In an interview with Glenn Beck, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson declared that if elected, he wouldn’t eliminate the Department of Education, as parts of the conservative movement have long urged. “I actually have something I would use the Department of Education to do,” he said. “It would be to monitor our institutions of higher education for extreme political bias and deny federal funding if it exists.”
That sounds a lot like the fairness doctrine, which required federally licensed broadcast outlets to present civic matters in a way that bureaucrats at the FCC deemed honest, equitable, and balanced. Its 1987 repeal was one factor in the rise of talk radio, and movement conservatives hate it so much that every year or two there are conspiracy theories about Democrats wanting to reimpose it on the country.
They’re right to hate the fairness doctrine—and they should hate Ben Carson’s proposal, too.
Revoking university funding for political bias sounds like it would involve federal officials punishing speech based on its viewpoint, a clear violation of the First Amendment.
And even if it weren’t unconstitutional and hypocritical––a right-wing version of the very abrogations of intellectual freedom on campus that the right-wing correctly inveighs against––it is a remarkably dumb proposal, even for an unprincipled, big-government conservative who wants nothing more than to stick it to the left-wing.