Friday, June 29, 2007

Fairness Doctrine: The New Gay Marriage

I’ve been listening to Ed Schultz a bit this week (if you have XM Radio he’s on Air America from 12-3 EST). Today he’s been talking about the “fairness doctrine,” something we’ve been hearing a lot about lately. I kinda wondered where this issue came from all of a sudden. It reminded me of when flag burning was suddenly a major topic on the blogosphere. I thought, Really? Flag burning? That’s so last century. The only people burning flags these days are drunken frat boys. Well, that and nativist nutcases who think it’s OK to burn a Mexican flag.

Now that the “fairness doctrine” is all of a sudden on everyone’s lips, I have to say I smell a conservative election rat. They kinda blew their wad with gay marriage and abortion, and immigration divides the Republican Party worse than it does Democratic voters. How on earth will they whip their faithful to the polls in ‘08? By telling them if you vote for a Democrat, the big meanies will take your Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly away, of course. It’s classic fear-mongering, and it seems the Kool-Aid drinkers are eating it up.

Ed Schultz agrees with me. Today he said basically the same thing on his show; he believes this “fairness doctrine” stuff is a preemptive strike for '08.

Right wingers are spreading all sorts of lies and distortions about what the fairness doctrine is and is not, that it would legislate liberal talk radio (no) and that it would make Rush Limbaugh illegal (as much as I wish that were true, it’s not). They’ve started the fear campaign with fabricated stories spread by Drudge and dutifully picked up along the right-wing echo chamber.

(Sadly, someone at the RNC forgot to clue in Trent Lott, who told the New York Times that ''Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem.'' Ooops. Get with the program, Trent.)

A forum at is full of the usual right-wing scaredy-pants rhetoric, including posts claiming the fairness doctrine will “go into effect in 2009” and it will “shut down conservative talk radio.” The poor dears, scared shitless yet again, as well as woefully uninformed. Don’t you guys get tired of being scared of your shadows all the time? There is no “fairness doctrine law” and nothing is going into effect in 2009. Where do you get these silly notions?

I wish Republicans could try to win an election without scaring the pants off of their base all the time, but when fear is your drug, you’ll keep going back for your fix.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. If the fairness doctrine doesn’t gain traction (flag burning was a big dud in 2006), I’m sure they’ll find something else.