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Tilting at Windmills

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November 20, 2008

THE FAIRNESS DOCTRINE, PARANOIA, AND RIGHT-WING SELF-PITY.... I've been fascinated of late with the far-right hysteria about the reemergence of the "fairness doctrine," because conservative activists are gearing up for a knock-down brawl against an enemy that doesn't exist. Everyone from obscure right-wing bloggers to Rush Limbaugh to Washington Post columnists are prepared for a fight that isn't going to happen.

And yet, the nonsense doesn't stop. Perusing the news this morning, there are still more conservative columnists railing against the "plan" to bring back the fairness doctrine, and unhinged propaganda about the "unprecedented government assault upon the First Amendment" that is allegedly on the way.

The New Republic's Marin Cogan asked around, trying to find Democrats who actually support bringing the fairness doctrine back, or media-reform liberals who might push for action on this. Cogan couldn't find any.

Obama opposes it. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D) of New Mexico, allegedly a supporter, said, "Somebody plucked this out of the clear blue sky. This is a completely made-up issue." Mark Lloyd, co-author of a Center for American Progress media report, said, "I don't think there's any movement [to restore the fairness doctrine] at all.... We don't support it. " Craig Aaron of the media-reform group FreePress says, "[I]n reality, the fairness doctrine as it existed is never ever coming back."

So, what's the point of baseless right-wing hysteria? Cogan makes the case:

Republican paranoia is nothing more than that.

Democrats may scratch their heads over why this has lately become a right-wing obsession, but the paranoia is not without precedent. The prospect of being in the opposition often brings out the worst in conservatives -- paranoia and self-pity. Plus, when the conservative coalition seems threatened, there's no better way to unify the party than scaring up liberal bogeymen.

Quite right. Given the collapse of the Republican Party's electoral fortunes, folks like Limbaugh and Michael Gerson have to create a rallying cry, and there's no better way to whip up the Republican base than to make far-right activists feel like victims. "Liberals are coming to take away your talk radio!" is, obviously, pretty effective.

It's kind of pathetic, actually.

Steve Benen 9:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (74)

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Yeah, as I was reading this, the same explanation occurred to me. Basically, they have nothing; Obama's positives are very high, even among some of the people who voted against him. If they don't rouse the base with yet another dose of fear, they might lose yet another part of that base. So...make up an issue and scare people about it.

Posted by: ThomasC on November 20, 2008 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Guns are flying off the shelves in several deep red southern and not so deep red western states because the NRA has whipped up hysteria over the belief that Obama is going to repeal the Second Amendment by executive order. What we are watching with both the fairness doctrine paranoia and the NRA's made up hysteria are special interest groups who are afraid of doing nothing while they become irrelevant and their funding drying up.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 20, 2008 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

This reminds me of grade school. Everytime an election came up, a rumor spread thru the playground that one of the candidates was going to make us go to school on Saturday. Every election, Limbaugh et al revive the ghost of the Fairness Doctrine. Clearly the source of all their wisdom is the playground.

Posted by: martin on November 20, 2008 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

It matches the hysteria of telling everyone that Obama is going to take away your guns. Reality, where Obama has far too many other important issues to deal with, seems far off for these individuals.

I think the real problem is that the Right doesn't have many issues to talk about right now during the transition, so they'll make up issues to begin building up hatred toward the Obama administration.

And the Right also has the problem that they were complicit in the economic issues that are dominating the headlines - both on the way up (deregulation) and on the way down (bailout), so they can't talk about those either.

Posted by: inthewoods on November 20, 2008 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

I think Obama's plan to send Black Panthers into elementary schools and rape underage white girls would unify the base to a far greater degree. Why isn't our liberal media addressing this planned violent assault on our youth, hmmm??

Posted by: steve duncan on November 20, 2008 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

The prospect of being in the opposition often brings out the worst in conservatives -- paranoia and self-pity. Plus, when the conservative coalition seems threatened, there's no better way to unify the party than scaring up liberal bogeymen.

Yes, but that doesn't explain why George Will was inciting Fairness Doctrine Paranoia in his columns of August 17 and September 18, when McCain's prospects of winning still looked respectable.

Will's the guy who started it. Has anyone asked him why?

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on November 20, 2008 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Just to get the message through: George Will, George Will, George Will.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on November 20, 2008 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

It isn't pathetic - they'll be awarding themselves kudos shortly for defending America against the fairness doctrine in a few months: "Thanks to our ever-vigilant 'citizen-journalists', the Obama plot to destroy Western Civilization by imposing the fairness doctrine on such 'fair and balanced' commentators as Rush Limbaugh was thwarted before it had a chance to build up steam..."

It's like Iran: without the threat of "The Great Satan" - nobody's willing to put up with the rest of their agenda.

Posted by: RepubAnon on November 20, 2008 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

It's not just paranoia-- it's also their highly developed persecution complex that is part of their schtick. It's also a they're-coming-for-me-and-then-they're-coming-for-you mentality that their followers completely lap up. What a state of mind to live in. It's sad, really.

What is truly amusing about it all is that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity-- both who have contracts worth tens of millions of dollars-- get to pretend that they're going to be "oppressed" by "big government." They're screaming hysterically all the way to the bank.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on November 20, 2008 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know if I'd chalk this up purely to paranoia. It also may reflect a preemptive strike. If they make enough noise about this issue up front perhaps will scare off any mainstream Democrat from making this a top agenda item in the future.

