HuffPost 'Expert': FCC Should Have Ripped Limbaugh Off the Air Within Hours

Liberals have never been fans of the Federal Communications Commission interfering with the “free speech” of broadcast obscenity, from the “seven dirty words” to anything else. They have, however, loved the idea of reinstating a “Fairness Doctrine to curb conservative talk radio hosts.

On Thursday, The Huffington Post published an article by “award-winning creative marketer” and “issues-driven independent” [!!] Sarah O’Leary demanding Limbaugh be punished by the FCC for calling Sandra Fluke a “slut.” It was titled “Has Anyone Seen the FCC? How Rush Limbaugh Broke the Law and Got Away With It.” Which law? An actual expert, my friend Dan Isett, the director of public policy of the Parents Television Council, found it was “profoundly ignorant.” Let’s list how many ways this article is wrong:

1. FCC Should Have Removed Rush from the Radio. “If Mr. Limbaugh had used the N-word rather than a gender slur directed at Ms. Fluke, no doubt he would have been taken from the air by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), his distributor, Premiere Radio Networks, and every station across the nation who carries his acrid spittle. Instead, he gets even more free publicity by objectifying and degrading Ms. Fluke and fellow female Americans everywhere. The time for the FCC to act swiftly was last week when it happened, but better late than a deregulated never.”

Facts: Isett says the FCC is not empowered to enforce laws against defamation, libel, or slander, and the N-word (despite its inflammatory nature) is not defined as an obscenity. As for the idea the FCC would remove a radio host within days, Isett cites the FCC has not lifted a finger in an indecency enforcement action since February 2008, when it moved to sanction programming that was about five years old.

2. Blame Reagan. “The tenants [sic] of the FCC require that stations operate in the ‘interest, convenience and necessity’ of the American public. Radio waves are public airwaves, and on-air talent and radio stations are licensed access by the government to use our airwaves. But thanks in large part to the deregulation of the FCC under President Reagan, the FCC has about as much power as a square of one-ply toilet paper in a manure storm. Sadly, whatever authority the FCC does have it rarely chooses to use in any meaningful way against conservative haters disguised as political pundits. Shock jock Howard Stern was fined a record-setting $2.5 million  for his on-air indecencies, yet it's unclear if Rush Limbaugh has been fined ever.”

Facts: Stern-airing stations reached a $1.7 million settlement with the FCC in 1995. But Stern violated the FCC indecency rules, and O’Leary can’t comprehend that Rush Limbaugh didn’t even come close to what the FCC rules claim to prohibit. As for the FCC having no power, Isett pointed out they “recently rejected the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile.” Team Obama, including his friend FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, has no interest in regulating naughty words on radio and TV.

3. Rush’s Hate Crime Should Get Him Banned. “What Mr. Limbaugh said to millions of listeners on air (including little boys and girls who get to add a whole new batch of adult words to their vocabularies like "blow job" from his daily broadcasts) was not only a complete nose-thumbing breach of his FCC-licensed responsibility, but a gender-based hate crime. If an on-air radio personality uses the public airwaves to defame any segment of our nation's population as Rush did, he/she should be ripped from the public's air. Using the public airwaves is a privilege that comes with responsibilities to our fellow Americans. It should not be used as a playground for the Rush Limbaughs of our nation to hate, rant and spew all the while attempting to hide under the guise of freedom of speech.”

“Millions of Americans and a majority of legislators seem to be confused about where and when the right to free speech applies. Mr. Limbaugh has the right to say whatever he wants in his home, on the street, or on his way to the pharmacy to get one of his many prescriptions filled, provided it is not a crime. He cannot yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded movie theater, and shelves his unlimited freedom of speech once on public air.”

Fact: O’Leary is completely confused about where free speech applies. The FCC has no authority to fine radio hosts for liberal-offending political speech. (Isett says "thanks, First Amendment.") How the word “slut” is equivalent to the endangerment of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater is anyone’s guess. O’Leary never completes the thought that under her imaginary FCC, Ed Schultz would have been removed for calling Laura Ingraham a “slut.”

4. Rush Limbaugh Has a License? “Today, a syndicated personality such as Mr. Limbaugh spews his venom through hundreds of stations across the nation at once, making the FCC's job a bit more complicated. What can the FCC to do? It has the power to revoke Mr. Limbaugh's license. It should take his license, and allow him to reapply after a year or so if ever.”

Fact: Isett  notes "Limbaugh holds no license from the FCC, his affiliates do. Any would-be fine would be levied against them, not him." Again, he’s violated no FCC rule. There is no “hate speech” provision.

Does The Huffington Post read these articles before they post them? Are there no fact checkers? It's a big website, but clearly some dumb articles are slipping in. Of course, O’Leary’s last opus for the Huff-Post before this outburst of ignorance came on March 1 and was headlined “Beware Of The Politicostals! The Catastrophic Threat Of Religious Capitalism In The U.S.”

Using emotional fear, artificial righteousness and hate as human currency to bend the will of government, industry and every day citizens is more dangerous to us as Americans than 100 black plagues combined. The manner in which several major Christian religions in the U.S. manipulate the notion of God to gain power and promote prejudiced agendas has reached a fever pitch so substantial that it threatens our united way of life.

U.S. Religious Capitalism, humbly defined, is the buying and selling of American souls for the purposes of gaining political and economic power. The society-threatening byproducts of these heinous, godless actions include inequality, mass manipulation and insatiable emotional, political and fiscal greed. Disguising the thirst of churches for power as some kind of religious right is, according to the book of Matthew, sin filled.

You can follow Dan Isett on Twitter at @danisett.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis