The Widdershins

Activist Monday: Bring Back the Fairness Doctrine

Posted on: November 30, 2015

An Absence of Fairness

Good Monday, all, and I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful.  In the spirit of that holiday, I’d like to thank my favorite Preznit, Ronnie Dearest, for making it possible for our politicos to attack other politicians and institutions with impunity. Yes, I’m talking about the Raygun Administration’s revocation of the Fairness Doctrine.

n 1985, under FCC Chairman Mark S. Fowler, a communications attorney who had served on Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign staff in 1976 and 1980, the FCC released a report stating that the doctrine hurt the public interest and violated free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

In August 1987, under FCC Chairman Dennis R. Patrick, the FCC abolished the doctrine by a 4-0 vote, in the Syracuse Peace Council decision, which was upheld by a panel of the Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit in February 1989, though the Court stated in their decision that they made “that determination without reaching the constitutional issue.”[16]


Fowler said in February 2009 that his work toward revoking the Fairness Doctrine under the Reagan Administration had been a matter of principle (his belief that the Doctrine impinged upon the First Amendment), not partisanship. Fowler described the White House staff raising concerns, at a time before the prominence of conservative talk radio and during the preeminence of the Big Three television networks and PBS in political discourse, that repealing the policy would be politically unwise. He described the staff’s position as saying to Reagan:

The only thing that really protects you from the savageness of the three networks—every day they would savage Ronald Reagan—is the Fairness Doctrine, and Fowler is proposing to repeal it![22]

Instead, Reagan supported the effort and later vetoed the Democratic-controlled Congress’s effort to make the doctrine law.

Since the Fairness Doctrine was revoked, we’ve seen the rise of infotainment, complete with “he-said/she-said” opinion journalism, and the empowerment of the right-wing noise machine, including “think tanks” whose sole purpose is to twist the public discourse away from reality (which as we know, has a liberal bias) to the skewed, black-is-white worldview of the top 1%.

I draw a bright line between this revocation and the rise of delusional movements like modern conservatism, whose members hold beliefs that, despite their unshakeability, lack any basis in reality. One of these beliefs, disgustingly promoted by some of the top Republican contenders for President, is the alleged propensity of Planned Parenthood to sell baby parts. There were videos, which were since proven to be deceptively edited, which were used to “prove” the accusation and sow outrage in the Republican base. As usual, none of these brainless f*cktards gave a thought to the way this would affect people who, by definition, are only loosely tethered to the world as we know it. Predictably, some RWNJ with a gun decided to avenge those alleged murdering psychos at Planned Parenthood by…becoming a murdering psycho at Planned Parenthood.

Robert Lewis Dear allegedly killed three people and injured 9 others yesterday at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In the hours after the shooting little was known about Dear or his motivations.

Saturday evening, those motivations began to come into focus. NBC News and the Washington Post reported that, after the shooting, Dear told law enforcement officials “no more baby parts.”

The phrase clearly references a series of videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion advocacy group. The videos alleged that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling body parts from fetuses for profit. These allegations were untrue and the videos relied on deceptive editing.

If you expect our wonderful candidates on the Republican side to show even a tiny bit of shame about the horrifying outcome of their blatant lies…you clearly don’t know them very well. In particular, The Donald’s statement was disturbingly ambiguous.

Trump said the attack was “terrible” and that Robert Lewis Dear, who allegedly killed two civilians and one police officer, was a “maniac.” But he didn’t directly comment on the potential political motives of the shooter, who, according to multiple outlets, said “no more baby parts” to law enforcement officials after the shooting.

Instead, he referenced claims that Planned Parenthood sells fetal tissue.

“I will tell you, there is a tremendous group of people that think it’s terrible, the videos that they’ve seen, with some of these people from Planned Parenthood talking about it like you’re selling parts to a car,” Trump said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Now I know some of the tapes were perhaps not pertinent. I know a couple of people that were running for office or are running for office on the Republican side were commenting on tapes that weren’t appropriate. But there were many tapes that are appropriate… and there are people that are extremely upset about it.”

Besides the usual defensive “WTF” that lights up my brain whenever Donald Trump’s verbal diarrhea begins to perfume the atmosphere, I felt more than a soupcon of unease while reading his non-condemnation of the shooter’s motive. Sorry, Chump. There aren’t any “tapes that are appropriate.” The claim of baby part selling is NOT TRUE. Hence, the motive for the shooting SHOULD NOT HAVE EXISTED.  The Donald knows this is the case, so the question for me is: What is this f*ckhead defending, exactly?

