Lynn v. Sekulow

As you pointed out, Jay, earlier this week the Democrats handed Rush Limbaugh a major victory: they made him relevant again.  Of course, President Obama’s comment to the Republicans about not “listening” to Limbaugh was supposed to be ironic, as in, this is the wing of your party that is really out to lunch.  The DCCC “petition” is just one more fundraising gimmick–and a bad one at that.  I’m sure that Limbaugh will be converting to the Democratic Party if just a few million people tell him they are upset with him.  (And, oh yes, a pig just flew by my window.)

The broader point you attempt to make is that this is all prelude to some Democratic plot to quell right-wing talk radio.  And you invoke the dreaded “Fairness Doctrine.”  During the time the “doctrine” was in place, it had very little positive effect and zero negative effect.  Here’s what it was and wasn’t.  It was not an “equal time” rule, requiring a balanced coverage of all issues by each show.  Indeed, it didn’t even cover specific shows, including shows by, say, Jay Sekulow or Barry Lynn (or that Limbaugh fellow).  It was designed to push local radio and television stations to present alternative views where an issue had become a local matter of controversy.  It was crafted under the unremarkable theory that since the electromagnetic spectrum is a finite resource and it was “sold” to certain people in the form of licenses to broadcast on specific frequencies, owners had some modicum of responsibility to serve the needs of a broadcast area. 

The Fairness Doctrine, in its entire history, was only partly responsible for two broadcasters‘ failure to renew their licenses. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the doctrine, and not even the ACLU saw it as a First Amendment problem.

And by the way, Obama said he doesn’t even support the Fairness Doctrine.


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