Obama and the Fairness Doctrine
Will Obama flip-flop on equal time requirements in broadcasting?
September 25, 2008 - 8:44 am
In June of this year a spokesman for Barack Obama had this to say about reimposing the “Fairness Doctrine”:
Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters. He considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible. That is why Sen. Obama supports media-ownership caps, network neutrality, public broadcasting, as well as increasing minority ownership of broadcasting and print outlets.
On its face, the statement seems reassuring. But Barack Obama has proven himself virtually incapable of adhering to a consistent position. His willingness to brazenly toss previous policy preferences under the bus as soon as they prove inconvenient to his short-term interests cannot be ignored. If he hasn’t hesitated to repeatedly betray liberal orthodoxy to satisfy his immediate needs, it doesn’t take much of an imagination to envision Obama discarding a right-of-center pledge faster than you can say, “This isn’t the fairness doctrine I once knew.”
It’s also important to consider this matter through the lens of Obama’s mythical history of “bipartisanship.” In the United States Senate, Obama voted the Democrat Party line 97 percent of the time; more often than his own caucus’ leader. It takes quite an effort to out-liberal Ted Kennedy and Bernie Sanders, but the non-partisan National Journal says Obama managed to do just that, ranking him the most liberal senator in the chamber last year. With that in mind, consider this: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of the most powerful members of Obama’s party, has clearly stated her desire to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. When asked if she’d allow a vote on Indiana Republican Mike Pence’s anti-Fairness Doctrine legislation, Pelosi shot back, “No. The interest in my caucus is the reverse.”
Can the public really trust an Obama administration to resist a Democratic Congress’ efforts to revive the censorship measure? Considering that Senator Obama hasn’t stood up to his own party in any substantial way thus far, it’s unlikely a President Obama would magically adopt the practice.
Beyond the hypothetical, the Obama campaign’s actions betray speech-muzzling impulses. On numerous occasions during his general election campaign, Obama has sought to silence, rather than engage and refute, his critics.