Updating fairness doctrine

Most people don’t even know for sure what the Fairness Doctrine was, much less that it has been repealed, or why they should care.

It’s easier than you might expect to strip away democratic rights from the public without even raising a fuss.

The Fairness Doctrine is best explained by telling a few stories of its use.

Citizens who felt that a public issue was not being fairly discussed brought complaints directly to broadcasters.

Most of those complaints were settled then and there, usually by the simple provision of time for another point of view.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) came into a case only rarely, when the broadcaster and the citizens could not agree.

Even then, the FCC did not impose fines or dictate how the station should respond; it only directed the station to come up with more balanced coverage.

One of the times when the FCC did get involved was the case that killed the Fairness Doctrine. Court of Appeals, with Judge Robert Bork, of all people, on the bench, along with then Judge Antonin Scalia.

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