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Via America’s Lawyer: Farron Cousins, Executive Editor for The Trial Lawyer Magazine, talks with Mike about how President Trump’s call for getting equal time for himself and republicans on national television might not end up all in his favor or the party.

Transcription:

Mike P.:
President Trump calls for getting equal time for himself and Republicans on national television after late night show hosts present comedy skits that he calls unfunny and repetitive anti-Trump material. Joining me now to talk about this is executive editor of Trial Lawyer magazine Farron Cousins.

Farron, talk about a throwback topic. First of all, is this legal to do what he’s doing? He’s saying, “Look, if they get up and beat me up, beat up the Republicans, Democrats should be able to come on board or vice versa. Either way, both sides should have equal time.

Farron Cousins:
Well, absolutely, and it is legal. In fact, it used to be the law in this country before Ronald Reagan came forth and destroyed it. Equal time for both sides is actually a very good thing. I was surprised to hear Donald Trump suggests this.

Mike P.:
Well, there’s a history. The history’s really weird on this isn’t it?

Farron Cousins:
Well, it is. We had the Fairness Doctrine, which said, “If you give one side airtime of one issue, you have to give the opposing side, opposing party, equal time to present their case.” It made for a more intelligent public. It gave us more information. It gave us both sides. It presented it in a way that wasn’t trying to manipulate anyone. It was more of a public education.

Mike P.:
First of all, let’s start off with this basic precept: The airways are a public commons.

Farron Cousins:
Right.

Mike P.:
Right. ABC, CBS, NBC operate in those airways because we allow them to operate.

Farron Cousins:
Right.

Mike P.:
We own this, just like we own the running water and the air. This is a public commons. All of a sudden, it became this tool that CBS uses to sell more pharmaceuticals. It became a tool that NBC uses to sell more weapons by McDonnell Douglas, or whatever it may be. It became something that they hustled their way into; and now the odd thing about it is, you’ve got Trump, of all people, saying, “Well, I want equal time.” He doesn’t understand what this did for Rush Limbaugh does he?

Farron Cousins:
Well, exactly. When Reagan came in and destroyed the Fairness Doctrine and then when Clinton came in the 90s with the Telecommunications Act that further consolidated media under corporate ownership, it allowed the Republican, Conservative media to thrive because radio stations no longer had to give equal time to a Republican voice and a Democratic voice. Republicans became more popular, a little bit more inflammatory than the Democratic host, which people liked.

Mike P.:
Yeah.

Farron Cousins:
They enjoyed the anger. It flourished. It pretty much, for the longest time, absolutely killed Progressive radio.

Mike P.:
Yeah.

Farron Cousins:
It all goes back to the death of the Fairness Doctrine is what did that. If we reinstate it, which I am absolutely for, that means every time Rush Limbaugh gets his three hours of airtime a day-

Mike P.:
You got to have someone on the other side.

Farron Cousins:
You got a Democrat who’s got to have three hours.

Mike P.:
Which is not a bad idea.

Farron Cousins:
Right.

Mike P.:
Listen, I got to tell you something. We have been duped by corporate media. We’ve been duped in so many ways, but right now you’ve got these execs sitting on the 50th floor in Wall Street, making decisions that affect us where it comes to war, where it comes to the environment, where it comes to elections, where it comes to international conflict. They effect that every day. They’re using the public commons, the airways, to do that. If somebody disagrees, they should have equal time. Right now, they don’t have equal time. I can tell you that, having worked in that industry for a lot of years, on and off.

Look, what does this mean to Conservative-based media?

Farron Cousins:
Well, I think it would be a huge blow to Conservative media because right now they dominate everything. They dominate the airwaves. For every few hours of Conservative talk out there, there’s only a few minutes of Progressive or Democratic-leaning talk out there. It’s going to force these radio stations, the Clear Channels, the Sinclairs they’re going to have to scale back on their Conservative talkers, which is going to hurt Limbaugh, hurt the Glen Becks and Sean Hannitys and Fox News.

Mike P.:
Yeah. Maybe we’ll get some talented Progressives out there.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.