox is good for the Gray Lady.