Fairness Doctrine, redux

FAIRNESS DOCTRINE, REDUX…. This will probably cause some far-right heartburn, and will no doubt serve as the basis for countless conservative fundraising letters, but it’s very likely to be meaningless, as a practical matter.

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, said Monday she will work to restore the Fairness Doctrine and have it apply to cable and satellite programming as well as radio and TV.

“I’ll work on bringing it back. I still believe in it,” Eshoo told the Daily Post in Palo Alto. […]

Eshoo said she would recommend the doctrine be applied not only to radio and TV broadcasts, but also to cable and satellite services. “It should and will affect everyone,” she said.

She called the present system “unfair,” and said “there should be equal time for the spoken word.”

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced yesterday that he’s “troubled” by Eshoo’s proposal, and a few far-right blogs are voicing concerns.

So, what about all of those posts I wrote, insisting that there’s no chance that the Fairness Doctrine would be reinstated? They’re still true.

Look, all kinds of bills are introduced every year, mostly for symbolic value. The sponsors know their legislation has no realistic shot of passing, and the bills are assigned to committee, where they never see the light of day. It’s routine and uninteresting.

Indeed, some members, every Congress, bring up a Fairness Doctrine proposal. And every Congress, it picks up a handful of co-sponsors before disappearing.

With all due respect to Eshoo, this is exactly what’s going to happen again. We may hear a great deal about Eshoo’s bill on Fox News and far-right talk-radio sometime soon, but there’s no reason to take it seriously.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.