Dennis Campbell
February 11, 2008
In one aspect of free speech, John McCain is right
By Dennis Campbell

When someone figures out John McCain, please wire me post haste. The Arizona senator, the bluster of Mike Huckabee notwithstanding, is going to be the Republican candidate for President, much to the consternation of conservatives.

McCain, you will recall, was co-sponsor of the McCain-Feingold bill, that egregious violation of the First Amendment, limiting free speech as it applies to political elections. President Bush signed it into law and the same Supreme Court leftwing talker Alan Colmes labeled as "conservative" upheld it.

But then McCain did an about-face, joining senators John Thune, R-S.D., and Norm Coleman, R-Minn., to introduce the Broadcaster Freedom Act to block the return of the equally obnoxious Fairness Doctrine, which the Left used with great success in the past to stifle conservative viewpoints on the airwaves, particularly radio.

President Ronald Reagan ended the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, clearing the way for conservative domination of talk radio by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and others.

The Fairness Doctrine required any radio station broadcasting a particular viewpoint to offer equal time to opposing viewpoints. The result: Broadcasters simply refused to air anything controversial and filled the airwaves with gardening shows and other equally drab and dreary programming.

Reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine is one of the primary goals of the Left because, quite simply, liberals are unable to compete in talk radio, which is mostly conservative and has been enormously successful in combating leftwing ideology. By reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, the Left will effectively shut down conservatism's best means of giving the public an alternative to the leftwing propaganda of the mainstream media.

That topic has largely been ignored recently, but be assured that does not mean Democrats will not do everything they can to foist the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters should they gain the presidency.

So, while conservatives balk at the thought of McCain representing the Republican Party, it is refreshing that he has expressed his opposition to this nefarious policy, rightfully noting that it "had a chilling effect on free speech, and it is hard to imagine that the American people would support reinstating a policy where the federal government would be required to police the airwaves to ensure differing viewpoints are offered."

(Actually, the goal of the Fairness Doctrine is not to promote differing viewpoints, but to stifle conservative viewpoints. The Left pays mere lip service to free speech and is always eager to deny opposing viewpoints the opportunity to be heard, perhaps because liberals usually lose in a fair debate, since raw emotionalism has a difficult time competing with reasoned argumentation).

Recently, I spoke with Denver talk show host Dino Costa, AM 1060, about the Fairness Doctrine. Costa is a combative, in-your-face rightwing talker who is an equal opportunity offender, taking on the Left and the Right, as well as lambasting local sports figures and columnists. His signal covers most of the state of Colorado.

Costa does not see it as a viable threat because "I think it would be tied up in the courts for years, and we're in an age where the Fairness Doctrine wouldn't work within today's commercial media system."

Instead, he says, "Talk radio is in a time of great peril, fairness doctrine or not. The fact is that radio stations are relying less and less on fearless, independent, and refreshingly candid talk show hosts, in favor of play-it-safe, don't-ruffle-any-feathers, boring, vanilla, homogenized talkers who are really the ruination of my industry in a lot of ways."

Costa says that one of the reasons Democrats are eager to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine is the dismal failure of their own, much ballyhooed attempt to counter the Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys of talk radio: Air America.

"Once that baby crashed and burned the libs went into a frenzy. What they should have done was implement a format which was cleverly designed to reach their alleged vast audience.

"Air America had the wrong idea from the very start. Instead of creating a liberal network, they created something to do one thing only, and that was prevent a second term in office by George Bush. The ideology was warped from the very start. Then again, with liberals, warped thinking is par for the course."

Be that as it may, reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine is simply one more reason the Democrats must not gain the presidency. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are very narrowly defined by liberals, and generally do not concern much of anything conservatives hold dear.

So, at least in this regard John McCain is on the right side.

© Dennis Campbell


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