That's Not Grandma in the White House

Another take on the Fairness Doctrine. Conservatives do need to do a better job watching comes out of the regulatory bodies. -Patrick

Patrick makes some fair points in his 'Crying Wolf on the Fairness Doctrine' post, but I think he is more than a bit sanguine about the regulatory environment our talk radio allies might soon be facing. Let me boil Patrcik's argument down to four main points:

  1. Obama is too smart to provoke a fight on the Fairness Doctrine
  2. the internet is more politcally powerful than radio
  3. there is a finite bandwith for conservative messaging
  4. conservatives need to be talking about issues that matter to Americans, like the economy, and not phantom issues like the Fairness Doctrine

Here's my response:

  1. Yes, Obama is too smart to bring back the 'Fairness Doctrine'. You are absolutely not going to see any movement in Congress to pass legislation forcing the FCC to revive the same rule it abandoned in 1987. But as the Center for American Progress points out, Congress does not need to pass any new legislation: "The public obligations inherent in the Fairness Doctrine are still in existence and operative, at least on paper." Instead you will see a regulatory push at the FCC to intimidate conservative radio stations by shortening their licensing requirements from every eight, to every three years, and forcing them to meet stepped up "public interest" requirements. This new standard would be just as vague and ripe for abuse as the old Fairness Doctrine ever was.
  2. Yes, the internet is clearly better at raising money and coordinating election activity. But talk radio is still a force, especially in legislative battles. Patrick mentions the key role talk radio played in the immigration debate. Does the internet even have a similar legislative victory? Yes, the Glenn Greenwald's and firedoglake's of the world generated thousands of phonecalls to Capitol Hill on FISA, but who won that fight? And how did their chosen candidate end up voting? There is no doubt the GOP needs to grow online, but now is not the time to be casting reliable allies like talk radio to the wolves.
  3. There is no finite bandwith for anyone's messaging, left or right. This reminds me of the mistake I made arguing that the netroots made a strategic mistake by going after Joe Lieberman in 2006. It seemed like a waste of their resources. It wasn't. Their fight agianst Lieberman became a rallying cry for larger issues, set the tone for 2006, and brought in new activists and money. As long as a fight fits into a larger narrative, it only expands and amplifies our messaging reach.
  4. Like Patrick, I also believed conservatives looked clueless this fall bringing up some guy from the '60s nobody had ever heard of while the economy crashed. But a re-regulation of radio broadcasting along the lines that CAP envisions is a real threat to freedom of speech. And the way Obama will porbably go about it, bypassing Congress and using a bureacratic out of touch regulatory body, is exactly the route the Obama administration is probably going to take on cap and trade as well.  As Patrick points out  CAP "president John Podesta is leading the Obama transition" and he "is dead serious."

I do believe that some of the more heated "the sky is falling" rhetoric on the return of the Fairness Doctrine is over heated. But that does not mean we should be complacent and let the FCC eat talk radio at its leisure. We must be vigilant for any signs that the Obama adminsitration is follwing CAP's policy recommendations on the issue, and hit back hard when they do.


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Talk Radio is Too Big To Fail

at least for Republicans.

As for me, i know republicans whose primary reason for voting for Obama was the Culture War, and talk radio is one of the chief proponents of Culture War.

Do you care about winning these people back? Nuts if I know, but I would if I were you.

If the GOP lost and will

If the GOP lost and will continuing losing because of Rush Limbaugh then lets have that discussion out in the open. Lets not let Obama and the FCC make that decision for us.

sure, fine.

start a diary.


 I believe what the Obama FCC will enforce is an abstract policy known as "localism", where in each local market local interests are to be evaluated and time is to be devoted according to each areas specific "needs."

This will allow a plethora of local liberal "boards" to be the ones forcing conservatives off the airwaves, rather than few or one target(s) in Washington that could be attacked more publicly and easily.

Think ACORN.


Regulating radio is not a violation of the First Amendment.  Unlike newspapers and cable, broadcast media use resources owned by the people, and the people have the right, through their elected representatives to regulate their use.  This is hardly a breaking headline; it goes back to the earliest days of radio broadcast and the problem of stations competing for the same bandwidth.

The Fairness Doctrine, even though it does not violate anyone's rights, is not coming back, because it serves Democrats better than Republicans.  Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, O'Reilly and the rest have cornered the market on a shrinking minority of the voting population, and have to up the rhetoric periodically to keep them hooked.  They are not gaining any new listeners, because their hatred and inaccuracies drive new listeners away.

I tune into Rush now and then, and he pathetic and getting worse.  I think Democrats are happy to let him implode publicly, and will give him all the air time he needs to do so.

If "conservative talk radio" disappeared tomorrow, it would help the conservative movement more than any other single event could.  The right-wing stations are like the embarrassing aunt who has to be acknowledged, but is no less embarassing for the acknowledgement.


Radio Censorship is STILL Wrong

Regulating radio is not a violation of the First Amendment.  Unlike newspapers and cable, broadcast media use resources owned by the people,

Pro-censorship arguments are BS piled around nonsense. Would you accept the argument that since Govt owns the airwaves ALL YOUR CELLPHONE CALLS CAN BE WIRETAPPED WITHOUT A SEARCH WARRANT? Would you allow your constitutional rights to be impinged simply because govt owns the property? So why not allow censorship in libraries too? hmm.

