Sunday, August 30, 2009
The Stat Boy Rule
There has been talk of the return of the Fairness Doctrine, in which the government asked radio stations as part of their license to use the airwaves owned by the public and leased to the corporations to air opposing viewpoints. Personally, I don't think it would work. Things have gotten to such a state of polarity that no station could stay in business airing Rush Limbaugh in the morning and Rachel Maddow in the afternoon.
Here is my counter-proposal: The Stat Boy Rule, which is to say, real time ombudsmen. The ESPN show Pardon the Interruption has two hosts, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, yapping about sports and stating their opinions for a half hour, and at the end they hand off to Tony Reali, a.k.a. Stat Boy, who corrects the factual errors, not from his encyclopedic knowledge base, which I'm sure he has to some extent, but from that real-time encyclopedia we all have at our fingertips, the internet.
The law I would like to see would go something like this. If a show wants to be categorized as a news show, it promises some amount of time, say one minute every half hour, to correct any statements that are just the babblings of the hosts. Any show that opts out of the real time ombudsman program gets this boilerplate announcement at the top of every half hour.
This is a show of opinion and not fact. Nothing said here is promised to be true. When offered the chance to have an ombudsman to verify the claims made on this show, the producers decided against it. This show is broadcast for entertainment purposes and not for information.
I don't know how many dittoheads would be wakened from their slumbers by such an announcement every half hour, but I would assume it would be more than a few.