On Wednesday, White House spokesman Ben LaBolt told FoxNews.com: “As the president stated during the campaign, he does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated.” However, only three days earlier, President Obama’s Senior Advisor David Axelrod told Fox News Sunday, “I’m going to leave that issue to Julius Genachowski, our new head of the FCC … and the president to discuss. So I don’t have an answer for you now.” Certainly there is some confusion in the current White House. Where else is there confusion? Are former Presidents confused?
Former President Bill Clinton was on liberal radio host Mario Solis Marich’s program this week and said, “”Well, you either ought to have the Fairness Doctrine or we ought to have more balance on the other side, because essentially there’s always been a lot of big money to support the right wing talk shows and let face it, you know, Rush Limbaugh is fairly entertaining even when he is saying things that I think are ridiculous…”
Okay, but meanwhile, Former President Carter told a Phoenix radio station last Friday that “…as a matter of fact, when I was president is when we deregulated radio, television, all the communications and relationships. So I have not been in favor of perpetuating the Fairness Doctrine since I’ve been, you know, in politics.” Certainly there is some confusion among past Presidents. Maybe we can get some clarification from Capitol Hill?
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) who is married to Tom Athans, a liberal talk radio executive, told liberal radio host Bill Press, “I think it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else — I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves.” She went on to say that she expected hearings on the subject based on discussions she has been having with her colleagues.
Her colleague, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) was on the Bill Press program only a day earlier and said, “we gotta get the Fairness Doctrine back in law again.” Last year, another colleague, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) said on the radio, “”For many, many years, we operated under a Fairness Doctrine in this country. I think the country was well-served.”
On the House side, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was asked last year if she supported the revival of the Fairness Doctrine. Her response was “Yes”. She was also asked if Congressman Mike Pence’s (R-IN) bill to permanently outlaw the measure would make it to the floor for an up or down vote. Her response was “No,” adding that “the interest in my caucus is the reverse” and that “Louise Slaughter [D-NY] has been active behind this [revival of the Fairness Doctrine] for a while now.”
Okay, it seems there is little confusion among liberals on Capitol Hill. What about in the states? California Attorney General Jerry Brown went on the radio last week and said, “Well, a little state control wouldn’t hurt anybody.” He defended his position as “balance”, not censorship. ACORN, the radical leftist organization we have grown familiar with, states in their principles: “Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting, so that grass roots community groups have equal time to express their views.”
America is confused as well. In an August 2008 Rasmussen Poll, 47% of Americans actually supported the idea of the government requiring stations to “balance” the political viewpoint expressed over the airwaves. Yet, 71% of those same respondents said it is already possible “for just about any political view to be heard in today’s media.”
So the question is, why the confusion? It is simple. The confusion is not whether or not they will move to introduce a “new” Fairness Doctrine. The confusion is what they are going to call it. Right now, they are moving forward under the guise of “localism”, where local community boards will decide whether local radio stations are meeting “standards” every two or four years, in order to renew their broadcast license.
The plan may be to create an army of small regulatory bodies across the nation, made up of liberal activists who use the persuasive efforts of activist groups like ACORN, to bully affiliates into submission, or risk revocation of their license. Basically a ‘play by our rules and we’ll go away’ mantra.
House Minority Leader John Boehner told Human Events, ““Localism is quickly becoming code for the efforts of liberals to limit free speech and dissent. The American people do not believe the federal government should be in the business of dictating or restricting what’s on the public airwaves…”
The FCC’s webpage on localism states, “The purpose of Localism Proceedings is to gather information from consumers, industry, civic organizations, and others on broadcasters’ service to their local communities. Along with competition and diversity, promoting localism is a key goal of the Commission’s media ownership rules.” The liberal agenda will be to define what constitutes “service” to the local communities.
So, while the liberals spend the next few months confusing the American public on whether or not they want the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, it may be wise to notice what is happening behind that debate. It may be over before the debate really begins.
The irony of the whole argument? Six of the liberal elected leaders we just mentioned were quoted from appearances…on the radio. It seems there may not be as big of a problem as some liberals might think.