Barack Obama has a stunning lack of tolerance for free speech. And one thing Americans can expect from an Obama administration, and a Democratic-controlled Congress, is a legislative attempt to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which will limit free speech and diminish the conservative influence on talk radio.
A new ATI-News/Zogby International poll released on Oct. 26 made it clear that those who intend to vote for Obama support re-establishing the Fairness Doctrine.
The poll asked likely voters, “Some members of Congress have discussed reinstating the Fairness Doctrine for broadcasting. The Fairness Doctrine requires radio stations to provide equal air time for opposing viewpoints.
"If reinstated, regulators determine if both sides of an issue are equally presented. There is concern among some broadcasters that this equal presentation could lead to dropping some popular conservative talk shows in an effort to avoid airing less popular liberal talk shows. Knowing this, do you support or oppose reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine?”
Those likely to vote for Obama support reinstating the Fairness Doctrine by a margin of 49 percent to 36 percent, and Democrats support it 47 to 38 percent. Independents marginally support the fairness doctrine 42 percent to 40 percent, though this is within the poll’s margin of error. (The remaining respondents all replied “not sure.”)
Those polled were then asked, “Some say the Fairness Doctrine could result in popular radio shows, such as Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, to be taken off the air in some markets. Knowing this, do you support or oppose reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine?"
When informed that the Fairness Doctrine might take Limbaugh and Hannity off the air, the percentage of Democrat likely voters who support the Fairness Doctrine rose to 53 percent. The percentage of Obama supporters supporting the Doctrine rose four points to 53 percent. However, the percentage of Independents opposed to the Fairness Doctrine rose to 49 percent.
It is clear that Obama supporters and Democratic leaders want to see the Fairness Doctrine invoked. If the poll numbers don’t convince you, current events certainly should.
When Chicago radio station WGN scheduled journalist Stanley Kurtz to talk about Obama’s ties to Ayers, the Obama campaign recruited 100,000 supporters to act in a cult-like manner and besiege the station with protests.
When “Joe the plumber” questioned Obama about his plan to raise taxes on small businesses, Obama supporters sought to destroy Joe and publicly embarrass him by digging through his tax files, work history, and personal life. Was this a warning to average Americans not to ask questions?
Obama forces also tried to hush a national organization that ran TV and radio ads attacking the candidate’s position on an issue. In that instance, Obama’s general counsel fired off a letter threatening the licenses of stations that didn’t pull the ad “for the sake of FCC licensing and the public interest.”
When KDKA (Pittsburgh, Pa.) talk-radio host Kevin Miller gave air-time to guests who were critical of Obama, his producer reprimanded him on the air and read a statement from CBS accusing Miller of unfair bias against Obama. The producer then offered Obama his own three-hour segment to run in place of Miller’s time slot.
After seeing a dip in the polls in September, the Obama campaign dispatched prosecutors and law enforcement officials in Missouri to act as “truth squads” to target anyone who runs ads on TV or radio critical of Obama.
Senior Democrats, including Sens. Bingaman, Clinton, Durbin, Kerry, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi show angry intolerance with their desire to re-introduce the doctrine.
Originally instituted in 1949 by the Federal Communications Commission, the Fairness Doctrine was soon recognized as a tool for silencing any opposing views — particularly conservative views.
President Kennedy’s assistant aecretary of commerce, Bill Ruder, said, “We had a massive strategy to use the ‘Fairness Doctrine’ to challenge and harass the right-wing broadcasters and hoped the challenge would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited and decide it was too expensive to continue.”
The Federal Communications Commission repealed the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 admitting the doctrine “had the net effect of reducing rather than enhancing the discussion of controversial issues of public importance.”
Americans can expect to see a greatly expanded Fairness Doctrine in any bill that Congress produces. According to his spokesman, Barack Obama believes the discussion should include “opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible . . . [and he] supports media-ownership caps, network neutrality, public broadcasting, as well as increasing minority ownership of broadcasting."
Democratic congressional leaders also want to have radio stations renew their license every two years instead of the current eight-year term, and would require the establishment of local community boards to make the demands for programming on behalf of the listeners.
On the other side, in 2007 Sen. John McCain introduced legislation to protect talk radio. “The Fairness Doctrine had a chilling effect on free speech, and it is hard to imagine that the American people would support reinstating a policy where the federal government would be required to police the airwaves to ensure differing viewpoints are offered,” said McCain.
While the television and newspaper industries are dominated by left-wing bias, talk radio has been the only voice for Americans to hear the other side of the story, and with overwhelming success.
Today 100 million people in 50 million households tune into news and talk radio each week. There is nothing fair about the Fairness Doctrine, and re-establishing the doctrine would have the chilling effect of silencing America’s 2,000 talk-radio-show hosts that discuss politics.
There is very little doubt that if Obama ascends to the presidency and Democrats achieve super majorities in both houses of Congress, the Fairness Doctrine will become law and freedom of speech will be purged from our nation’s airwaves. And there’s no question that Obama would be 20 points ahead if the so-called Fairness Doctrine were in effect today.
For complete results of the poll, go to www.AmericanFreeSpeechRadio.com.
Brad O’Leary is president of ATI-News and is a former nationally syndicated talk-show host on the Westwood One Radio Network.
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