Walden: Limbaugh Comments Reprehensible, But Speech Should Still Be Free

Says House Communications Subcommittee would focus on cybersecurity in interview for C-SPAN's Communicators series

House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said Thursday that he had "no use" for Rush Limbaugh's comments about a birth control advocate. He said Limbaugh's comments on his radio show were "completely reprehensible," but he also said there was fault on both sides of the political spectrum and suggested the comments should not be used to suppress political speech.

That came in an interview for C-SPAN's Communicators series. Walden pointed out that he was a former broadcaster -- he owned radio stations. "We had talk shows and we would never have put up with that."

But, he added, "it has happened on the left and the right." He also said he was a "First Amendment guy" and didn't want "some city council thinking they are in charge of political speech." That was a reference to reports that Limbaugh was mentioned in an L.A. city Council Resolution last week calling on broadcasters "not to use and promote racist and sexist slurs," according to The Washington Times.

Walden said it was not the council's place to decide what is appropriate or not. "This is America. Free speech is good, it should be vigorous...what are you going to do, lock people up?"

Walden told C-SPAN that the subcommittee's immediate focus would be cybersecurity, followed by hearings on the future of audio, video and data, given changes since the 1996 Act. He also said the committee planned to look at the broadband stimulus program. "Are we getting what we're paying for? We are going to be looking at that carefully," he said.

Also on the spectrum front, Walden said he would be appointing a working group on government spectrum. The interview was taped before NTIA came out with its report identifying 95 MHz of spectrum that could be freed up for wireless broadband, although not without some challenges that could include requiring the FCC to find new spectrum for broadcast auxiliary services like ENG.

"We're not done with spectrum," he said.


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