Just because the wingers are crazy doesn't mean they're politically stupid.

Posted by: Dr Lemming on November 20, 2008 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

This is wonderful, really. Instead of getting in the way of health care reform or rolling back the heinous acts of Bush's eight years, let 'em punch air. If that's what keeps them busy and out of the adults' way, fine. We've got real work to do.

Posted by: yam on November 20, 2008 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

...conservative activists are gearing up for a knock-down brawl against an enemy that doesn't exist.
But Steve, that's what conservatives do.

Posted by: Dennis- SGMM on November 20, 2008 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

The prospect of being in the opposition often brings out the worst in conservatives -- paranoia and self-pity.

Odd -- the reality of being in control brought out the worst paranoia and self-pity in conservatives as well (mixed in, of course, with bullying authoritarianism, a two-year old's sense of entitlement and a drunkard's sense of invulnerability). It seems, therefore, that paranoia and self-pity, rather than being "brought on" by anything, is instead conservatives' default setting.

Posted by: Stefan on November 20, 2008 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

"Somebody plucked this out of the clear blue sky. This is a completely made-up issue."

Aren't most if not all right wing issues created this way?

Posted by: Palinoscopy on November 20, 2008 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

And since "The Liberals are trying to steal Christmas!" just isn't working as well as it used to, they need a new bogeyman to whip up the fundraising from the base.

P.T. Barnum was talking about paranoid conservatives when he said "There's a sucker born every minute".

Posted by: The Other Ed on November 20, 2008 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

I have a brother-in-law who is a truck driver and a faithful listener of all the right-wing radio guys and gals. At a family gathering a couple years ago he told me with a completely straight face, "I'm a member of the most oppressed minority in America; I'm a middle-aged white male." He and his fellow listeners believe this crap; that's the part that worries me.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on November 20, 2008 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

There is may be another reason for making this an issue right now. For one, as has been pointed out, it is something with which to stir up the 'base' and provide a boogey man to rail against.

Another is to distract from the real issues of the day, not just for the base, who are being affected by the current economic conditions but for which conservatives have no clue to deal with, but also to distract everyone else.

There are two ways to deal with bullies: give 'em a bloody nose or ignore them. Right now is the time to ignore them and get on with addressing the real problems.

Posted by: nerd on November 20, 2008 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

While they're slamming the Fairness Doctrine, I hope they get around to slamming Luntzian wordcraft. They can start with NCLB, Clear Skies Initiative and the Patriot Act.

Posted by: Danp on November 20, 2008 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

When the Liberal Fascists came for the Fairness Doctrine,
I remained silent;
I was not a conservative.

When they locked up the gun owners,
I remained silent;
I was not a gun owner.....

Posted by: Stefan on November 20, 2008 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

While no one is talking about or supporting reinstating the Fairness Doctrine of old, I would hope that somewhere someone realizes the perniciousness of allowing hate radio to continue spilling its bile and vitriol across the airwaves to the educationally challenged.

The current paranoia on the right is indeed a strawman, but some updated version of 'fairness' is overdue, although I realize any attempt to tackle this issue will be treated the same by wingnut crowd.

Posted by: rich on November 20, 2008 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

I strongly suspect this originates with the paranoia of Limbaugh-esque conservative talkers who suspect they would be forced off the air by a new fairness doctrine. This was the impression I got from this very informative recent article by the ex-producer of such a show. http://www.truthout.org/111708E

Posted by: Ken D. on November 20, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

It is simply a way to keep the folks in the stands fired up. They are coming to take away your right wing radio just the way they are coming to take away your guns (in their black helicopters). A similare meme is the "amero," the imaginary plan to institute a North American currency to take the place of our good ole dollars.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amero
Absolutely not a chance in the world that this could take place, but it sure is helpful in feeding paranoia.
But it's all good. Progressives should understand that anything that increases the influence of right wing nuts in the republican party helps democrats at the polls. As long as voters are aware that what concerns the right is this kind of stuff and not jobs or prosperity, the political power of the right will continue to decline.

Posted by: PureGuesswork on November 20, 2008 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

So you're aware that the Republicans have been crusaders against non-existent problems for the last, I don't know, twenty years, right?

The Fairness Doctrine merely joins the ranks of The Homosexual Agenda, Flag-Burning, abortion procedures that don't actually exist, and "the Liberal Media" in the grand pantheon of stuff that the GOP uses to distract you from all the bad shit they actually do.

Posted by: August J. Pollak on November 20, 2008 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

I think Obama's plan to send Black Panthers into elementary schools and rape underage white girls would unify the base to a far greater degree. Why isn't our liberal media addressing this planned violent assault on our youth, hmmm??

This is missing the point. The real horror is that the girls will then be forced to undergo abortions in socialzied medical facilities.

Posted by: Marlowe on November 20, 2008 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

While no one is talking about or supporting reinstating the Fairness Doctrine of old, I would hope that somewhere someone realizes the perniciousness of allowing hate radio to continue spilling its bile and vitriol across the airwaves to the educationally challenged.

The cure to the problem is to get more liberals on the radio.

Any cure that involves not "allowing" speech is worse than the disease.

The thing that is so mystifying about the Fairness Doctrine paranoia on the right is that a huge liberal constituency, civil libertarians (represented by the ACLU -- the far right's #1 boogeyman -- no less), would quite rightly go absolutely ape about any serious attempt to reintroduce anything like the Fairness Doctrine.

