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The short view

FCC Chairman Bill Kennard's unrecusal from the equal-time/personal-attack proceeding last week will end a years-long deadlock and could finally prune those appendages of the long-dead Fairness Doctrine. That is, of course, if the chairman votes to excise them as the First Amendment demands. It would be a chance for the chairman to demonstrate that he himself is not an appendage of the Gore campaign, as was suggested last week by those attributing political motives to his decision.

Under the cynical political scenario, Kennard would vote for preserving those "fairness" corollaries, in lockstep with Gore's campaign stand, and, beyond that, would support a return of the entire discredited doctrine, again in lockstep, this time with the Democratic Party platform.

In our scenario, Kennard votes on principle, moves broadcasting closer to full free-speech rights and wears a badge of honor. In the other, he sports a campaign button of a grinning donkey labeled "Al Pal." We think he knows which is more appropriate to the FCC chairman.