The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Should the Fairness Doctrine Be Reenacted?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/11/2017 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 638 times Debate No: 104395
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (9)
Votes (0)




The first round is accepting the debate, and the other 4 are for making points/rebutting. You must do research on the topic!


Hey, williamschulz! This is Sam Larson, debating for the Marquette University High School Lincoln Douglas Debate Team. I accept the challenge, and I am ready to debate
Debate Round No. 1


Hey Sam Larson!

Thank you for accepting the debate. Here is why I believe that the Fairness Doctrine should be reenacted: But first, some backstory...

The Fairness Doctrine was enacted in the 1940's and required that both sides of an issue were spoken of on news channels. however, in 1987, the Reagan administration did away with the Doctrine.

Supported by the US Supreme Court:
US Supreme Court ruling in 1969 upheld the constitutionality of the Doctrine, stating that The First Amendment is not broken by the Doctrine and no public rights were violated
"It is the right of the viewers and listeners, not the right of the broadcasters, which is paramount."
Follows First Amendment:
The text"s actual words state "A broadcast licence shall afford reasonable opportunity for discussing conflicting views on matters of public importance."
Enforces First Amendment because the statement does not force words of the host, but rather allows the host to word the opposing argument the way he chooses.
Depolarizes Biased Channels:
American thought and American politics will be largely at the mercy of those who operate these stations, for publicity is the most powerful weapon that can be wielded in a republic. (Rep. Luther Johnson)
FOX News, CBS, and CNN are several examples of such leftist and rightist channels
By devoting a section to the opposing view, there may still be bias, but it will give public an idea of the issue
Encourages Wider Political Spectrum:
Indeed, when it was in place, citizen groups used the Fairness Doctrine as a tool to expand speech and debate. For instance, it prevented stations from allowing only one side to be heard on ballot measures. ( )
More competition for liberals and conservatives to place ads in the shows
Companies and Organizations were able to go hand in hand in several issues with statements. Examples include National Rifle Association and Accuracy in Media.
A more Informed public:
As the Commission stated in its 1949 Editorializing Report, it is the "right of the public to be informed .. . which is the foundation stone of the American system of broadcasting."'
More informed public will then be able to make informed choices within community and government, can reasonably defend their view, which encourages compromise.
Limits Personal Attacks:
When a response is presented, the public is given the opportunity to hear that a person involved in a public controversy may not be as the attacker depicted him. Similarly, the candidate who was not endorsed or who was specifically opposed in an editorial gets his chance to present a different view on how the public should vote.
By limiting personal attacks, public can get an accurate idea about the person/group
Doesn"t Hurt Stations and License:
Joshua Schulz PhD
The government applies rules to all stations fairly, so that all stations are encouraged to follow the rules so as to avoid a fee/no licence.
This increases the probability of stations following the Fairness Doctrine so that both sides are heard, and the channels can stay competitive by offering a different view on the opposing side
Reduces negative externalities like FOX and CBS despite a loss of "efficiency" like time


Thanks for the rational argument! As to how this argument will be structured, I will attack my opponents points, then move on to my own arguments.

First, he tells you that the 69 USSC ruling upholds the constitutionality of the doctrine and that the FD, in fact, enforces the first amendment.

-Here, this is a clear no-link scenario. He doesn't provide any reason why the affirmative sides provide any additional solvency for the first amendment, you can't buy that the first amendment rights of the general public or of the news stations are being protected more under an aff world.

Second, he tells you that the fairness doctrine would depolarize biased channels.

-However, this is non-unique: Thierer 93A "The broadcast world has changed since 1949. With the proliferation of informational resources and technology, the number of broadcast outlets available to the public has increased steadily. In such an environment. The result of a reinstituted fairness doctrine would not be fair at all. In practice, much controversial speech heard today would be stifled as the threat of random investigations and warnings discouraged broadcasters from airing what FCC bureaucrats might refer to as "unbalanced" views."
The impacts of biased channels are not only inevitable, they are being solved in the status-quo, meaning this argument generates no real offense for my opponent

Next, he says that American though and politics will be at the mercy of those who operate these stations, and that publicity is a very powerful weapon. He also states that the FD would help to solve for this bias by giving the public a chance to shape opinion.

