Equal Time with Fred Thompson

If you're lucky "“ and home sick, without TiVo "“ you can spend eight hours watching Law & Order reruns on TNT. But there may come a day when a dose of non-L&O programming must be forced into rotation.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Fred Thompson's potential Presidential candidacy could give the network some problems. "Because of federal equal-time provisions, broadcasters that run programs featuring Thompson would open themselves up to requests from other candidates for an equivalent platform. With at least 10 other Republican hopefuls, that could be a daunting prospect."

The thing is, these laws were drawn up before we had hundreds of channels and Dick Wolf. Cable TV is not mentioned, and there's barely a precedent. During the 2003 California recall election, F/X and The Sci Fi Channel chose not to air movies starring candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here are a few Equal Time Rule nuggets, courtesy of Howard Klieman and The Museum of Television and Radio:

  • The equal opportunity requirement dates back to the first major broadcasting law in the United States, the Radio Act of 1927. Legislators were concerned that without mandated equal opportunity for candidates, some broadcasters might try to manipulate elections.
  • In 1959, Congress created four exemptions to the equal opportunity law. Stations who gave time to candidates on regularly scheduled newscasts, news interviews shows, documentaries (assuming the candidate wasn't the primary focus of the documentary), or on-the-spot news events would not have to offer equal time to other candidates for that office.
  • Congress voted during the 1960 presidential campaign to allow Richard Nixon and John Kennedy to engage in a series of debates without the participation of third party candidates.
  • Since a 1971 amendment, a station must offer a candidate the rate it offers its most favored advertiser. Thus, if a station gives a discount to a commercial sponsor because it buys a great deal of air time, the station must offer the same discount to any candidate regardless of how much time he or she purchases.
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Feeling Down? Lifting Weights Can Lift Your Mood, Too
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There’s plenty of research that suggests that exercise can be an effective treatment for depression. In some cases of depression, in fact—particularly less-severe ones—scientists have found that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants, which don’t work for everyone and can come with some annoying side effects. Previous studies have largely concentrated on aerobic exercise, like running, but new research shows that weight lifting can be a useful depression treatment, too.

The study in JAMA Psychiatry, led by sports scientists at the University of Limerick in Ireland, examined the results of 33 previous clinical trials that analyzed a total of 1877 participants. It found that resistance training—lifting weights, using resistance bands, doing push ups, and any other exercises targeted at strengthening muscles rather than increasing heart rate—significantly reduced symptoms of depression.

This held true regardless of how healthy people were overall, how much of the exercises they were assigned to do, or how much stronger they got as a result. While the effect wasn’t as strong in blinded trials—where the assessors don’t know who is in the control group and who isn’t, as is the case in higher-quality studies—it was still notable. According to first author Brett Gordon, these trials showed a medium effect, while others showed a large effect, but both were statistically significant.

The studies in the paper all looked at the effects of these training regimes on people with mild to moderate depression, and the results might not translate to people with severe depression. Unfortunately, many of the studies analyzed didn’t include information on whether or not the patients were taking antidepressants, so the researchers weren’t able to determine what role medications might play in this. However, Gordon tells Mental Floss in an email that “the available evidence supports that [resistance training] may be an effective alternative and/or adjuvant therapy for depressive symptoms that could be prescribed on its own and/or in conjunction with other depression treatments,” like therapy or medication.

There haven’t been a lot of studies yet comparing whether aerobic exercise or resistance training might be better at alleviating depressive symptoms, and future research might tackle that question. Even if one does turn out to be better than the other, though, it seems that just getting to the gym can make a big difference.

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