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. Regular People

    The poorly informed comments on this board truly illustrate how badly the Fairness Doctrine is needed. It's pretty obvious how easy it is to incite the credulous. Right wing radio is like mental junk food. Lures people in, then plays them for a chump.

    February 13, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  2. Betsy

    The reason there is more right wing radio than left wing radio is because more right wing people listen to the radio shows. Advertisers would certainly be up in arms if conservative radio programs were limited and this move would not make more democrates listen to the radio. Bad idea!

    February 13, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. Matt, Chico, CA

    Liberal Democrats are upset because nobody listens to them on the radio (although they watch them on CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNBC, and MSNBC) so they want to punish those who listen to conservative talk radio and violate free speech.

    February 13, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. Huh??

    Are people too dumb to understand if you don't like it, you can change the channel?
    It is a business, and quite frankly, no one wants to hear morons like Al Franken speak.
    This will be a slippery slope because logically TV would be next and there are MANY more liberal networks than there are conservative and besides, who get to decide what is fair?

    February 13, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. Paul

    As a life-long Democrat I oppose any stifling of free speech. The fairness doctrine is not fair because it dictates a balance of view points. If the Democrats want equal time then get personalities that are good enough to counter those of the right-wing hosts. By forcing some sort of balance you are censoring ideas, thoughts, and comments.

    February 13, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. amt, CA

    I like the idea, of coarse the repubs won't like it because they would have to play fair & they know then they would lose.

    February 13, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. lm945

    Joyce in Indiana: "I don't believe that anyone who cares about freedom of speech should want the Fairness Doctrine back. There are just too many problems with it from a First Amendment standpoint. It is unconstitutional to silence speech just because you hate it."

    You obviously don't understand what the Fairness Doctrine is. The Fairness Doctrine does not silence speech, it promotes it, making sure everyone hears all sides to any issue.

    Being aware of only one side of an issue (whether right, left, or in the middle) is part of what got us into this current mess. How can we keep the government honest if we don't know what they're doing?

    A fully-informed populace is a well-served populace.

    February 13, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. debnericr

    Liberal opinion and views dominate the main stream media, television, newspapers, magazines, Hollywood, etc – why is it necessary to silence conservative talk radio? If you don't like it, don't listen to it and I won't listen the childish rants of Keith Olberman. As much as I despise him, I would never tell him that he does not have a right to say whatever he wants, to whomever he wants, and that goes for all you hate filled libs in submitting comments to the blogs. We live in a free country and we all have a right to express ourseves. If this happens, just wait, there will be a conservative movement to shove your own medicine right back at you. There will be no liberal news viewpoints on TV, in Print, in Hollywood, without equal time given to the consertative side. You will not have your gay pride parades without having the opposite view point marching right beside or behind them. No one will be allowd to voice their opinion in any forum unless they provide equal time for the other side. Just wait and see!!!

    February 13, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  9. abs

    Why do you need a doctrine??? Do like most intelligent individuals... if you don't like the content, change the station or channel.

    February 13, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. Levon

    I think there should just be a law against lying to people. whether its politics or advertising- just tell the whole truth...make spin and pr illegal and make people tell the truth. why is that so hard?

    February 13, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  11. thinkthenspeak

    Can't wait for the fairness doctrine to get implemented at the newspapers too! Yeah right! Although perhaps it would shut up Olbermann and Madow!

    Where is the worthless ACLU now? Nowhere to be found because this civil liberty doesn't fit their agenda!

    Libs cry out that their civil liberties are being crushed all the time, yet they can't see a real civil liberty through the trees.

    February 13, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  12. TjayeInLA

    Wow...I read some of these posts and I still marvel at how hateful and evil some conservatives are. Man the bitterness (yep, I said it...BITTERness) must be eating them up inside. I never understood how Liberal was a bad word, but I clearly understand how conservative is. They really hate people, don't they.

    Amazing.

    February 13, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  13. mb

    Let the right wing rant on! More and more. It is the best thing that can happen for the future of progressive politics to let us see these morons that are in control of the Republican party. The more they talk the better we look.

