The American Spectator reported yesterday that House leaders have decided to “aggressively pursue” reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine this year. In January, Rep. Dennis Kucinich raised a stir by saying he would pursue the issue, but — while always entertaining — the far-left Kucinich doesn’t always speak for his party’s leadership. The Spectator report indicates that that leadership is now behind the effort in a big way.
The report also includes some mind-bogglingly frank statements by a House staffers on the reasons for the effort. “Conservative radio is a huge threat and political advantage for Republicans and we have had to find a way to limit it,” a “senior advisor to Pelosi” is quoted as saying. A Government Reform committee staffer is then quoted as saying: “Salem [Broadcasting Co.] is a big target, but the big one is going to be Limbaugh. We know we can’t shut him up, but we want to make life a bit more difficult for him.”
The quotes are amazingly reminiscent of statements by Richard Nixon and his staff, who routinely used the Fairness Doctrine to cow opponents in the media. The surprising thing, though, isn’t the sentiment — most everyone after all knows the political dimension of this issue — but the fact that staffers would let themselves be so quoted. The statements sound (suspiciously) more lilke GOP talking points on the issue than anything a halfway experienced staffer would let himself utter.
If these quotes are accurate, however, those of us on the anti-regulation side may as well put our pens away now. We couldn’t possibly make a better case against this regulation than those staffers have.
The question then would be: will they get equal time to rebut their own arguments?