National Review: The Internet Doesn’t Need a Fairness Doctrine (In the News)

National Review: The Internet Doesn’t Need a Fairness Doctrine

By Eric Peterson

The Fairness Doctrine was first introduced by the Federal Communications Commission in 1949. It required broadcasters “to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance.” …

Presidential administrations from Kennedy to Nixon used the Fairness Doctrine to maximum effect. The administration could use the doctrine to demand equal air time any time one of the president’s policies was criticized. This not only allowed the president nearly endless opportunities to express his viewpoint, but took time away from his opposition. Eventually, wary of the burdensome government demands, many stations simply stopped airing political commentary altogether.

As one member of the Johnson administration put it: “Our massive 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.” …

Today, many on the right seem to want a Fairness Doctrine for the Internet. Creating one would demean one of Reagan’s great achievements and give government yet another tool to crack down on its critics.

While President Trump may not like CNN coverage or Google search results of his name, granting the government the power to control search results is asking for a whole host of unintended consequences…

The freedom and choice the Internet provides have allowed for an explosion of different opinions and content available to people around the world. Empowering the government to provide “balance” is not only impractical, but a mistake that could massively backfire – likely against the very people pushing for it.

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