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.


Lockwood said...

Interesting idea, but I don't think it would work either. First, it would take a minute to correct what the Glenn Becks of the world spew in 15 seconds. Second, I doubt any news shows would opt in, whatever their leanings. Third, so many are now subscribed to the "reality has a well-known liberal bias" (or corporate bias, for us lefties) meme, that any corrections would be ignored.

I'm just not convinced that reality matters to most people anymore.

Matty Boy said...

That's why I included the "opt out" provision.

If a show has more errors, a chiron correction could be included.

Anonymous said...

I seriously doubt Limbaugh listeners would understand the disclaimer you propose. I do, however, think a person who incites people to violence, Glenn Beck calling Obama a racist comes to mind, should be prosecuted under our Terrorist Laws. Something like that has to happen to stop these nutters from carrying loaded guns to a presidential meeting. You know something bad will happen sooner or later. Interesting post Matty.