This may seem like a "duh," but we have news today that President Bush is against the inaptly named "Fairness Doctrine." I say it may seem like a duh, but it really isn't as axiomatic as you might think because Bush has not really addressed this issue in the past. It may have seemed a good bet to say he was against the concept, but since he never really said much against it before, it is good to finally get him forcefully on the record against this oppressive and currently defunct FCC rule.
Since its demise during the Reagan administration, a return to the "Fairness Doctrine" has been an occasional wish of the liberal, left both in Congress and among the lefty-punditry. Talk of bringing it back began in earnest again during the run up to the 2006 midterms when the Democrats began to imagine they would retake the majority in Congress. And, it has yet to be abated.
For those unaware, the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" was an FCC rule whereby TV and radio political commentary would be mandated to be "balanced." In other words, for every Rush Limbaugh, an Al Franken would be forced upon a broadcaster by law. Naturally, this concept will not increase the amount of balanced political talk, but will find, rather, the elimination of political talk. It will simply be easier for broadcasters to eliminate political talk than it will be to jump over all the FCC's insurmountable "fairness" hurdles as they plan and produce their programming. The path of least resistance, in this case, would find political discussion reduced by a large amount, not made more "fair." It also means that current shows will be canceled because of the difficulty of meeting the "fairness Doctrine's" precepts should it be re-implemented.
Of course, that is why liberals love this idea. They know that it will be Rush Limbaugh and his type that will be eliminated by this ruling.
In any case, we now have President Bush saying he will veto any talk of a revival of this idea in the remaining months of his administration. Better late than never, I suppose.
Here are some of his comments as reported by the Austin American Statesman:
"This organization has had many important missions, but none more important than ensuring our airways - America’s airways - stay open to those who preach the ‘Good News.’ The very first amendment to our Constitution includes the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. Founders believed these unalienable rights were endowed to us by our Creator. They are vital to a healthy democracy, and we must never let anyone take those freedoms away."
"I mention this because there’s an effort afoot that would jeopardize your right to express your views on public airways. Some members of Congress want to reinstate a regulation that was repealed 20 years ago. It has the Orwellian name called the Fairness Doctrine. Supporters of this regulation say we need to mandate that any discussion of so-called controversial issues on the public airwaves includes equal time for all sides. This means that many programs wanting to stay on the air would have to meet Washington’s definition of balance. Of course, for some in Washington, the only opinions that require balancing are the ones they don’t like."
"We know who these advocates of so-called balance really have in their sights: shows hosted by people like Rush Limbaugh or James Dobson, or many of you here today. By insisting on so-called balance, they want to silence those they don’t agree with. The truth of the matter is, they know they cannot prevail in the public debate of ideas. They don’t acknowledge that you are the balance … The country should not be afraid of the diversity of opinions. After all, we’re strengthened by diversity of opinions."
"If Congress truly supports the free and open exchange of ideas, then there is a way they can demonstrate that right now. Republicans have drafted legislation that would ban reinstatement of the so-called Fairness Doctrine. Unfortunately, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives have blocked action on this bill. So in response, nearly every Republican in the House has signed onto what’s called a ‘discharge petition,’ that would require Congress to hold an up or down vote on the ban. Supporters of this petition are only 24 signatures away."
"I do want to thank (Indiana Rep.) Mike Pence, who is with us today, and Congressman Greg Walden (of Oregon), for pressing this effort and defending the right for people to express themselves freely. And I urge other members to join in this discharge petition. But I’ll tell you this: If Congress should ever pass any legislation that stifles your right to express your views, I’m going to veto it."
So, good for the president. I'm glad we have finally heard from him on this matter.
Photo illustration via RushLimbaugh.com