Talk Radio's Savage, Law Center Vow 'Fairness' Suit

Wednesday, 18 Feb 2009 12:56 PM

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Conservative talk-radio host Michael Savage and the Thomas More Law Center promise to fight any possible restoration of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” with the center promising to sue on Savage’s behalf if it is reinstated.

Several liberal senators and former President Bill Clinton been threatening to muzzle talk radio by reinstituting the doctrine, according to a joint news release from Savage and the national public-interest law firm based Center in Ann Arbor.

“Michael Savage is the personification of what the liberals hate about conservative talk radio, and we’re proud to represent him in this crucial battle to preserve the grand purpose of political speech protected by the First Amendment,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the law center.

Democratic politicians such as Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, as well as former President Clinton, have called for hearings on radio “fairness” and the passage of a law that would, in effect, silence the conservative voice on important political issues, Thompson said.

“With the stink of public corruption blanketing Washington, with our elected officials passing the single largest spending bill in our nation’s history without even reading or debating it, with the increasing nationalization of our financial institutions, with almost dictatorial control of Congress by one political party, and with increasing signs we are becoming a socialistic country, Americans need more dynamic talk show hosts like Savage, not less,” he said.

Savage’s nationally syndicated show, “The Savage Nation,” is one of the highest-rated talk shows in the country, with millions of listeners. Savage coined the phrases “compassionate conservative” and “Islamo-Fascist,” which Republican speechwriters now use widely.

Radio hosts such as Savage have been so effective in rallying the public against many aspects of the liberal agenda that Democrat politicians increasingly have called for a return to the “Fairness Doctrine.”

“If the doctrine is so fair, why are the liberals limiting it only to radio?” Thompson said. “Why not television, the Internet, and all the print media?”

The doctrine, introduced in 1949, required radio stations to broadcast opposing views on any matter of public importance they discussed. However, in 1987, President Reagan directed that it be abandoned. Since then, Democrats have made several unsuccessful attempts to reinstate it.

With total Democrat control of the federal government, the measure can be reinstituted by a regulation of the Federal Communications Commission or congressional enactment. Whatever form its reinstatement may take, any limitation on Savage’s free speech rights will result in an immediate legal action, Thompson said.

The U.S. Supreme Court most likely would find reinstating the doctrine unconstitutional, he said.

“A regulation of speech motivated by nothing more than a desire to silence political opposition on controversial issues of public interest is the purest example of a law abridging the freedom of speech,” he said. “Such action is the hallmark of totalitarian governments, not a free society.”

Thomas More attorney Robert Muise has been assigned as the lead attorney representing Savage. The center also is receiving offers of assistance from attorneys across the nation.

Savage is a longtime on-air supporter of the Thomas More Law Center. He used his show to marshal support for one of the center’s clients, Marine Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani. The government is prosecuting Chessani in the so-called Haditha massacre. A military judge ultimately dismissed the case. However, the government appealed. The appeals court has not ruled.

The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America’s Christian heritage and moral values through litigation, education, and related activities.

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