Under pressure from radio and TV owners of the day, President Ronald Reagan rescinded the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine in 1987 requiring “equal time for contrasting points of view,” citing financial hardship for broadcast owners.
As I established in my last blog, had the Doctrine remained in effect, thousands of unproven remedies for; enlarged prostate, male hormone replacement, mental clarity and other common maladies, would have never been produced. Millions of people would have not spent billions of dollars hoping for a cure or help with a specific condition. Without actual proof of performance, the commercials you see touting these products every hour on TV, would have never made it on American broadcast airwaves.
Here’s another way Reagan’s rescinding of the Fairness Doctrine affects you.
For more than 100 years, there were spending laws restricting corporations and outside groups when making political donations. In 2010, The United States Supreme Court changed elections when they reversed those policies in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling which enabled outside groups and corporations to spend unlimited funds, without revealing who’s behind the money. It’s often referred to as “dark money.”
Unlimited money is available to spend on advertising campaigns that are rife with unsubstantiated lies BECAUSE there is no Fairness Doctrine. If there were, the commercials would certainly be challenged by someone with a “contrasting point of view”, the legal right to debate the charge. Citizens would have the ability to discern facts to make their own decision.
This case is currently obvious in my residing state of Colorado. The first term Republican Senator, Cory Gardner, is being challenged by former two-term Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper. Cory Gardner’s problem is simple, our state loves John Hickenlooper.
Mr. Hickenlooper led Colorado through the Great Recession, historic and devastating floods and fires, the horrific Aurora theatre shootings that killed 12 and injured 70 and the killing of a high school senior at the hand of a classmate. He attended 50 funerals during his first term. Colorado ranked 40th in job creation and we now have the number one economy. These and many other actions have enamored John Hickenlooper in the minds of Colorado voters.
Mr. Gardner had limited state-wide political experience with little exposure but was heavily backed by the RNC and won a closely fought Senate race against Senator Mark Udall. Since being elected, Mr. Gardner has gone the way of more and more Republicans in that they shy away from communicating in public with constituents. He continues with obligatory visits to Colorado and meets with those of his party but stays far away from anyone, including reporters, who may question the Senator about his legislative voting record.
The Republican party is blowing out all stops to get Mr. Gardner re-elected, including using millions spent by an organization referred to as “NRSC.” Google NRSC and you see it’s the National Republican Senatorial Committee, it’s not “dark money” because they identify themselves.
They and the Republican party came up with over 90 ethics violations used to attack Mr. Hickenlooper. Research shows all but two of those accusations were shown to be legitimate. The two with merit were found to be honest mistakes. Mr Hickenlooper rectified his mistakes, as a truthful politician should do.
But NRSC commercials claim he's taken “100 thousand dollars from a 911 fund to pay back taxes” and “drives around in Maserati's” and “flies in private jets,” all accusations with no valid proof of truth. But, because there’s no Fairness Doctrine, “Low down John Hickenlooper” (they actually used that moniker), is attacked with lies by people who spend millions on commercials to influence the electorate.
Another commercial released by the NRSC refers to Candidate Hickenlooper as “Slick Shady, John Hickenlooper” and claims Hickenlooper broke ethics laws and took millions of secretive donations.” Not true. They call him a “tax cheat too.” Not true. “Political Flim-Flam artist and tax dodger extraordinaire.” Not true.
With the Fairness Doctrine in effect, those commercials could not be broadcast on American airwaves, defined as, over the air (OTA) or terrestrial broadcasting originating from a radio or TV station, being received by home receivers. However, they could be broadcast on cable or satellite channels but at the very least, the American public would have knowledge of a safe space, where lies could not be claimed, without debate.
A side note: On the commercial about “Slick Shady, John Hickenlooper,” this particular advertisement uses a Reggae music track as the bed under the vocal read. Does that mean the NRSC relates Reggae music to “shady “ dealings? I’m going to go out on a limb and say, an old white guy made that decision.
There are ads attacking Mr. Gardner, purchased by former US Representative Gabby Giffords and others. Those attacks are based on Cory Gardner's voting record, which is available public knowledge. During his term as Colorado Senator, Cory Gardner has voted 98 percent of the time with President Trump.
There is a need in today’s society, the need for facts to establish truth. America needs to return to a form of The Fairness Doctrine.
Till next time, wash your hands and wear a mask.
Reference on American airwaves from Wikipedia