“Fairness is foul”

John Fund wrote a column for today’s Wall Street Journal that details the battle over permanently banning the so-called "Fairness Doctrine."

House Republicans are trying to force a vote on the "Broadcast Freedom Act" – which would statutorily prohibit a return of the "Fairness Doctrine" – through the use of a discharge petition.  A discharge petition requires the signatures of 218 House members to force a vote.  Fund reports that so far 185 representatives have signed the discharge petition, "but all from Republicans. Democrats are being told by their leadership that signing such a petition would undermine their control of the House."

Fund astutely recognizes that "the Fairness Doctrine has always had fans in the corridors of power because it gave incumbents a way of muzzling their opponents. The Kennedy administration used it as a political weapon. Bill Ruder, Kennedy’s assistant secretary of commerce, explained: ‘Our strategy was to use the Fairness Doctrine to challenge and harass right-wing broadcasters and hope that the challenges would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited and decide it was too expensive to continue.’ The Nixon administration similarly used the doctrine to torment left-wing broadcasters."

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.