Rasmussen: Fairness Doctrine Supported by Nearly Half of all Americans

by on August 14, 2008 · 4 comments

An interesting poll out today by pollster Scott Rasmussen:  Asked whether the government should require all radio and television stations to offer equal amounts of liberal and conservative political commentary,  47 percent — nearly half — said “yes.”  (39 percent were opposed).  Perhaps even more surprising, support has increased since last year, when Americans split evenly (41-41) on this issue.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be a  surprise.  Americans, after all, have long been lukewarm about the First Amendment, with opinion polls famously (though perhaps apocryphally) have long shown  would itself be opposed by most Americans.   Moreover, a casual answer to a pollster is a long way from active support of a particular law.

Still, the results of this poll should be troubling for defenders of free speech in general, and opponents of the fairness doctrine in particular.   Although an explicit re-institution of the long-dead doctrine is still not likely, this poll underscores the general danger of other content controls that may achieve the same ends under a different name.

Oh, and those of you who get their news from blogs shouldn’t feel too cocky about the dangers faced by the old-fashioned broadcasters.  The same Rasmussen poll showed that 31 percent of the public supports Fairness Doctrine controls on blogs, too.

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