Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blade pushes Fairness Doctrine

Last Sunday, I wrote about the local paper's front-page article about the Fairness Doctrine. In addition to pointing out some facts that were missing and questioning some of the inconsistency in statements made, I made a prediction:

"This is not the end of the subject. If The Blade is true to form, they will have some sort of sob story (or three) about someone who's tried to provide balance in talk radio but failed due to something that 'evil conservatives' have done.

Then they'll have an editorial endorsing some form of censorship of talk radio. Oh - they won't call it that. They'll couch it in the same terms as Sen. Stabenow did - accountability, standards - or call for a 'level playing field.'"

While not exactly a sob story, today's paper again has a front-page article on the subject.

This story focuses on Democrats who want to institute a new form of the Fairness Doctrine, which is the standard mantra coming from the left: 'we don't want a fairness doctrine, per se, we just want balance and standards that reflect the public interest.'

See? Exactly the type of language I predicted.

Of course, who gets to determine what's in the public interest is not the 'public,' unless you count the coordinated campaign to urge leftists to complain about local conservative talk radio to the FCC. The market, the ratings, the listeners, the advertisers - they won't really be the ones making the determination. It will be bureaucrats in Washington who get to decide. And as Brian Wilson, the WSPD program director and afternoon show host always says, it's not what is decided but who gets to decide that is key.

The article again uses the term 'drumbeat' to describe the current programming on WSPD:

From morning to night, the drumbeat pounds on, with listeners told repeatedly that government is bad, that politicians steal the public's money, and that President Obama and the Democrats are transforming America into a socialist state.

Last week's article led with:

"It starts at 6 a.m. every weekday in Toledo and continues nonstop for hours, a persistent drumbeat on the radio air waves:

Barack Obama's stimulus plan is larded with corruption, pork-barrel politics, and waste.

Liberalism is destroying the country.

The Democratic party is fundamentally flawed, labor unions are ruining the economy, and if we're not careful, socialism is just around the corner."

While talk show hosts are not the news department and are clearly expressing an opinion, one can only wonder if such repetition isn't part of a Blade agenda to characterize local conservative talk radio in a negative light?

Is their repetitive description not also a 'persistent drumbeat'? And is a 'news' article really the proper place for such opinionated wording? News is supposed to be neutral in coverage - editorials are not. But these two Sunday articles are not on the editorial pages - they're on the front page and they are clearly promoting a particular viewpoint by use of these types of words.

As a graduate of The University of Toledo with a degree in Communication/Journalism, and as a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund Copy Editing Intern, I was taught that such word selection was inappropriate and had no place in a news article. As a copy editor, I would have been called on the carpet for allowing such usage to appear in an article - much less the lead paragraphs.

But The Blade does this on a regular basis when they latch on to an issue and decide they want to influence thought on the matter. They blur the lines between straight news and editorial opinion - and that's part of the reason why they, and many other main stream media in general, have developed the negative reputation they currently have. One can only wonder if this is part of the reason for their financial condition, as well.

A bigger problem in their description of conservative comments made by talk show hosts on WSPD is that they do not challenge the opinions, only complain about the fact that they're being expressed.

Conservative perspectives dominate talk radio. That's primarily because leftist thinking dominates most all other news. Note the difference, though: talk radio is all about opinion and expressing it. Television news and newspapers are dominated by leftist thinking in the news portion of their outlets and do not reserve such opinion for the opinion pages alone.

Additionally, the issue should not be about expression of opinion. If the left thinks there needs to be more 'balance' on local talk radio, they could actually participate in it.

The article mentions Rep. Marcy Kaptur's thoughts on 'fairness':

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) was a co-sponsor of Mr. Hinchey's bill when it advocated reinstating the Fairness Doctrine.

She said the radio waves should have more diversity, which she thinks would be accomplished with local ownership.

"Our broadcast media are largely absentee-owned. I believe in local ownership, local control. I think there's an argument to be made for balance and fair play," Miss Kaptur said.