It's like Rush and his loser followers are too dumb to remember the ACLU exists, when they were all just bashing it last Christmas.

Posted by: dal20402 on November 20, 2008 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

You have to be kidding, right ? Surely you have seen Chuck Schumer supporting this policy. Obama won the election and has Democratic majorities in both houses. It is your turn to govern. Republicans are happy to see how you do. If Obama and the Democrat majorities do well, he will get a second term. The Republicans I have spent time with since the election are working on policy issues for the future. There has been no gnashing of teeth like we saw from the Democrats in 2000 and 2004. If an Obama FCC tries to reintroduce the Fairness Doctrine, and I think this would be easy red meat for the moonbat base (like you folks), you will talk radio shift to satellite radio. You are going to be disappointed with his performance so an easy gesture like this seems pretty likely, even if it doesn't work.

Posted by: Mike K on November 20, 2008 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

A hearty second here to virtually every comment upthread. (And isn't it interesting -- and pleasant -- how few trolls we seem to have these days. They've not entirely disappeared, but man oh man are there ever fewer of them!).

But rich, just up above me here, makes a good point. WHY isn't restoring the Fairness Doctrine -- or some other efforts to restore a semblance of fairness to a public resource, the public airwaves -- on tap? I'm almost inclined to think, "If you've got the name, play the game." If we started a little war over the Fairness Doctrine, it really would suck up a lot of rightwing time, keeping them occupied while the real work of getting out of Iraq, health care reform, energy policy, etc., etc., etc., was getting done. And who knows: we might even win that side war and get better airwaves in the process.

I was appalled years ago when the Fairness Doctrine was destroyed. I've long wondered why our side didn't fight harder at the time, and hasn't fought for its restoration since. And besides, I'm quite sure that if liberals managed to overwhelm and dominate talk radio (e.g., if George Soros went on a buying spree and sucked up 2/3rds of the talk radio stations in the country), the rightwingers would suddenly see the Fairness Doctrine as virtually an essential component for a functioning democracy.

But of course this is just chatter: apparently no progressives in power consider it important enough to bother with, so that's that. A pity.

Posted by: Roger Keeling on November 20, 2008 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with yam, if they want to waste their time fighting bogus issues, they'll have less time to fight the real ones. I think we should get the few politicians who support this to speak out more. The more we can get the Republicans fighting fake battles, the better. Who knows? Maybe we can sneak health care reform past them without them even noticing.

Posted by: fostert on November 20, 2008 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

In addition to the rile up the base reasoning, I could see this as a firewall against Congress reinstating the rules against media consolidation which I believe does have some political support.

Posted by: The Other Ed on November 20, 2008 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

There has been no gnashing of teeth like we saw from the Democrats in 2000 and 2004.

Mike K, thank you for interrupting a monotonous morning at work with a huge belly laugh. This is the funniest thing I've seen written since the election.

The Republican Party has gone into a full-on civil war between Phil Gramm's laissez-faire robber barons and an army of Palinite theocrats, and you write with a straight face that there is "no gnashing of teeth." Simply marvelous.

Posted by: dal20402 on November 20, 2008 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

"The thing that is so mystifying about the Fairness Doctrine paranoia on the right is that a huge liberal constituency, civil libertarians (represented by the ACLU -- the far right's #1 boogeyman -- no less), would quite rightly go absolutely ape about any serious attempt to reintroduce anything like the Fairness Doctrine."


Radio is a publicly owned, federally regulated medium and from my non-law-talking-guy perspective, there'd be absolutely no legal case to be made against reimposing the Fairness Doctrine.

Forget about paranoia or self-pity, what's at work here is the right wing fetish for projection. If they had the means to squash something beneficial to the left, they'd do it without thought or hesitation. They can't believe that liberals won't do the same.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on November 20, 2008 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

This is wonderful, really. Instead of getting in the way of health care reform or rolling back the heinous acts of Bush's eight years, let 'em punch air. If that's what keeps them busy and out of the adults' way, fine. We've got real work to do.

Exactly, yam. So far, the Republicans are having fits over their guns being taken away, their taxes doubling (one reader responded to a Corner fundraising e-mail by saying she was hiding money away for the tax increases), and the Fairness Doctrine. As long as they're all worked up about this, maybe they'll stay out of it once the things Obama actually plans to do come up. I can dream, can't I?

Posted by: prettyboywally on November 20, 2008 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

What we are watching with both the fairness doctrine paranoia and the NRA's made up hysteria are special interest groups who are afraid of doing nothing while they become irrelevant and their funding drying up.

Actually, the NRA thing is different than the "Fairness Doctrine" thing. The NRA is a wholly-owned arm of the gun industry at this point, so whipping up gun-fear hysteria serves two purposes. Before the election it served the purpose of trying to scare the gun nuts into turning out to vote. But after the election it serves the purpose of selling more guns and ammo. It's a marketing tool, and apparently a good one from what I've been seeing around here in Ohio. It's in the gun industry's best short-term financial interest to promote this kind of idiocy, believe it or not.

The Fairness Doctrine stuff isn't the same. It's not whipping people up to buy more talk radio or anything like that. I think it's just a peek into the conservative talker psyche - there's nothing that they would like more than to shut everyone who disagrees with them up. That's why they screen their calls so heavily to weed out anyone who isn't a "dittohead" (and why conservative bloggers - who have the same kind of issues - don't tend to have comments on their blogs). So of course they think their "enemies" want to do the same thing to them.