-There are quite a few gaping holes in this argument. First, the Fairness Doctrine doesn't force the opposing opinions to be represented evenly. In fact, you can see today that people such as Milo Yiannopolous are brought on to liberal networks to debate with people who agree more with the views outlined in the network. This is a common strategy to promote one's viewpoint, by refuting others views on television, often in unfairly structured debates. Forcing every news station to do this isn't solving any of the bias these stations create, in fact, the FD will be co-opted as a broadcasting strategy, furthering the polarization of American media, this turns my opponents argument here. But secondly,
Thierer 93B

"As defined by proponents of the doctrine, "fairness" apparently means that each broadcaster must offer airtime to anyone with a controversial view. Since it is impossible for every station to be monitored constantly, FCC regulators would arbitrarily determine what "fair access" is, and who is entitled to it, through selective enforcement. This, of course, puts immense power into the hands of federal regulators. And in fact, the fairness doctrine was used by both the Kennedy and Nixon Administrations to limit political opposition. Telecommunications scholar Thomas W. Hazlett notes that under the Nixon Administration, "License harassment of stations considered unfriendly to the Administration became a regular item on the agenda at White House policy meetings."

This also turns case: putting power in the hands of FCC regulators doesn't solve, and considering we have a bigoted pumpkin in office right now, the Nixon Administration argument is incredibly relevant. Insofar as the FD was often used as a tool to attack stations against the president, which means in the status quo leftist stations will be attacked by the FD not because of violations but on technicalities, which means his impacts about a wider political spectrum certainly won't happen under the FD, because it will be used to silence opposition groups.

He also tells you that the Fairness Doctrine will promote speech and debate.

-As a Lincoln Douglas debater, I understand the benefits of speech and debate better than most, however, this is why you should be negating. My response here is Theory: First, the interpretation is that in order for my opponent to be debating the topic, he must affirm through a specific plan. On the violations, my opponent provides blanket statements for why the FD would be good, without making an arguments to enforcability, feasibility, or specific policy action. The standards and the reasons you should prefer my interpretation of the topic is that a lack of focus on policy cedes the political: Full rejection of policy creates political antipathy - a few arguments:
State engagement is the only way to solve the aff " external political movements get pepper sprayed into submission until they begin to engage in politics. Occupy Wall Street was utterly ineffective in accomplishing anything until politicians decided to attempt to enact modest reforms " this puts the aff in a double bind:
Either the aff eventually collapses to policy action, which means that they have to justify why defending instrumental government action is problematic now but not later OR
The aff never engages the state, which means that best-case scenario, privileged members of society can move to Mendocino to live on the magical postmodernist commune the aff wants while minority communities in places like Texas and South Carolina are ravaged by discriminatory legislation enacted by the hard right left behind to govern.
Ceding the political gives power to right-wing extremism. Both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street are characterized by resentment of governmental elites, but while Occupy floundered in Zuccotti Park the Tea Party organized politically and became a major voting bloc, allowing a bigoted pumpkin to become the GOP nominee. Extremists hijack existing political structures and use police force to suppress any movement " this turns the aff. We should promote whichever side provides the best space for speech and debate, and we can't have a good speech and debate community without first deciding on theory, thus you should negate. But furthermore

He tells you the FD leads to a more informed public

However, cross-apply my argument about unfair representation, you can clearly see that simply providing this representation doesn't lead to a more informed public unless the representation is fair, which it won't be.

And, he tells you that the FD limits personal attacks

However, this is also non-unique, it doesn't just happen by affirming. Again, cross-apply the unfair representation argument, the person who must defend themselves will be portrayed by the station using the power they have over the narrative as whatever the station desires, meaning that people defending themselves won't help because the defense is unequal.

