Feinstein Looking Into Fairness Doctrine Revival


Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) appears to have a Senate ally in wanting to revive the fairness doctrine: Diane Feinstein of California.

On Fox News Sunday, Feinstein told host Chris Wallace that talk radio was one-sided and "explosive." She said it "pushes people, I think, to extreme views without a lot of information."

Asked if she supported a return of the doctrine, an FCC rule that required broadcasters to air both sides of controversial issues, she said "I'm looking at it, as a matter of fact. I do believe in fairness. I remember when there was a fairness doctrine, and I think there was much more serious correct reporting [sic] to people," she said, according to a partial transcript.

Talk radio has come under attack from Republicans and Democrats lately over the issue of immigration. Hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage have been highly critical of the Bush administration's support of the immigration reform bill, saying it is amnesty being pitched as a "path to citizenship."

Lott, appearing on Fox News with Feinstein, took heat from the talkers after saying talk radio was "running America," that the hosts were criticizing the bill, which he supports, without knowing what was in it, and that "We have to deal with that[talk radio]  problem."

Lott said Sunday he meant that legislators had to explain the bill better and that he did not support reviving the doctrine.

Kucinich, who head a new, wide-ranging oversight committee, has been highly critical of the absence of the doctrine, which the FCC jettisoned as unconstitutional in 1987, suggesting that absence led to undercoverage of the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Feinstein's comments also came only a few days after the heads of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and Telecommunications Subcommittee asked for a Bush administration investigation into broadcasters' role--if any--in fomenting hate crimes. In a letter to the National Telecommunications & Information Association, Energy & Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) and subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) asked NTIA to update a report on the role of telecommunications in hate crimes whether broadcasters "convey messages of bigotry or hatred, creating a climate of fear and inciting individuals to commit hate crimes."

The House recently passed a new hate crimes bill that would allow the government to prosecute speakers if they directly fomented violence.