Monday, July 23, 2007

Restore the Fairness Doctrine? Close, but No Cigar

Rasmussen polls support for a restoration of the Fairness Doctrine is in the high forties. I'm somewhat heartened by this. Seems that a big chunk of the public disapproves of the our current polarized state. More important, they are circling around biased commentary being one of the major culprits.

But the fairness doctrine only guarantees that you offset a right-wing nutjob with a left-wing nutjob. At the end of the day, you still have extremists controlling the debate. The sad fact is that extremists make for good media: they hold the audience's attention, the same way that you can't quite look away from a car wreck.

Ultimately, the fairness doctrine is about equal representation of points of view. What we need are competing sets of facts. (For an interesting blurb on "facts" vs. "narrative", check out this from the HuffPo.) Facts are much less entertaining than two guys screaming at each other. They're also infinitely more essential to the health of the body politic.

I don't think this can be legislated/regulated. You can't force media outlets to be less incendiary. It'll put them out of business. The only way this is going to work is if the attitude of the audience changes.

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