The National Association of Broadcasters said it was glad to hear President Obama come out against reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. But that doesn’t mean we’ve turned down the volume knob on the level of rhetoric on the topic.
NAB President/CEO David K. Rehr fired off a letter to Obama, writing, "At a time when the challenges that face our country require vigorous debate and discussion, our nation’s TV and radio broadcasters provide a rich diversity of viewpoints from all sides of the political spectrum. We applaud you and those who join you in opposing government censorship of our airways. We stand ready to work with you to defend a fundamental freedom — the freedom of speech."
Nonetheless, Jim DeMint (R-SC) in the Senate and Mike Pence (R-IN) in the House are trying to attach legislation to an omnibus spending bill that would officially ban reinstatement of the Doctrine. They are worried about occasional statements coming from the opposite side of the aisle supporting it, most recently from Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) and including others in the not too recent past.
Meanwhile, active conservative talker Michael Savage has teamed with a public interest legal group, the Thomas More Law Center, to fight the Doctrine’s revival. “Michael Savage is the personification of what the liberals hate about conservative talk radio, and we’re proud to represent him in this crucial battle to preserve the grand purpose of political speech protected by the First Amendment,” said Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center.”
Watchdog Free Press, who many might think would be at the vanguard of those calling for the Doctrine’s return, actually opposes it. In a brief entitles “The Fairness Doctrine Distraction” it calls regulation of political speech “untenable.” Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, said "We encourage Congress and the administration to ignore the Fairness Doctrine distraction and pursue media reform policies that matter." Free Press is a strong proponent of network neutrality and opponent of media ownership consolidation.
RBR/ TVBR observation: About the only thing that will truly surprise us regarding the Fairness Doctrine is if suddenly everybody just stops talking about it.