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

Dems target right-wing talk radio

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/13/art.maurice.gi.jpg caption="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 from Wisconsin

    Liberals are such open-minded people that they welcome all views, right? So let's end conservative talk radio, O.K.? If that occurs, will we impose the "Fairness Doctrine" on TV and newspapers? That would be fun, wouldn't it? I can't wait to see MSNBC's new broadcast lineup with alternating views: Matthews, Limbaugh, Olbermann, Coulter, etc.

    February 13, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  2. Ann Searcy

    The hate that conservative radio smears over the airwaves is deplorable. Obama is bending over backwards to make positive changes in Washington...reaching out to all partys only to be mocked on Fox in particular. I pray he doesn't have the "beer with Hannity" in the oval office. The rude and disrespectful way that Hannity describes Obama as arrogant and a liar only serves to cause more hate but for Hannity, not Obama. The meeting will serve no purpose. It will only cause Hannity to repeat the GOP talking points...especially the "cumba yah" all pundits use at least once a week in mocking Obama. What a horrible station Fox.

    February 13, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. CT from ChiTown

    The issue is that the wealthy few and the media corporations are RIGHT-WING conservatives. So, they can and will fund right-wing talk radio and get advertising dollars from these same conservatives. The absence of a Fairness Doctrine has allowed the wealthy to manipulate what we hear. (This is the same process as the religious organizations buying up Healthcare Providers to limit abortion options). So, yes, bring back the Fairness Doctrine and view it as "regulation for the airwaves"!

    February 13, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. John

    From my point of view, Right-wing talk radio (RWTR) has contributed little if anything to intelligent, constructive political and social discourse in our intellectually declining nation. RWTR has actively cultivated a peculiar "strategy" of making already uninformed people even more so. By means of propaganda, brainwashing, "de-education," neo-McCarthyism, call it what you will, RWTR foments anger and disseminates misinformation; it promotes special interests, and has in general greatly endangered the American people–while making Rush Limbaugh and his "offspring" extraordinarily rich. And their wealth is the credulity of the American people.

    The last several decades (and weeks) have demonstrated that the "free market" is not so free, and neither is the free speech that many in Europe and America fought for during the Enlightenment and continue to fight for to this day. During the last 30 years, America has seen the extreme form of unrestrained freedom for the few and privileged, which is no freedom at all. The essential symmetry of freedom and responsibility is at last in 2009 being seriously addressed in the national theatre.

    It's 2009: It's time for responsibility, regulation, and accountability.

    February 13, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. Sad Future

    I never heard one opposing view on Gore's "Air America"... This will be just one more step toward total control by the Democratic party (socialism and censorship). If it isn't what they want to hear, then the Democrats will suppress it. CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and some others are already hard left in their reporting.

    February 13, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  6. jeffe

    This "Fairness Doctorine" is BS. Who cares if the lunatic, right-wing, wacko, fringe listens to idiots like Rush, Hannity, and O'Reilly on the radio????? What are we taling about here, the 21% of the country who approved of the job Bush did? They're a bunch of nuts who deserve to be led deeper into the wilderness by the Limbaugh's of the world.

    February 13, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. JJ12345

    Ann Searcy February 13th, 2009 12:25 pm ET

    The hate that conservative radio smears over the airwaves is deplorable. Obama is bending over backwards to make positive changes in Washington…reaching out to all partys only to be mocked on Fox in particular. I pray he doesn't have the "beer with Hannity" in the oval office. The rude and disrespectful way that Hannity describes Obama as arrogant and a liar only serves to cause more hate but for Hannity, not Obama. The meeting will serve no purpose. It will only cause Hannity to repeat the GOP talking points…especially the "cumba yah" all pundits use at least once a week in mocking Obama. What a horrible station Fox.
    So I guess Olbermann and Hannity are ok, they are the same just the left version.

    February 13, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. Proud Yankee

    I think the conservative talk radio folks do more to divide this nation than anyone else. They breed hatred and divisiveness. They rip and tear at our national unity and that is all they accomplish.

    However, a fairness doctrine is stupidity. It could easily be circumvented with dimwit "competing opinion" actors. The liberals just need to do more to compete in the market and develop their own programs on a national level. I'd listen, we just don't get any here. I used to listed to the hate radio until it went out of business ... it's good to know the enemy. While I respect the opinions of Republicans and others, these shock jocks on conservative radio are just out of their heads. Proven by Rush Limbaugh's addiction to opiates.... he's just in a fantasy world brought on by addiction to painkillers ... those things make your head spin.

    February 13, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  9. TCM

    @ Ann Searcy –

    You're sadly mistaken if you think Obama's trying to make positive changes in Washington. He's already stated, through written and verbal word, that he disagrees with the essence of this country, it's principles, and what it's found on. Obama is all about Obama.....an EGO the size of TEXAS. So, if you want to silence the conservative hosts, what about Chris Mathews? Olberman? Roland Martin of CNN? All are pro-Obama, so I guess they're not haters, huh?
    You see, Obama wants to reach across the aisle...and work together, putting politics aside...he wants to do ALL THAT...as long as you agree with what he's proposing....if not, you're an obstructionist, you're "the same old Washington," and any other term his speech writer can derive that shifts the blame, reduces suspicion on his agenda, and portrays a sense guilt....on behalf of the questionors.....
    Educate yourself before you keep supporting someone you know so litte about.