Personally, I'd rather see media consolidation reversed - go back to the old rules where you could own 1 AM station, 1 FM station and 1 TV station in a single media market. That would do more to improve the diversity of talk radio than any "Fairness Doctrine" might be able to handle. If you forced the market to be something that better approaches a free one - instead of the near monopoly we have now - you wouldn't need to mandate "fairness" standards.

Posted by: NonyNony on November 20, 2008 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

The irony is that the Fairness Doctrine is precisely what the repubs need to claw their way back into the mainstream. The extreme right's version of policing itself is to spin further from reality, and tack harder to the right

Turning on the AM radio used to be a view into conservative thought. But by now, it's respun their spun 'facts' so many times over that it's now a view into an alternate reality. It's the SciFi channel, sans effects and plotlines.

In it's hayday, AM talk radio (dishonestly) persuaded people to the conservative agenda. Today, it preaches to a dwindling choir of rabid paste eaters.

For the GOP to rebuild it's moderate wing, they'll need to muzzle some of their far right megaphones. But the celebrity egos involed will never sit still for this. The Fairness Doctrine is probably the best tool the GOP has to rebuild itself.
And they said irony was dead.

Posted by: JoeW on November 20, 2008 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Radio is a publicly owned, federally regulated medium and from my non-law-talking-guy perspective, there'd be absolutely no legal case to be made against reimposing the Fairness Doctrine.

There are some very good First Amendment arguments against reintroducing the doctrine, although I agree it would probably hold up in court in the end. I don't have time to write a dissertation on the subject in a blog comment, but there would be real questions on what standard of review to use and how important a governmental interest political "balance" on the radio is in the era of the Internet.

But, regardless of the legality, it's a horrible idea and I'm very glad the ACLU is there to go ape about it if it ever looks like it's going to gain traction. Thankfully, right now it has none.

Posted by: dal20402 on November 20, 2008 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, fascinating. Between the time I started writing my previous post, and the time I actually hit the "post" button, Mike K. got on with a vaguely troll-like comment. Not pure troll-ism, but pretty close.

So let's see. It is a load of horseshit. I mean, let's review: (1) Because Chuck Shumer said something about the Fairness Doctrine, that means it MUST be a huge liberal agenda item. (2) Conservatives are now industriously engaged in "planning policies for the future" Right. And (3) conservatives are happy to see Democrats have a chance to run things. Yeah, you bet.

Okay, it's so entirely divorced from reality that it probably isn't troll-like, it's true troll-ism. My mistake.

Posted by: Roger Keeling on November 20, 2008 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

If anyone actually watched the Schumer interview, he never once said anything positive about the Fairness Doctrine.

What he did say was that it was hypocritical to support speech regulations in one context and oppose them in another. Now, that argument might be stupid, but it doesn't mean he supports the Fairness Doctrine. In fact, call his office right now - he opposes the Fairness Doctrine.

Posted by: M on November 20, 2008 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

This is not right-wing lunatic fringe paranoia and it is not really about the Fairness Doctrine.

This is part of an orchestrated propaganda campaign by the handful of giant corporations that own virtually all of America's mass media from which most Americans get most of their information.

The corporate-owned so-called "mainstream media" and the corporate-owned "right wing media" (e.g. Fox News, Rush Limbaugh) are two parts of the same corporate propaganda machine, and they work in close collaboration to advance the agenda of their owners -- namely, the ruthless and rapacious class warfare of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc. against everyone else.

The corporate oligarchy is not concerned about some nonexistent "liberal" plan to bring back the Fairness Doctrine or anything like it.

What they are concerned about is the possibility that the Obama administration and the Congressional Democrats will reverse the Cheney-Bush administration's policies of radical deregulation of media ownership, which has allowed the handful of giant media corporations to gobble up more and more of America's few remaining independent radio and TV stations and networks. They are also preparing to fight against efforts to preserve "net neutrality" -- which is, in fact, the "Fairness Doctrine" of the Internet age.

What is at stake for these giant corporations is their goal of complete, totalitarian control of all media, and all information, accessible to the public in the USA.

That's why their bought-and-paid-for, fawning, obsequious, vapid "on-air personalities" and vacuous "pundits" -- from Rush Limbaugh to George Will to Tom Brokaw -- will loudly wail that any efforts by the government of We The People to ensure that the mass media functions in the public interest, rather than in the interest of the corporate elite's class warfare, is a "threat to freedom".

With this Fairness Doctrine hoax, they are just priming the pump.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on November 20, 2008 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

NonyNony wrote: "Personally, I'd rather see media consolidation reversed - go back to the old rules where you could own 1 AM station, 1 FM station and 1 TV station in a single media market. That would do more to improve the diversity of talk radio than any 'Fairness Doctrine' might be able to handle."

Media consolidation is the real battle that the giant media corporations are preparing to fight -- in the expectation that the Obama administration and the Congressional Democrats will agree with you, and seek to reverse and roll back the Cheney-Bush administration's radical deregulation of media ownership that has facilitated consolidation of the mass media in the hands of those giant corporations, giving them unprecedented control over the information available to most Americans.

Waving the red flag of the "Fairness Doctrine" in the faces of the legions of dittoheads is just the first part of the giant media corporations' propaganda campaign against any and all efforts to regulate the mass media in the public interest.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on November 20, 2008 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

We should bring back the fairness doctrine. Within a year, there would be no conservative talk radio and the right would be smashed, with the little turds back hiding under their rocks. What's not to like about that??? People want to reintroduce "civility, " the thing to do is take those with bad manners and send them away. Let the Budweiser Booboisie stew in their own personal juices.

