Loose Ends (51)

By chance I happened to stumble across this brief summary judgment of Otto von Bismarck from The Spectator from some time in the 1870s: “The man’s policy is detestable, but his objects are great, his plans adequate, and his ability marvelous.” With a couple of slight modifications, this sounds close to someone on our mind constantly today, doesn’t it?

Speaking of Trump, I happened to have dinner with a prominent Trump supporter the other night who regaled with tales of a recent dinner with Trump at the White House. “Just about every number or statistic Trump gave was completely wrong,” this person said, before going on to note that the errors were immaterial, because in each case he thought Trump had a real insight into actual conditions of the economy, public opinion, and where things are going. Trump’s instincts are what counts.

It was not even a decade ago that Democrats held a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority in the Senate, and a decent majority in the House. Strange thing—there were no complaints from Democrats then about the anti-majoritarian nature of the Senate, nor complaints about gerrymandering of House districts. These constitutional features only become a crisis when they benefit Republicans. (Prediction: If Democrats do less well than expected next week, expect shrieks about “gerrymandering” and “vote suppression” because it’s against the “Side of History” for Democrats to lose elections.)

Likewise right now the left is talking a lot about the necessity to revive the “Fairness Doctrine” in broadcasting, because of the left’s Fox News Derangement Syndrome. Never mind the impulse to censor speech the left doesn’t like that is behind this enthusiasm; it doesn’t even get the history of the original Fairness Doctrine (repealed by the Reagan Administration in 1987) correctly rendered. The original legal justification for it was that the broadcast spectrum—allocated by government license remember—was a scare resource. But Fox News is on cable, and the cable spectrum is virtually unlimited. So what’s the problem? If you don’t like Fox News, just start five more clones of MSNBC and CNN. The real problem for the left is that too many people watch Fox News.

The situation with Rush Limbaugh is different, since he is on the old-fashioned radio spectrum. The Clinton Administration considered trying to revive the Fairness Doctrine in the mid-1990s, in what was obviously recognized and correctly labeled as the “Hush Rush Rule,” and abandoned the idea likely when lawyers told them they had a losing hand. But imagine that a Sander’s Administration in 2021 re-imposed a Fairness Doctrine against Rush. What would happen? I expect it would kill off AM radio for good, as Rush and other talk shows would move fully to satellite radio and internet platforms (where they already have a presence anyway). Without the large audiences and ad revenue from talk radio, many AM radio stations would likely go out of business.

While we’re on the subject of the media, here’s reason 12,186 why the mainstream media is so widely hated. Notice the difference in these two headlines about the recent gunman shot by an armed citizen at a McDonald’s:

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