Think carefully now. The ownership argument is a feeble excuse for the simple reason that property rights, and govt partial release of such rights, and 'right to censor' are based on two different things. The First Amendment is clear - which part of CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW is unclear to you?

This is hardly a breaking headline; it goes back to the earliest days of radio broadcast and the problem of stations competing for the same bandwidth.

Technology is different from the 1930s. have you not noticed?

The Government *chooses* to ration the airwaves - the Government *chooses* to continue to own the airwaves and lease them, when in fact they could just as easily sell the airwave rights outright, permanently, as they might sell a piece of Alaskan land they own, or a patent owned by NIH.  after all its just air and spectrum. NOBODY really owns the air, and the rigts involved are nothing more than a right not to get EM interference. A right that is actually irrelevent if we went to CDMA technology or UWB.

In short, the argument is bunk both on the fundamental level of rights and the level of technological justification. There is NO justification for Federal Radio Censorship in this day and age. None!

The Federal Radio Censorship Doctrine is an offense to liberty.


If "conservative talk radio" disappeared tomorrow, it would help the conservative movement more than any other single event could.  The right-wing stations are like the embarrassing aunt who has to be acknowledged, but is no less embarassing for the acknowledgement.

The tens of millions of listeners of talk radio would doubtless disagree. Rush and others provide a public service by informing and entertaining. Simply because you dont like their brand of it, doesnt give you cause to parade your narrowminded bigotry against points of view that you dont share.

I do find it fascinating that so many liberal trolls are standing up to oppose liberty. It's a good reminder that I really am on the 'right' side, defending liberty.


If you supported the Patriot Act

Then you don't mind all your phone calls being wiretapped anyways...

But, in essence, I agree that the government should merely have domain over bandwidth frequencies/amplitudes and not the content of the stations transmitting over them.

There is a valid reason why the government maintains rights to those airwaves, or at least, some of them. They have practical applications, such as military purposes. Also, I couldn't imagine them selling well-used frequencies like Wi-fi.

UMMM... all your cell phone calls ARE tapped, automagically.

Emergency services always knows where you are, in case of an emergency. You are always trackable, based on your cell phone, so long as you are in range of enough towers for triangulation.

AND people wonder why I don't have a cell phone...

Regulation of free speech has gone on since the beginning of this country. I'm sure we've still got that fancy banned book list just in case we go to war (All Quiet on The Western Front, among them. damn that book is depressing).

Sometimes it is justified. Other times it is not.

Deliberately antagonistic speech can be classified as assault (in the "I'ma kill you" vein). There's plenty of laws on simple assault you know.

Limbaugh provides crack to his addicts. Just because it is in the form of audio waves does not make it any less dangerous. Self-righteousness is an addiction, and it pollutes our public discourse. If I am automatically wrong because I am a liberal, then there can be no compromise (see big ben).

NIH is moving to open source, in case you haven't realized it.

"Next Level"

For all of the talk about "The One", no one brings up the most appropriate example, found in: "The Matrix"......Yes, Ruffini's correct. ..Conn's wrong about Obama, but he's not alone.  Conn and his fellow cons are still "fighting against the Agents" by using the playbook straight from Morpheus  and his cohorts....In this case, the talk-radio-heads are blowing collective gaskets over the "Fairness Doctrine"....There's ZERO interest in Obama taking on this issue... In fact, one could argue that it would be (politically) wise for him to let the right continue to genoflect over this topic. In doing so, the Conservatives talkers will show themselves to be self-serving paranoids who seem to prioritize America's issues, somewhere behind their own....The big problem is that most Conservatives are not sizing up Obama in the proper context....There are far too many Conservatives who look at this guy as some sort of radical Liberal with Jeremiah Wright sermons on autoplay in his head....This same group seems to put Obama into a Black political stereotype (see Al Sharpton) that's not applicable to him....Many more are satisfied to think that Obama's serving koolaid as the Jim Jones of 2008....Too many Republicans have not pivoted from the "Hannity's America" view on the President-elect (based on fear and smear).  Read this slowly: The guy won the election by his consistent display of COMPETENCE... It's COMPETENCE that America see's as non-existent in the current administration...It's COMPETENCE which encourages the media to give more "positive" coverage...Barrack Obama demonstrated more COMPETENCE than his "more experienced" foes (Clinton, McCain) .....The race with McCain was won when McCain showed erratic behavior while Obama continued to demonstrate COMPETENCE in the face of the financial mess....Finally, it's COMPETENCE, that would never permit the guy to make an overt OR covert play on something as trivial as "Fairness Doctrine". Why should he worry about it? He beat them before and he can beat them again...Yes, it's going to be a long time in the wilderness for the GOP if  they fail to recognize that Obama's not like Bill Clinton or Dubya....He's not like Edwards or Gore....He's certainly not like Jesse or Farrakhan....Recognize the next POTUS for what he has shown himself to be, not for whom you want him to be......Obama's not fighting like Morpheus did. Let's not sell him short with the usual gameplan....Obama's much more like Neo in The Matrix: He's "Next Level".

yes, this troubles me greatly.

In strategy, you plan for what you can LEAST afford. I see everyone here saying WHEN Obama makes mistakes. NOT if.

Well, can we ask ourselves what the Republicans or the Right should do, if Obama does not make mistakes, or if they are of not enough magnitude to make political hay over?