Posted by: TCinLA on November 20, 2008 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

They need a daily talking charge. It is one of the reasons that they have lost credibility with the public. The public, especially these days, cares about jobs, 401Ks, the economy.

Rush can't talk about those issues everday, because he has no answers for those issues. He needs some nonsense to keep his retard audience enthralled with the "us against them" mindset.

Rush could give a flying f##k about real issues, he just needs to keep his ratings up.

And this mentality is what infested the McCain campaign and sunk it.

I recently listened to one of the local idiots, and an interview he did with Coulter. Talked about Joe the Plumber (post election!) and more forced laughs than I ever care to hear in my life.

They have jumped the shark, and they know it, but if they can keep their idiot base glued they can ride it out to the bitter end.

Posted by: Andrew on November 20, 2008 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

And (3) conservatives are happy to see Democrats have a chance to run things. Yeah, you bet.

Okay, it's so entirely divorced from reality that it probably isn't troll-like, it's true troll-ism. My mistake.
Posted by: Roger Keeling

Oh, we would rather have won the election. My point is that you folks have the chance to govern. It will be interesting to see how you do. I think it will be a disaster but I am no longer trying to build a business. A lot of conservatives are going into a protective mode and the economic activity of the next couple of years will show that. Progressives don't think incentives are important in economics. We will now have a chance to see.

While you are dismissing the idea that Democrats will try to shut down talk radio with the Fairness Doctrine, I see in the comments how attractive an idea that is to many of you. I think it will be used as a consolation prize when the other stuff doesn't work.

Posted by: Mike K on November 20, 2008 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

I think it will be a disaster

Your party and its leader have completely fucked the economy and you have yet to acknowledge it or take responsibility -- but you're here calling us names and telling us what a terrible job Obama is bound to do?

You are one ridiculous boob.

Republicans are going into "protective mode" because their policies have evaporated trillions of dollars in wealth. You'll be lucky if you're not digging for turnips in a year.

Also: you don't mind if I come to your blog and call you names, do you? Unlike you, I promise not to make laughable unsubstantiated claims and veiled threats.

Posted by: trex on November 20, 2008 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Reagan's FIRST OFFICIAL ACT was to eliminate the Fairness Doctrine and the Equal Time Amendment, then he appointed a bunch of cronys to the FCC who immediately relaxed ownership rules. The resut?

FORTY YEARS of right wing HATE radio; FORTY YEARS of right wing BROADCAST ownership and FORTY YEARS of right wing braying about the "librul media" which of course, doesn't exist anymore and never had a chance to exist after Reagan.

I hope to FUCK that the Fairness Doctrine is reinstated. I hope to FUCK that Pres Obama refuses to appoint ANYONE to a regulatory body who has even a second cousin once removed from the industry to be regulated going back 10 years or less. I hope to FUCK that media ownership rules are IMPOSED and ENFORCED and that the right wing MONOPOLY on the PUBLIC AIRWAVES is finally smashed to smithereens. Finally I hope to FUCK that the PUBLIC INTEREST returns as a #1 consideration to the LICENSING of access to the PUBLIC's AIRWAVES.

Finally, when this happens, I hope to FUCK the right wing works itself into a psychotic frenzy and dissolves into a little puddle of waste.

Nuff said.

Posted by: getaclue on November 20, 2008 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

While you are dismissing the idea that Democrats will try to shut down talk radio with the Fairness Doctrine

I am totally fascinated by the wingnuts' tacit admission that presenting opposing viewpoints is tantamount to shutting down conservative talk radio.

You couldn't ask for a more blatant acknowledgement that not only is conservative talk radio a cesspool of bullshit propaganda, but the wingnuts know it.

Fascinating.

Posted by: Gregory on November 20, 2008 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

I'm against taking away conservative talk-radio. I like keeping them stupid and isolated.

Posted by: The Pragmatist on November 20, 2008 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

It's easier to win on an issue when there's no opposition. I think most of the people ginning up outrage on this issue know that there's nothing there, but as some other commentors have already mentioned, they'll be able to claim in a few months or years that they've managed to beat down efforts to impose the doctrine. It's similar to the Republicans bragging that they and Bush are responsible for there being no terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11.

Posted by: mrgumby2u on November 20, 2008 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

The only problem with letting them live in their own little world is that sometimes they rile themselves up to the point where they'll try something stupid or illegal against Obama and the Secret Service will have to step in and stop them.

Posted by: MNPundit on November 20, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

A hearty second here to virtually every comment upthread. (And isn't it interesting -- and pleasant -- how few trolls we seem to have these days. They've not entirely disappeared, but man oh man are there ever fewer of them!).

You know, I'm kind of interested in that. What the hell happened to them all?

Posted by: Stefan on November 20, 2008 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

i got numerous pre-election anti-obama emails from various rupblican committees that hammed away at this "fairness doctrin" talking point.

i thought it interesting how, [albeit, somewhat obliquely] openly they would admit that talk radio is "theirs" and what an inportant tool it was for them to have....

i second gregory :"i am totally fascinated by the wingnuts' tacit admission that presenting opposing viewpoints is tantamount to shutting down conservative talk radio."

Posted by: dj spellchecka on November 20, 2008 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

I see a couple of commenters have appeared who support the Fairness Doctrine based on the revulsion they feel toward right-wing talk radio.

