Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday Offer GOP Solo Opportunity to Spin

At this late point in the election season, one would think that the public affairs programs would try especially hard to ensure balance -- or at least strive to avoid the perception of bias. Yet tomorrow, two of the five Sunday shows will allow Republican officials the opportunity to offer their spin without a single Democratic official to counteract them. Kate Phillips has a roundup of tomorrow's schedule over at The New York Times' political blog.

Tim Russert moderates another Senate debate on NBC's "Meet the Press,'' this Sunday between Senator Jim Talent, the Republican incumbent in Missouri, and Claire McCaskill, the Democratic challenger and the state's auditor.

In addition, Mr. Woodward sits down with Mr. Russert as the book whirl over "State of Denial,'' (No. 3 on our new Times poli-book bestseller list released on Friday), takes another turn.

ABC's "This Week'' promises a lively discussion, as George Stephanopoulos features as his guests Representatives Tom Reynolds, the Republican national congressional chairman, and Rahm Emanuel, his Democratic counterpart. With somewhere between 40 and 50 House seats in play, and with Mr. Reynolds at the center of the storm over disgraced former Congressman Mark Foley , the two campaigners-in-chief have more than fundraising on their minds right now. (Read the House state-of-play article by Adam Nagourney as you prepare for the Sunday morning showdown.)

On CBS's "Face the Nation," Congressmen Tom Davis, Republican of Virginia, and Ray LaHood, Republican of Illinois, are sure to have answers ready about their leader, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, and the page scandal shaking up campaigns across the country. "Fox News Sunday" features Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia, and retired Maj. Gen. Edward Grillo. CNN's "Late Edition'' corrals two of the more popular talk show senators, Joe Biden, Demoract of Delaware, and John Cornyn, Republican of Texas. [emphasis added]

It is simply unconscionable for these programs on the public airwaves to give Republicans free rein at this stage in the election season. It's bad enough that these programs generally favor Republican and conservative guests, but to do so just over four weeks before election day is nearly tantamount to offering one party free advertising time.

I understand that the Fairness Doctrine is no longer in effect and hasn't been for nearly 20 years. Nevertheless, the Sunday programs purport to be providing a public service, and they are doing so over the public airwaves that have been granted to them by the American people through the federal government. And while I would be loath to see a Federal Communications Commission stifling debate by excessive use of its powers, if the networks are already stifling the debate themselves by allowing only one side the opportunity to speak, then there would be little to lose by having the FCC actually do its job.

Do not mistake my intentions. I do not intend to suggest that the FCC should strictly enforce an equal time provision. Nevertheless, I do not believe the Commission should allow multiple networks to show such clear favoritism in the waning moments before an election.

Tags: Mark Foley, Republicans, Sunday Shows (all tags)

Comments

24 Comments

Re: Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday Offer GOP Sol

I really do think we need to make a resurrection of the fairness doctrine happen after we win majority.  I remember reading somewhere that most people don't know it's been removed since Reagan.

by MtnFrost 2006-10-07 09:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday

WTF is happening to CBS?  They used to be a bastion of progressiveness.  Now, in between Katie Couric's stories about baked cookies they have only right wing reactionaries spouting brownshirt propaganda on the supposedly "Free Speech" section of the evening news and now the same thing on Fuck, er, Face the nation.

by jgarcia 2006-10-07 09:24PM | 0 recs
Why The Hell Not???

Do not mistake my intentions. I do not intend to suggest that the FCC should strictly enforce an equal time provision.
Why The Hell Not???

Abolishing the Fairness Doctrine was one of they key strategic ingredients in the conservative jihad against America.  Why the hell shouldn't we demand its reinstatement???

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-10-07 10:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Why The Hell Not???

Because I don't know what the Fairness Doctrine or Equal Time would really mean. Does it mean that the FCC would mandate that there are two sides to every debate, regulating broadcast times to the minute or second? Does this mean a conservative voice and a liberal voice? A Democrat and a Republican? Who is the arbiter of who fits into each category? How would someone like Joe Lieberman be classified?

What if there are more than two sides to a debate? This seems to be the case more often than not. Does every party or point of view have the opportunity to have airtime? If so, does this mean libertarians or the Libertarian Party, a green or the Green Party? A member of the American Nazi Party? Is the amount of time based on a party's vote share or on polling or does everyone have an opportunity to speak?