    February 13, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  10. James

    You are all wrong Rush is not leading his listeners.....he is a voice for his listeners. I am just guessing but most of you lefties commenting have probably never listened to him yourselves and have no idea what you are talking about. But you love Bill Maher the most offensive talking head?

    February 13, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  11. woman in PA

    You right wingers have no right to use the publicly owned airwaves to spew hate and lies. That's the bottom of it.

    February 13, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. CT from Chi-town

    What are you blabbing about?

    GE and Murdoch and Turner are the big 3

    GE is very pro democratic and left wing. They control NBC, CNBC, MSNBC.

    Murdoch has Fox and all those affiliates and is right wing.

    Turner has CNN, and seems split down the middle with a mix of both.

    So, like I said again, what are you blabbing about?

    Last I checked, we have first ammendment rights, and people can think and say what they want within reason.

    If you want to trample your rights (like commenting on here), then go right ahead and be a hypocrite.

    February 13, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  13. indy

    We need to protect free speech even if it's speech we disagree with.

    February 13, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. Nunya

    The Fairness Doctrine existed and functioned well for 40 years before the Reagan administration scrapped it. Now you can see what has come about in the wake of it being scrapped. 'Conservative talk radio'. The problem with conservative talk radio is not that it presents a view with a particular bias. The problem is that in the promoting of that view, they spew tons of misinformation and outright lies in the mix and millions of people who are predisposed to believe such lies swallow it wholesale and are never presented with evidence of the lies and misinformation. (Note for anyone with muddy thinking – I am *not* claiming that everything they say is lies and misinformation. I *am* saying that buried amongst all that they say is a significant amount of lies and misinformation.)

    Personally, I am inclined against requiring them to present both sides (or many sides) of an issue. But they should be held responsible for the lies and misinformation they spread. That should nip such activity in the bud and keep them on the up and up in presenting their side. It *can* be presented in a truthful and honest manner – they just don't do it because it wouldn't attract the same audience.

    Something to consider... if Fox News truly is 'fair and balanced', then they already are practicing this and resinstating the Fairness Doctrine wouldn't affect them. If you're afraid that the Fairness Doctrine would force them to do something differently, then you are admitting in your gut that you know that they *aren't* fair and balanced.

    February 13, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  15. Dan

    What is "Fair" about forcing broadcasters to air programs that people don't want to listen to (Air America?) If Limbaugh and Hannity didn't have a LOT of listeners and, therefore, advertisers they would be off the air. The Left need to realize that there are a whole lot of people outside of New York and California.

    February 13, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. RJ

    Censorship via government mandate.
    So much for free speech.

    Reminds of schools today. There are no losers anymore. Everyone gets a ribbon even if they fail.
    Why? Because they say it isn't fair for little Timmy to be excluded from getting an award just because he can't perform as well as the other kids.
    He may get his little feelings hurt. Awwwe... Suck it up.


    February 13, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. arithmetic is liberal

    James: I am a dyed in the wool liberal, and I listen to Rush Limbaugh EVERY SINGLE DAY because I feel it is very important to get both takes on what is going on. Unfortunately because I take the opportunity to keep myself informed, Rush comes across as a bunch of easily-negated lying clap trap.

    February 13, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  18. 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.

    I would, however, LOVE to see libel and slander provisions in the civil code tightened up. "Journalists" from both the right and the left need to start doing the hard work and confirming stories before they are aired. Every time I hear a media outlet quoting another media outlet, I want to scream!

    February 13, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  19. Greg

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

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

    The AM airwaves is just a collection of state-run media. Break up the monotony and hatred. This isn't China.

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

    Every american has the choice of whether they want to listen to the negative media ..radio or tv
    I refuse to listen to them
    I listen to people like David Ghergan, Martin Rolland, Ed rollins and Gloria Berger people who know how to be FAIR and give a fair asessement
    they will give an honest opinion whether its fair to the president or honest criticism
    I refuse to listen to the radio jocks and tv programs who look only for the negative to shine on Pres Obama
    Hint -turn them OFF

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

    That would work for me, then I would ask the Dem's of Iowa why they are pushing a raise in the GAS TAX during a recession?

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

    Dan February 13th, 2009 12:20 pm ET

    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"!
    ****************************************************************************The difference Dan is that liberals can actually read, are proven to be more educated, and we don't need our information spoon fed to us. We check facts and things of that sort.

    February 13, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  24. tennisguypitt

    Oh, great! Let's just throw away the Bill of Rights while we're at it.

    I don't like the right-wingers either, but this is ridiculous.

    February 13, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  25. Mike

    Hey Todd you say "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"

    I'm sure you have proof to all this right?

    Just another conspiracy theorist who bases his opinions and beliefs in falsehoods and not real facts.
    The definition of a fact, by the way, is something that can be proven with evidence. And you have none.

    February 13, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
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