February 13th, 2009
11:08 AM ET
5 years ago

Dems target right-wing talk radio

Rep. Maurice Hinchey is targeting right-wing radio.
Rep. Maurice Hinchey is targeting right-wing radio.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - More and more Democrats in Congress are calling for action that Republicans warn could muzzle right-wing talk radio.

Representative Maurice Hinchey, a Democrat from New York is the latest to say he wants to bring back the "Fairness Doctrine," a federal regulation scrapped in 1987 that would require broadcasters to present opposing views on public issues.

"I think the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated," Hinchey told CNNRadio. Hinchey says he could make it part of a bill he plans to introduce later this year overhauling radio and t-v ownership laws.

Listen: Hinchey says he wants to make talk-radio more fair

Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Tom Harkin of Iowa added their voices recently to those calling for a return of the regulation.

Republicans oppose the Fairness Doctrine, arguing it would be wrong for the federal government to monitor political speech on the airwaves, in order to require opposing views.

Republican Congressman Greg Walden, a former owner of five radio stations in Oregon including a "classic rock" station joked that the Fairness Doctrine is "the musical equivalent" of "every time we'd play a classic rock song we'd have to play a polka!"


Filed under: Congress
soundoff (221 Responses)
  1. ABinOrlando

    Yes, this right wing propaganda vehicle for inflaming the populace has to be muzzled. The guy Adkisson who went about shooting people at a liberal church in TN last year was a dittohead and if you read his statements and views, they sound verbatim like you would hear from a Hannity, Savage, Levine, Boortz or any of these right wing cooks that crowd out sane thought from the public airwaves.

    February 13, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  2. Sam Jones

    How could anyone see this as a bad thing? Why was it lifted in the first place? Right wing everything is propaganda – rarely is science used to bolster an argument or rarely are they open minded about any issue when fact or science is introduced.

    February 13, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  3. rob

    The Dems don't like what these "Right-Wing" hosts are saying so they want to silence them by forcing radio stations to give "Equal time" to I guess, "Left-Wing" radio hosts.

    Stations don't want to have "Left- wing" Talk radio because it doesn't sell, no one will listen. Just look at Air America, it was bank-rolled by "Left Wingers" and pushed by MSM outlets but failed to muster any real sizeable audience.

    The chilling effort here is to stop these Hosts from saying what they say on the radio and to deny millions of people from hearing it.

    February 13, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. mary dale

    Agree 100%. These pompous idiots need to be stopped. They have a following of sheep who call, contact, write letters according to the talking points put out by these evil men, making most sensible issues seem like everyone is against them. All it takes is one mention of an issue and its heard around the country. I listen to CSpan and you wouldnt believe the comments about ACORN like its even relevent. You know the caller has no idea what ACORN even represents. These guys have way too much power over the ignorant.

    February 13, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  5. Major Minor

    Message is being sent loud and clear, guys – this administration will tolerate no dissent.

    Gotcha.

    February 13, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. ranjit

    How about fairness doctrine in colleges and unviersites? They get funding from the government and can anyone honestly say that, there are discussions about conservative issues in those campuses?

    February 13, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. James

    The Fairness Doctrine worked beautifully for decades, until Reagan and the right wing decided they didn't like TRULY "fair and balanced" reporting and news, and Reagan killed it.

    Flash forward to today: an extreme partisan like Limbaugh signs a new contract to the tune of HALF A BILLION DOLLARS to say things like "I hope Obama fails!" after 8 solid years of telling people that criticicizing the President was akin to treason.

    We, as a Nation, have our well of public discourse constantly poisoned by the likes of Limbaugh and hypocritical jingoists of his ilk.

    Bring back the Fairness Doctrine and truthful news. We're all poorer when we allow ideology to dominate our discussions regarding the very serious problems that we face as a Nation.

    February 13, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. Big D

    This issue is always covered so poorly. The issue is not 'shutting down' anyone, or picking isolated commenters and limiting their free speech. It's about allowing a fair playing field – and not giving free airwaves to one side exclusively. It's about allowing some overall balance – it doesn't even have to be 50/50, but it sure shouldn't be 90/10 and trying to limit it even further.

    February 13, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. gENO

    Listen to NPR on Saturday morning, especially Daniel Schorr's left-wing commentary. There is NO conservative commentator on the program. Will the Democrats demand balance here?

    February 13, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  10. Dan

    Translated, liberal talk radio is such an utter failure and conservative talk radio such a smashing success that the Democrats respond in the same way they do to everything: more governmental control! Idiots!! Deliver us from this "change we can believe in"!

    February 13, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  11. dave B

    I think of myself as middle of the road politically. I don't always agree with commentators I hear on the radio, but how can anyone be serious about regulating free speech based on content? If some of these posters think the "neocons" (that phrase is getting tiresome) are spewing "garbage", then refute them with ideas, not name-calling. Do you have so little confidence in your own views that you want the government to shut down other people's views? Are you kidding me? Is this America, or North Korea? What is going on with this country?