And given the fact that the FCC regulates broadcast, not cable or the internet or print or books or satellite radio, would the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine really have the desired effect?

For these reasons, among others, I believe that strict government enforcement cannot work or be the solution. That said, the FCC can make it clear to broadcasters that, particularly in the last moments of an election, it is not permissable to give one Party free rein to propogate its ideas. Or something like that. It probably would take a little more reasoning and legalese to make regulations or legislation that would be enforceable and meaningful. But perhaps something along those lines.

by Jonathan Singer 2006-10-07 10:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Why The Hell Not???

Every question you raise could be figured out in the regulatory process- which includes a vetting in terms of comments by those being regulated in the broadcast industry, any public entity or individuals who have the concerns you raise, and any proposed solutions. I don't see how you get to ask for even your limited request unless you have some version of a fairness doctrine at play. Once you open up that can of worms, I don't see what the point of not going all the way is. The industry will resist anyhow,and it's better to just do what you really want to do rather than limiting yourself because of difficult questions to answer. That's what the process for regulation is meant to handle.

by bruh21 2006-10-07 11:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Why The Hell Not???

It was in place for years before Reagan destroyed it.  Don't need to reinvent the wheel.

by dkmich 2006-10-08 03:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Why The Hell Not???

The Fairness Doctrine was popular voters. I think a Democratic majority has a good chance of reinstating it. Rep. Louise Slaughter will Chair the Committee on Rules when Dems retake the House and she is a longtime champion of the Fairness Doctrine.

Here's an interview with Rep. Slaughter on Bill Moyers explaining her views.

http://www.pbs.org/now/politics/slaughte r.html

I would guess a majority of people still think the Fairness Doctrine exists in media - with only a the slice of voters from 18-30 not remembering it first hand. It's a big deal to reinstate it, not least because people think today's wildly skewed coverage is somehow fair.

by joejoejoe 2006-10-08 10:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Why The Hell Not???

Back when the Fairness Doctrine was in place, the media's dominant point of view was the national consensus view: New Deal liberalism.  The left (read: those outside of the bounds articulated by Arthur Schlesinger's book "The Vital Center", such as Marxists) did not get airtime, but neither did extreme conservatives such as the Birchers or the Dominionist Christian right.

I would expect the same thing today if it were reinstated.  Ugly partisan politics would largely disappear from the broadcast media.

The Fairness Doctrine was an FCC regulation which applied only to broadcast media: radio and TV.  It did not apply to newspapers, and wouldn't apply to the Internet either since the Internet is not under FCC licensing or regulation.

Some hardcore progressives might not like the idea of a national consensus centrist-liberal view which excludes those too far to the left  dominating on radio and TV.  I would personally welcome a return to those days.

by ACSR 2006-10-08 11:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Why The Hell Not???

And given the fact that the FCC regulates broadcast, not cable or the internet or print or books or satellite radio, would the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine really have the desired effect?

But Congress regulates all of the above. What I would propose, were I given the kingship, is simple:

- Reinstate the Fairness Doctorine, but make it a federal criminal law enforced by some subentity of DHS.

  • Update it to include cable/satellite/FIOS/any fundamentally one-way broadcast medium (TV and radio).
  • Take the position that net neutrality takes care of the Internet as much as the Internet can or should be taken care of in the realm of fairness. "TV" over internet and other things of that nature are fundamentally different and need not be covered by Fairness.
  • Books were never covered and need not be covered.

Neutral history of the Fairness Doctrine here:
http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/F/html F/fairnessdoct/fairnessdoct.htm

This bit, in particular, is interesting and suggests that we may actually be able to accomplish this:

However, before the Commission's action, in the spring of 1987, both houses of Congress voted to put the fairness doctrine into law--a statutory fairness doctrine which the FCC would have to enforce, like it or not. But President Reagan, in keeping with his deregulatory efforts and his long-standing favor of keeping government out of the affairs of business, vetoed the legislation. There were insufficient votes to override the veto. Congressional efforts to make the doctrine into law surfaced again during the Bush administration. As before, the legislation was vetoed, this time by Bush. 

by lightyearsfromhome 2006-10-08 06:30PM | 0 recs
You're right

this is spot on.

