UC Law SF Communications and Entertainment Journal


Ian Klein


The FCC Fairness Doctrine required that all major broadcasting outlets spend equal time covering both sides of all controversial issues of national importance. The Fairness Doctrine remained the standard for decades before it stopped being enforced during the Reagan administration, and was removed from the Federal Register during the Obama administration. Since the Fairness Doctrine’s disappearance, the perception by conservatives and progressives alike has been that major media outlets display overt biases towards one political affiliation or the other. As it becomes harder to determine real news from “fake news,” Americans’ trust in media is at an all-time low. An appreciable number of people of various political affiliations now want the Fairness Doctrine to be reintroduced in some form. The purpose of this article is threefold: first, to examine the modern analogues to legal and Constitutional issues that the Fairness Doctrine overcame in its infancy, as Section II explains. Second, to explore modern problems vis-à-vis media distrust, bias, and reliability, as Section III discusses. Third, to explain why a “Fairness Doctrine 2.0” would go a long way towards curbing the biases in broadcast news media and restoring the American public’s trust in journalism, outlined in Section IV. Finally, Section V will offer alternative solutions to the modern issues of media bias, public distrust of media, and “fake news.”