Michael Gerson seems to think the Fairness Doctrine is a real threat. Steve Benen correctly calls BS on this...
He's warning Obama not to embrace a policy that he already opposes, and which Democrats have no apparent interest in pursuing.
Indeed, the timing of Gerson's column makes it look especially foolish -- today, the LA Times ran a detailed piece explaining that no one is seriously pushing the Fairness Doctrine, it has no realistic chance of passing, and "right-wing radio" is sounding a "false alarm."
The LA Times is correct. The Left knows the Fairness Doctrine is a political loser. It's dead. The Center for American Progress has even said there is "no need to return to the Fairness Doctrine." While it's mentioned now and then, there's just no chance the specific Fairness Doctrine regulation itself is coming back. However, that's quite different from saying the Democrats are not still trying to achieve the same goals as the Fairness Doctrine. They are.
The Center for American Progress says the Fairness Doctrine would not "address the gap between conservative and progressive talk ". That's important. They're not dismissing the underelying goals of government-managed fairness and opinion egalitarianism. They're simply saying this is not the way to do it.
The roadmap to the Fairness Doctrine is laid out quite clearly in a 2007 Center For American Progress/Free Press report, entitled "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio." In that report, they lay out how they can bring about the Fairness Doctrine through other means.
Ultimately, these results suggest that increasing ownership diversity, both in terms of the race/ethnicity and gender of owners, as well as the number of independent local owners, will lead to more diverse programming, more choices for listeners, and more owners who are responsive to their local communities and serve the public interest.
Now, pay attention to the Center for American Progress recommendation on FCC policy for the Obama administration.
There has been an unprecedented increase in media concentration over the past decade, which has reduced the number and quality of local voices and elevated commercial interests at the expense of the public interest. The new president and the Federal Communications Commission should restore the primacy of the public interest standard and our national commitment to diverse voices and diversity of ownership. The FCC should also prioritize including all of our rapidly diversifying population in the mainstream of the technological revolution so that women and members of minority and immigrant communities are not just consumers of technology, but also owners, producers, and creators of content, applications, and facilities.
The Left has not abandoned their desire to use government to shape the landscape of political speech. Their policy remains an "opinion diversity mandate". But instead of approaching as an "equal time" mandate, they are trying to implement the ends of the Fairness Doctrine through an “equal access” mandate.
The Fairness Doctrine is dead. Long live the Fairness Doctrine.