Top-rated radio host Rush Limbaugh has gotten some unexpected help in his campaign against the so-called Fairness Doctrine that would censor conservative talk radio -- liberal radio host Ed Schultz, though Schultz most assuredly did not intend for this to happen.
On his nationally syndicated program Friday, Schultz read excerpts from an op-ed written by Limbaugh and published in that day's Wall Street Journal, a column taking the form of a letter to President Obama.
Here's Schultz, reading from Limbaugh's op-ed --
Mr. President, we both know that this effort at regulating speech is not about diversity but conformity. You've said you're against reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, but you've not made it clear where you stand on possible regulatory efforts to impose so-called local content, diversity-of-ownership, and public interest rules that your FCC could issue ...
The Toledo Blade has published an editorial with a laughable split personality. First the Blade assures its readers that fears about the possible return of the Fairness Doctrine is just some silly conspiracy theory being perpetrated by conservatives...and then the Blade itself calls for the return of the Fairness Doctrine:
TALK of a liberal conspiracy to "hush Rush" by resurrecting broadcasting's "Fairness Doctrine" is silly, little more than a straw man bashed about regularly by politically conservative pitchmen eager to sustain their lucrative audiences in the waning days of AM radio.
Whew! Thank you for that assurance, Toledo Blade. Since there are now so many Democrats such as Senator Tom Harkin and Congressman Maurice Hinchey calling for the return of the Fairness Doctrine, it is good to know the fear of its return is just a form of paranoia. Our minds are at ease. Or at least they will be until we read the very next paragraph of the Blade's editorial:
Still, there's nothing wrong with restoring the notion that a wide range of ideas ought to have a place on the nation's radio airwaves, which are, after all, publicly owned - not the private property of a handful of corporate broadcasters.
Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh published an open letter to Barack Obama Friday imploring the new president to prevent his Party from destroying free speech in America by censoring political views on the airwaves:
I have a straightforward question, which I hope you will answer in a straightforward way: Is it your intention to censor talk radio through a variety of contrivances, such as "local content," "diversity of ownership," and "public interest" rules -- all of which are designed to appeal to populist sentiments but, as you know, are the death knell of talk radio and the AM band?
Limbaugh's words were in a Wall Street Journal op-ed (h/t Hot Air):
Alert Bill Press and the other liberals who want to re-institute the "Fairness Doctrine." The free market continues to be at work weeding out shows that most folks don't want to listen to. The latest casualty is Nova M radio which syndicated such shows as Randi Rhodes and Mike Malloy. The reports are now coming in fast and furious about the demise of Nova M so here is the latest from Brian Maloney of The Radio Equalizer:
Libtalk network Nova M Radio has been shut down, according to the attorney for Randi Rhodes, Robert V Gaulin of New York. This also brings Mike Malloy's syndicated program to an abrupt end as well, at least for now (update below: Malloy's camp is denying this will affect his show, All Access reports a new firm may assume this role).
Recently, past and present Democratic politicians have spoken out in favor of reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said it was "absolutely time to pass a standard." Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, came out with a similar message, saying, "We need the Fairness Doctrine back." And former President Bill Clinton said, "You either ought to have the Fairness Doctrine or we ought to have more balance on the other side."
However, one has spoken out not in favor of reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. Former President Jimmy Carter, not known for his temperament when it comes to denouncing conservative ideals, told a Phoenix radio station, KTAR's Mac & Gaydos that he is not in favor of the Fairness Doctrine.
After getting smacked around by Fox News's Megyn Kelly Monday, liberal talker Bill Press went on WOR radio's Steve Malzberg Show and accidentally exposed his real goal in supporting a re-enactment of the Fairness Doctrine: he wants to be heard.
In fact, he also wants the Fairness Doctrine back for his own financial gain:
I know why I'm interested in it because I get up every morning at 3:45, I do three hours of talk radio every day from six to nine, that's my life, it's my business, I want to make money at it, and I want to be heard.
Wow. Talk about your inconvenient truths!
Those interested in hearing Press's greedy admission should forward to minute 8:50 of this audio link (relevant section transcribed below the fold):
Heritage's points are even more valid today than they were 16 years ago.
At the time, which "so happened" to be the first year of the last Democratic administration, there was legislation in Congress called the "Fairness in Broadcasting Act of 1993" that would have restored the doctrine, which had been overturned by the Federal Communications Commission in 1987.
Here are the three faulty premises highlighted by Heritage's Adam Thierer, followed by why they are even more faulty now:
Hey, relax everybody! The Fairness Doctrine won't be coming back. And if you think it will be returning then you are just some paranoid conspiracy nut. Such was the assurance of Huffington Post blogger Craig Aaron on January 8:
...the danger of the Fairness Doctrine coming back is completely imaginary.
