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. Steve O

    Our campaign laws already require that all candidates be given equal air time, but we all know that doesn't work either. During the past election Obama received 3 times as much coverage as McCain. The majority of the media coverage on McCain was negative while Obama was rarely shown in a negative light. Now tell me about liberal fairness. It is an oxymoron.

    February 13, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  2. No censorship!

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Typical. Left wing radio can't compete in the marketplace of ideas, so the Democratic solution is to regulate away the right.

    February 13, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  3. mj

    "They're a bunch of nuts who deserve to be led deeper into the wilderness by the Limbaugh's of the world."

    Well, jeffe, maybe the wilderness is not such a bad place to be these days. Too may wackos in the world. Self sufficiency has its benefits.

    February 13, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  4. Kevin

    Hey Steve:
    Get over it. I don't listen to talk radio and I don't watch Fox News, but I still had Wright and Ayers news up to the eyeballs til I was sick of hearing about them. Let's be real. No one "hid" Ayers or Wright, and McCain got just as much coverage as Obama.

    February 13, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. Mathew

    Free speech is a great thing. But i listen the Conservative Radio Talks most of them are nothing but hate against hispanics, blacks and so on. Its amazing to me that in the name of free speech, we allow even white supermacist doctrine and policies to airwave. People can exercise their freedom to express the free speech and so Conservative Talk radio hosts. But They have to use it to express their ideas on economic and other policies of this nation, instead directly degrading peple from different groups and race

    February 13, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  6. Harriett in Chapel Hill

    The Fairness Doctrine should have NEVER been tampered with and ended by hate-mongers. If we can begin to bring civility back into our discorse, all Americans would prosper. It's always too sad that progressives don't rant and rave more, if that's what the public wants. I am sooo proud of Obama for taking the high road at all times.

    February 13, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  7. Sammy

    Does this mean your comments on the issues will be evenly balanced to present both sides of every issue? Good luck with that.

    February 13, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  8. James at 46

    One of the many problems of the "Fairness Doctrine" was that broadcasters could never be sure if they'd be sued or fined for being insufficiently "fair." So, to avoid the problem, they simply avoided presently controversial viewpoints, either left or right. Do you want that?

    February 13, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  9. Eric

    Liberal and Obama supporter here that is no fan of this idea as I believe it stifles free speech. I say let the morons listen to their moronic radio shows. Rush Limbaugh has the right to be wrong and ignorant.

    February 13, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  10. Lancer

    ...sounds cool....what you gonna do about Bill Mayer.....call that show fair & balanced?......keep your hands off talk radio

    February 13, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  11. Howard Beale

    It seems that freedom of speech only applies to what people want to hear. Anything that challenges their way of thought must be stopped. Liberals are just as sad and Republicans.

    February 13, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  12. bay

    They wouldnt let the KKK on radio to spout hate 24 hours a day..Bring back the truth doctrine where if we heard it in the media they had to have proof, they could not lie and twist and propaganize..We have a pay for play media that is 36th in the world in truth, we deserve better representation..

    February 13, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. jeff

    How about instead of letting the government shred our constitution by implementing censorship disguised as 'fairness', every individual imposed a fairness doctrine on his or her self. Take it upon yourself to get both sides of an issue. You may not agree with the opposite opinion, but at least you'll understand their perspective and not sound uneducated when you discuss it with somebody.

    February 13, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  14. maria

    From Steve:

    "Leave it to the Dems to want to revive something that was ruled un-Constitutional. Of course the Constitution is merely a scrap of paper to most Democrats anyway…"

    Steve, what country have you been living in for the last 8 years of Repugnant Republicans trashing our Constitutional rights by fear mongering, questioning our Patriotism and insulting our intelligence? Wake up from your Right Wing Radio Induced state of Fascism and smell the coffee.

    I guess for some of you, there is no intelligence to insult. Thank you for reminding me how we let our Country get to the state it is currently in...........Right Wing Radio............

    Forget the Fairness Doctrine. It won't work with those Right Whiners anyway. They'll find some other avenue with which to spew their hateful, untruthful rhetoric. God Bless America and God Bless President Obama............

