Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Fairnes Doctrine Revival

For a while it was conventional wisdom to discount all the talk about reinstating the Fairness Doctrine as just so much campaign rhetoric. And candidate Barack Obama seemed to play down chances of its return.

It looks now like it would be a mistake to ignore the possibility of a big push for Fairness Doctrine reinstatement by the Obama Administration. On Sunday, Obama aide David Axelrod refused to rule out FD reinstatement. According to Broadcasting & Cable, Axelrod said that would be an issue for presumptive FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. The B&C item noted that Genachowski served as a former aide to now Senator Chuck Schumer, a Fairness Doctrine proponent.

I am now of a mind that we will see a move by the Obama FCC to reinstate the doctrine. There will continue to be much agitation on the left for reinstatement. Initially, this will be seen by the Obama Administration as simply useful, perhaps almost harmless, political stoking of the base. But I predict the stoked pot, brought to a boil, will overheat, and the Obama Administration will succumb to pressures from the left and propose reinstatment, whether under the Fairness Doctrine moniker or another with an equally seductive name.

This would be most unfortunate. But I am afraid it is a scenario that is now more likely than not.