White House: Obama Opposes 'Fairness Doctrine' Revival

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by Louis Cyphre, Feb 18, 2009.

  1. I guess Obama believes in free speech after all.

    White House: Obama Opposes 'Fairness Doctrine' Revival

    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    President Obama opposes any move to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine, a spokesman told FOXNews.com Wednesday.

    The statement is the first definitive stance the administration has taken since an aide told an industry publication last summer that Obama opposes the doctrine -- a long-abolished policy that would require broadcasters to provide opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.

    "As the president stated during the campaign, he does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated," White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said.

    That was after both senior adviser David Axelrod and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs left open the door on whether Obama would support reinstating the doctrine.

    "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," Axelrod told FOX News Sunday over the weekend.

    The debate over the so-called Fairness Doctrine has heated up in recent days as prominent Democratic senators have called for the policies to be reinstated. Conservative talk show hosts, who see the doctrine as an attempt to impose liberal viewpoints on their shows, largely oppose any move to bring it back.

  2. Lou C;
    I hope so, & hope his FCC director agrees with him.

    Actually FOX news for the past month or so seems to be much more giving air to both sides, so it may not really be a big hindrance reguardless .

    God forbid the FCC goes ape or gets as wild as a chimp:D
  3. This is welcome news if true, but the real test will be in seeing what actually transpires. Congress could pass a law that Obama signs or the FCC could restrict free speech. he has a history of trying to avoid taking sides on contentious issues and having it both ways.
  4. It was a misplaced policy to begin with.

    They first would first have to abolish the 2nd Amendment.
  5. Rush Limbaugh has a good editorial in the WSJ today pertaining to the "Fairness Doctrine."

    * FEBRUARY 20, 2009, 12:21 A.M. ET

    Mr. President, Keep the Airwaves Free
    As a former law professor, surely you understand the Bill of Rights.


    Dear President Obama:

    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?

    You have singled me out directly, admonishing members of Congress not to listen to my show. Bill Clinton has since chimed in, complaining about the lack of balance on radio. And a number of members of your party, in and out of Congress, are forming a chorus of advocates for government control over radio content. This is both chilling and ominous.
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    As a former president of the Harvard Law Review and a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, you are more familiar than most with the purpose of the Bill of Rights: to protect the citizen from the possible excesses of the federal government. The First Amendment says, in part, that "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." The government is explicitly prohibited from playing a role in refereeing among those who speak or seek to speak. We are, after all, dealing with political speech -- which, as the Framers understood, cannot be left to the government to police.

    When I began my national talk show in 1988, no one, including radio industry professionals, thought my syndication would work. There were only about 125 radio stations programming talk. And there were numerous news articles and opinion pieces predicting the fast death of the AM band, which was hemorrhaging audience and revenue to the FM band. Some blamed the lower-fidelity AM signals. But the big issue was broadcast content. It is no accident that the AM band was dying under the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which choked robust debate about important issues because of its onerous attempts at rationing the content of speech.

    After the Federal Communications Commission abandoned the Fairness Doctrine in the mid-1980s, Congress passed legislation to reinstitute it. When President Reagan vetoed it, he declared that "This doctrine . . . requires Federal officials to supervise the editorial practices of broadcasters in an effort to ensure that they provide coverage of controversial issues and a reasonable opportunity for the airing of contrasting viewpoints of those issues. This type of content-based regulation by the Federal Government is . . . antagonistic to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment. . . . History has shown that the dangers of an overly timid or biased press cannot be averted through bureaucratic regulation, but only through the freedom and competition that the First Amendment sought to guarantee."

    Today the number of radio stations programming talk is well over 2,000. In fact, there are thousands of stations that air tens of thousands of programs covering virtually every conceivable topic and in various languages. The explosion of talk radio has created legions of jobs and billions in economic value. Not bad for an industry that only 20 years ago was moribund. Content, content, content, Mr. President, is the reason for the huge turnaround of the past 20 years, not "funding" or "big money," as Mr. Clinton stated. And not only has the AM band been revitalized, but there is competition from other venues, such as Internet and satellite broadcasting. It is not an exaggeration to say that today, more than ever, anyone with a microphone and a computer can broadcast their views. And thousands do.

    Mr. President, we both know that this new effort at regulating speech is not about diversity but conformity. It should be rejected. 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.

    I do not favor content-based regulation of National Public Radio, newspapers, or broadcast or cable TV networks. I would encourage you not to allow your office to be misused to advance a political vendetta against certain broadcasters whose opinions are not shared by many in your party and ideologically liberal groups such as Acorn, the Center for American Progress, and MoveOn.org. There is no groundswell of support behind this movement. Indeed, there is a groundswell against it.

    The fact that the federal government issues broadcast licenses, the original purpose of which was to regulate radio signals, ought not become an excuse to destroy one of the most accessible and popular marketplaces of expression. The AM broadcast spectrum cannot honestly be considered a "scarce" resource. So as the temporary custodian of your office, you should agree that the Constitution is more important than scoring transient political victories, even when couched in the language of public interest.

    We in talk radio await your answer. What will it be? Government-imposed censorship disguised as "fairness" and "balance"? Or will the arena of ideas remain a free market?

    Mr. Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host.