Free Markets, Free People

Planning To Shut Up Right-Wing Talk Radio

Well, after Democratic assurances that the Fairness Doctrine wasn’t something they planned to pursue, Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow muddied those waters again.  Appearing on the Bill Press Show she had this to say:

BILL PRESS: Yeah, I mean, look: They have a right to say that. They’ve got a right to express that. But, they should not be the only voices heard. So, is it time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine?

SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): I think it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else — I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves. I mean, our new president has talked rightly about accountability and transparency. You know, that we all have to step up and be responsible. And, I think in this case, there needs to be some accountability and standards put in place.

BILL PRESS: Can we count on you to push for some hearings in the United States Senate this year, to bring these owners in and hold them accountable?

SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): I have already had some discussions with colleagues and, you know, I feel like that’s gonna happen. Yep.

Really.  “Accountability”?  What sort of “accountability” is Sen. Stabenow talking about?

What she means is she’d like to see the bane of the Democrats, the one venue that regularly frustrates their efforts, out of business or seriously handicaped.

The arguments for the previous Fairness Doctrine were pitifully inadequate and certainly an infringement of free speech, but radio was a dominant medium at the time and that’s how supporters justified their attempted control of what could or couldn’t be said.

Now, however, even those marginal arguments are obsolete.  The choices of media have expanded exponentially.  The internet has changed the whole game.  To pretend that “standards” and “accountability” must be imposed on a very small part of this media spectrum while ignoring the rest is laughable.

So this comes down to power and control.  And it requires a willingness to ignore the tenets of liberty and heritage of free speech embodied in the Constitution.  I have no doubt that Democrats are more than willing to do exactly that in their effort to consolidate their power.


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12 Responses to Planning To Shut Up Right-Wing Talk Radio

  • I may do not agree with what you say, but and I will defend to the death your right to make damned sure that nobody hears you say it.

    Let’s thank heavens that (for now, anyway) the dems (spit) aren’t talking about throwing people in prison who publicly disagree with them.

    And consider Press’ false premise:

    Yeah, I mean, look: They have a right to say that. They’ve got a right to express that. But, they should not be the only voices heard. [emphasis mine]

    This is how the dems (spit) justify this assault on the First Amendment: they create the false argument that ONLY right-wing voices are heard, get MiniTru (which regards talk radio as an interloper on its own sacred turf) to repeat the argument into it’s accepted as conventional wisdom, and then propose legislation to restore “fairness” and “accountability” and “transparency” to the situation.  Now, who could possibly be against that?

    Unless, of course, you’ve been brainwashed by right-wing media to believe that (scoff) this is merely a brazen effort by lefties to silence dissent because it is well demonstrated that they cannot compete in a “free market” of ideas and they have to shut up their critics by any means necessary.

  • Should I be surprsied that her husband is an executive with Air America?

  • I hope there is some right-wing or, even better, libertarian organization out there gearing up for the Fairness Doctrine by doing everything they can do to prepare to file a lawsuit the day it takes effect to get equal right-wing or libertarian air time on CNN.

    I am at a loss as to how they could write it in such a way that A: it would stand up in Court for five minutes without a preliminary injunction cancelling it and B: would not mean that CNN’s programming would need to be radically altered by their own standard.

    I am at a loss as to how a 90%+ Democratic media can be turned into a 100% Democratic media through a “fairness doctrine”.

  • Shouldn’t Mrs. Stabenow recuse herself from passing laws about radio given her obvious conflict of interest she has with talk radio?

    According to her Senate bio, she’s married to Tom Athans, who happens to be the founder and/or CEO of several failed (or failing) liberal talk radio organizations.

  • To this pig of a woman and her freedom-hating allies I say:  Go. For. It.

    You won’t be in power forever. Maybe not even as soon as 2-4 years from now.

    Sure would be ironic to see this expanded and used against MSNBC….or Jon Stewart…..or the Sulzberger’s media holdings…..or Kos and Arianna.

    Go. For. It.

  • Don’t know where my other comment went (with all the links) so I’ll repost a shorter version of it.

    Why is anyone listening to Debbie Stabenow about the “Fairness Doctrine”?  Her husband, Tom Athans, has founded, chaired, or been a part of AirAmerica, TalkUSA, and Democracy Radio.  All of those organizations were supposed to be liberal answers to conservative talk radio.  All of them failed.

    • The relative failure of left-oriented stations and networks will be used as evidence of indicating an unfair playing field.  The Democrats who want the Fairness Doctrine to return will lay the blame for the failure of left-oriented talk radio on the networks who choose to give Hannity, Limbaugh and the like airtime, rather than on consumers who simply didn’t care for what Air America and the rest offered or on the network management that couldn’t figure out how to run a lemonade stand, much less a large corporation.  Proponents will frame the problem as evil, Republican corporations keeping the little Democratic guy from speaking, and the mass media will likely go along with it.

  • And now the other comment has appeared…

    • The first time you leave a comment on this particular blog platform, it has to be approved or disapproved.  Once you’ve been approved, you’re good – no approval necessary for subsequent comments left on the blog.  Great spam fighter.

  • She’s perfect then! She’s intimately involved with fairness you see? Through her husband’s influence she knows how unfair the whole right wing radio thing has been. And to the person looking to figure out how the fairness doctorine works to the left’s advantage? If the left had a viable view it would have made the air waves and survived on it’s own. It hasn’t. The object then is to force the ‘right’ to provide air time to the left,  and without sponsors for good programs that people listen to (the left) it will by virute of the requirement for equal time, work to subsidise the left’s crappy air time.  This will serve to kill the right as stations drop all ‘right wing’ programming altogether because they are unable to pay the cost for providing the ‘fair’ view from the left (which has no sponsorship or listeners). The money making (afloat) right is subsequently drowned by the fairness anchor of the left. As for CNN, they’ll simply claim to be unbiased and won’t be required to provide equal time. Try to imagine Ann Coulter as a middle of the road chick who didn’t present a decidedly rightish view of the world. It’s much easier for CNN to claim they’re not biased than it is for Ann Coulter to do so.

  • How difficult would it be to get around such laws by providing programming that pretends to take the left-wing side but is actually satirizing it, much as Stephen Colbert pretends to be a right-winger? Would enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine be based on the literal meaning of what is said? Who would be responsible for interpreting that?

    These aren’t rhetorical questions; I’m really curious what methodologies could be used to determine the political slant of a particular radio show. What if you had a pro-gay, pro-choice, pro-Iraq war, pro-limited government talk show host? An Andrew Sullivan (circa 2002) type. Would that show’s network be required to balance things by airing a show hosted by an anti-war pro-life traditional marriage proponent?

    I don’t see how a little creative programming and a team of decent lawyers couldn’t make a mockery of any attempt to regulate this kind of speech.