Essay: The Democrats’ Fairness Doctrine Dilemma

Do they represent the people in their districts, or Nancy Pelosi?

Naccy Pelosi | NewsBusters.org
The Spin Starts Here, or Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Congressional Democrats remain silent, acquiescing in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's determination to prevent legislation to block the reimposition of the so-called Fairness Doctrine. For all their prattling about protecting civil liberties, none of them - not a single one - has so far signed the discharge petition to allow the Broadcasters' Freedom Act to be wrested from Pelosi's grip to protect our freedom of speech.

Where do they stand on the federal regulation that served for four decades to remove issues of import from the radio airwaves and left us with 24-hours a day of liberal dominance of the radio airwaves? (Ronald Reagan removed the restriction in 1987, and the rest has been Rush Limbaugh-led broadcasting history.)

These Ds have been this quiet because they are not at liberty to discuss it. What we have been witnessing is a remarkable exhibition of partisan discipline. Last summer Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a diktat that no Donkey was to talk about the Fairness Doctrine, nor meet with anyone who wanted to talk about it. All the while she was repeatedly denying any Democratic interest in its revival.

And her subordinates have all come to heel. Pelosi herself, however, went on a bender and spilled the beans to John Gizzi in Human Events.

Congressional Democrats need to remember that they are Representatives -- and just who it is they represent.

Quoth the Speaker, when asked if she would allow Congressman Mike Pence's Broadcaster Freedom Act (BFA - H.R. 2905) - the bill that would kill once and for all the Fairness Doctrine -- out of jail in committee, to which she had exiled it, she answered unhesitatingly "No."

Pelosi went on to say that in fact "the interest in my caucus is the reverse" and that New York Democratic Rep. "Louise Slaughter has been active behind this [revival of the Fairness Doctrine] for a while now." When asked if she herself supported the return of the Doctrine, she, again without hesitation, said "Yes."

Madame Speaker revealed herself to be not only virulently anti-First Amendment, but with the Rep. Slaughter disclosure regarding ongoing toil towards reinstatement less than fully affiliated with the truth.

And made an already difficult situation for Congressional Democrats even worse.

On June 11th, Congressman Pence, along with most of the Republican leadership, my boss Brent Bozell, talk radio star Laura Ingraham and many, many others, announced a multi-faceted, multi-organizational push to get the BFA out of committee and on to the floor for a vote.

With Pelosi's blockade in place, the only way for this to happen is with a discharge petition signed by 218 of Pence's fellow members. A month later, 197 are on board - and they're ALL Republicans. No Democrat has crossed up Pelosi, despite the fact that she threw them all under the bus, disobeying her own order and revealing their agenda. One with which few Americans outside the liberals inside the Washington Beltway agree.

The pressure on these holdout Donkeys continues to grow. Their constituents have let them hear it and have it, spending the last thirty days bombarding them with phone calls, emails, faxes and letters demanding that they sign the petition for Broadcaster Freedom. We here at the Media Research Center have already had more than 150,000 people sign on on our website.

Congressman Pence told me that many Democrats have approached him in the halls of the Cannon Office Building and the Capitol saying things like "My constituents are really giving it to me on the Fairness Doctrine and the BFA. Anything I can do, you let me know." To which the Congressman always replies "Great, sign the discharge petition," at which point his Donkey counterparts get flustered and skittish, then silent, and then turn and run (or at the very least walk briskly) away.

Which means that the Pelosi gag order, despite her own violation of it, is still rigidly in effect for every member of her Democratic caucus. And raises the question: just who is it that these Democrats are representing?

On this vital issue of free speech, it isn't the people who elected them. Their constituents have made their will known, loudly and in large numbers, and their cries have fallen on deaf Donkey ears. These Democrats have chosen fealty to the San Francisco Speaker over the commitment they made to the men and women who voted them into office.

Time is running out. Congressional Democrats need to remember that they are Representatives -- and just who it is they represent. Are they an army of zombies, in Washington to follow blindly the orders of Nancy Pelosi, regardless of how they conflict with the will of their people? Or are they in D.C. to be the voice of the people who put them there?

On this, their people have spoken. They want Congressman Pence's Broadcaster Freedom Act to have a full and fair up or down vote, and they have been demanding of their Representatives that they sign the discharge petition to make that happen.

It's time Congressional Democrats finally started listening.

Seton Motley
Seton Motley
Founder and president of Less Government.