Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says despite last-minute “special amendment” language to regulate talk radio slipping into a D.C. voting rights bill earlier this week, the return of the so-called Fairness Doctrine is an aberration that neither political party would like to see resurrected.
“The Fairness Doctrine – what a ghost that doesn’t exist,” Reid scoffed from the floor of the Senate yesterday.
“None of us want to go back to the way it was before,” he assured Senate colleagues. “It is an issue they [Republicans] brought up to talk about. No one wants to re-establish the Fairness Doctrine – Democrats or Republicans,” CNS News reports.
The doctrine, implemented by the FCC in 1949, required broadcasters to present equal time on controversial topics in “a fair and balanced way,” and with “divergent political viewpoints.” President Ronald Reagan stopped the FCC from implementing the rule during his second term as president in 1987.
The amendment attached to the D.C. Voting Rights Act, introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., states, “certain affirmative actions” are “required” of the FCC, including “actions to encourage and promote diversity in communication media ownership and to ensure that broadcast station licenses are used in the public interest.”
This, many conservative media experts agree, is a veiled means for Reid and other Democratic leadership to regulate talk radio and purge conservative radio programs and their popular hosts from the airwaves, including Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
Last week, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., told Newsmax that House Democrats had an “end run” planned around the Senate’s version of the bill, which prohibits the FCC from re-instituting the Fairness Doctrine.
In a press release issued by his office, Inhofe said, “encouraging and promoting diversity in communication media ownership,” is “really just a new means of censorship on the airways.”
Inhofe and other conservative lawmakers believe the language in the “Durbin Amendment” was written so “incredibly vague” and so “potentially far-reaching” that they can’t say with any certainty what the end result will be.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., told Fox News that Durbin’s amendment to the voting rights bill will "impose the Fairness Doctrine through the back door by trying to break up radio ownership. We need to make it a law that the FCC or this Congress cannot implement any aspect of the Fairness Doctrine.”
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