And finally, he makes the argument that it won't hurt stations and licenses

First, this doesn't provide him any offense, it is merely a response to a possible argument a negative might make, but secondly, and more importantly, you should prefer my empiric evidence that tells you this policy would be used by Trump to restrict new agencies that oppose him over the "Joshua Schulz" PhD arguments. Unless I'm terribly mistaken, your father doesn't have a PhD in domestic policy or political science, I think its in philosophy but I'm not sure. Stop trying to use your father to make an argument. And finally, this isn't logical, because stations will follow the letter of the FD, not the spirit, solving your representation impacts. Technically, both sides are heard, but in reality, only one side is promoted

So, the reasons you can be voting neg today are on the impact turns I make, that his arguments are not unique to the FD. You can also vote on theory, because the negative promotes a more accessible style of speech and debate, and you can vote on the negative affects that the FD would have by giving increased power to FCC agents. Due to the fact that my opponent has no real offense and the fact that I solve all his problems better than he does, I urge a negative ballot.
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you for your points. I will first rebut my opponent's points and reaffirm my own. Second, I will take his problems and form solutions to be used as a rebut. Third, I will provide him with my Theory, which he asked about me not having. This will sum up my plan for how I would like the Fairness Doctrine to work. Finally, I will ask my opponent several questions as a cross-examination which may/may not be answered in his third responce.

First, my opponent says that "you can't buy that the first amendment rights of the general public or of the news stations are being protected more under an aff world." However, this strays from my original point, being that the Fairness Doctrine follows suit with the first amendment. Opponents of the Fairness Doctrine will argue that the government impedes upon the rights of hosts of news channels by forcing them to argue for the other side. On the contrary, the first ammendment is not being broken, as my previous points from the actual document stated, "Reasonable oppertunity for discussing conflicting views." This means that editorials, interviews, and primary documents can be used, and the freedom is very open in debating the conflict. Therefore, it is not a matter of protection of the first amendment, it is about the news channel's approach to issue while given free speech under the first ammendment.

While my opponent's second point holds ground on a broad level, diving into the specifics makes the argument irrelevent. He states that controversial speech would be "stiffled as the threat of random investigators and warnings discoured broadcasters from airing what FCC bereaucrats might refer to as 'unbalanced views'." This may be true in a broad level that some contraversial speech may be discouraged, but think about news at an even broader level. The government doesn't always have the time/energy to be fact checking every channel and although the FCC bureaucrats may have some leverage, it really is not in their power. Any conflicts would be in conflict with the law, namely the nature of the Fairness Doctrine, and be sent to court. The courts have not backed down from taking cases such as these, like the previously mentioned 69 case. The bureaucrats in this case could act as lawyers and present evidence, but not actually hold the power to attack a channel. This, I believe, should go to the general public, but individual opinions would not be suffice to attack the channel.

However, I do agree with my opponent that not all debates would be 'fair' and unqualified people may be called in to represent the opposing side. Nevertheless, any issue noted would go to the courts and the courts would lay down the answer. Yes, there may be some holes in that argument, but consider this... Even if unqualified people are called in to represent the opposite side, does that make the Fairness Doctrine any less legal or unnecessary? The answer, in my opinion, is no.

Similarly, my opponent may be correct that FCC regulators would have a lot of power, that does not make 'fair acess' arbitrary. One definition of arbitrary means decided by a judge or arbiter rather than by a law or statute ( However, all cases must be decided by law and statute, and to remain relevant, fairness would have a certain set of rights and terms that define it in a broad sense, and not in the 'selective enforcement' my opponent described.

Now we come to my theory. This is, however, a theory. I am not trained in the legal sense, so this is merely my idea of how the Fairness Doctrine should be applied when it is enacted. I will bring up problems/solutions to support my ideas, but there may be some holes and room to debate/refine the theory.

Okay, so once the Fairness Doctrine is re-enacted, I believe that the first step is to define fairness, so that fairness can be used in a broad sense, and not used specifically, so that if any case arises, judges have an idea of what is being debated. Second, not every issue should be discussed on both sides. I feel that it takes away the point of news, as one aspect of news is to call out the actions of another person's wrong or rightdoings without any opposition in the matter. As an example, let's use Trump's tweets to Puerto Rico. Although there may be some support, the vast majority of people found the tweets distastful and ridiculous. Therefore, the news has every right to call Trump out, without any dissent! Therefore, news that gets double debated should be left to the viewers of the channel, via polls or public opinion. However, not everybody has time to do polls and surveys, and therefore, there should be a mix of both double sides and uni-sided arguments. Who gets to decide? Sadly, the government would have to set an equal time limit to all channels, so while to government would have to get somewhat involved, this would be in the clauses of the Doctrine.

