On Oct. 7, the president stunned many of his conservative supporters by hinting through Twitter that a revival of the “Fairness Doctrine” after 30 years was needed to counter liberal attacks on him in the national media.
On Tuesday, the White House would not confirm or deny to Newsmax whether Mr. Trump’s tweet noting that “Republicans (and me) should be given Equal Time on TV” meant he supports the Fairness Doctrine — a 1949 ruling of the Federal Communications Commission requiring radio station owners to provide equal time to controversial opinions that their outlets have broadcast.
But equal time on the airwaves could be a boon for Democrats, who would get equal station time, countering popular shows like Rush Limbaugh's.
The doctrine, which experts agree discouraged the presentation of conservative broadcasts, was scrapped by the Reagan administration in 1987.
So Newsmax put the question to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. “I don't know that he's into the deep weeds of the Fairness Doctrine,” Sanders replied, “but I know he certainly believes in fairness. And I think that he would like to see that applied, certainly, to his administration in a way that it probably hasn't been so far.”
Since the end of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, Democrats have made several attempts at revival. The reason is obvious: rather than engage in the costly practice of providing equal time to Democrats, the experts conclude, many stations would simply not carry Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and other talk show hosts who are likely to generate demands from liberals for equal time.
In 2008, the last time talk of reviving the Fairness Doctrine surfaced, two major combatants over its revival are now major players in today’s Washington: Vice President Mike Pence and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Pence, then a congressman from Indiana, offered the Broadcaster’s Freedom Act to outlaw the Fairness Doctrine. Pelosi, then speaker of the Democratic-controlled House, made clear to me she was not going to let the Pence measure get to the floor for a vote.
“So I don’t see it coming to the floor,” she said. “Do you personally support revival of the Fairness Doctrine?” I asked. “Yes,” Pelosi replied, without hesitation.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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