Ever Hear of the Fairness Doctrine? No?

I will admit I am an infrequent blogger. It’s not because I’m lazy or have nothing to say. It’s because I have too much to say.

I wanted to keep politics out of my blog and focus on my novels, and curious things I have noticed, or journal my travels. I haven’t traveled in three years for obvious reasons, which eliminated one source of material. And my brain has been on political red alert ever since 45 was elected. His subsequent loss to Joe Biden did not douse my three-alarm brain fire. As his supporters continue to perpetuate 45’s vile lies and to behave like poorly raised six-year-olds, my anxiety over politics has not diminished one bit. 

Even public health issues have to be politicized by the right, resulting in enormous numbers of deaths from Covid. Deaths that in many cases could have been avoided with simple precautions—which were also politicized.

The ugliness and willful ignorance of millions of the people with whom I share a country has been depressing and difficult to deal with. I once believed that most people are basically good, kind, and helpful. I now know beyond any shadow of a doubt that’s not true. Amid the right’s cheering for Putin in his bloody, terrorist war, the vitriol and denigration aimed at good people like Col. Vindeman, and the rightwing hero status of murderer Kyle Rittenhouse— I see a mindless mob, full of hatred and seething with resentment for anyone who isn’t just like them. I see people who have embraced Nazism, who wanted to overthrow our democracy and still do, who would, if given immunity, cheerfully slaughter their fellow Americans for being different in race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or political principles.

How did America, land of the brave, turn out so many ugly, hateful, ignorant people? I think Fox News, with its endless rabble-rousing and lies, is a huge part of the reason. The Republican Party used Fox as its official propaganda mouthpiece, but they did more, developing rightwing “think tanks” and research centers to bolster their own point of view. They nurtured resentment and anger, depicting Democrats as lazy, snowflake, pot-smoking losers on welfare with no religion, decency, or jobs. (I was accused of all that myself by Republicans.) I was told, at the age of 70 or so, to move out of my parents’ basement and get a job. (This was online, obviously. Anyone who saw me would realize my parents were most likely no longer on this planet.) One man told me that saying that Democrats went to church was a lie—no godless Democrats ever went to church. This is the kind of ignorant hysteria the Republicans have been cultivating for decades.

I could go on. And on. And on. But I’ve probably said enough about how dismal these people are. Why I want to know is how we fix this. I want to know how Fox News can get away for more than 40 years of lying and spreading false information without consequences. Why have we allowed uneducated trash like Marjorie Taylor Green and Lauren Bobert to profane the halls of Congress? How do we put this particular evil genie back in the bottle?

There are no easy solutions, but there are urgent ones. I think one of the most effective things we can do to muzzle Fox’s firehose of lies is to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Most people probably don’t remember the Fairness Doctrine because it was abolished under Reagan in 1987—thus opening the door to Fox News and other sources of grotesquely biased media. The Fairness Doctrine was introduced in 1949 by the FCC. According to Wikipedia, the Fairness Doctrine “…required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented. The demise of this FCC rule has been considered by some to be a contributing factor for the rising level of party polarization in the United States.[5][6]

Modern media—including social media, which didn’t exist in 1987—mandates that a new Fairness Doctrine must be updated to include these seismic changes in communications technology. But it is long past time to demand of the Federal government that the Fairness Doctrine be updated and reinstated to restrain the false information, lies, and propaganda flooding our media.

Please write your senators and representatives and demand that they support a new Fairness Doctrine for our modern world. Let’s pull Fox’s fangs.

To find and contact your Senator or Representative, see https://www.congress.gov/members?q=%7B%22congress%22%3A117%7D

Note: In the interests of transparency and truth, the image depicted with this post is not that of a fox. It’s a jackal. I think that would be a much better name for the organization under discussion–Jackal News. Anyway, none of the fox images I saw were snarling unless they were taxidermied. The live ones just looked really cute.

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