Although I may add or take away from the theory, I would like to reaffirm one point of mine; that free speech and debate IS encouraged. Essentially, this gives news channels options to voice their opinion (and bias) via a debate with another person. This would allow the channel to state its viewpoints while following the guidlines set by the Fairness Doctrine. Now, says the neg, what about the unqualified experts? Yes, yes, it would weaken the overall argument if unqualified experts were brought in, but at this point, aren't my opponent and I also in a sense unqualified? We don't exactly have law or government as a major, but at the same token, with enough research, we can still come in prepared to debate our Point Of View, which is what a debate will oftentimes look for. For that reason, I urge you viewers to vote affirmative, as speech and debate WILL be present at the re-instatement of the fairness doctrine.

Finally, I will leave my opponent with a few questions.

1) If we set news channels with certain standards, like the Fairness Doctrine, won't the news channels comply with the Doctrine to avoid a government fine?

2) Isn't a two-sided argument better than a one-sided argument? If you agree with the latter, please explain how a double-sided argument makes the public equally or less informed than a one-sided argument of the same nature.

3) If President Trump were to in fact limit what was displayed on channels, wouldn't that be a violation of the first ammendment? Then, according to my theory, the news could call Trump out, and maybe take him to court.

In my next argument, I will discuss how the real argument between the two of us is efficiency vs. negative externalities, where I will reaffirm my view that the Fairness Doctrine decreases negative externalities, which should be valued more than efficiency, or time. Until then, I bid my opponent well coming into the end of round 3.


Thanks for the arguments! For a quick roadmap, I'll go down my opponent's arguments and then extend my own, and then provide answers to his questions.

So first: he responds to my argument about rights not being protected more under the aff world, by saying that the first amendment is, in fact, protected. Even if you buy this, it doesn't provide offense. Proving the constitutionality of something doesn't mean that it actually promotes first amendment rights. Just because the FD is barely constitutional doesn't mean it promotes those rights, only that it doesn't violate them.

Second: He responds to my argument about the silencing of controversial speech by telling you to look even further, that the FCC won't be able to fact check every channel. This isn't a response, he literally turns his own argument here. Insofar as the FCC can't actually complete their goals under the FD, then this means it would be ineffective and not do what he says it would do. He also tells you that the power of enforcing the FD should go to the public, however, this is contradictory in nature. The FD must be action-based by the USFG in order to be the Fairness Doctrine, meaning this point doesn't stand.

He concedes that not all debates would be fair, but he says that the court system would go after that, however, the FD doesn't require opinions to be equally represented, so, once again, he's not defending the FD. And, I certainly think that unqualified people being called in does make the FD unnecessary, because that means that the goal won't even be met, making it, thus, unnecessary.

He also concedes that FCC regulators would have a lot of power, but he says that all cases would be decided by statute, to remain relevant and that fairness would be clearly defined. However, let us look at the facts. Since the FD has been implemented once, we can look at what actually happened when it was implemented to provide the best possible evidence for how it works. I have already proven that the fairness doctrine was biased and was used to put down unpopular viewpoints, and his only response is that "it wouldn't happen this time." With no evidence supporting this claim, let's prefer the evidence that explains what actually happened under the fairness doctrine

Next, he provides a plan in response to theory, which was exactly what I asked for. However, this is why I asked for a plan: there are some huge problems in his that need to be addressed. Now that he's clarified his plan, this exact plan is what we will be debating for the rest of this debate. First, he asks us to define fairness, which seems reasonable. However, the second part of his plan, in fact, contradicts his arguments. Let's look at Trump's tweets to Puerto Rico. If the media is determined to crucify Trump about this, then the fairness doctrine literally states that people under attack by the media are also given the right to defend themselves. His plan is such a departure from the FD that we have to consider the possible good point of the FD in this regard. If you actually want to be promoting the ideals of the FD, which you shouldn't, you should be promoting the ability of people to defend themselves on media, instead of possibly hearing Trump's side of the story. An issue-singular echo chamber enforced by your version of the FD would be hurting what you are trying so hard to promote.

So, let's move on to my side. In round 2, I make quite a few arguments, many of which he doesn't respond to.

First, he still attempts to defend that the constitutionality of the FD means it promotes rights, however, I responded to this earlier, and you can look to that response going forward in this round: his side doesn't promote rights, and I concede that it is constitutional.

