Dean: We need to sanction TV guests through the Fairness Doctrine, or something
posted at 10:55 am on November 29, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
Behold the most incoherent statement from Howard Dean since his famous “Yeargh!” in Iowa, and that’s saying something. The Blaze clips the audio of a Dean appearance from almost two months ago, when the audience asks what he would do about the media. The answer encapsulates the worst of elitism by presuming that everyone (with the exception of those outside the auditorium, natch) were ignorant masses easily manipulated by Fox News. Dean proposes a solution to the “level of ignorance” that unintentionally reveals his own ignorance of the solution Dean himself proposes:
Well, the argument on the 17th Amendment that Dean laughs off is usually framed in a proposal for repeal. That’s not exactly unprecedented; the very next amendment banned liquor manufacturing, sale, and transportation, and was repealed 14 years later. The Constitution itself contains the mechanisms for amendments, which are a perfectly legitimate process — much more so than, say, having a panel of unelected officials reading emanations from penumbras to discover rights that are never mentioned at all in the document. Regardless of whether repealing the 17th Amendment is a good idea or not, its advocates at least understand the Constitution and its amending process better than Dean does.
The same can be said for the Fairness Doctrine, the solution Dean proposes to force Fox (and MSNBC, Dean adds as an afterthought) to give heterodox guests a chance to appear on their shows. Fox actually does that better than either CNN or MSNBC, but that’s not the point. The Fairness Doctrine had little to do with guests on broadcast shows. It forced broadcasters to grant exactly equal time to all points of view on politics, a burden so cumbersome that most broadcasters simply refused to air political discussion at all.
In fact, there’s a serious question whether the FCC could enforce such a rule on Fox News Channel or MSNBC anyway. Those are not broadcast stations governed by FCC licensing, but satellite channels that do not occupy “public airwaves” in the same sense that local TV and radio broadcasters do. The effect of the restoration of the FD would be mainly on AM radio, which would revert almost at once to the wasteland it threatened to become in the 1980s. Political talk would simply move to satellite radio, cable and satellite TV, and the Internet.
When Dean speaks of ignorance, it’s about the only topic here on which he’s expert.