In my book, The Death of Fairness, I write about the tragic events that happened to a fictional small American town and it’s only radio station, after President Ronald Reagan rescinded the FCC’s “Fairness Doctrine” in 1987 (a factual event). The ramifications of that decision still rumble through our society today. If you’ve recently watched television or listened to the radio, your health and your wallet may have been directly touched. This long-ago Presidential action may have recently affected the American judicial system in a horrific way. Let me connect the dots.
Those commercials you see and hear, “Men, are you having a problem in the bedroom? Are you in need of more stamina? Then you need to take our pills to replace those male hormones guys start losing after the age of 30,” or something like that. Those commercials.
“Men, are you having to get up and pee 4 or 6 times a night? Take our pills and we’ll help you with that,” again, paraphrasing. Those commercials.
My favorite, “I’ve been taking these pills for 2 months and I feel more mentally stable, I’m thinking better.” Those commercials.
All come with a disclaimer at the bottom of the TV screen or they’re shoved into a quick 2-second blurb at the end of the radio commercial, “These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
Had the “Fairness Doctrine” been in effect, none of those products would have ever made it to the American marketplace. The Doctrine insured, “Equal time for contrasting points of view.” That statement opens the door for any and all claims to be proven. If you couldn’t substantiate your product does what you tout, commercials would not have been allowed on American broadcast airwaves.
Billions of dollars would not have been spent producing pills and capsules filled with chemicals and minerals that scientifically, have little value to correct any problem. Moreover, millions of Americans would not have wasted billions of dollars on products that, at times, caused injury. They would have never been stuck in the incessant monthly billing that is often hard to correct.
Now you know how President Reagan’s 1987 decision affects you every day. Here's the more shocking effect.
A white male, dressed in an outfit resembling a FedEx worker, rang the doorbell at the home of Federal Judge Ester Salas recently, feigning a delivery. The investigation is still underway but the man allegedly shot and killed her son and wounded her husband, the judge was unhurt in the attack. He left the location and was later found dead in his car of suspected suicide.
Police identified the shooter as Den Hollander. He had recently challenged the “male-only” United States military draft in Salas’ court and had referred to her as, “a lazy, incompetent Latina judge, appointed by Obama.” Hallander also describes himself as an “anti-feminist”, going as far as filing a lawsuit against nightclubs for holding “ladies’ night” parties. Online, you can track thousands of pages of misogynist and hateful comments directed at women. There's a video of the man using the term “Feminazi”.
Where did Den Hollander hear the word “Feminazi?”
The most listened to radio talk show host in America (if you don’t believe me, ask him), whose name rhymes with flush, has used that term since the late 80’s when he began referring to women in the halls of Congress as, “Feminazi’s.” Regardless of when Hollander’s dislike for women manifested, it’s safe to say there’s possibility the assailant’s use of “Feminazi’s” implies his attitude could have been inflamed by a man who is a direct product of President Reagan’s 1987 decision.
The Fairness Doctrine’s directive of equal time for contrasting points of view gave legal authority to question myths, lies, and conspiracies. Had it been in effect, listeners would have had that authority to dispel claims made by this talk show host. His show would have been much different because broadcast owners didn’t want to give the time or money needed to follow the Doctrine. He would have been a regular Top-40 DJ (not a very good one at that, I’ve heard the tape). The ability to debate and give time for contrasting points of view, to dispel lies as truth, was usurped when President Ronald Reagan rescinded the Fairness Doctrine in 1987.
Many in Washington, D.C. believe there should be a form of the Fairness Doctrine in effect today, those are mostly Democrats and a few Republicans. Some in the Republican party believe it’s acceptable to lie, without debate. Even if a new version of the Doctrine was only required for radio and TV stations that broadcast with an actual transmitter, broadcasting a signal received by an antenna, at least there would be a safe space for truth. Truth-- isn’t that something we should all be about?
Until next time, wear a mask!