This is a stupid question. The Fairness Doctrine involved government mandating, in certain cases, that specific content be added to a particular media entity. In contrast, Net Neutrality doesn't involve intrusion into content; it only dictates absolute freedom of (virtual) movement. It's the opposite of what McDowell seems to think.
But as Joe Campbell, author of the blog 2parse.com, recently noted in a post linking Thierer's paper and McDowell's remarks, this is about tactics, not logic. If conservative Net Neutrality supporters come to see it as the Fairness Doctrine 2.0 — something that's more easily done if the Fairness Doctrine is already on everyone's brain, as it is today — they might rethink their support. Given Democratic gains in Congress and Obama's support for Net Neutrality, Campbell argues, "This is the big corporations' only chance to squash Net Neutrality."
Now that's a scary prospect. The Web is the future of news media. (It's also a battleground where, at the moment, Democrats are totally dominating Republicans.) Bringing back the Fairness Doctrine is a dubious proposition, period. But if doing so could jeopardize the success of Net Neutrality, it's downright reckless.
Instead of reliving an old-media battle that's run its course, Democrats should focus instead on making Net Neutrality a reality. And Obama should help them by stating that he'll veto any legislation aimed at restoring the Fairness Doctrine that crosses his desk. Let the right worry about something else.
To read the "Don't Quote Me" blog, go to thePhoenix.com/medialog. Adam Reilly can be reached at email@example.com.
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