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Conservative BiasHow Jesse Helms Pioneered the Rise of Right-Wing Media and Realigned the Republican Party$
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Bryan Hardin Thrift

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813049311

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813049311.001.0001

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“An Uncommon Number of Moral Degenerates”

“An Uncommon Number of Moral Degenerates”

The Conservative Alternative and the Fairness Doctrine

Chapter:
(p.82) 3 “An Uncommon Number of Moral Degenerates”
Source:
Conservative Bias
Author(s):

Bryan Hardin Thrift

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813049311.003.0004

The Federal Communication Commission required broadcast stations, both radio and TV, to renew their licenses every three years. Before Helms arrived at WRAL, license renewals were routine, but his editorials and changes at the FCC meant scrutiny of the station’s political activity. The FCC’s Fairness Doctrine required stations to seek out opposing opinions when they editorialized on controversial issues, and the Equal Time rule obliged stations to offer response time to individuals they criticized. Helms’s political intentions at WRAL meant he pushed what the station could get away with to the limit. His use of WRAL to advance the conservative movement meant challenges to license renewals in 1963 and 1966. North Carolina’s moderate Democrats recognized Helms’s intentions. The FCC investigated the station and issued warnings. WRAL adopted new policies, but little changed. Helms chose whose dissent to air and shaped what they could say. In many cases he managed to use the opposition to conservatism’s advantage.

Keywords:   Federal Communication Commission, Fairness Doctrine, Equal Time

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