Fairness Doctrine Loses Big in the House, Media Mum

If the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to reinstate the controversial Fairness Doctrine which has not been in force since the ’80s, do you think it would have been headline news?

Well, on Thursday, an amendment to the Financial Services Appropriations bill prohibiting funds to be used to impose the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters passed in an extraordinary show of bipartisanship 309 to 115.

In fact, 113 Democrats joined 196 Republicans in favor of this funding ban. Yet, virtually no media reported the news.

Before we get to that, the following statement was made by one of the amendment’s sponsors, Congressman Mike Pence (R-Indiana) on Thursday:

"Today the House of Representatives affirmed that freedom will continue to reign on the airwaves of America. Thanks to the support of 308 of my colleagues, Congress has ensured that the Fairness Doctrine will remain in the grave for now. This was a resounding victory for free speech.

"However, the fight for freedom on the American airwaves is not over. With many still hoping to resurrect this archaic doctrine of unfairness, we must continue to stay on the offense. Tonight I will introduce the ‘Broadcaster Freedom Act’ to ensure that the victory we experienced on the House floor today extends to future generations.

"I thank all my colleagues, especially the Republican leadership in the House for delivering this resounding victory for the freedom of speech."

Despite this historic vote for freedom of speech, besides Fox News, not one television news division felt this event was worthy of dissemination. Not one.

As for print, the Associated Press also felt this wasn’t newsworthy, actually not covering the vote at all. Ditto the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today.

As for the New York Times, although its website published a Congressional Quarterly article on the subject Friday, LexisNexis is not indicating this got placed in any print edition.

Once again, imagine if this amendment had failed, or if a Democrat-proposed amendment to specifically fund a reinstated Fairness Doctrine had passed. Think the media would have been so nonplussed?

No. Neither do I.

The media also ignored the bill Pence introduced in the House Friday called the Broadcaster Freedom Act. Pence issued the following statement that no press outlet reported:

"Today, along with 111 co-sponsors I am proud to introduce the Broadcaster Freedom Act. The fight for freedom on the American airwaves is not over. With many still hoping to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine, we must continue to stay on the offense.

"Unless Congress addresses this threat to free speech, any future administration could impose this unfair doctrine upon America with the stroke of a pen.

"Although my amendment to the Financial Services Appropriations bill passed, prohibiting any funding to the FCC for the enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine should it be resurrected, we must keep in mind that it is only a one-year moratorium on funding. While I am pleased that 309 Members of Congress supported this short-term fix, it is my hope that they will continue to stand for freedom of speech by joining me in a long-term solution to the problem by passing the Broadcaster Freedom Act. There is nothing fair about the Fairness Doctrine."

I guess this wasn’t newsworthy either. So much for liberal media bias.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.