    February 13, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  12. Linda from Minnesota

    I am a liberal democrat and I would not like to see this. This is freedom of speech. The right wing conservatives wouldn't listen to the liberal point of view anyway and only think the way they are told to think. I find it hysterically funny that Rush calls Obama the Messiah. I am an Obama supporter and no way do I think he's the Messiah. However, Rush's dittoheads do whatever he says, think like he tells them to think. Who is the "Messiah" here anyway.

    February 13, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  13. Doug

    "... It's about allowing a fair playing field ..."

    No... This is not correct. It is about forcing unwanted liberal content onto stations that don't want it.

    There is a difference.

    February 13, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  14. Klaus Schlueter

    Fairness Doctrine!
    What, are you saying that lies, and misrepresentation will no-longer be allowed! How can one expect programs like "Faux news" and the Rush happy hour to survive?
    Please, without domestic propaganda how can average Americans make un-informed decisions?
    Sounds really scary..........

    February 13, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. TCM

    @ Sam Jones -

    How can you possibly say that the Right is spewing propaganda, when, on virtually every occasion, their claims have been backed up with hard evidence, and the MSM merely buries it...? Their tone may not be all "candied up," for you libs, but they are speaking and raising issues about Obama's agenda that will have a detrimental affect on generations to come....can't you libs see that? This country's been through ~70 recessions, and each time it's recovered. Now's not the time to look to the government to solve problems...why? Because they're like an unwelcomed relative; you invite them in, and they never leave. With this stim pkg you' re surrendering your privacy, the privacy of your children....and you're letting the government control your existence...are you happy with Social Security? Education ? The TARP? Even liberals are unhappy, yet they unconditionally trust the unproven, little known Obama because they want goodness. Guys like Rush and Hannity are merely raising issue with the things all of us need to be aware of; if it's a good decision, they say so. Case in point; the CENSUS manuever. Obama wants to slide it under white house control...why? To send funds to ACORN and rezone congressional districts to fill the government with minorities that will support the "savior based economy." We shouldn't be like that as a country; that's shameful. I realize Bush wasn't liked, but he's gone. You don't jump from the frying pan into the fire.....wise up libs.

    February 13, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. BW

    Anyone who supports this has gone completely insane! So, you don't like what someone is saying...or agree with their views...and your answer is to censor them? Oh, wait, this is "Fairness"! You liberal nuts who even come on here and support anything like this amaze me. First, your Messiah pushes a clearly Socialist agenda, and now you want the government to turn to Communist control of our speech. You disgust me, and any other rational American...regardless of party.

    February 13, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  17. thersa

    Right-wing radio is a never-ending source of the hate, ignorance and fear that have gone so far in destroying our country.

    February 13, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  18. jim

    The most bigoted vial talking heads are Dems Al Franken and Bill Maher! Would this mean that Keith Olberman and MSNBC would have to hire conservatives? What about NPR?

    February 13, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. sotoenco

    History has shown us that when one group of ideas are represented and opposing views are silenced the societies lose their ability to function. if you need proof of that look at Hitler's Germany, Stalins Russia, Mao's China. If those are your ideas of Democracy then you really aren't an American. I'm an intelligent person and I ask that you let me hear both sides an argument so I can make up my own mind not have it made for me.

    February 13, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. Timmeh

    Appears to be a lot of little Stalinists on this board! "Hate Speech" to the liberals is anyone bringing up anything that might expose them for the frauds they are. Liberals are all for free speech – as long as it agrees with them. If it doesn't and they can't debate it, it's labeled as hate speech. Liberals are void of morals and intellectual backing. So they scream over those they disagree with or call them names. This list of postings from the left shows it. Shut up the opposition!

    February 13, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. Eric

    OK, so if the airwaves are going to be regulated, then how about what is on the TV? Most of the crap that spews forth from my TV is left-wing garbage. Left-wing radio constantly fails because noone listens to their crap – just ask Air America. All under the ruse of "fairness". phhh. This is scary stuff – people can say whatever they want. If you don't like it, don't listen to it, it will go out of business. It's called the marketplace.

    February 13, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. Kevin in Ohio

    James...the fairness doctrine did NOT work beautifully for decades. We are still suffering from the liberal bilge spilled forth unabated in the sixties. Only when the fairness doctrine was eliminated did Americans start to realize there was even a conservative point of view.

    February 13, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. Bob

    The democrats tried talk radio, it was called Air America – it failed.

    February 13, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  24. Todd

    I ask my friends if they remember the term "false advertisement". Some think that it is still a liable claim. I tell them that it went away with the "Fairness Doctrine"; another casualty of the Regan dynasty. His administration must have known that in order to effectively conduct the Regan Legacy Project, truth and facts must first be cleared from the airwaves. How else could anyone believe that Regan "cut taxes", or reduced the government. Truth: He made a shameful deal with Iran to get himself elected, financed the CIA with drug money, spent money like it was Monopoly cash, took credit for the fall of the Berlin wall. All would have been impossible with an informed public. The death of Fairness in this country undermines the culture that made the US different; honesty and chivalry. In the long term. this imperfect knowledge base makes us stupid, uninformed, and thereby makes us weak.

    February 13, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  25. susie

    Will this doctrine finally make MSNBC fair and balance?

    February 13, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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