Sunday, September 10, 2006

Katie Couric, Rush Limbaugh, Free Speech and the Fairness Doctrine

As I tuned in last week to see Katie Couric in her new role as anchor on the CBS evening news, I was favorably impressed. She is skilled at doing interviews, and I like her more relaxed demeanor.

Watching Rush Limbaugh on the Free Speech segment, as he once again lambasted those who want to "cut and run" as unpatriotic, I pondered the decision to give air time to someone who daily spouts lies, half-truths and inaccuracies. Seldom does a dissenting caller get through on the Rush Limbaugh show, and if they do, their remarks are cut short and a derisive, hateful rant ensues, belittling them for disagreeing with the Rush party line.

Wasn't Dan Rather recently ushered out of the anchor chair because he and his team were accused of sloppy research on the evidence for Bush's failure to show up for his National Guard duty? Why do we not hold people like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter to the same exacting standards? If we did, they would be escorted out of the studio after utterance of the first sentence, and that would be that.

In my reading, recently I came across a reference to the Fairness Doctrine:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The Fairness Doctrine is a former policy of the
United States's Federal Communications Commission. It required broadcast licensees to present controversial issues of public importance, and to present such issues in an honest, equal and balanced manner.

The Fairness doctrine was repealed during the Reagan adminstration, paving the way for sycophants like Limbaugh to take over the entire programming of radio stations (and now TV's Fox News Channel) with their sloppy, slanted and hate-filled rhetoric. Before that time, people like Coulter and Limbaugh had the right to spout their dishonest rhetoric, but they couldn't do it on the air waves in the way they do at present.

So it seems that the CBS news crew does not have to give inaccurate hate speech air time, and if we hold up Dan Rather's example they are bound not to or risk a swift boot out the door.

I'm not a journalist, so I don't know if I'm seeing this issue clearly. I would love to see Ron Davis or Andy Cline and his journalism students do a more informed and in-depth analysis.

1 comment:

The Libertarian Guy (tm) said...

Then it has to apply across the board. No exceptions for Randi Rhodes, NPR, or Rush Limbaugh.

But do you really want gov't to be the arbiter of what is "fair"? I don't. I can't trust gov't that much, no matter which wing of the Duopoly Party runs the show.