Kurt Nimmo
February 6, 2009

Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow talks with nationally syndicated talk host Bill Press about how she will push for hearings in the Seante to hold radio broadcasters accountable.  

Democrat senator Debbie Stabenow has told nationally syndicated talk host Bill Press she will push for talk radio “accountability hearings” in order to impose government-mandated “balance” in the radio marketplace. According to the Gladwin, Michigan, senator the airwaves are “dominated by one view” that “overwhelms people’s opinions — and, unfortunately, incorrectly,” and said that “right-wing conservative talk hosts” are “trying to make people angry and saying all kinds of things that aren’t true and so on,” Radio Ink reports on February 5.

In other words, according to Stabenow, the American people are unable to formulate their own opinions and the government must do this for them. In order to facilitate this process, the Michigan senator pledges to “pass a standard” based on the revoked Fairness Doctrine. She will “bring these [radio network] owners in and hold them accountable” to an undefined “community interest,” that is to say the politically motivated interests of supposed “progressive” Democrats irate over the fact so-called “conservatives” have dominated the airwaves for more than two decades.

  Recently confirmed attorney general Eric Holder was evasive about reimposing the Fairness Doctrine when he was pressed on the issue by the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearings in January.

Stabenow has adopted Obama’s “accountability” rhetoric for her plan to limit the First Amendment rights of talk radio broadcasters. During the election, Obama called for accountability on the part of Wall Street and Washington in regard to the supposed financial industry bailout bill.

“You know, we had something called the Fairness Doctrine, back until the eighties when it was removed, where where you had to have balance… and I think something that requires that in a market with owners that have multiple stations that they have got to have balance – there has to be some community uh, interest – balance, you know, standard that says both sides have to be heard,” Stabenow told Press.

Before hosting a “left-leaning liberal” nationally syndicated talk radio program, Bill Press was the chair of the California Democratic Party from 1993 to 1996. He is receptive to Stabenow’s proposal to subject radio broadcasters to “accountability hearings.”

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In 1986, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit concluded that the FCC was not required to apply the Fairness Doctrine. In August 1987, the FCC abolished the doctrine by a 4-0 vote. The FCC stated “the intrusion by government into the content of programming occasioned by the enforcement of [the Fairness Doctrine] restricts the journalistic freedom of broadcasters … [and] actually inhibits the presentation of controversial issues of public importance to the detriment of the public and the degradation of the editorial prerogative of broadcast journalists” and deemed the ruling unconstitutional.

On January 28, 2009, FCC Commisioner Robert McDowell told the Media Institute in Washington that it is “hard to tell if current calls for its return will gain traction or not. On the one hand, recently several prominent members of Congress have called for its restoration. Still others are strongly opposed to its revival.” McDowell also said any attempt to revive the Fairness Doctrine would face an uphill battle in the courts.

The Fairness Doctrine was on the minds of at least two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the January 15th confirmation hearing for Attorney General-Designate Eric Holder, who was subsequently confirmed. Both Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions asked Holder pointed questions about reinstating the doctrine. As Michael G. Franc reported for NRO on January 23, Holder was at best evasive in answering questions. “The bottom line is beware,” Franc warned, “and stay tuned to your favorite talk radio host for further details!”

“I have already had some discussions with colleagues, and, you know, I feel like that’s going to happen. Yep,” Stabenow assured Press.

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