Yet somehow that hasn't stopped 124 Republicans from pushing apreposterous piece of legislation -- as one of their first acts of the new Congress -- that would prevent the Federal Communications Commission from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, a policy that has been dead for 20 years.
The Fairness Doctrine was a longstanding, though seldom enforced, regulation that required broadcasters using the public airwaves to present contrasting viewpoints on controversial issues. It was abandoned in 1987, a move many credit for the rise of right-wing radio. Pretty much ever since, Republicans have been ominously warning of a plot to bring it back and silence them.
Not this again. With Democrats in control of Washington, the possibility of the reinstitution of the Fairness Doctrine is getting stronger and the rhetoric is getting bolder. But this time, it's getting attention on the state level - the biggest state.
Former Democratic California governor and current Attorney General Jerry Brown appeared on conservative talk host Michael Savage's radio show on Feb. 13. One of the issues the two debated was the possibility of the renewal of the Fairness Doctrine. During the interview, Savage noted that Brown sounded as if he wanted state control over the media.
"Well, a little state control wouldn't hurt anybody," Brown replied.
Brown rationalized his view by citing a quote that state control would be an attempt to balance, not to censor.
"Stockton used to say, ‘If you have no views of one side, like in certain campaigns if somebody is attacking you, there's got to be some room for the other side,'" Brown explained. "It's an attempt to balance, not to censor."
And today on CNN Radio New York Democratic Representative Maurice Hinchey re-asserted his long held desire to reinstate the Censorship Doctrine.
From the CNN website:
"I think the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated," Hinchey told CNNRadio. Hinchey says he could make it part of a bill he plans to introduce later this year overhauling radio and t-v ownership laws.
Free Speech and Free Markets? Nah.For the third time in eight days, a prominent liberal has called for a return of the Censorship Doctrine, otherwise mis-known as the "Fairness" Doctrine. This time it's former President and current high-dollar global thug speechifier -- and husband of the Secretary of State -- Bill Clinton.
Kudos and our sympathy to Michael Calderone at the Politico, who has to listen to a lot of really bad radio to get these quotes.
There's been a lot of news about Democratic senators supporting the reinstitution of the Fairness Doctrine. Last week Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said it was "absolutely time to pass a standard." Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, came out with a similar message, saying, "We need the Fairness Doctrine back."
However, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is serving as the voice of sanity in the debate and has pledged to lead a filibuster in the U.S. Senate against any attempt to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine. He appeared in an interview on Mark Levin's Feb. 10 radio show.
"Let me ask you this Sen. Sessions," Levin said. "If they try to make a run at talk radio, whether it's the local rule or diversity of ownership, or equal this or equal that - will you lead a filibuster among others to try and stop that?"
The Senator Of Course Gets to Keep His MicrophoneIt seems you can't swing a dead cat in the United States Senate without hitting another proponent of a reinstatement of the Censorship Doctrine.
In today's Politico Michael Calderone delivers the second addition to the censors list in less than a week. Last Thursday, it was Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow. Today it's Iowa Democratic Senator Tom Harkin.
Both were appearing on the ever dwindling, shrinking by leaps and bounds Bill Press Radio Show, enjoyed by tens all across the nation.
“Did Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) really believe she could get away with calling for conservative talk radio censorship without revealing her husband's past ties to its troubled liberal counterpart?” the Radio Equalizer's Brian Maloney asked in a Friday night posting. “One day after telling libtalker Bill Press she was interested in pushing Senate hearings into the issue of regulating talk radio content, that's the jaw-dropping conclusion we must make.”
Maloney provided a rundown of “the Stabenow-Athans connection to 'progressive' talk radio” as he listed a “connect-the-dots recap....between her stance and the longstanding ties of Athans to the fledgling libtalk format.” Specifically:
- Athans first found a role in "progressive" talk radio back in 2004 as CEO of Democracy Radio, which preceded Air America and whose programming (Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller) was ultimately absorbed by Jones Radio Networks (now part of Dial Global).
Bitter over the decision, by the owner of the Washington, DC area radio station which carried his show and other left-wing hosts, to drop its liberal talk show format which didn't garner enough listeners to even show up in the latest ratings, Bill Press charged in a Sunday Washington Post op-ed:
There is no free market in talk radio today, only an exclusive, tightly held, conservative media conspiracy. The few holders of broadcast licenses have made it clear they will not, on their own, serve the general public. Maybe it's time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine -- and bring competition back to talk radio in Washington and elsewhere.
