In his Nov. 27 letter attacking Tom Shales for supporting the "fairness doctrine," Gene Mater said that Mr. Shales' Nov. 17 article "would fail any fairness test." He implied that such an article could not have been printed if the fairness doctrine that applied to broadcasters for so many years also applied to newspapers.
If the fairness doctrine applied to newspapers, all The Post would have to show is that it had published, as it has, editorials, articles and letters such as Mr. Mater's expressing views contrary to those in Mr. Shales' piece. In fact, the publication of Mr. Mater's letter alone would be considered compliance with the fairness rules that the Federal Communications Commission used to enforce on broadcasters.
When Mr. Mater was vice president for news practices at CBS News, I often tried to get CBS to do what The Post has done for him: expose its viewers to different views or a different set of facts from those aired by CBS. I think that, without exception, Mr. Mater rejected every such request. CBS News does not have an op-ed page, nor does it employ commentators such as Tom Shales who are free to disagree with the official CBS line. Its only "letters to the editor" are a few brief comments criticizing or praising stories on "60 Minutes."
It isn't just the fairness doctrine that the networks dislike, it's fairness.
REED IRVINE Chairman, Accuracy in Media Washington