    February 13, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. Linda from Minnesota

    I am a liberal democrat and I listen to Rush everyday to hear what he is spewing forth. I also listen to Bill Maher. While I agree philosophically with Maher, I don't like how either one of them spew forth their hate. Neither one of them can be rational or see the other point of view. Both the right and the left are wrong to spew forth the hate that comes out of their mouths. This country is so divided and I think its become fashionable to be negative and rude. No one has manners anymore or has courtesy for anyone. I know if I talked like either one of them, my mouth would have been washed out with soap.

    February 13, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. Doug

    "...You right wingers have no right to use the publicly owned airwaves to spew hate and lies..."

    Many of us right-wingers feel EXACTLY the same way about MSNBC.

    February 13, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. Anna, ATL

    Jack Nemers wrote: February 13th, 2009 1:11 pm ET

    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 big business was financing conservative talk shows, Rush would be on TV, not the radio, since there is greater exposure. Liberal commentary is just not as successful on radio as it is through other media, so these guys want to force their way into your radio box through legislation. SWEET.

    February 13, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  17. Anna, ATL

    Kudos to Joyce in Indiana!

    February 13, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  18. I can see Canada from my house!

    Hate to tell you this, Once and Done Barry, but NPR has always had opposing viewpoints: it just prefers to have people that don't scream and shout. Need I point out that MSNBC regularly has people like Pat Buchanan and others on, while Fox gets their outnumbered tokens out once in a blue moon.

    Hate to tell you this, but "Firing Line" first made its appearance on PBS, along with the "McGlaughlin Group" paving the way for FOX. It would be nice if you bothered to marshall your facts better before posting, it will indicate that some of Buckley's intellect rubbed off on you.

    February 13, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  19. jason

    Yeah...My actual comment from 4 hours ago is still "awaiting moderation" absolutely no curses or anything like that in it...just a conservative point of view......go figure...thanks CNN.....you are very transparent...unbelievable!!!!

    February 13, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  20. Hindrocker

    About time – right wing radio fuels so much stupidity on our public discourse. It would do wonders for the publics intellect to hear from people with actual brains and ideas on how to solve things instead of just a fat bloated Oxycontin addict who is also addicted to young Dominican boys. Seriously – when is the last time Fat Rush or any other right winger on radio said one single thing that made sense??? I rest my case.

    February 13, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  21. Sheryl

    I love CNN but Lou Dobbs needs to be more open and honest about all he reports, just not his opinion on what he thinks but what the Americans think as a whole. He is like an Old Grumpy Man that hasn't gotten any in years. He annoys me, I'm glad I can switch to MSNBC while he's on and get more info that is unbiased

    February 13, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  22. Big J

    We don't need a fairness doctrine. If you are foolish enough to have your mind formed or your opinions informed by talk radio; then you deserve to walk aroun in utter ignorance. This applies to both the left & the right.

    February 13, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  23. TjayeInLA

    Hey Alan...Rush Limbaugh has HOURS AND HOURS of hate filled speeches from his radio show. Rev. Wright has 7 mins of looped content played over and over again....that was taken out of a sermon that was 9 minutes long and never played by anyone who didn't have the guts to go to YouTube and watch the full content.

    7 mins versus 7000+ hours...I'd say think about it, but I can tell you are Republican and that would be a useless request.

    February 13, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  24. Washington Erving

    As a liberal, I believe that there is no need for a "doctrine" that dictates what private radio stations must broadcast. We all share the airwaves, if there is so much demand for liberal view points, why aren't there more liberal stations? Because we don't listen to talk radio. We have the internet, we have the cable news networks, and we have many of the newspapers. None of those are being censored in the same way as radio. Don't force the stations to do things they don't want to do, that is not democracy.

    February 13, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. Frostlanta

    I don't think it's about taking away freedom of speech, just allowing other opinions besides the far far right to preach their agendas.

    February 13, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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