It's unfair 30 days before an election.  Why is this okay?  It isn't.

by kid oakland 2006-10-07 10:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday Offer GOP Sol

Its time to roll back the clock on media consolidation. The problem is 5 mega-corporations own most of the US media - Disney, Time-Warner, News Corp, Viacom & GE.

Inadequate competition and "cartelisation" leads to increased prices and news packaged and sold like a consumer product with a bias to perpetuate the oligarchy.

by ab initio 2006-10-07 10:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday Offer GOP

Whoa, people! Before you ask Democratic politicians to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine (a potentially dangerous tool itself), why don't you ask whether they actually care that they are not being represented fairly?  Why should news networks bend over backwards to accomodate Democrats if they don't demand equal time?

What seems obvious in the blogosphere -- that you need to work the refs and complain loudly and often if you are not being given a fair shake -- seems lost on the Democrats in D.C.  I have NEVER heard a Democratic politician, aide, or strategist complain  about the disparity of coverage.

Moreover, the GOP understands that if there is a media outlet that is unfavorable to your party -- indeed, openly hostile -- then you do not reward that media outlet.  I am sure that the rightward shift that is occurring at CBS under Katie Couric is because the GOP let it be known that the wounds that have existed between the GOP and CBS could be patched up now that Dan Rather has departed...all CBS needs to do is show some good-faith, pro-GOP guest bookings.  And if the Democrats don't object...

Let us remember, during the orgy of left-wing adulation of Bill Clinton, following his smack-down of Chris Wallace, nobody thought to ask, Why in God's name was Bill Clinton rewarding Fox News with an interview in the first place?  Why do ANY top Democrats give Fox legitimacy by appearing on their programs?  Or, if they are going to appear, at least don't play the fool. It is utter stupidity.

So, before you demand a legislative remedy, ask whether your Democratic representatives even requested an appearance on CBS or Fox programs.  Until they tell me otherwise, I will assume that they do not care that they are being omitted.

by space 2006-10-07 10:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday Offer GOP

I have NEVER heard a Democratic politician, aide, or strategist complain  about the disparity of coverage.

I thought this political programming is supposed to serve US, not politicians. If the DC Dems don't yell and scream about this, then shame on them, but what about an entire large (and in some cases, majority) section of the public whose point of view is simply ignored? What about the fact that virtually the entire AM radio spectrum is a fire hose of right wing propaganda? What are we, chopped liver?

The lack of balance throughout the media isn't some sort of accident, and it isn't some kind of response to a free market, either. It's the result of a deliberate and successful attempt by moneyed interests to seize a common resource (the public airwaves) for their own purposes.

By all means, reinstitute the Fairness doctrine. And while we're at it, take legislative dynamite to the media concentration that's been allowed to fester.

by jimBOB 2006-10-08 12:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday Offer GOP

jimBOB,

You are missing the point.  I am as pissed at as anyone at the state of the media today, including but not limited to, the pro-GOP (talking point) biases that are pervasive on the news shows.

The question is what to do about it.  You call for the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine.  But how so you think that would occur?  There is no public referendum process for federal legislation.

The only way you could pass the Fairness Doctrine would be with a highly motivated and unified Democratic Party.  The party would need to stand up against the determined lobbying from the media.  Oh, and that is assuming they take back both houses of Congress....presumably with majorities sufficient to defeat a veto.

It should go without saying that IF the Democratic Party was that upset about the issue and that unified and that committed then they wouldn't need a Fairness Doctrine because every day they would be putting pressure on the media not to commit the abuses that are so upsetting.

Do you see the paradox?  A Democratic Party that needs the Fairness Doctrine to protect it can't enact it.  And one that can enact it doesn't need it.

by space 2006-10-08 01:19AM | 0 recs
No Illusions

I'm under no illusion that these steps (reinstatement of Fairness Doctrine and FCC-mandated breakup of media concentration) will take place anytime in the next two years. As I noted in the "New Sheriff in Town" thread, Dems won't have the power to do anything unilaterally even if they take both House and Senate in the midterms. These are long-term goals, not something  to expect right away.

WRT your point that the current Democratic Party doesn't have much enthusiasm for these proposals, you are probably right. But this isn't an argument against the proposals themselves, just a recognition of the fact that there are roadblocks in the way, one of which is Washington-DNC political culture.

