No sooner did Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) backpedal as furiously as possible away from comments on reinstating the Fairness Doctine than Tom Harkin (D-IA) pedaled into the controversy. Harkin’s comments came on Bill Press’s radio show, as did Stabenow’s. Stabenow’s remarks had the predictable effect of igniting the right wing talk community – we know it’s predictable because it seems to happen ever couple of months or so – and landed her prominently on some of their websites. Her staff is now saying there are neither hearings nor legislation pending on the matter. So enter Harkin, who reduced the (traditional?) couple of months recurring slip-up interval to just a couple of days.
RBR/TVBR observation: This has to be one of the noisiest non-issues going. Democrats are always the ones occasionally longing for the Doctrine’s return these days, obviously forgetting that it and other regulatory cudgels can cut both ways, as when Richard Nixon threatened the television licenses of the Washington Post for what are obvious reasons. Perhaps the Dems do get around to remembering, though, which may be why there still has not been a serious attempt to bring it back to life.
It probably also helps temper Democratic demands since they now have some champions of their own in the media, particularly on cable network MSNBC. Although being paired up with Bill O’Reilly to assure fairness may make for fabulous entertainment, we doubt that Keith Olbermann would be particularly thrilled about such an arrangement.