The Fairness Doctrine died in 1987 and was finally put to rest last August. Here is a glimpse of our last attempt to have a conversation about critical matters:
“The policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission that became known as the "Fairness Doctrine" is an attempt to ensure that all coverage of controversial issues by a broadcast station be balanced and fair. The FCC took the view, in 1949, that station licensees were "public trustees," and as such had an obligation to afford reasonable opportunity for discussion of contrasting points of view on controversial issues of public importance. The Commission later held that stations were also obligated to actively seek out issues of importance to their community and air programming that addressed those issues. With the deregulation sweep of the Reagan Administration during the 1980s, the Commission dissolved the fairness doctrine.”FAIRNESS DOCTRINE - The Museum of Broadcast Communications
It’s worth resurrecting the doctrine for a moment to ask this: When are we going to have a conversation about Climate Change in our country? Though our cable channels and Internet sites are flooded with all kinds of media, from the competent to those bordering on the criminally insane, there is almost no place where the majority of US citizens can come together to listen to each other on critical issues. Instead, there are silos of views spewing out information—with an agenda. We are being blinded by media incapable of crossing political and ideological boundaries.
That’s too bad because while we wait for a forum where we can talk, we’re going to cook. Something as basic and as dull potatoes as greenhouse gases warming our atmosphere, something we should all be thinking about, has been turned into something so vitriolic that we won’t even bring it up as we come to a presidential election this fall. Though four years apart and despite billions of dollars poured into the media from Super PACs, this presidential election will have no conversation about the most important issue of this century. There is no other format any more to discuss this issue at a level where all can hear.
We cannot force the media to address this issue. We cannot force presidential candidates to answer how they would address Climate Change. We cannot address Climate Change ourselves, it’s too big.
We can wait. And, that seems to be what most are doing. But waiting is about the worst thing we can do because the problem is one of physics, not politics. And Climate Change, like time, waits for no one.
If we still had The Fairness Doctrine, I wonder if Climate Change could be forced on the media. And if so, what would we say to each other?