The main concern of most Americans right now is the economic crisis and how it will effect their futures. Why wouldn’t it be? We are facing possible financial ruin amid a Keynesian scramble to spend our way out of it. People are frightened and rightfully so. For the Progressive led Congress and White House, this attitude and environment could be the catalyst they need to push through legislation like the Fairness Doctrine.
Earlier this month CoS designate, Rahm Emanuel, was quoted in an interview as saying, “Rule one: Never allow a crisis to go to waste,” “They are opportunities to do big things.” This is a very ambiguous statement which might make some leery about the upcoming administration's motivation.
What does all this have to do with the Fairness Doctrine? A lot. As noted on The Foundry; conservative talk show hosts actually shifted the political dynamic of the electorate concerning comprehensive immigration reform. It gave them a look into the heart of the legislation and made the more politically active among them swamp Congressional representatives with calls. The result was that the package was summarily defeated.
Howard Kurtz, of Washington Post fame, had an article back in February of 2008 that itemized some of Rush Limbaugh’s contributions to shaping policy inside the Beltway. These examples show that Conservative Talk Radio has had a profound effect on many issues; from electing certain candidates to stopping legislation. It has been a powerful tool for the Right in regards to information dissemination.
Due to Conservative Talk's popularity, obvious influence, and the failure of Air-America, the Left has been demonstrating their willingness to re-enact the Fairness Doctrine. Support for the renewal of this legislation ranges from; Nancy Pelosi, Diane Feinstein, Louise Slaughter (Slaughter, re-introduced its failed legislation in 2004-05), Barbara Boxer, and Chuck Schumer.
More than likely an introduction of the Fairness Doctrine, in its present form, would alienate a large portion of the voting bloc. This could serve as a rally cry for the GOP in 10' and possibly even 12'. So, this brings up the Fairness Doctrine rev 3.0.
Due to this potentially divisive nature and the Progressive juggernaut's political prescience, I highly doubt we will see direct legislation. They are much smarter than that. The expectation should be that any sort of laws limiting talk radio (Free Speech) will be attached as bill riders or under the guise of "localism." (President-elect Obama claims he opposes the Fairness Doctrine, but supports localism.) If attached as riders, they should be showing up in economic bills related to solving the credit crunch. This puts GOP Reps and Senators in a precarious position. Who in their right mind would oppose an economic package designed to "help" the people based on how it will limit talk radio? It's a political "Catch 22."
The political environment is ripe for the Progressives to make their legislative moves. If they are ever going to do it, now is the time. They would have to wait another 30-40 years for an opportunity like this to arise. And remember, "Rule one: Never allow a crisis to go to waste,” “They are opportunities to do big things."
Michael Elliot, Friday, November 28, 2008