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.
In a stunning on-air admission of his desire to re-regulate radio and infringe on free speech, Obama supporter and New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) argued recently that the so-called Fairness Doctrine -- which would mandate equal time for opposing viewpoints on radio programming -- would elevate talk radio to a "higher calling." Bingaman lamented that radio without the "Fairness Doctrine" has become less "intelligent."