But Kaptur was invited to appear on Brian Wilson's show last week and, as of Friday, had not responded to the invitation. Here was a perfect opportunity to provide the 'diversity' and 'balance' she advocates, but she hasn't agreed to do so.

Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop has an open and standing invitation to be my guest on Eye On Toledo. The last time I invited him to appear on the show, he took months to even respond to the invitation and, when he did, he said no. But he was perfectly willing to talk to the like-minded newspaper to express his opinion:

"There is plenty of need in this town for constructive, informed debate on the serious challenges we face. WSPD is, sadly, not the place for that," Mr. Konop said.

So, because he doesn't like the station, he believes it's okay to decline to provide exactly what he says is needed?

Interestingly, I've agreed with Konop on several points he's made - and I've said so on air. Last week I sent him another email asking him if he's changed his mind about being my guest on the show and reiterating my open invitation to him. Sadly, as much as he seems to believe there should be debate on issues, he apparently believes he has no obligation to provide it, since he's not yet responded to my communication.

I'll have more to say about this Tuesday during Eye On Toledo, so be sure to tune in.

The push by Democrats for the Fairness Doctrine - or something similar - isn't really about providing balance. It's all about using the force of government to obtain what leftists cannot achieve in an open market. Even the article mentions that there are liberal voices on air in Toledo:

"Liberal broadcasters Bill Press and Stephanie Miller can be heard on WNWT-AM 1520, a 500-watt station in Rossford - Mr. Press from 6 to 9 a.m. and Ms. Miller from 9 to 11 a.m."

So if there are alternatives in the market, what's the problem? If WNWT broadcasts liberal shows in the morning, what's to prevent them from broadcasting liberal shows during the rest of the day? Why can't they grow their audience and advertisers just like all the other radio stations have done?

And therein lies the rub. Expecting such stations to actually compete in the open market goes against what has become a core philosophy of leftists: 'you aren't successful because you're a victim,' or 'you're not successful because it's not fair,' or 'it's never your fault if you fail.' Leftist believe that wealth is not created - only redistributed. They see the market as a zero-sum entity where if one person is winning, someone else must be losing. They believe the pie is only so big, rather than envisioning a bigger pie. If they were truly 'liberal' (in the traditional sense of the word) they would understand that a market could grow, but that to do so doesn't require the force of government, rather, it requires their own investment of money and capital to make it so. Unfortunately, today's liberals seem to loathe spending their own money, but are very willing to spend everyone else's (tax dollars).

So instead of investing their personal money, efforts and resources in growing their own talk shows, they decide to use government to 'level the playing field' or, in other words, to achieve through force the success that someone else has worked hard and risked their own funds to obtain.

In the case of The Blade, I believe their push for something like the Fairness Doctrine is because they don't like the competition. For too long, they have been the only 'opinion leader' in the area. In fact, it used to be that candidates were told a Blade endorsement during a campaign was worth about 10,000 votes. While there was no way to gauge such a claim, it is an indication of what people thought of their support. Today, the concern is that the endorsement might count for 10,000 votes but you never know if that's in agreement with or opposition to what The Blade recommends.

But when you've had such influence and a now you have competition, it's not fun and can cause resentment by the person who's lost control. When, for years, you've gotten away with saying A, C, E and G and someone else comes along and starts telling people B, D and F, two things happen. One, people begin to realize that you're not giving the full picture and that those missing factors can change perspectives. And two, you lose credibility for not including all the factors to begin with.

The reaction from those on the left to such disclosure and, dare I say it, balance is that the opposing views must be silenced. They claim that those opposing views be 'balanced' even though such opposing views are the very balance they claim to promote and which they have never endorsed within their own structures.

If balance is what is desired when it comes to opinions expressed in talk radio, where is the corresponding balance on the pages of opinion in The Blade? If alternative voices are so necessary on the airwaves, why not have alternative voices in the paper's editorials? If the perception is that liberals should be able to have their own time on a conservative show, where is the equal perception that a conservative should have their own space in the paper?

