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. One and done Barry

    You gutless little lefty twerps who never served and don't work for a living, I forgot more about politics that any of you will ever know and I would out debate you based on FACTS and I would twist you in knots with your flawed logic.

    NPR and Air America have NO listeners because they NEVER have an opposing view on, it is boring as hell and that is why O'Reilly (not a fan of) works.

    Fox News WORKS because it has liberals and moderates as part of their shows panel discussions, turn on your beloved MSDNC and show me where Olbermann and the 13 year old boy have a DIFFERING VIEW ON EVER, you know, to discuss the diffferences of a given subject.

    I LOVE when a differing view is on as guess what sheep, that is how you learn something and Fox and CNN understand that.

    If you want the fairness doctrine, let's do it all across the board, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS (MY MONEY GOES TO THIS???) and the newspapers as well.

    Who really want's fairness?

    The shep all bleated, bahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

    February 13, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  2. ed

    CNN up to its old biases censoring comments[without a cuss word] again.

    February 13, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. kool-aid watered-down

    Do it. I'm all for it. Whether the program is from the right or from the left, they'll BOTH have to play by the same rules. What's the problem?

    February 13, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. TjayeInLA

    I'm sorry, but can someone explain to me how a fairness act would muzzle right wing talk shows? And why they would admit that in public?

    February 13, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. Alan

    Rush Limbaugh spews hate and the Rev Wright was just misunderstood.

    You people crack me up!

    February 13, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  6. Jack Nemers

    The reason there so much right wing radio is that it is financed by big business as a means to push through their agenda. Liberal media does not have the financial backing of big business. If no one listened to right wing radio they would still be financed by big business as a marketing tool. In addition to big business, right wing radio uses the haters, racists and bigots as an emotional cover for their real agenda of special interests. Many of their supporters are too ignorant to realize they are being exploited against their own best interests. They can understand over simplified issues like abortion, gay marriage, and fighting "terrorists" which have almost nothing to do with their daily life. They ignore the real part of right wing radio's agenda which is protecting big business and special interest groups from operating with any oversight or regulation. That is why the market crashed, there is poison in our food, lead in our toys, too expensive health care, environmental issues, unemployment rising, corporate fraud like Enron and scandals like Madoff. The list goes on and on but right wings supporters just want to talk about " the liberal media". Guess what, the liberal media represents real people not big business! Wake up people.

    February 13, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  7. Real Change

    Really bad idea!
    Bad policy and bad politics!

    February 13, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  8. Brian

    I suppose it's also worth pointing out that reinstating this wouldn't silence anybody. If anything, it would add content. Talking about the "silencing" of free speech is nonsense.

    February 13, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. Brian in NC

    ABSOLUTELY! This bill is sorely needed to create some type of balance. We, as Americans, are supposed to be all about "fair play".
    Our culture has become much more divided do to extreme views being represented without equal time from the opposing point of view.

    February 13, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  10. michael

    Is this also going to affect internet sites who report news or events if so then daily kos and the other far left sites need to have conservatives on their staffs as well.

    February 13, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  11. Anna, ATL

    As long as the fairness applies to every pundit on the air (liberal or conservative) but it is a little crazy to have to impose another viewpoint every time someone opens their mouth on the air.

    Tell me this is a joke.

    February 13, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  12. Coloradoan for change

    Jack Nemers –

    You have hit the nail squarely on the head. Why do so many people not understand this?

    February 13, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. Viv, Utah

    When I don't like a certain show, I actually turn it off. Too simple for you?.

    February 13, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. Peace

    Transparency????

    "The revolution will not be televised!"

    February 13, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. ken

    I guess Democrats only believe in free speech when it's friendly to them on CNN or MSNBC.

    February 13, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  16. Carolyn Jones

    We must remove the republican party; revamp bylaws; start new ideas; mottos, mission statement to work for the people; the republioan party is a the problem

    February 13, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  17. Mark

    I love the so called "liberals" that are posting their support for this. Folks, if you support government regulation of political speech, you are NOT a liberal, you are a Fascist!

