FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell (R-Obviously) recently warned conservative bloggers that the Commission’s decision to repudiate Comcast for crippling Bit Torrent could lead the government to start “dictating content policy” by requiring blogs to give equal time to opposing views. Ha! Of course, this can be avoided if we vote for the *ahem* “right” candidate in November.
The commissioner, a 2006 President Bush appointee, told the Business & Media Institute the Fairness Doctrine could be intertwined with the net neutrality battle. The result might end with the government regulating content on the Web, he warned. McDowell, who was against reprimanding Comcast, said the net neutrality effort could win the support of “a few isolated conservatives” who may not fully realize the long-term effects of government regulation.
“I think the fear is that somehow large corporations will censor their content, their points of view, right,” McDowell said. “I think the bigger concern for them should be if you have government dictating content policy, which by the way would have a big First Amendment problem.”
“Then, whoever is in charge of government is going to determine what is fair, under a so-called ‘Fairness Doctrine,’ which won’t be called that – it’ll be called something else,” McDowell said. “So, 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?”
McDowell’s scare tactics aren’t new. Conservative bloggers have tried to sabotage the net neutrality debate by making a false connection to the long-dead fairness doctrine, which required regulated media outlets to give equal time to opposing views. If the government penalizes Comcast for crippling the internet, the argument goes, well then that friends is regulation; and if the government can regulate Comcast, it must, obviously, regulate the rest of the internet immediately. This kindles the fear of god in conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, who would rather stay silent than let Al Franken take up his airtime calling him a big fat idiot.
In the spirit of fairness, Commissioner McDowell is more than welcome to respond, provided he respects our own regulations.
McDowell: Fairness Doctrine, Net Neutrality Linked [Broadcasting & Cable]
FCC Commissioner: Return of Fairness Doctrine Could Control Web Content [Business & Media Institute]