Democratic Congressman Calls for Fairness Doctrine 'to Ensure the Tone Changes'

It did not take long after the infamous Rush Limbaugh smear for Democrats to call for a return of the Fairness Doctrine. On the October 3 edition of "Fox and Friends" at 7:33 AM, Congressmen Joe Sestak (D-PA) and Mike Pence (R-IN) discussed Rush Limbaugh’s "phony soldiers" remark. When Congressman Pence asserted that this is an excuse for the Democrats to re-insert the Fairness Doctrine, Congressman Sestak called for a return to "ensure the tone changes if we are to approach this war correctly."

SESTAK: We should be talking about the Fairness Doctrine. And what we should be doing is saying, Mike, this war is it hurting or helping our security? How can we bring about a better end to this? And that's what I believe needs to be done. Do I think both sides' words are wrong? The tone is absolutely wrong. So let's not defend either side and say whether we think or don't think.

PENCE: It ought to be about freedom in Iraq and ought to be about the freedom of speech in America.

SESTAK: What we are doing is just to ensure that the tone changes if we are to approach this war correctly. Thank you.

At the start of the interview, while Sestak opined Limbaugh has a right to say what he says, and it is a waste of time to be discussing a talk show host, Sestak echoed the words of other Democrats and said he "condemned" Limbaugh’s words.

Pence accurately refuted Sestak noting Limbaugh was not referring to anti-war veterans but actual phony soldiers, most notably Jesse MacBeth, who inaccurately claimed to have served in Iraq. The entire transcript is below.

STEVE DOOCY: Talk show host Rush Limbaugh is at the center of another storm after controversial remarks, some say, on his show last week about "phony soldiers." Joining us now from Washington are Congressmen Joe Sestak and Mike Pence as well. Good morning to both of you.

REPRESENTATIVE JOE SESTAK (D-PA): Good morning

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE PENCE (R-IN): Good morning guys.

DOOCY: Alright, Congressman Sestak, let me ask about this. According to Rush Limbaugh, the Democrats are taking him out of context.

 

SESTAK: I think if you look at the transcript, you can see that in response to a caller that said, "hey, look, they're finding soldiers in the media to talk against the war." He said "those are phony soldiers." Now, but let's take it to a higher level. Do I agree with what Rush Limbaugh said? No. Do I respect his right to say it after serving 31 years in the military to protect his right? Absolutely. Take the other side. I don't agree with the words that Moveon.org used. I just think that we've got to take this to a higher level of debate or we're not going to address the issue of solving this war correctly and that's what Mike and I should be doing not talking about talk show host but how to correctly end this war in a bipartisan way.

DOOCY: Okay, so Congressman Sestak what do you say to Congressman Udall from Colorado who has introduced a resolution on the floor of the U.S. House denouncing Rush Limbaugh? He's doing exactly what you said you shouldn't do.

SESTAK: No, I haven't read the resolution, but I voted for the one that said "I condemn the words that Moveon.org used not the organization's right to say it." I condemn the words, if this is how it's stated that Rush Limbaugh used, not his right to say it. Step back one more time though. You know, what's most important for these men and women to remember out there, whether it's Rush Limbaugh calling Senator Hagel, who served in Vietnam, Senator Betray Us on 25 Jaunary or Moveon.org using certain words is remember your military in America is different, your military remembers that age old maxim from the 1600's that, that nation that draws a broad line of demarcation between its thinking men and its fighting men, who find it's thinking done by cowards and fighting done by fools, you need to have military people who think and critique differently.

DOOCY: Alright, Congressman Pence, your view?

PENCE: Well, look, I want to agree with Joe that I think it's absolutely ridiculous that the Democratic leaders of Congress, particularly in the Senate but many in the House are, are focusing on the American political debate and the comments of an American commentator. But let me say, with great respect, Joe, I read the transcript too. I think Fox News yesterday reported that a literal reading of the transcript shows that Rush Limbaugh did not call veterans who oppose the war "phony soldiers." In fact, the term comes from an ABC News report that aired the Monday night before the Wednesday that he used the term. He did a commentary on Tuesday on the subject. And this was all about the ABC News initial report of this Jesse MacBeth and, frankly, Joe, you know, several incidents of people who have been -- who have pretended to be Iraq War veterans, in some cases criminal behavior, who have then been used by the anti-war left to make a case against Iraq. And Rush Limbaugh has clarified his statement but, you know, quite frankly, Steve, I see this all as a precursor to an effort by the Democrats in Congress to reintroduce the Fairness Doctrine. I mean, what on earth business is it of the United States Senate to be policing the airwaves of America? I really do believe this whole incident, the circus on the Senate floor Monday argues for the legislation that we've introduced in the House that would put the Fairness Doctrine out of reach of any future president or any future Congress.

DOOCY: Congressman Sestak, I'll give you the final word.

SESTAK: Look. You can read a transcript and decide what you want. I read it also. But let's bring, Mike, this to a higher debate. We should not be wasting our time talking about a talk show host.

PENCE: I completely agree, Joe.

SESTAK: We should be talking about the Fairness Doctrine. And what we should be doing is saying, Mike, this war is it hurting or helping our security? How can we bring about a better end to this? And that's what I believe needs to be done. Do I think both sides' words are wrong? The tone is absolutely wrong. So let's not defend either side and say whether we think or don't think.

PENCE: It ought to be about freedom in Iraq and ought to be about the freedom of speech in America.

SESTAK: What we are doing is just to ensure that the tone changes if we are to approach this war correctly. Thank you.