In the February 8 piece, “Another Right-Wing Conspiracy in Washington?”, Press lamented that while the owner of WWRC, dubbed “Obama 1260" by owner Red Zebra, “will add Ed Schultz to its conservative lineup on 570 AM,” he'll be “outgunned in this market by at least 15 conservative talkers.”
UPDATE: We have been reminded that Senator Stabenow's husband, Thomas Athans, is the co-founder of the liberal TalkUSA Radio network and is now the Executive Vice-President of liberal Air America. Liberal talk radio has of course failed miserably every time it has been tried, all the while watching it's conservative counterpart's success soar.
Which might lead one to believe that Senator Stabenow, in addition to her zealous will to slam the fist of government down upon her opponents, has some business skin in the game as well. If you can't beat 'em, censor 'em.
Michael Calderone in today's Politico reports on the latest liberal politician -- Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow -- openly touting their intent to silence their talk radio opposition with a reinstitution of the Fairness Doctrine.
"Whether it’s called the Fairness Standard (sic), whether it’s called something else – I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves."
Senator Stabenow was speaking on the air with liberal talk radio host Bill Press and to his eleven listeners nationwide. She insisted that she "think(s) it’s absolutely time to pass a standard" and indicated she had "already had some discussions with colleagues" about Fairness "Standard" hearings and that she "feel(s) like that’s gonna happen. Yep."
Mr. Calderone delivers us the exchange (audio here):
"I think it's just another reminder of how the left hates free speech," Coulter said. "It really is strange how they go after speakers like this. I mean, there is no campaign by conservatives to shutdown Keith Olbermann. In fact, I wish more Americans would listen to him - to see the face of the left, the only 57-year-old woman trapped in a man's body to host his own TV show."
The Obama economic adviser who doesn't want infrastructure "stimulus" spending to only benefit "white male construction workers" is angry at Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Michelle Malkin for having the nerve to report his racist remarks the mainstream media compliantly boycotted for several weeks.
In an open letter posted at his blog Saturday, former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich accused the trio of "manifestly distorting [his] words and pulling them out of context."
He's reviled by the left for carrying the water in the U.S. Senate for those who are skeptical of manmade global warming - and that may have been enough to put him over the top for MSNBC's Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" award.
"But our winner, climate change denier Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, desperate to capsize the incoming energy and climate adviser, Carol Browner, branding her a secret socialist," Olbermann said. "Sounds like a Christmas thing - secret socialist."
In the midst of economic troubles and much anticipation of a new administration about to enter the White House, the potential return of the Fairness Doctrine hasn't gotten much attention. But on the eve of President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration, Republican members of Congress haven't forgotten.
GOP Sens. Jim DeMint, S.C. and James Inhofe, Okla., along with two of their House colleagues, Reps. Mike Pence, Ind. and Greg Walden, Ore., introduced the Broadcaster Freedom Act at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 7.
DeMint, who is named on the Senate of version of the bill, the DeMint-Thune Senate bill, S. 34., told a group of reporters that he would fight any effort by the federal government to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine.
Although president-elect Barack Obama has stated that he is opposed to the reimposition of the so-called Fairness Doctrine, it remains to be seen if he can resist the pressure of Congress to bring back a measure that many on the left favor because they claim it will "Hush Rush." Leading the charge for bringing back the Fairness Doctrine is Congresswoman Anna Eshoo of California. According to this report, Eshoo not only wants to bring it back but to extend it to absurdly include cable and satellite where public airwaves are not even involved:
Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, said Monday she will work to restore the Fairness Doctrine and have it apply to cable and satellite programming as well as radio and TV.
Liberals - now controlling both the White House and Congress - are ready to revive the so-called "Fairness" Doctrine to destroy conservative talk radio. The Media Research Center has formed a new "Free Speech Alliance" to defend conservatives' most effective political weapon against the return of what should be called the "Censorship Doctrine."
The GOP is nearly leaderless, self-shredded by its steady diet of "Me Too" bipartisan liberalism.
Conservatives were active, agitating against these capitulations of principle. But too regularly, in the end Congressional Republicans ignored them and enabled Democrats and their allies, the "compassionate conservatives" - aka big government Republicans -- to grow government big enough to squeeze themselves out as the majority Party.
A multitude of organizations, hundreds of thousands of individuals join together to defend the First Amendment from a reinstatement of the so-called "Fairness" Doctrine
Editor's Note: You too can join the Free Speech Alliance. Click here and sign the petition, and stand at the ready for whenever any liberal again threatens the First Amendment with talk of reinstating the Censorship Doctrine.
Spreading the Word The Media Research Center today officially announced the Free Speech Alliance, a gathering of a multitude of organizations and hundreds of thousands of individual citizens dedicated to ensuring that the Censorship Doctrine, mis-named the "Fairness" Doctrine, is never again reinstated.