Censorship may be tempting when you hear the crap Rush and his ilk spew, but it's un-American. The First Amendment was a response to totalitarian censorship. Censorship under more recent totalitarian regimes has led to nothing but underground whispering networks that are cesspools of ignorance and rumor and have no way of separating the horrible ideas from the good ones. All censorship does is make it harder to fight bad points of view, because they are no longer represented in places where better-informed people can rebut them.

Instead of summarily telling radio station owners they have to present points of view other than their own, let's tighten ownership rules and thereby get a broader base of radio station owners that will be naturally inclined to present a broader range of points of view.

Ownership restrictions are terrific. The Fairness Doctrine is grievously wrongheaded.

Posted by: dal20402 on November 20, 2008 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK
P.T. Barnum was talking about paranoid conservatives when he said "There's a sucker born every minute".

Actually, P.T. Barnum was wrong -- there's one born every second.

What I find most amusing about this is that, once again, the right has shown its utter lack of knowledge about how our government works.

So Schumer or Barbara Boxer said they like the idea of the FD. So frickin' what? They don't have anywhere near the votes they'd need to even get the damn thing to the floor. Add on top of that Obama's opposition to it, and there's no way it'd get close to becoming law.

But hey, I'm with yam: If they want to waste all their powder on this issue, let 'em. It'll keep them distracted while the grown ups fix the mess Bush and Co. has made of our nation.

Posted by: Mark D on November 20, 2008 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Why WOULD Dems bring back the fairness doctrine? We saw an unprecedented assault on Obama and other Dems using hate, fear, lies, and racial bating and despite that the Dems STILL came out VICTORIOUS!

Who needs a "Fairness Doctrine" when the best laid slander by the opposition doesn't even work?

Posted by: JWK on November 20, 2008 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Its all a scam to raise money. These guys truly are enterpreneurs and they look at their audience as sheep to be sheared. And the CEOs of their holding companies look on the whole world (including the investors) as sheep to be sheared. Fortunately, the wool does grow back after a few years.

Posted by: rickstersherpa on November 20, 2008 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

upthread a bit: "Censorship may be tempting when you hear the crap Rush and his ilk spew, but it's un-American. The First Amendment was a response to totalitarian censorship."

right, but the fairness doctrine was a response to the fact that the airwaves are "a limited public resource."

even if i had the money to build my own tramsmission tower, i can't start broadcasting without a permit. and if no one in my market wants to SELL me THEIR permit, i'm out of luck...

now some people feel that with the explosion of other new media, my thinking is somewhat outmoded...i disagree...the station owners should be operating for the good of the public, not just the sponsors.....

if bringing back the fairness doctrine causes rush to move to satellite or the internet, so be it...i have no problem with that....that's the free market at work...

having one political philosophy dominate the public airwaves, especially when it's negative..is a bad thing....imo

Posted by: dj spellchecka on November 20, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Y'know, if they bring back the Fairness Doctrine, I would immediately be denied my supposedly-Constitutional Right to openly call for the American People to (1) rise up in their righteous wrath, (2) seize these right-wing blowhards, (3) bind them up in barbed-wire, and (4) throw their worthless hides---still living and breathing, of course---into a great big bonfire.

I call that my "Four Step Plan...."

Posted by: Steve W. on November 20, 2008 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Meh. Republicans don't have to be in the minority to indulge in endless paranoia and self-pity. Review the last eight years; they never stopped complaining, even when they held all the cards. They're whiny-ass-titty-babies, through and through.

Posted by: cmac on November 20, 2008 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

now some people feel that with the explosion of other new media, my thinking is somewhat outmoded...i disagree...the station owners should be operating for the good of the public, not just the sponsors.....

Artificially forcing station owners to devote equal time to opposing viewpoints does not guarantee any sort of fair presentation of the opposing viewpoints, and does not promote the public good at all.

In general, forcing people to actively do things they don't want to (as opposed to preventing them from doing things) leads to very bad results. This is why, for example, courts will not force an employee to fulfill an employment contract (they award damages instead).

As I said, better to get more and different station owners, through revised ownership rules, than to force existing owners to pretend to devote equal time.

Posted by: dal20402 on November 20, 2008 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Should have mentioned... just imagine that stations would replace Rush with Hannity and Colmes. Hey... one conservative, one liberal, equal time... right?

Posted by: dal20402 on November 20, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

And this just in from the Traditional Values Coalition:


Date: Thu, 20 Nov 2008 09:36:15 -0600 (CST)
From: "TownHall.com"

Subject: Save Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly Before It Is Too Late

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Save Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, Savage

Obama, Democrats Making Huge Assault on Georgia Race


Scott Wheeler
Executive Director
The National Republican Trust PAC


Dear Reader:

Barack Obama and Democrats in Washington have underway a massive national effort to take the Georgia Senate seat held by Republican Saxby Chambliss in the special run-off race scheduled there for December 2nd.

Sen. Chambliss urgently needs your help.

With Obama in the White House, the Democrats have one goal: to get the 60 votes they need in the Senate which allows them to push through Obama's radical legislative agenda.

Their first target: talk radio. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer has already called talk radio "pornography."

He and other Democrats like Nancy Pelosi want talk radio regulated by the FCC with a new "Fairness Doctrine."

Such a plan would end talk radio as we know it and crush Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, Imus and others.

