Thursday, October 4, 2007

Can Conservatives Turn Rush Fiasco Into Referendum on the Fairness Doctrine

That is an important question, and if they can, it will be a huge victory for the Republican Party. The Republicans find themselves on the wrong end of public opinion on most issues these days: whether it's health care, the new S CHIP, and of course Iraq, the Dems position is polling higher a lot, however the Fairness Doctrine is not one of them. There are very few issues, this side of partial birth abortion, that poll better for the Republicans than the Fairness Doctrine.

Which brings me to the Rush Limbaugh fiasco which just doesn't want to die. Today, the Democrats want to censure him.

Sen. Ken Salazar dove further into the Rush Limbaugh brouhaha today, saying
he’d support censuring the conservative radio talk-show host for his use of the
words “phony soldiers.” During a conference call with reporters, Salazar, a
Colorado Democrat, said he’d support censure if a vote were taken. None is
planned currently in the Senate.

“Rush Limbaugh owes an apology,” Salazar said. “He owes an apology to the
men and women in uniform who are doing the duty that the commander in chief has
asked them to do.”

While the Democrats continue to kow tow to the George Soros wing of their base, several politically astute Republicans have tried to turn this into a referendum on the Fairness Doctrine. the last time there was a vote it was voted against heavily. I choose my words very carefully because while there were more votes for than against, it didn't break the sixty threshold in the Senate. Thus, while the Fairness Doctrine continues to be suspended it could be brought back to life at anytime.

As we enter the second week of this fiasco (as an aside if you haven't already please go here and sign the petition... and Stand With Rush), I have started to notice Republican politicians referencing the Fairness Doctrine more and more. I first noticed it with Congressman Mike Pence

Now, while many see this as more politics as usual in Washington, D.C., I
see something more. I believe these attacks on talk radio are a precursor for
returning censorship to the airwaves of America in the form of the Fairness
Doctrine. I was actually on Fox & Friends this morning discussing this very
topic. Click
to read the transcript.

Here is some of what he said on that program

Host: Congressman Pence, your view?

Pence: Well, I want to agree with Congressman Sestak, that I think it
is absolutely ridiculous that the Democratic leaders of Congress, particularly
in the Senate, but many in the House, are focusing on the American political
debate and the comments of an American commentator.
Let me say with great
respect, Joe, I read the transcript too and I think FOXNEWS yesterday, reported
that a literal reading of the transcript shows that Rush Limbaugh did not call
veterans who oppose the war “phony soldiers.”

In fact, the term comes from an ABC News report that aired the Monday night
before the Wednesday that he used the term. He did a commentary on Tuesday
on the subject Joe you know, and this was all about the ABC News initial report
of this Jesse Macbeth, and frankly, several incidents of people who have
pretended to be Iraq War veterans, in some cases a criminal behavior, who have
then been used by the anti-war left to make a case against Iraq.
Limbaugh has clarified his statement but, quite frankly Steve, I see this all as
a precursor to an effort by the Democrats in Congress to reintroduce the
Fairness Doctrine. What on earth business is it of the United States
Senate to be policing the airwaves of America? I really do believe this
whole incident, the circus on the Senate floor Monday, argues for the
legislation we’ve introduced in the House that would put the Fairness Doctrine
out of reach of any future President or any future Congress

I also found this from Congressman Tom Price

The First Amendment of the Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise
thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of
the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress
of grievances.”

More recognizable perhaps than any other provision of our Constitution, the
freedoms bestowed to the American people by the First Amendment have been
treasured for more than two centuries. Throughout our history, Americans have
vigilantly fought to defend these freedoms.

Shockingly, Americans today face a Democrat Congress seeking to deteriorate
our freedom under the guise of “fairness.” Our First Amendment rights are being
threatened by Congressional Democrats who seek the revival of the Fairness
Doctrine, a law to drastically increase government regulation of free speech on
television and radio. The proposal requires Washington regulation of news and
debate in the media.

Just so no one thinks we are all paranoid, General Wesley Clark actually proposed a cousin of the Fairness Doctrine just yesterday

presumably they’d be okay to head that up, too. The point he’s ostensibly
trying to make is a simple one — that the U.S. government shouldn’t be
broadcasting anything that harms its own military’s morale — but a standard that
narrow wouldn’t let you regulate very much speech. So he broadens it with a
magnificently Orwellian invocation of “propriety” that has no discernible
definition except his own arbitrary judgment about what does and doesn’t “cross
the line.” Just laying a little groundwork for the Fairness Doctrine, planting a
few seeds which he hopes will flower a few years from now.

It’s not worth rehashing at this point that the whole thing is based on a
willful distortion of Limbaugh’s “phony soldiers” comment aimed at Jesse
Macbeth. Both sides realize that. Clark’s simply trying to leverage a trumped-up
controversy for political gain — which adds a special poignancy to the part
where he scolds Congress for trying to leverage a trumped-up controversy for
political gain.

There is no question that Media Matters looks to do what the Dems hoped with the Fairness Doctrine, marginalize Conservative voices, especially on the radio. The great irony is that while the Democrats scream about the lack of balance on the radio, there is absolutely no equivalent to Media Matters itself. Conservatives don't have attack dogs with the size, scope and financial backing of Media Matters. I doubt very much that these same Democrats would want to institute the Fairness Doctrine as it would apply to Media Matters.

In politics, perception is reality. Right now the Democrats are mostly perceived as trying to turn the tables on Republicans vis a vis the Betray Us ad. They won't get any traction there and every light that shines on Media Matters is a light that shines brighter on its money man, George Soros. Still, if the Republicans really want this to work in their advantage, they must change the discussion into the back door attempt to try and institute the Fairness Doctrine. Furthermore, it must become a referendum on the Fairness Doctrine. Keep in mind that despite having the entire print, broadcast, and much of cable media, these same Democrats bemoan their lack of voice on talk radio. Not because they aren't allowed mind you (Alan Colmes is one of the few successful liberal talkers), but because they try and fail (see Air America). If the debate moves that way, the Reps can corner the Dems into standing up against the first and most important amendment, the freedom of speech, in their ridiculous pursuit of attempting to silence those voices with which they disagree.

1 comment:

Snooper said...

GREAT piece and well done!