Second, he stone-cold drops my uniqueness argument. This is super important, and him dropping it turns literally all of his impacts. My Thierer 93A evidence clearly tells you that these problems are being solved in the status quo, and the FD isn't necessary. Even if you buy his impacts and how they happen, these arguments should be arguments against the FD, because the FD doesn't solve anything.

Next, you can extend and look to my argument about Milo Yiannopolous and how liberal (and conservative) networks tend to use opposing viewpoints to reinforce their own, and he completely drops this as well. Again, this is crucial, because not only are the problems being solved in the status quo, the FD will actually be co-opted and used against opposing viewpoints, which turns his case.

Another argument he drops is the Kennedy and Nixon administrations argument, which says that the FD was, empirically, used by Nixon and Kennedy to take out opposing viewpoints. His response here is, in fact, a question, which I will go ahead and answer now. He asks if Trump limiting what was displayed on channels would be a first amendment violation. No frickin duh! Of course, that would be a first amendment violation, and that is exactly why the FD is problematic. The way it is structured, Trump could covertly use the FCC to punish stations that attacked him, and history proves this. Knowing Trump, he will spring at this chance, and networks like NBC and CNN will be punished simply because they are liberal.

And, we can go ahead and extend theory. His response here is to provide a plan. He does provide a partial plan, but he, in his r2 arguments, doesn't defend his plan, he, in fact, contradicts it when he says in r2 that people would be able to defend themselves. He may respond by saying that only examples like that of Trump's tweets won't be defended, but I ask you, where do we draw the line? And who will be deciding where we draw the line? I can answer, empirically, that the conservatives in the house and senate and the executive branch are making these decisions since he doesn't make them in his plan. This means that the things "we can agree are bad" are what Trump and Paul Ryan and conservatives decide, because he cedes the political to them, giving them more power in the aff world. This means that you can either vote neg right now on Theory, or you can kick his arguments about people defending themselves. This is a double bind I fully expect my opponent to resolve.

You can extend my argument about the FD leading to a less informed public, which he drops, and this is a second impact turn.

And, you can extend all of my arguments about his r2 argument that the FD not hurting stations and liscensces doesn't provide any evidence and is solely based on a piece of evidence provided by his father, who has a PhD in-guess what-not anything to do with the fairness doctrine whatsoever. He drops this argument off of the flow, which means that we can't count it in your final decision.

So, I already answered his 3rd question, but let's answer the other two. First, he asks if we set news channels with the FD standards, then won't news channels comply with it to avoid a fine? My answer will be yes, completely. They will follow the FD in the letter of the law, they will "represent" opposing viewpoints, but inequal representation means that the public will be further forced into the belief the station presents because the stations will follow the letter, not the spirit, of the law in order to avoid fines. Plus, you can cross-apply my extended argument that this is being solved right now, which means that even if they do, these problems will already be solved.

His second question is if a two-sided argument is better than a one-sided argument. Yes, it definitely is. However, stations are presenting two-sided arguments already, and they are doing it in a way that is hurting opposing viewpoints and the public opinion of them, which the FD only enforces.

So, judges, you can see that the FD won't actually solve the problems it presents based on two main reasons-

First, the problems are already being solved
Second, the FD will be co-opted to attack opposing viewpoints. Thus, you should negate
Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
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Debate Round No. 5
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by WilliamSchulz 2 years ago
Yes, the Fairness Doctrine definitions look correct to me :)
Posted by WilliamSchulz 2 years ago
Sorry about all those yeahs, my CPU is lagging badly
Posted by WilliamSchulz 2 years ago
Yeah, it is :D
Posted by WilliamSchulz 2 years ago
Yeah, it is :D
Posted by WilliamSchulz 2 years ago
Yeah, it is :D
Posted by WilliamSchulz 2 years ago
Yeah, it is :D
Posted by WilliamSchulz 2 years ago
Yeah, it is :D
Posted by marquettelddebate 2 years ago
Regarding definitions, I define should as: Used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness. This definition comes from Oxford Dictionary.
And, in regards to the fairness doctrine: The fairness doctrine required that TV and radio stations holding FCC issued licenses to devote some of their programming to controversial issues of public importance and to allow the airing of opposing views on these issues. Matthews 2011
If you object to any definitions, let me know in the comments, so we can have a real, non-definitions based debate.
Posted by marquettelddebate 2 years ago
Hold on, is this William?
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