Sunday, August 05, 2007

How to Win the Battle of Ideas?

If you're a liberal, since you can win on substance, you stifle debate. Here's a recent editorial from IBD on the liberal initiative to revive the "Fairness Doctrine".

Rigging The Debate

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2007 4:20 PM PT

Media: Thanks to talk radio, Fox News, bloggers and other challengers of the dominant media's liberal orthodoxy, the forces of freedom have been winning the debate. What's a sore loser to do? Rig the game once again.

On "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Dianne Feinstein suggested reviving the Fairness Doctrine that gave the state power to regulate political views expressed over the airwaves.

"In my view, talk radio tends to be one-sided," the California Democrat complained. "It also tends to be dwelling in hyperbole. It's explosive. It pushes people to, I think, extreme views without a lot of information."

That sounds like a fancy way of saying people aren't thinking the way the government wants them to be thinking.

Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin agreed. "It's time to re-institute the Fairness Doctrine," he told The Hill newspaper. "I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they're in a better position to make a decision."

Of course, today there are a lot more than "both sides of the story." Thanks to the popularity of political blogs, there are hundreds of "sides." Which ones out of that ocean of free expression will Durbin and the state-appointed broadcast commissars who regulate a new Fairness Doctrine deem acceptable? Will 9/11 conspiracy theorists get equal time? How about moon landing hoax proponents?

Liberal Democrats can't stand it that there's now a cable news network that doesn't accept their ideology, lock, stock and barrel — and which has overtaken CNN in ratings. They don't like it that AM radio has enjoyed an unexpected nationwide renaissance courtesy of entertaining hosts who make the case for lower taxes and defeating terrorists.

They want to force a return to the days when the choice before American TV viewers was between the Rather, Jennings or Brokaw brands of liberalism.

That is to say, they want to tilt the playing field some more in the national exchange of ideas.

Rep. Mike Pence, a former radio and TV broadcaster, and a Republican from Indiana, sees exactly what is going on. This week, he introduced the Broadcaster Freedom Act, which would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from requiring broadcasters to present particular opposing viewpoints on political issues.

An "archaic remnant of a bygone era of American radio," as Pence described it, "there is nothing fair about the Fairness Doctrine."

And he added a crucial point: "In a free market, fairness should be determined based upon equal opportunity, not equal results."

In other words, there comes a time when certain ideas win the debate, and the losing ideas are relegated to the ash heap of history.

Under a new Fairness Doctrine would the government force-feed Americans with, say, the discredited idea that we should repeal welfare reform? Or that we should return to 15 income tax brackets, with the top one at 70%, like during the days of Jimmy Carter?

When President Reagan in effect abrogated the Fairness Doctrine in the mid-1980s, it "opened the public airwaves to free and vigorous discussion of controversial issues by individuals of all political stripes," as Pence pointed out.

And as Pence quoted John F. Kennedy, "a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."

Feinstein and Durbin and the many other liberal Democrats who want to re-impose the Fairness Doctrine are indeed afraid of the people. Because they know that the freer the exchange of ideas is in America, the more chance they will lose at the ballot box.

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