They want to abolish free talk radio because it will be much easier for Obama to push through Congress his radical plans to increase taxes, to make $1 trillion in new spending, cut the military, appoint hundreds of liberal judges and worse.

But they need 60 Senate votes to do it!

Right now the Democrats have 57 votes and are trying to get the Senate seats in Minnesota and Alaska. They also believe several liberal Republicans will crossover and back them.

But they will still need the Georgia Senate seat to get the 60 votes they need.

That's why it is absolutely critical we stop them in Georgia and keep Republican Chambliss in the Senate.

Help the National Republican Trust - Go Here Now

Obama Sending His Troops to Georgia

The Democrats believe they can win Georgia even though McCain won the state by a small margin.

Here's why. The December 2 run-off will have a small turnout.

The Democrats plan to use their massive organizational and money edge and get out key Democratic groups like African-American voters and union activists.

Here's what the Wall Street Journal reported today about the Georgia race:

"Democrats have sent their own pitches to Washington interest groups on behalf of [Democratic candidate] Mr. Martin. Officials from labor unions, abortion-rights organizations and other pro-Democratic groups are mapping out plans to try to flood the airwaves and put boots on the ground in the coming weeks.

"And the Obama campaign has sent roughly 100 of its national field organizers to help with the race."

This is just the beginning.

The New York Times reported last week that the Democrats have the clear money advantage over Chambliss

This is why we at The National Republican Trust PAC need your help - Please Go Here Now

Don't forget that it was Obama's campaign that out-organized Hillary Clinton and won almost every Democratic caucus during the primary.

They will use similar techniques in Georgia.

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We want to stop them in Georgia and end Obama's radical agenda in Congress.

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Fox news analyst Dick Morris says, "The National Republican Trust is doing the job of the Republican party by fighting in Georgia."

He says we are now the most effective organization fighting for conservative values in the GOP and country today.

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The maximum donation is $5000. It is a small amount when you consider how much you'll pay if

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Scott Wheeler
Executive Director

P.S. The election is just weeks away. The Democrats will pour more troops and money into Georgia. But most Georgians don't buy their liberal agenda. Our job is simple: we need to get out our voters! We can do it with your help - do so today without delay by calling our Donor Hotline at 1-866-957-1467 or Going Here Now


Paid for by The National Republican Trust PAC. Not authorized by any candidate or
candidate’s committee.
2100 M St. NW Suite 170-340 Washington, DC 20037-1233

Contributions to The National Republican Trust PAC are not deductible as charitable
contributions for federal income tax purposes. No corporate funds are accepted.


* Copyright 2006 Townhall.com, Salem Communications and its Content Providers.
All rights reserved.

Posted by: martin on November 20, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Just because you are paranoid, Rush, doesn't mean we aren't coming to get you. Maybe it will be the Fairness Doctrine (who doesn't like "fairness"?), or maybe it will be legislation outlawing knowingly false speech, media conglomeration, or monopolization of the public airwaves.

One way or the other, Rush, we're coming to get you. Boo!

Posted by: mak on November 20, 2008 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

The Fairness Doctrine Hysteria serves another potential purpose. Not only does it serve as a rallying cry for downtrodden wingnuts, but when the Democrats never get around to even trying to implement it, right wing blowhards can claim victory.

Posted by: gorillagogo on November 20, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Since the media is dominated by the left-wing liberal elite, wouldn't the Fairness Doctrine HELP them?

These pansies can't even keep their bullshit straight anymore.

Posted by: Tree on November 20, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

I think it will be a disaster

Your party and its leader have completely fucked the economy and you have yet to acknowledge it or take responsibility -- but you're here calling us names and telling us what a terrible job Obama is bound to do?

You are one ridiculous boob.

Well, you are up to your usual standards of debate, aren't you.

Republicans are going into "protective mode" because their policies have evaporated trillions of dollars in wealth. You'll be lucky if you're not digging for turnips in a year.

No, I'll be fine. The people who evaporated all this wealth were the people donating millions to your guy. Wall Street is no longer a Republican bastion. Most of them are social liberals and have swung left. Not to mention the CRA and Fannie-Freddie encouragement plus ACORN threats against banks that didn't do enough sub-prime lending. Read this and see who these people were.

Also: you don't mind if I come to your blog and call you names, do you? Unlike you, I promise not to make laughable unsubstantiated claims and veiled threats.

Posted by: trex

If you promise not to make unsubstantiated claims and veiled threats, what would you have to say ? I certainly see plenty of that here.

Posted by: Mike K on November 20, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

I recently read a review of the psychology of the right wing. Although they are locally dominant in much of the US (Bible Belt), they need to feel as if they were a persecuted minority in order to justify their own behavior. This also applies to people like O'Reilly, Limbaugh, and the rest of that crew. Claiming to be persecuted does have political benefits until it goes to far, and then it becomes a cry wolf situation.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on November 20, 2008 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Irony alert: Mike K complains about unsubstatiated claims.

Posted by: Gregory on November 20, 2008 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Well, you are up to your usual standards of debate, aren't you.

In fact, those are assertions that I am prepared to defend. Care to refute them?

I thought not.

Calling you a boob is what you deserve for the unsupported nonsense you post here. If you think that is substandard behavior what is calling us moonbats? Anyway, you're not going to get much traction whining about me calling you names because I'm going to continue to do it while I'm tearing apart your arguments until you begin acknowledging when you've been refuted and taking responsibility for the choices you've made.

