The great paradox of American democracy is that, while Congress has the power to regulate the content television stations broadcast, at present it does not prohibit the broadcast of massive lies and distortions of the truth, or impose any fairness obligation on TV channels such as those currently spewing Trump propaganda.
This is a giant paradox in any democracy, and a huge failure of Congress to use its legislative powers.
There is an interesting history of how the federal government relinquished control of the airwaves, and even auctioned off frequencies used for such TV broadcast transmissions. These decisions, in retrospect, had catastrophic consequences.
But that is not the point now, except to highlight the forces that have been opposed to maintaining the federal regulation of television broadcasting that may be necessary to guarantee fact-based reporting and political debate.
Why should a democracy like ours, or any democracy, tolerate authoritarian-style political propaganda such as that used by Vladimir Putin, Adolf Hitler, or Joseph Stalin?
Well, that’s the way things are, many may think.
Or, you can’t regulate television broadcasting without violating the First Amendment.
Stop and think about that for a minute. The First Amendment does not protect a non-existent right to spew Nazi propaganda, or to foment violence and insurrection.
The Democrats should make it their first order of business to prepare such legislation. It would be a nice warning shot across the bow to stations and networks spewing such lies and propaganda today if the House were to pass such a bill tomorrow.
If the Democrats win the Presidency and the Senate, as well as the House, Democrats should lose no time in passing such legislation early in 2021.
It is time to bring back federal government regulation of Soviet- and Nazi-style propaganda.
The Trenchant Observer