    February 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  15. Tony N.

    Don't these a-wipes have more important things to do? How about coming up with a fairness in paying their taxes law?

    February 13, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  16. Peter

    Here's what the Fairness Doctrine does ... it forces a radio station to air both sides. So no instead of 100% right wing we are "supposed" to get a nice even 50-50 mix.

    Problem is ... no one listens to the left wing stuff on AM radio*. Therefore Stations cannot sell ad time. That means 50% of their airtime is unfunded. AM radio operates on thin enough margins already ... take out 50% of the product and they go under. Which is exactly why the left wants the FD

    *Why does no one on the left listen?
    – poor personalities (is there a Rush of the Left?)
    – lousy message ?
    – coastal sophisticates just don't listen to AM radio?

    February 13, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  17. GuyInVA

    Now come the arguments about how this doesn't shut down the right, it only allows equal time to the left. Baloney. Look at Air America's ratings. How about Randi Rhodes or Stephanie Miller? When stations are forced to give equal time, ratings will tank and smaller stations will go under. Since they own the TV news broadcasts, this can only help the left. When the fairness doctrine was repealed, the number of talk radio stations went up.

    Here's a plan: impose the Fairness Doctrine, but include NPR, television news, newspaper editorial pages, and every course at any college that receives federal funds of any kind. That's "fair", isn't it?

    February 13, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  18. Hector Valdez

    It's not fair that Rush is only on 600 stations. He should be on every station and broadcast twice a day to bring the message to the people that they are complete boobs.

    February 13, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. Ace

    hmmm.......how will the Dems reconcile this with the First Amendment?

    February 13, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  20. ron

    people here claiming that rush and hannity are spreading lies and mis-information are spreading lies and mis-information. i guarantee, if either one of those guys, or any of the smaller ones, were to lie on the air, it would be on a sound-byte loop on every news station and reported in every paper for weeks.

    for the past two weeks they've been discussing the details of the non-stimulas package (as much as they can gather, that is..) and they've been promoting valentine's day gifts.

    listen. you'll see.

    February 13, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  21. billy-bayou

    These three QUACKS...Hinchey, Harkin and Stabmenow are all about controlling how much and the content of information that the citizens are allowed to have.You are just a short way from be their flock and under their absolute control, but that's good because that is what you voted for when you put the "Great Himself"(obama) in office.

    February 13, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  22. Dan J

    This would literally destroy Freedom of Speech and turn the news into propaganda. There is something very Communist-like about this possibility.

    February 13, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  23. mjm

    Silence the opposition.... way to go comrade.

    The Democrats have no clue. Conservative talk radio has the opposing view point on their show every day. That's what makes it so fun to listen to. They put liberal callers on and debate issues during their show. They have guest on from the left and they debate. So the opposing view always is heard.

    Compare that to Air America. There is never a conservative view and never a conservative guest. There is only one view and that's the liberal view (I've tried to listen, but all the shows are bad).

    If anything, the Fairness Doctrine would force Air America to offer something other than their own distorted view of reality.

    February 13, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  24. jrzshor

    couldn't obama and fellow democrates buy a radio network for left wingers?

    sirius-xm seems in need of some cash.

    February 13, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  25. Mike Dallas

    It is apparent that the rabid right and some on the left have no idea what the Fairness Doctrine is about, let alone understand the provisions.

    If you took the time to read it and not just spout the repub daily talking points, you would know that NO part of the doctrine PREVENTS ANYONE from saying WHATEVER they wish, just the reverse. To those blatherin' on about it not being unconstitutional, it has been ruled Constitutional twice by the Supreme Court. Bush is the one that stopped the remaining two provisions in 2000.

    One of which would have helped your half-wit VP pick push back against that 'MSM liberal bias conspiracy' by giving her a chance to rebut any untrue statements(but in her case 90% were true) . Guess it is just easier to whine.

    You might want to Google and try reading a bit before you show your ignorance on a public international blog.

    February 13, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
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