A New Democratic Era Calls for A New Fairness Doctrine

I continue to be astounded by the mentality of the Donald Trump-faithful who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Fired up by weeks of baseless lies by Trump and his lawyers that the election was “stolen”, his minions attempted a violent overthrow of the government. People died. They attacked the  very fabric of our democracy. Yet these people thought they could just go back to work on Monday like nothing had happened.

These people didn’t go to Washington D.C. to say goodbye to Donald Trump. These people descended on Washington D.C. ready and willing to do whatever Trump asked of them so he could stay in power.

This wasn’t a coup that just magically happened. This insurrection was Trump’s clear and purposeful attempt to overthrow the government and remain in power. His followers thought they were doing his bidding as they killed and maimed police. They erected gallows and hunted the Capitol with the intent on hanging Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Then come Monday, they went back to their everyday lives.

This disconnect between wrong and right reflects hints of the movie The Purge. In that cinematic world, society has one day a year where you can engage in any criminal activity you want with no repercussions. People murder during the Purge, then go back to work the next day. That’s what happened with the Capitol attacks. People engaged in murder, assault, and destruction as if there were no laws, then showed up for work come Monday morning.

I’m thankful that the FBI and CIA have been diligently tracking down the Trump rioters who stormed the Capitol. I will be very interested to find out the specifics of the investigation by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia into whether Republican congressmen and congresswomen had given reconnaissance tours of the Capitol in the days leading up to the Trump-endorsed coup.

Thus far Trump himself has not faced any true repercussions for trying to overthrow the government. Sure, he was impeached by the House of Representatives, but without the threat of punishment by the Senate it was a fruitless effort. Trump continues to babble baseless conspiracy theories that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” via widespread voter fraud. Before resigning Attorney General Bill Barr, a man handpicked by Trump to be his right-hand man, said there was no evidence of any widespread voter fraud. Trump just made it up. Because that’s all Trump does. He just makes crap up. Like injecting people with Clorox – no scientist suggested that to him. He just made it up.

In response to the claims by Trump and members of his inner circle that the election was ripe with fraud, voting machine manufacturers Dominion and Smartmatic have filed suit against Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani. They are being sued for billions of dollars for making baseless claims while knowing there was no evidence to support them. They have not ruled out suing Trump himself.

Both Dominion and Smartmatic also filed suit against Fox News for its broadcast of the unfounded conspiracy theories as if they were fact. I fear lawsuits against the far-right wing press like Fox News won’t end up being effective as they should. There used to be The Fairness Doctrine. Established by the Unites States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1949, the policy required that holders of broadcast licenses present both sides of controversial issues and do so in a manner that is honest, equitable, and balanced. That doctrine was abolished by Ronald Reagan’s FCC. An attempt to revive it by Congress in 1987 met with Reagan’s veto.

Fox News and other right-wing propaganda machines emerged out of the lawlessness enabled by media not having to adhere to honest coverage. Fox News has successfully argued in court that no reasonable person would find their news coverage believable.

I know less about Newsmax and One America News Network (OANN), but I understand they make Fox News look liberal. However, Newsmax did just settle with Dominion Security Director Eric Coomer. A part of that settlement involved Newsmax releasing a statement that the network knew there was no evidence of any voter fraud but broadcast that there was as if it was fact.

We need to put truth back in journalism. Nobody should have to take a network to court to stop them from telling lies. And the fact that the Fox News, “nobody is dumb enough to believe us” defense works even in some cases is just mind blowing.

Right now, Democrats control the House, the Senate (via Vice President tie breaker), and the Presidency.  Who knows what the 2022 elections will do to the control of those branches? We need to take action now.

If you believe in a return to journalistic integrity, contact your Senators and Representatives. Tell them you support a reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. Tell President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as well. We need to raise our voices together so that we are heard.

For information on contacting your Senators visit www.senate.gov.

For information on contacting your Representatives visit www.house.gov.

For information on contacting the White House visit: www.whitehouse.gov.

Peace. Love. Trust.

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