In response I'll just note Howard Dean's comment that we rank and file ARE the Democratic Party, not a few clueless bozos in Washington. They're already having to backpedal to accomodate us (as Joe Lieberman is finding out). They'll need to accomodate on this, too.

by jimBOB 2006-10-08 08:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday Offer GOP

>>Let us remember, during the orgy of left-wing adulation of Bill Clinton, following his smack-down of Chris Wallace, nobody thought to ask, Why in God's name was Bill Clinton rewarding Fox News with an interview in the first place?<<

In Clinton's case, remember that he has the Global Initiative connection with Murdoch. He agreed to the interview with Wallace in part to discuss the results of the meetings that week.

In Gen Wes Clark's case, he doesn't seem to have any other channel asking for his military experience for analysis other than Fox. Those positions on CNN and MSNBC are already taken.  

by Books Alive 2006-10-08 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Good ol' Ronnie

Eliminated the Fairness Doctrine and removed the requirement that the air waves have to be used in the public interest.  Ronald Reagan was the devil himself.  HE was the wedge that started this whole GD mess.

by dkmich 2006-10-08 03:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday Offer GOP Sol

In fairness to the media, won't it be more fun to grill the Repugs?

http://dontbealemming.com/2006/10/08/has tert-and-foley-how-far-does-the-scandal- go.aspx

Posted by the Lemming Herder from Don't Be A Lemming!

by Lemming Herder 2006-10-08 05:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday Offer GOP Sol

Media scorecard:

1. NBC owned by GE, one of the biggest defense contractors.

2. Fox owned by Murdoch - enough said.

3. ABC owned by autocratic Disney.

4. CBS controlled by Sumner Redstone who recently said that he would tilt towards the Republicans even thought he is a Dem because it will be better for the firm.

So, is it media self-interst (or ideological outlook) or is it a gamble that the Republicans will remain in power and it is necessary to suck up to them?

by rdf 2006-10-08 06:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday Offer GOP Sol

I do not intend to suggest that the FCC should strictly enforce an equal time provision.

I disagree with you here as well.

One of the purposes of good legislation is, and always has been, to correct inequities.  The Fairness Doctrine's long history of protecting and encouraging competing viewpoints includes being upheld by the Supreme Court on a (irony-missed-again conservative) 1st Amendment challenge in 1969 (Red Lion Broadcasting vs. FCC).

One of the first things a Democratic Congress ought to do in 2007 is introduce legislation reinstituting it.

by PDiddie 2006-10-08 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday Offer GOP Sol

Wouldn't the Fairness Doctrine apply to broadcast channels only? Since Faux News is a cable operation they would be exempt.

I would like to see a return to the Fairness Doctrine, but we still need to build an alternative progressive media infrastructure to ensure that there is an alternative to the conservative narrative that has dominated for the last twenty years.  

by surfk9 2006-10-08 07:40AM | 0 recs
Two options for dealing with Fox

You could try extending the Fairness Doctrine into the cable space (not sure what the constitutional/legal implications of this would be).

Or, you could take the far simpler step of forcing cable providers to offer all channels a la carte. This would allow all us sane people to delete Fox, and any other channel we don't like, from our cable lineups. Because they collect fees from local cable providers based on how many households receive their signal (whether those households watch or not), this would badly damage not only Fox, but also Pat Robertson and even CNN (if they keep deliberately pissing on our point of view).

by jimBOB 2006-10-08 08:36AM | 0 recs
GOP Solo

Complaining about the corporate media sure doesn't work, but not watching their garbage may. Viewers and and the money they generate is, after all, the god they worship.

The growing success of Keith Olbermann's program has demonstrated that there is a big segment of news watchers who are tired of onesidedness and want to watch alternative POVs.

by Sitkah 2006-10-08 09:20AM | 0 recs
Hate to burst the bubble....
  And I also rather not admit to watching Fox news, but while waiting for my gf to pick me up this morning, I was flipping throught the channels and checked out what was on Fox. There was a democratic Congressman this morning against Rep. Kingston. I believe it was Rep. Marty Meehan.
   
by Legionnaire 2006-10-08 09:11PM | 0 recs

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