Mike Pence (R-IN) was able to get a bill through Congress earlier keeping reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine off the table for a year, but his efforts for a more permanent piece of legislation have been stalled. He’s now looking to force a vote by petition. According to the Washington Times, he needs 218 signatures from his peers in the House of Representatives to do this, which would require every Republican as a base, along with 18 members from across the aisle.
Pence and Greg Walden (R-OR) have expressed concern that Democrats will bring the Fairness Doctrine back as an equalizer for conservative dominance of the radio Talk arena. Although some Democrats have mentioned the idea from time to time of late, there has been no concrete effort to restore the Doctrine.
Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) tried to use the petition maneuver to force House consideration of Sen. Byron Dorgan’s (D-ND) Resolution of Disapproval, an attack on the 2003 FCC media ownership rulemaking. Floor consideration of that measure, which passed in the Senate, was blocked by Republican leadership, and Hinchey was unable to get enough signatures from what across the aisle to force a vote. The Resolution was rendered moot when the Third Circuit Court remanded most of the rulemaking back to the FCC for reconsideration.
RBR observation: We suspect that Pence’s petition effort will fail, but it won’t really matter, since there does not seem to be any major effort to get a Fairness Doctrine restoration movement up and running. And while we’re on the topic, the next time somebody goes on the radio, television or a newspaper OpEd page and says something, praise it or condemn it, but don’t take a vote on it. Instead, celebrate the fact that we live in a nation where the person was completely free to say whatever it was they said.