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article imageOp-Ed: Congress Defeats Broadcaster Freedom Act

By Johnny Simpson     Jul 15, 2009 in Politics
The Broadcaster Freedom Act, which would have prevented any form of the Fairness Doctrine from returning, has been defeated today. This action by House Democrats stands in stark contrast to Democrat promises, even by President Obama, regarding this issue.
"As the president stated during the campaign, he does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated." - White House spokesman Ben LaBolt.
"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." - Senior Obama advisor David Axelrod.
As many of you may remember, candidate Obama was quite clear during the campaign that no version of the Fairness Doctrine would pass under his watch. Yet the Broadcaster Freedom Act, sponsored by Reps. Greg Walden (R-OR), Mike Pence, and 125 other members of Congress, has been refused a full hearing on the House floor by liberal Democrats. This action leaves open the door not only to the Fairness Doctrine itself being pushed by liberal Democrats in Congress, but for other backdoor measures by the FCC to implement government regulation of the airwaves that the Broadcaster Freedom Act would have prevented as well.
Mr. Brian Jennings, author of Censorship: The Threat To Silence Talk Radio and a former National VP for Talk Programming of Citadel Broadcasting, had the following to say in response to the BFA going down in flames in Congress:
"They clearly want to regulate radio. Their speech is so disingenuous, its laughable. They say they do not favor the Fairness Doctrine, yet they support back-door measures that would accomplish the same goals. They cannot deny that programming advisory boards, localism rules, and defining the public interest with some “teeth” are all means of regulating speech in America - particularly conservative speech. This is an outrage and all Americans should see through this for what it is. These are tyrants in action."
I have spoken out repeatedly here at DJ and elsewhere against the Fairness Doctrine, and other disruptive and restrictive measures on free speech that could even regulate web content, as is routinely done in China and Iran. Though masked in egalitarian clothing to allow all voices to be heard, the Fairness Doctrine and associated FCC 'diversity' measures are targeted toward one goal: to silence or render ineffective conservative talk radio. Here is a whopper from the oped "Another Right Wing Conspiracy In Washington?" by the Washington Post's Bill Press, favoring the Fairness Doctrine:
"That experiment has failed. 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."
That statement is laughable if you look at how tightly controlled the MSM and most newspapers are by left-leaning liberals pursuing political agendas. Press coverage of President Obama in those media is nothing short of Kim-like Dear Leader worship. And you never heard Rupert Murdoch or Roger Ailes tell FOX news reporters not to slam President Bush. Can the same said of NBC's Jeff Zucker and Jeffrey Immelt of President Obama? I don't think so. Hell, they've even punished the Hollywood Reporter just for covering that controversial meeting! Yet those MSM outlets would all be immune from Fairness Doctrine intrusion.
Only talk radio. It's not a conspiracy theory if it's really happening. And it appears, despite promises by liberal Democrats during the 2008 campaigns, including President Obama, that the Fairness Doctrine and other backdoor measures to stifle talk radio still loom like Swords of Damocles over Rush, Hannity, Beck and Michael Savage et al. Do you seriously believe the liberal Democrat-controlled FCC or Congress would impose the same restrictive rules on Keith Olbermann, Brain Williams or Rachel Maddow? Not in this life.
The facts are these. In 1988, when the Fairness Doctrine was lifted for the first time since 1949, AM talk radio was a dying media gasping its last breaths. The removal of repressive Fairness Doctrine restrictions on formatting brought talk radio roaring back to life, spearheaded by Rush Limbaugh. Talk radio today, which provides a counter to the predominantly pro-liberal left-wing programming of other media, is flourishing in the free market.
Yet it has also been a perpetual thorn in Washington's side for both political parties, perhaps best illustrated by the groundswell of opposition to the Amnesty Bill submitted to Congress in 2007. Millions of Americans, spurred on by talk radio hosts, flooded the switchboards in DC with heated demands to sink the bill. Which is what happened. Do you remember what REPUBLICAN Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said at the time? I'll refresh your memory:
"We have to do something about talk radio."
Well, they're doing it now. Putting up lame progressive opposition programming like Air America, which has been propped up financially by political backers, even by embezzlement, hasn't done the trick. It is questionable as to whether NPR, which does enjoy a large audience base, could survive without government life support. How many radio stations with conservative programming have annual fund drives? They don't need them. They get the megabucks from big advertisers NPR just doesn't get. They go where the money and audiences are, plain and simple. It's a business. At least for today.
Dear Readers, in my humble opinion, anything that gets under the skin of Washington politicians of both parties in so big a way they feel they have to regulate and stifle it into silence can't be bad. Who else in the media is going after liberal Democrats and President Obama like talk radio? Who is giving us the other side? ABC, with its plants and rigged coverage inside the White House itself for its Obama Healthcare infomercial, which tanked in the ratings? The bowing Brian Williams? Newsweek Editor Evan Thomas, who likens Obama to God? Keith Olbermann? Ya, as if!
The question here, Dear Readers, is not whether you like conservative talk radio or not. The question is, do you advocate true and unfiltered free speech in the media that serves as devil's advocate and one of the true regulators of government itself, as with the Amnesty Bill? Or do you prefer an Orwellian monolithic Dear Leader media that will never have politicians complaining, "we have to do something about George Stefanopoulos and ABC"?
If you believe the former, contact your Congressional representatives and senators and let them know how you feel. Also, please remind the White House and David Axelrod about President Obama's campaign promises regarding the Fairness Doctrine. This issue goes far beyond talk radio, and to the heart of who we are as a free speech-championing people.
By the way, I just found a great Digital Journal oped by CJ Patrick Burwell: "Will The Fairness Doctrine Apply To NPR As Well?" Don't answer, it's a rhetorical question. But it is well worth a read on the double standard the so-called Fairness Doctrine represents. Here's another eye-opener from Politico on Sen. Tom Harkin, stating in an interview that pushing liberal left-wing voices and policies on talk radio is the express goal of the Fairness Doctrine.
Lastly, Dear Readers, this is America. The American people and the free market, not Washington solons, should decide what constitutes free and fair speech with their ears, eyes, wallets and feet. Government intervention in the free market has proven disastrous in the past, and continues to today. The economy is in bad enough shape as it is. How worse will it get if the American people tune out of a dull, stifled talk radio, that could result in massive layoffs and shutdowns as a consequence of sheer audience boredom and disinterest? Or worse, require government subsidies and stimulus to keep 'progressive' voices alive?
Don't laugh. It's already happening. Good Night and Good Luck!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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