    February 13, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  18. Sacha

    PLEASE bring it back... We have to stop all the propaganda & that is the best start to doing it.

    February 13, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. jsm998

    Ps. Radio, who cares? More importantly, this stimulus package is going to sink us. Here comes inflation, like we have never seen it. Throwing money at a problem has never fixed it. It didn't matter who was elected, this problem was heading down the tracks full speed. They keep telling us to spend more?? I have debt up to my ears and you want me to spend??

    February 13, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. Sonia

    It's really sad and shamefull!! Liberal radio has the same opportunies to become succesfull as the Conservative radio is. However, Conservative radio hosts are smarter, more intelligent people. The fact that they're still the number one political radio shows around prove that their voices are heard, and will continue to be heard for a long time.

    Liberals do not have the intelligence neccessary to run a competitive program against Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, Michael Savage or O'Reilly.

    February 13, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. Sore loser

    The Fairness Doctrine is not fair.
    Doctrinaire yes.

    February 13, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  22. Doug

    "...Anyone who thinks that the Fairness Doctrine prevents free speech doesn't really understand the Fairness Doctrine..."

    That is not true. I understand it perfectly. It was instituted not as a law, but as a practice or policy back in 1949. It's goal back then was to stop the "evil liberals and communists" from tainting America.

    Forcing a radio station to play liberal content would be de-facto censorhip since no radio station wants to do it. They don't want to because there is simply no market for it.

    Let's also consider the times when this was policy. Back in 1949, Americans didn't have access to the Internet, or even TV for that matter. This policy is a dinosaur that was rightly slain 25 years ago.

    Give it up folks... If Republicans were trying to shut down MoveOn.Org, ACORN, or MSNBC, there would be hell to pay. This is plain old politics.

    Let your liberal beliefs stand on their own merit.

    February 13, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    NO, IM PRETTY SURE FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS THE 1st AND MOST IMPORTANT RIGHT IN THE BILL OF RIGHTS. WE HAVE A FREE MARKET ECONOMY, IF YOU DONT LIKE WHAT YOU HEAR CHANGE THE STATION TO ONE THAT PROVIDES YOU THE BALANCE YOU ARE LOOKING FOR. PERIOD. WHERE IN THE CONSTITUTION DOES THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAVE THE RIGHT TO CENSOR POLITICAL SPEECH ON THE RADIO???

    February 13, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  24. RJ in NYC

    Quoting Brain..."I suppose it's also worth pointing out that reinstating this wouldn't silence anybody. If anything, it would add content. Talking about the "silencing" of free speech is nonsense."

    Brian, You are so wrong......

    It will force radio stations to have half of their programming akin to Air america, which has no audience..... Therfore the $ any station can make will dwindle. Therfore causing them to seek a new programming format (i.e. not talk radio). Liberals know there is no talk radio audience for them. This is not about allowing them to be on thje radio, they can have all the shows they want

    The true fairness is to allow Liberals to develop their own talk radio audience.... however their is none. So if you can't establish yourselves in a free maket you must drive out everyone else by goverment mandate.

    Here is a nice example for you:

    If there are 20 radio stations and 10 of them have Conservative talk radio.... the intelligent answer would be for Liberals to establish their talk radio on the other 10. A fair 50/50 split. However ,realizing that there is and never will be a Liberal talk radio audinece, they will try to control half of the time in the 10 Conservative stations (by goverment power no less, scary think Communist control of the media, Stalin would be proud) therby cutting them in half and driving them out of business.

    February 13, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  25. Former Republican

    Let "conservatives" have talk radio. Outfits like Media Matters exist to take their lies and expose them to a broader audience, beyond dittoheads and right-wing extremists.

    When Rush makes fun of Parkinson's sufferers or O'reilly shouts down a 9/11 victim's son, does that go over well with the 80% of the population that's non-dittohead?

    Look at the Republicans on this board, for example. Does pretending that all liberals are unemployed do them any good? The cons on this board might think it does, but it does not.

    February 13, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
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