U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., supported by Sen. Richard Durban, D-Ill., and John Kerry, D-Mass., announced recently that she is considering introducing legislation in the U.S. Senate to resurrect the "Fairness Doctrine" to add balance to AM talk-radio.
Specifically, the Fairness Doctrine would be a federal law that would require individuals such as talk show hosts to submit to challenges from people with different points of view, and the station that carried the original program would be required to give air time to the challenger.
No doubt Feinstein and her cohorts were energized by the ill-advised comments by Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., in early June during the heated debate involving the Comprehensive Immigration Bill, which he supported along with Senator Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. Senator Lott commented at the time, "Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with the problem."
Here was an opening for real "bi-partisan" devilment. Heated rhetoric was exchanged by both sides, but the intent was clear, "Let's get Rush Limbaugh." Just who is this Rush Limbaugh, this man the liberals believe wields more power than the U.S. Senate and more?
Where did such a "monster" come from?
Rush Limbaugh had been in and out of radio since he was 16 in his hometown of Cape Giradeau, Mo. By 1984 he was hosting a talk radio show in Sacramento, Calif. However, it was not until President Ronald Reagan abolished the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 that Rush became an unbridled, full-fledged talk radio host. Rush arrived "full blown," as described by Wall Street Journal's editorial writer Daniel Henninger: "Ronald Reagan tore down this wall (the Fairness Doctrine) in 1987 ... and Rush Limbaugh was the first man to proclaim himself liberated from the East Germany of liberal media domination." He attracted the attention of WABC in New York where he moved in 1988.
To fully understand the importance of Rush Limbaugh's contributions to America, a person has to understand the conditions when Rush began his move to fame.
The 1964 presidential election campaign led by Sen. Barry Goldwater left the conservative movement in shambles. Richard Nixon's efforts to restore the conservative base seemed to work well until the Watergate scandals forced his resignation.
Jimmy Carter was elected president in 1976 on a reform platform that promised honesty and integrity in government. Instead, the nation got incompetence of the first order. Jimmy Carter was a born-again Christian with the highest integrity but without a single clue about how to manage the world's largest power.
President Carter's legacy left President Ronald Reagan's administration with excessive interest rates which rose from 4 to 5 percent in 1976 to a high of 22 percent.
Unemployment was soon at 10-plus percent and inflation at 18 percent. Reagan was blamed, of course, and conservatism was struggling once more.
Rush Limbaugh arrived in Reagan's second term with conservatism beginning to rise again.
Rush presented himself to America as a sincere, truthful conservative who, above all, believed in himself. He talked to Americans in a language they understood. He espoused beliefs that touched their very beings.
Rush Limbaugh virtually re-invented radio, and he inspired a nation to involve itself in government. A new and stronger conservative movement began. Rush brought with him a "silver bullet" — the truth. He demonstrated the power of truth, and furthermore, that truth itself is a defense against unwarranted and unfounded criticism.
Rush's talk show host radio broadcasts spread rapidly to tens of millions across America. They listened intently for three hours, beginning at 12 noon, five days a week. Broadcast history knew no such parallel.
Rush was credited with the overwhelming victory of conservatism in Congress in the 1994 elections, when for the first time since 1952, Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. As a tribute to Rush, the newly elected Republicans called themselves the "Dittohead caucus."
Fairness to both conservatives and liberals exists today in radio broadcasting. Any individual who wishes to become a talk show host must first convince a radio station he has something to say that will draw an audience. Audiences generate advertising. The size of audiences determines advertising rates a radio station can charge. If the individual who begins a talk show program can not obtain and hold listeners, the radio station will not continue the program. We have seen how liberals handle fair and balanced presentations on Fox News. Invariably, they will speak out of turn and attempt to override the conservative presentation.
Liberals have attempted to imitate conservative talk show hosts with little or no success, even those with the charisma of former governor of New York Mario Cuomo.
Conservative talk-show hosts talk to people. Liberals talk at people and therefore cannot maintain an audience. Liberals do not listen well. As an example, Rush Limbaugh is carried on over 600 successful radio stations and Sean Hannity is carried on more than 500. At the peak, the liberals succeeded in maintaining programs on only 15 radio stations.
Paul Weyrich, chairman and CEO of Free Congress Foundation observes: "Fairness in radio broadcasting exists today, but liberals must realize they have to make their own way…Can we help it if no one wants to listen to the left's constant pessimism and anger? "Should we go back to the days when the big liberal networks filtered everything? God help us."
E. Ralph Hostetter, a prominent businessman and agricultural publisher, also is a national and local award-winning columnist. He welcomes comments by email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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