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March 17, 2009

De-Facto Fairness Doctrine Already in Place, Sen. Inhofe Warns (The Examiner)

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By Kevin Mooney
DC Examiner Opinion Zone
Published March 17, 2009

Just the mere specter of the Fairness Doctrine has already had an impact Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) revealed in a recent conference call. Station managers are recruiting progressives and talk show hosts are moderating their views so a defense can be prepared, he lamented. So in reality, a de-facto Fairness Doctrine is already in place.

Although the Senate has passed legislation (S.Amdt.573) that prohibits the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reinstituting the fairness doctrine, it also approved an amendment by Senator Dick Durbin (R-Ill.), “encouraging and promoting diversity in communication media ownership.” This really  mounts to just a new means of censorship on the airways and will give the FCC unfettered authority to interpret the language of the legislation in any way they please.

Inhofe said the following on the Senate floor:

“This legislation is so incredibly vague and so potentially far-reaching that I can’t say with any certainty what the end result will be. This is not good governance and it is not good legislative practice to cede such authority to any agency of our government, especially when the right to speak freely over the airwaves will most certainly be impacted. 

“Not only do I continue stand firm in my opposition to the fairness doctrine, but I am adamantly opposed to any attempt aimed at regulating the airwaves, such as broadcast localism, more stringent licensing requirements, and vague diversity regulations aimed at an industry whose authorizing authority is the First Amendment to the Constitution. I intend to fight against the regulation of free speech, not just the Fairness Doctrine, but in all its various forms. Let this be a warning, just as the Fairness Doctrine has always been a loser for the left, so too will any infringement upon the free speech of the American people.” 

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