President Says He Would Veto Fairness-Doctrine Imposition
President George W. Bush Speaks to National Religious Broadcasters in Nashville, Tenn.
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/11/2008 3:16:00 PM
In a speech to the National Religious Broadcasters in Nashville, Tenn., President George W. Bush said he supported a Republican move to force an up or down vote on a bill that would prevent the reimposition of the so-called Fairness Doctrine, then vowed to veto any congressional attempt to reinstate it.
Pence was in the audience and his office e-mailed a portion of the president's speech to reporters (the excerpt is printed below).
The president cited a congressional effort to bring back the doctrine, which required broadcasters to air both sides of controversial issues of public importance. The Federal Communications Commission threw out the doctrine in 1987.
Congress tried to reinstate it, but President Ronald Reagan vetoed that bill. Some Democrats have complained about the fall of the doctrine and the rise of conservative talk radio, but Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommitee, which oversees the FCC, has said there are no plans to reinstate it.
He called on Congress to support a so-called discharge petition, which would require an up or down vote on Pence's bill, saying that nearly every Republican had signed it and they only needed 24 more signatures.
And evoking Reagan's stand against the doctrine, Bush said: "I urge other members to join in this discharge petition. But I'll tell you this: If Congress should ever pass any legislation that stifles your right to express your views, I'm going to veto it.”
According to the president:
"[T]here's an effort afoot that would jeopardize your right to express your views on public airways. Some members of Congress want to reinstate a regulation that was repealed 20 years ago. It has the Orwellian name called the Fairness Doctrine. Supporters of this regulation say we need to mandate that any discussion of so-called controversial issues on the public airwaves includes equal time for all sides. This means that many programs wanting to stay on the air would have to meet Washington's definition of balance. Of course, for some in Washington, the only opinions that require balancing are the ones they don't like (laughter and applause).”
“We know who these advocates of so-called balance really have in their sights: shows hosted by people like Rush Limbaugh or James Dobson, or many of you here today. By insisting on so-called balance, they want to silence those they don't agree with. The truth of the matter is, they know they cannot prevail in the public debate of ideas. They don't acknowledge that you are the balance; that you give voice (applause). The country should not be afraid of the diversity of opinions. After all, we're strengthened by diversity of opinions.”
“If Congress truly supports the free and open exchange of ideas, then there is a way they can demonstrate that right now. Republicans have drafted legislation that would ban reinstatement of the so-called Fairness Doctrine. Unfortunately, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives have blocked action on this bill. So in response, nearly every Republican in the House has signed onto what's called a 'discharge petition,' which would require Congress to hold an up or down vote on the ban. Supporters of this petition are only 24 signatures away.”
“I do want to thank Mike Pence, who is with us today, and Congressman Greg Walden [R-Ore.], for pressing this effort and defending the right for people to express themselves freely. And I urge other members to join in this discharge petition. But I'll tell you this: If Congress should ever pass any legislation that stifles your right to express your views, I'm going to veto it (applause).”
This is for poster, "Fred Hurlburt." There is a reason the Fairness Doctrine was repealed so many years ago. And even then, it was all but useless because of previous rulings by the Supreme Court. I urge you to review the history of the Doctrine and what it was used for then, and what it would be used for now, before you jump on the anti-Bush bandwagon. The issue here is not whether you support Rush Limbaugh, or James Dobson, or President Bush, or any such dogma or pool of ideals. The issue is what would be at stake if something like this were to ever be reinacted. The Fairness Doctrine only assures fairness by equally stymying both sides of debate. As an analogy, picture if the film industry had a "Fairness Doctrine" to ensure each movie produced had an equal share of success. Movies that topped the box office like Titanic, would be forced into limited screenings so that lesser quality movies such as "Run, Fat Boy Run" or "Drillbit Taylor" would fare better. In fact, the latter two movies would then be placed in every movie theatre in the country, and Titanic would be released in maybe 1,000 theatres. And there is your "balance." The Fairness Doctrine only achieves equality by limiting speech. As such, if it doesn''t violate the First Amendment, it sure comes very close.
Stephen Absalom - 4/8/2008 10:52:00 AM EDT
The liberal media has controlled TV and newspapers for decades now and radio is the last bastion of conservative talk. The liberals are afraid that if they have no control over the radio, too, (where liberal talk shows have pretty much died head-to-head with conservative shows) then they can have the monopoly over the media in every venue. Why are the liberals so afraid of conservative talk on issues that they have to silence them at every corner? Why is freedom of speech in our First Amendment so foregin to the liberal mindset? If they silence the common people in every medium, then there is no venue left for conservative talk on any issues. Free speech is dead and tyranny begins. The re-indoctrination of the so called "Fairness Doctrine" would lead us down one slippery slope that we finally got out of 20 years ago.
C.J. Gish - 3/13/2008 12:03:00 PM EDT
"[T]here's an effort afoot that would jeopardize your right to express your views on public airways.... Supporters of this regulation say we need to mandate that any discussion of so-called controversial issues on the public airwaves includes equal time for all sides."
So how, Mr. Bush, does requiring equal time stifle your right to express your views? The truth is the Fairness Doctrine provided balance of opinions for those who did not have regular access to mass media. It was also rarely used because it had to be requested by the one wanting equal time.
At least the "liberal media" isn't afraid to debate issues. Why are conservatives afraid to?
Gordon Barbosa - 3/12/2008 2:59:00 PM EDT
Agh, the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" that is actually the exact oppositive of fairness. Before Reagan scrapped the "Fairness Doctrine", the only news or talk shows we could listen to were biased liberal drivel. Once the conservative talk shows arose in the early 1990s, the tables were turned on the liberal crowd and they exposed a lot of the dark secrets that were trying to be advanced.
Case in point with the amnesity bill that Congress and the President tried to shove down America's throat last summer. If it hadn't been for conservative talk radio, we would now have 20 to 30 million residents in our country who illegally crossed our borders. We still need to kick them out and build a stronger border defense, but at least the American people had a chance to organize and defeat the ugly amnesty bill -- which wouldn't have happened with the "Fairness" Doctrine in place.
The Un"Fairness" Doctrince needs to stay a long way away if we want to truly remain faithful to the First Amendment free speech rights. If you start taking away those free speech rights and let one side (or even the other -- left or right) dictate policy, then you no longer have a free country. But as long as the liberals feel so threatened by conservative talk radio, then the attack will continue to go on.
C.J. Gish - 3/12/2008 2:12:00 PM EDT
Only President Bush could call a doctorine that is for free speech anti-free speech.
The fact is that people like Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Dobson and the other conservative talkers are the one who are afraid their arguments won't hold up in the marketplace of ideas. That's why they oppose the Fairness Doctorine.
Fred Hurlburt - 3/12/2008 10:36:00 AM EDT
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