One of the fights that will have a significant long-term effect on the freedom of the press is over net neutrality. Oddly enough, conservatives, even though, at one point, the political blogosphere was predominantly conservative (no, really, it was), have been shrieking about the Fairness Doctrine.
Because, I think, this is a deep play to link TEH EVUL FAIRNESS DOKTRINE to net neutrality–because if there’s one thing corporate America does not want (and that’s who ultimately pulls the conservatives’ strings), it’s cheap and equal access to content*. Adam Reilly in the Boston Phoenix (italics mine):
The most important reason for caution, though, is the nascent effort to link the Fairness Doctrine with Net Neutrality. Without Net Neutrality, the telecom industry will almost certainly create a two-tiered system that privileges some content, while consigning the rest — created, presumably, by those who lack big bucks — to a sort of virtual ghetto.
Thus far, Net Neutrality hasn’t been a partisan issue. Obama supports it; so does NARAL Pro-Choice America; so does the Christian Coalition and the National Rifle Association.
Then, this past August, Republican FCC commissioner Robert McDowell made a similar argument at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Regarding Net Neutrality, McDowell asked, “Will Web sites — will bloggers have to give equal time or equal space on their Web site to opposing views, rather than letting the marketplace of ideas determine that?”
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.)
While I think healthcare and card check are more important, a neutral net is vital for expression in a democracy, whether you’re a conservative or a liberal, or anything else.
*If net neutrality is squashed, how do you think they’ll treat porn? It earns a lot of money for the intertubes….