Another Fairness Doctrine Alert

, Irene Warren, Leave a comment

While America waits in the balance for the next Administration to take control of the White House, political and governance studies experts met at the Brookings Institution recently to discuss the President-elect’s public policy stance on climate change and the current global economic crisis that challenges the very viability of the nation. They also want to bring the Fairness Doctrine to radio broadcasting.

As a way to express legitimate public policy concerns, Darrell West, vice-president and director of the Brookings Governance Studies offered to draft a public memo to present to the President-elect and his team, which suggested specific ways for bringing “a polarized electorate together.” According to the Brookings Institution Press, “this will be the first of 12 Brookings memos on the most crucial public policy priorities facing the new president.” Thus, the key message for deliberations centered around the question, “What do we do now?”

West indicated in his 2008 memo that “the big Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008 hardly spell the end to political polarization in the United States—With more than four in five citizens believing the country is headed in the wrong direction and public trust in government at an all-time low, defusing public skepticism and overcoming institutional obstacles will be a major challenge.” Therefore, West suggested that the new Administration focus on “Tempering expectations, educate citizens about the need for a new leadership approach, employ technology as a game changer, extend technology innovation to electronic rulemaking and feedback, restore the Media Fairness Doctrine and Requirements for Television Public Affairs Broadcasting.”

“Winning an election in a polarized nation is one thing—governing it is quite another,” the Brookings Institution pointed out in its November 2008 event summary. “So where should the president-elect begin and what tactics should he employ in order to effectively govern,” asked the Brookings Institution.

“Now that you have been elected president, the hard work of governance begins,” West noted in his memo, November 7, 2008. “You hold strong majorities in the Senate and House, but you must make sure that your party’s control of the federal government does not encourage complacency within the administration.”

Continuing, West explained that “in the weeks ahead, you [President-elect] face several important tasks. You must:

• Unify the country;
• Staff your administration;
• Identify your priorities;
• Address immediate and crucial policy challenges; and
• Fix our political system.”

“All these imperatives require leadership, coalition-building, implementation and communications.”

Concluding, West advised the new Administration to, “Don’t hold grudges, befriend your enemies, and tell Republicans you meant all that talk about bipartisanship. To show you are serious, put adversaries in your Cabinet—a leadership style that worked for your home-state hero, Abraham Lincoln. Ask leaders who opposed you for advice. With the federal government facing a trillion dollar deficit, an economy in recession and two wars abroad, you are going to need all the help you can get!”

As a final note, Strobe Talbott, the president of Brookings, declared, “Starting today we’re going to be putting out a series of a dozen memos to the President beginning with memos on the issues of governance and climate change.”

Talbott noted in his November 2008 events summary that “American politics as we all know has a way of generating both light and heat. It also generates clichés, and I’ve noticed half a dozen times just in the last couple of days how we’re constantly being told that we have now entered what’s known in shorthand as the Robert Redford moment of this extraordinary, epic presidential year.” Thus, Robert Redford plays the role of the presidential candidate in Stephen Hess’ recent book entitled, “What Do We Do Now?”

“The period from Election Day to Inauguration Day in America seems impossibly short. Newly elected U.S. presidents have less than eleven weeks to construct a new government composed of supporters and strangers, hailing from all parts of the nation,” Hess notes on the cover of his book. “This unique and daunting process always involves at least some mistakes—in hiring, perhaps, or in policy priorities, or organizational design. Early blunders can carry serious consequences well into a president’s term; minimizing them from the outset is critical.”

The Brookings Institution points out that “Stephen Hess draws from his long experience as a White House staffer and presidential adviser to show what can be done to make presidential transitions go smoothly.”

Irene Warren is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.