I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Immigration Defeat Fallout

The United States Senate failed pass a cloture motion that would have ended the debate over the controversial immigration reform package. The final vote was 46 in favor of cloture and 53 opposed. This was a stunning turnaround from the earlier vote this week that allowed the debate to edge closer to passage. If you have read my previous postings on this sham of a bill, you already know my feelings on this issue. So I won’t bore you with the myriad of reasons why this whole debate was ridiculous. I do want to talk about the message that many of the Senators that were ardent supporters of this reform package have sent to the people of the United States.

Throughout the past month of debate, we have heard many “intellectual” Senators in favor of this reform deal deride talk radio; claiming that the talking heads like Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, and Ingraham were leading the public astray with their lies and distortions. These claims are not new, in fact we have heard these same claims from many of the same people that are crying foul now. The difference this time is that Republican Senators are joining the chorus.

Senator Trent Lott claimed that talk radio was running the country, and that something needed to be done about it. Senator Lindsey Graham said that the “loud people” were the ones opposing the bill. I find it amusing that these same Senators have no problem appearing on talk radio shows when the commentators are agreeing with their point of view, but as soon as there is disagreement, then talk radio needs to be silenced.

Senators Diane Feinstein and Dick Durbin have openly called for the discussion to start on the return of the “Fairness Doctrine” to rein in talk radio. Senator Jim Inhofe claims to have overheard fellow Senators Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer discussing the need to find a “legislative fix” for talk radio. Why do politicians, of both parties apparently, automatically resort to finding a “legislative fix” for silencing their opposition? After all, wasn’t that what the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act was all about?

Before my left leaning friends start the cacophony of agreement with these misguided Senators, let’s take a closer look at the possibilities of such an action. First of all, it is disheartening to see Senators looking into silencing opposition. Their claim is to want balance in the media, but who decides what is balanced? If it is left up to the Senators, then we would be reading about how this immigration bill flew through Congress with bipartisan support.

Secondly, would the policy change every 2 to 4 years depending on who was in control of Congress or the White House? Obviously not everyone believes that the 3 major news networks are unbiased, so how would we get everyone to agree on a set of standards of “fairness”? What I believe is fair is not necessarily what you believe. If the Democrats are in control then we have Al Franken on the all talk radio, but if the Republicans win then we have wall to wall Rush?

No one is stopping Air America from becoming a success. The only thing standing in their way is their management, and maybe their talent. Rush Limbaugh is a success because he is a very talented talk radio host. Does he espouse conservative principles? Yes he does, but he is also very entertaining at the same time. Air America had the idea of just hiring liberal hosts and expecting it to work because they were the alternative to Limbaugh. Like it or not, talk radio is a business. Without listeners, who drive the ratings, no advertisers are going to buy air time on your shows. To keep the listeners, you need to provide some value to them. If the “Fairness Doctrine” is implemented, then stations will be required to offer a balanced format from both sides. Limbaugh would not go away, he is the most listened to radio program in the country, he would just be followed by someone like Al Franken. Based on Franken’s ratings while on the air, the radio station would start to lose money on advertising. The station management would be left with 2 choices, stay with the current format and lose money, or change formats.

Where would the “Fairness Doctrine” stop? Would it be limited to just political commentary? Or would religious programming be affected as well? Would the local Christian music station be required to play secular music just to be “fair”. Would a station that airs “Focus on the Family” be required to air a secular equivalent to James Dobson? What about the internet? Would we still be able to post on blogs without providing a “balanced” approach? I realize that the internet does not fall under the same rules as radio, but once you start playing the “fairness” game, it is awfully hard to stop, especially for politicians.

Congressman Mike Pence introduced legislation in the House to prevent the “Fairness Doctrine” from ever become law again. In Pence’s words he says, "The Broadcaster Freedom Act will prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from prescribing rules, regulations, or policies that will reinstate the requirement that broadcasters present opposing viewpoints in controversial issues of public importance. The Broadcaster Freedom Act will prevent the FCC or any future President from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. This legislation ensures true freedom and fairness will remain on our radio airwaves, and I would encourage my colleagues to cosponsor and support this bill.”

Will this legislation ever see the light of day? Only time will tell, but I believe that any attempt to reinstate the “Fairness Doctrine” is the wrong action to take. We should question any politician that wants to stifle the opposition legislatively. Remember that even though you may not like Rush and what he stands for, the limits placed on him could eventually be placed on your interests in the future.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]


Create a Link

<< Home