By Joe Campbell
November 18th, 2008
This blog has a new favorite newspaper – the alternative weekly Boston Phoenix which I actually used to read while I went to college in Massachusetts.
Adam Reilly, media critic for the paper, recently fashioned an argument against the Fairness Doctrine – including the specter of it being used against Net Neutrality:
Regarding Net Neutrality, McDowell asked, “Will Web sites — will bloggers have to give equal time or equal space on their Web site to opposing views, rather than letting the marketplace of ideas determine that?”
This is a stupid question. The Fairness Doctrine involved government mandating, in certain cases, that specific content be added to a particular media entity. In contrast, Net Neutrality doesn’t involve intrusion into content; it only dictates absolute freedom of (virtual) movement. It’s the opposite of what McDowell seems to think.
But as Joe Campbell, author of the blog 2parse.com, recently noted in a post linking Thierer’s paper and McDowell’s remarks, this is about tactics, not logic. If conservative Net Neutrality supporters come to see it as the Fairness Doctrine 2.0 — something that’s more easily done if the Fairness Doctrine is already on everyone’s brain, as it is today — they might rethink their support. Given Democratic gains in Congress and Obama’s support for Net Neutrality, Campbell argues, “This is the big corporations’ only chance to squash Net Neutrality.”
Now that’s a scary prospect. The Web is the future of news media. (It’s also a battleground where, at the moment, Democrats are totally dominating Republicans.) Bringing back the Fairness Doctrine is a dubious proposition, period. But if doing so could jeopardize the success of Net Neutrality, it’s downright reckless.
Edit: Part of this blog’s continuing coverage of the manufactured Fairness Doctrine controversy, especially as related to net neutrality:
- The Manufactured Fairness Doctrine Controversy
- ‘The Fairness Doctrine for the Internet’ is a Conservative Strawman
- Bringing Back the Fairness Doctrine
- The Battle Over Whether Net Neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine for the Internet