Personally, I think we're in for a very long haul given your intransigent mental defectiveness.

People have been refuting your shit for years here with the facts. When refuted, you resort to arguments from authority about your age is a guarantee of your rightness on an issue. I'd like nothing more than to begin reposting your nonsense for all the world to see and parse it piece by piece.

The people who evaporated all this wealth were the people donating millions to your guy.

Clearly you're on crack. Phil Gramm, Hank Paulson, George W. Bush, and Alan Greenspan have not donated millions to Obama.

Wall Street is no longer a Republican bastion. Most of them are social liberals and have swung left.

Really? Cite?

I thought not.

Not to mention the CRA and Fannie-Freddie encouragement plus ACORN threats against banks that didn't do enough sub-prime lending.

This shows you don't have the dimmest understanding of this crisis. For starters, the great majority of subprime lending happened outside of banks subject to CRA, the great majority of of subprime loans were written for white people, you moron, and were in fact written for speculators. ACORN never threatened anyone, despite what your buddy Hannity said. I would love to see you try and source that.

The real problem was the highly leveraged bets in the form of CDS made by banks on securities, and the fact that the CFMA took down the protections that allowed the investments banks, insurance agencies, and mortgage lenders to tie their fortunes together for the sake of the Republicans cherished "free market."

Awww, don't know what the acronyms mean? Running for google? If you really want to debate this issue start throwing carefully sourced arguments this way, I'm more than happy to see you humiliated you in public once more.

Posted by: trex on November 20, 2008 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Re Wall Street is no longer a Republican bastion. Most of them are social liberals and have swung left.:

Here's a listing/map of campaign contributions from people who listed Investment Banker as their profession.
Newer contributions are missing. Both the number of people and the dollar amounts are similar Republican vs Democrat:
$2,959,465 from 1,310 people to Republicans
$3,197,000 from 1,359 people to Democrats

The only professions I found in random sampling that skewed dramatically to Republicans were Police Officer:
$158,798 from 324 people to Republicans
$106,402 from 198 people to Democrats
and USAF:
$13,731 from 17 people to Republicans
$6,215 from 13 people to Democrats.


Posted by: Bill Arnold on November 20, 2008 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

I think it will be a disaster but I am no longer trying to build a business.

It's a good thing you're not trying to build a business because the current Republican economy already is the disaster you are predicting. The catastrophe has arrived and most people have enough common sense to know it isn't the fault of Obama or the Democrats.

You can go on in your illusion that this is all the fault of ACORN, Fannie and Freddie and whatever other boogeymen you want if it makes you feel better, but it also make you sound kind of uninformed. People know better than that.

Posted by: Pug on November 20, 2008 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

===>>> "While no one is talking about or supporting reinstating the Fairness Doctrine of old, I would hope that somewhere someone realizes the perniciousness of allowing hate radio to continue spilling its bile and vitriol across the airwaves to the educationally challenged." "The cure to the problem is to get more liberals on the radio."

NO. The "cure" involves educating people to check facts and to recognize illogic and the lies used in propaganda by both sides. Rush speech is ugly, but the fact that people take that buffoon seriously is far worse... then let us not entertain the assumption that intellectually degenerate idiocy on talk-radio is confined to the Right.

Posted by: Joey Tranchina on November 20, 2008 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone who rants about "hate radio" is a Fairness Doctrine true believer. I'm sorry but I can't keep a straight face anymore. You guys WON! Why not act like it ?

I think you know what will happen in 2010 when Obama has made things worse. I'd be depressed too.

[Failing to post substantive remarks while engaging in taunts about how readers will feel next week or next year is the definition of trolling. Future remarks of this nature will be summarily deleted - mod]

Posted by: Mike K on November 20, 2008 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Several Dems are on record supporting the Fairness Doctrine:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- D-CA
http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=27185

Sen. Dianne Feinstein -- D - CA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pi8SqA26Ss

Sen. John Kerry -- D - MA
http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6456031.html

Sen. Chuck Schumer -- D - NY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htD_-A7pDhw&feature=related

Sen. Dick Durbin -- D - IL
http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/gop-preps-for-talk-radio-confrontation-2007-06-27.html

Sen. Jeff Bingaman -- D - NM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veF2KNlHW6w&feature=related

Rep. Dennis Kucinich — D-OH
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34I3kg7BeF8

Posted by: Veritas on November 20, 2008 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

Veritas--
And many, many, many more are on record as being against it.

Sorry, but it'll take a lot more than two or three reps and a couple of Senators to even get the thing to the floor for debate. Add on top of that Obama's repeated opposition to it, and it's going nowhere any time soon. It just isn't.

What we have to remember, folks, is that talk radio is an old person's medium. Exit polls showed that a majority of the senior set voted Republican, and they are the ones who listen to this crap. Not young people, but the over-50 set.

And as callous as this is going to read ... they'll be gone soon. And so will talk radio* because the youth of America primarily get their info and have their discussions online. And that's where the left is winning -- handily.

We're setting up a generation of liberals and progressives, while the right is hanging on to an outdated medium that's not long for this world.

Let them have their talk radio. We'll take the rest.

(*Sports talk will probably always survive, but political talk radio will be a thing of the past in a decade.)

Posted by: Mark D on November 21, 2008 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Mod, you've been deleting my comments since Kevin left. I'm actually surprised you hadn't yet started. If you want free speech you'll have to go to right leaning blogs.

Posted by: Mike K on November 22, 2008 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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