Reconsidering The Fairness Doctrine For A Polarized Era
In 1949 the Federal Communications Commission created the fairness doctrine, a policy that required FCC-licensed TV and radio stations to not only discuss controversial issues that mattered to the public but to also foster opposing views on those issues.
While the FCC ultimately revoked the policy in 1987, its legacy is complex. While some associate the policy's repeal with the rise of Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing commentators, critics argue installing a single policy for widespread social problems is the wrong approach.
But in a deeply polarized America, where former President Trump was just acquitted in his second impeachment trial and many Republicans still believe the 2020 election was "stolen," some experts suggest a new fairness doctrine could help Americans find common ground.
What would a fairness doctrine look like in today’s media landscape and could federal policy rebuild the deep divide in American media and beyond?
We sit down with media scholars to reconsider the fairness doctrine for the 21st century.
Victor Pickard, professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, co-director of the Media, Inequality & Change Center and author of "Democracy Without Journalism?"
Brian Rosenwald, scholar in residence at University of Pennsylvania and author of “Talk Radio’s America: How an Industry Took Over a Political Party That Took Over the United States”