The equivalent is not carrying the occasional conservative op-ed writer. The equivalent would be to have a pro/con editorial on each issue. Think we'll see that sort of thing any time soon in The Blade?

As I wrote following the first story:

"...if the paper really wants some sort of 'standards' when it comes to balancing conservative and liberal, they should start with themselves."


Jay Ott said...

Here is an example of one of the Blade's half-truths in this article:

In 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-0 that no one had a constitutional right to a radio station license, and the government had a right to regulate the limited radio spectrum.

The Blade failed to mention an important detail of the Supreme Court's ruling which also included a warning:

The fairness doctrine's constitutionality was tested and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark 1969 case, Red Lion Broadcasting v. FCC (395 U.S. 367). Although the Court then ruled that it did not violate a broadcaster's First Amendment rights, the Court cautioned that if the doctrine ever began to restrain speech, then the rule's constitutionality should be reconsidered. Just five years later, without ruling the doctrine unconstitutional, the Court concluded in another case that the doctrine "inescapably dampens the vigor and limits the variety of public debate" (Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241). In 1984, the Court concluded that the scarcity rationale underlying the doctrine was flawed and that the doctrine was limiting the breadth of public debate (FCC v. League of Women Voters, 468 U.S. 364). This ruling set the stage for the FCC's action in 1987. An attempt by Congress to reinstate the rule by statute was vetoed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, and later attempts failed even to pass Congress. (emphasis added)

2Bn11FA said...

What I want to know is when did the Democrats shift to this progressive/liberal pattern of destroying opponents rather than arguing their ideas? I have read a number of books and it seems that this "control at all costs" mentality began way before the 60's and viet nam. How do people get this way? I went through public school and I am a conservative...I am not the standard to be parents were both in education and never bought the union view point. I guess rather than when, the question should be how did this change occur. There is just no rational thought put forth to counter conservative ideas. The underlying motto is Shoot the Messenger. I am perplexed and confounded.

Maggie Thurber said...

2Bn11FA - because attacking the messenger rather than the message is easier. If you can destroy your opponent, you never have to address the opponent's ideas for which you may not have a better concept.

I would also recommend that you read Saul Alinsky's works...this is part of his guidelines.

Some would say that when you know your argument will fail, you resort to the personal attack...and that seems to be what the leftists have learned over time.

Jay Ott said...

That's a good question. Last week I reread Charlotte Iserbyt's book, whom she referenced Francis Schaeffer and was reminded that he had much to say about what is happening now.

What you are talking about is what Francis Schaeffer referred to as "the line of despair" in his book, The God Who is There".

Prof. Jerram Barrs described Schaeffer's line of despair:

Let us talk about what Schaeffer means by the line of despair. He suggests that in about 1890 in Europe and 1935 in the United States the whole way of thinking changed. You may have seen some diagrams in his book of the line of despair. Above that line, before 1890 in Europe and 1935 in the United States, people were rationalistic optimists with a unified view of knowledge. By that he means that up until those dates, it was taken for granted that human beings, by their own understanding and reason, would be able to understand life. There were answers to be found, and truth existed and could be discovered.
Moral values existed and could be discovered and applied to the individual and to society. While we may not have all the answers to our questions at the moment, eventually we would be able to find the answers. There was a unified view that everything would actually fit together. We can have a rational approach to knowledge, morality, truth, meaning, purpose, and society, and we will find answers.

Basically liberals have borrowed from Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard and Nietzche and delivered to the world through Marx, Engles, and Lenin.

To save you lots of reading the situation we find ourselves in today can be clearly understood by reading just this one transcribed speech by Francis Schaeffer back in 1982. It's not long.

Tim Higgins said...


Judge Robert Bork put this in perspective sometime back when speaking of "the equality of outcomes, rather than of opportunities". The Fairness Doctrine is only part of the larger plan to insure that everyone gets results (egalitarianism) rather than the opportunities (freedom) that our Founding Fathers sought for us.

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