I think he’s defending the Republican right to lie with impunity and d*mn the consequences. If you think there’s any chance this isn’t the case, remember that it was largely the lies of Dubya, Cheney and Rumsfeld which led to the instability in Iraq that has permitted the rise of ISIL Anyone in the Republican field admitting to that lately? Ever?

I find the Republican position on this horrible attack on Planned Parenthood doubly shameful, since this was essentially an act of domestic terrorism, perpetrated by a right-wing Christian opposed to abortion. Has anyone commented on the irony of the way the Senate is trying to keep all Syrians out and/or impose religious tests  for fear of ISIL, when we have our own non-Muslim terrorists right here in America, armed with the guns Republicans have made sure they own, and filled with hatred and anger created by the conservative media outlets Republicans have put in place?

The relationship between the conservative movement’s tactics and this dreadful mass shooting is not lost on Planned Parenthood officials.

“We’ve seen an alarming increase in hateful rhetoric and smear campaigns against abortion providers and patients over the last few months,” Vicki Cowart, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains, said. “That environment breeds acts of violence. Americans reject the hatred and vitriol that fueled this tragedy. We do not accept this environment as normal. We should not have to live in a world where accessing health care includes safe rooms and bullet proof glass.”

While the situation is dire, take heart. Conservative brainwashing is not all-powerful. In fact, even 13-year-old boys seem to be seeing through it lately.

Washington (CNN) The 13-year-old Internet phenom who gained national attention criticizing President Barack Obama and briefly was a part of the Ted Cruz campaign is renouncing conservatism, saying he’s looking to be a voice unbound by party ideology.

CJ Pearson told CNN on Friday that concerns about the Republican Party’s viewpoints on racial and gender disparity as well as youth issues convinced him he could no longer be a mouthpiece for conservatism.

“I was tired of being a champion of a party that turned a blind eye to racial discrimination. Tired of being a champion of any cause that denies equal rights to every American. Tired of being a champion of a party that doesn’t care about the issues important to young people,” Pearson wrote in an email.

This kid has 5 million followers on YouTube and 100,000 on Facebook. In the absence of the Fairness Doctrine, we are all looking for the truth wherever we can find it. I hope that once Hillary becomes President in 2016, she takes a really hard look at the media, and what we can do to restore truth and balance to the public discourse.

This is an open thread.


12 Responses to "Activist Monday: Bring Back the Fairness Doctrine"

You are sadly correct about domestic terrorism. The PP attacks are just another in a line of episodes. Funny how the RWNJs who see a terrorist behind each and every tree cannot seem to spot those who walk amongst them.

Wow. Clearly I am a blogstopper.

Great post with salient points on how BOTH (caps on purpose) racial/ethinic and FEMALE discrimination are effing real in the good ole USA, with almost 50% goverment support. And MOAR guns are the solution?

WTF in 2015????? We should’ve been flying spaceship hovercrafts by now!! Sigh.

All of our differences, all that make us unique, has to support the other who is unlike us. We provably can’t relate to their experience, as we haven’t lived it, but dammit, try. That’s the “America” we are promised in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. I won’t accept substitutes or the old, tired “no, you didn’t understand…what that really means is…”

LOL, I think my post was the blogstopper! Ah well. Probably a little too heavy for a Monday.

Hey SM! Yes. Where is my hovercraft that runs on Mr. Fusion?!! Instead of moving forward with science and growing in enlightenment, we have become eat up with the Trump @$$ (® Prolix). Talk about not realizing our potential…

Sorry I’ve been absent. Just one of those days. 😦

anyone heard from Prolix?

@7, Chat, there’s been a Prolix sighting. I’ve been traveling back from Thanksgiving and then more traveling to get my elderly family members back over the river and through the woods so they can face the ravages of the wolves and tame them appropriately.

Without fear of contradiction, I was the drum major of a parade of horribles, but I must add, I’m glad to serve. It was good seeing family and my inconvenience and discomfort is a small wage to pay for the privilege.

MB, sorry to be so late commenting. I hope you find this as a compliment, but before I even read your most excellent post, my topic for tomorrow is a follow-up on your exact point. Just like the saying goes, “A weak mind will sooner or later think like the last great mind he read.” So I am following your prose.

Just like you have to be wary of incoming when walking past the monkey cages, Repub candidates like the monkeys never seem to run out of crap — and even though they deny evolution, their ability to produce such copious amounts of flinging ammo is proof positive Darwin was right.

Glad that you are safely back.

Our favorite wordsmith has returned.

MB, sorry I missed your excellent post! Monday is my busiest work day, and this time of year, especially so.

Love the post, and agree wholeheartedly!

Comments are closed.

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