The Free Speech Alliance member organizations are themselves engaged in a wide array of issues, but they all recognize the preeminent importance of defending the First Amendment and protecting free speech from government censorship, a fundamental Constitutional safeguard.
The Free Speech Alliance member organizations thus far:
The Censorship Fairness Doctrine has been something near and dear to the hearts of the far left for a long time. With talk radio and the web being the main pillars of the center-right media landscape, effectively neutralizing conservative radio is a fantasy scenario for Bill Moyers and others like him.
That being said, it is becoming more likely that instead of going the congressional route to squelch conservative radio speech, the incoming Obama administration will try an alternate approach through regulatory bodies and the bureaucracy.
According to a Friday New York Times article by David Kirkpatrick, Barack Obama has reassigned Fairness Doctrine proponent, former FCC Commissioner Henry Rivera, from heading his FCC transition team: “At least one official initially involved in the transition appears to have been reassigned because of concern about his lobbying or legal work. Henry Rivera, a former Democratic commissioner on the Federal Communication Commission who was involved in planning for the agency’s transition, has dropped out of that role because he had represented clients on communications policy in the last year, the newsletter Communications Daily reported Friday.”
Kirkpatrick went on to report on Rivera’s new position in the Obama transition team: “Instead, on the list that was made public on Friday, Mr. Rivera was listed on the team handling science, technology, space and the arts.” Despite the reassignment, it is unclear if Rivera’s influence over a future FCC appointment has diminished. As the Media Research Center’s Seton Motley explained on FNC’s Your World With Neil Cavuto, Obama will have the opportunity to appoint a member to the FCC in 2009, possibly opening the door to a reimplementation of the Fairness Doctrine.
Barack Obama’s transition team has tapped former FCC Commissioner Henry Rivera, a longtime proponent of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," to head the team looking for the man or woman who will soon give Democrats a 3-to-2 advantage on the Federal Communications Commission. [CORRECTION ADDED, 11/14]
It’s another troubling sign that Democrats are serious about trying to reinstate the long-defunct FCC regulation, which can more aptly be described as the "Censorship Doctrine" because of its chilling effect on free speech. In effect from 1949 to 1987, the Fairness Doctrine was an obstacle to open discussion of public policy issues on the radio; its removal in the Reagan years spawned the robust talk radio marketplace of ideas now enjoyed by millions.
While talk radio hosts often warned during the campaign that free speech could be trampled by an all-Democratic majority, the broadcast networks have failed to react to this dangerous threat to the First Amendment. A review shows the broadcast networks — whose affiliates could also be regulated — have failed to run even a single story mentioning the push for a new Fairness Doctrine.
Douglas Turner of the Buffalo News wants conservative radio talkers silenced. He calls them "virulent," "violent" and "coarse" and hopes that starting January 1 the "work of flushing" them will begin. Turner fills his little anti-free speech screed with claims and a few examples of how rotten he thinks righty talkers are and how they need to be shut down, yet can't seem to find a single cross word to say about the "coarseness" of lefty talkers. In other words, it is plain that "coarseness" or "one-sided" radio isn't really a concern of his. Only eliminating the free speech of the right is his goal not any leveling of the playing field.
Naturally, his is filled with prosaic generalizations. Turner assumes that all conservative talk show hosts "were fond" of addressing Obama as "Hussein," his middle name. Yet, Turner offers no list of those that did. He says righty talkers are "violent" but does not offer a single example to prove the allegation. It also seems that Turner can't understand why radio hosts that call themselves conservative would be "one-sided." Curiously, he didn't excoriate Alan Colmes, Randi Rhodes, or Al Franken for being "one-sided." (I know... Imagine that, huh?)
The term “Fairness Doctrine” – applied to liberals’ efforts to require talk radio to offer balanced views – harkens to Soviet propaganda, according to Business & Media Institute Vice President Dan Gainor.
“It’s one of the great misnomers of our time. It’s, you know, ‘Fairness Doctrine,’ almost like a Soviet term,” Gainor said on “Fox & Friends Weekend” Nov. 9. “It should be Censorship Doctrine. That’s what they’re trying to do.”
“They’re trying to clamp down on radio because the left and the media control every other facet of where we get our information: entertainment media, print media, you know you’ve got TV, you’ve got NPR, you’ve got Air America,” Gainor said. “The one thing they don’t control, the one way Americans get their information is talk radio.”
Several high-profile Democrats in Congress have expressed interest in revisiting the so-called Fairness Doctrine – although President-elect Obama has said he opposes it.