Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A tiny sliver of hope on the Fairness Doctrine

It's not much, but Carl Cannon, in his post-mortem on the election, puts forth the first plausible case I've seen for Barack Obama to not acquiesce to the demands of his base and reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine:

“Money is the mother’s milk of politics,” legendary California Democrat (and Reagan adversary) Jesse “Big Daddy” Unruh was fond of saying. Well, nobody in Sacramento politics, including Reagan himself, ever saw anything like the Obama fundraising machine of 2008. This is a campaign that raised more than $600 million—more than it needed, more than it could spend—which allowed it to campaign and to air ads in every part of Ohio, to run high-dollar get-out-the-vote drives in traditionally Republican states, to stage first-class outdoor events catering to hundreds of thousands of people, to emerge flush even in the wake of the most expensive primary campaign in history, to eschew federal matching money (breaking a campaign promise in the process), to outspend McCain in every swing state, and to buy half-hour infomercials on the major networks in prime time less than a week before the election.

Democrats, Obama included, have threatened to restore the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” a dubious governmental regulation that supposedly supplied equal access to the nation’s airwaves. Bringing it back would be an appalling government intrustion into the marketplace of ideas, but now that Obama has won, I suspect the president-elect will recalibrate his stance on that—just as he did on accepting federal campaign finance limitations when it became clear he could shatter all existing fundraising records. Why do I say that? Because if a “Fairness Doctrine” had been in place, the networks would have had to provide McCain equal time on television—even though he didn’t have the money to pay for it. Obama had a huge advantage, which he exploited ruthlessly and effectively.

Not much, as I said--but it's the first time I've seen an argument that it would be in Obama's best interest not to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine.

And that's about the only way it doesn't get reinstituted.


No comments: