If You Liked the Fairness Doctrine, You'll Love Net Neutrality

Article author: 
James P. Pinkerton
Article publisher: 
Article date: 
3 April 2024
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

... the word “fairness” can be used as a trick to cloak unfairness. By the same token, the word “neutrality” can be used as a cover for bias and discrimination. It’s all about words and power—and the U.S. government is good at manipulating both...

Case in point: the “Fairness Doctrine.” That nice-sounding rule, which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) put forth in 1949, was actually unfair in its application. In practice, it restricted conservative speech but not liberal speech; a conservative editorial was forbidden—the penalty for crossing the FCC was losing one’s broadcast license—but consistent liberal bias in news coverage was A-OK.

And it was all part of a consistent plan. In the words of Bill Ruder, a Commerce Department official in the Kennedy Administration who later worked for the Democratic National Committee, “Our massive strategy [in the early 1960s] was to use the Fairness Doctrine to challenge and harass right-wing broadcasters and hope that the challenges would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited and decide it was too expensive to continue.”

Unsurprisingly, the right never liked the Fairness Doctrine; in 1987, President Ronald Reagan’s appointees to the FCC finally repealed it...

But of course, fairness was never the actual purpose of the Fairness Doctrine. Instead, the goal had always been unfairness—bias and discrimination against conservatives...

... the pro-Net Neutrality forces want the FCC to do the enforcing, and as part of that enforcement, they want to sneak in all the old tools of the Fairness Doctrine, the better to hammer conservatives...