Obama Restates Opposition to Return of Fairness Doctrine

White House breaks silence on continuing debate over reinstating defunct broadcast policy

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President Barack Obama has reiterated his opposition to reimposing the Fairness Doctrine.

A White House spokesperson, in an e-mail to B&C, said Wednesday: "As the President stated during the campaign, he does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated."

That comes in the wake of various reports, commentary and speeches, including from Democrats, suggesting the doctrine, which required broadcasters to seek out the other side of controversial subjects, could be revived in an Obama administration.

Back in June, then-candidate Obama had assured B&C through an aide that he did not support the doctrine, but Wednesday's statements out of the White House appeared to be the first time President Obama had made it clear he still felt that way.

It was only days ago that White House senior adviser David Axelrod would not comment on the possible reintroduction of the FCC's fairness doctrine Sunday, saying that would be up to the president and his new FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski.
The president has now sent a clear signal to his new chairman.

The fairness issue has returned to the front burner with the control of Congress and the White House in the hands of Democrats, some of whom have expressed a fondness for the doctrine as a governor on the right-wing talkers that have been so critical of their party.

There are progressive talk radio shows, but the dominant voices with vast audiences belong to conservative hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Just last week, former President Bill Clinton suggested the doctrine's return, and broadcasters, beyond simply conservative talk radio, have become concerned