The so-called Fairness Doctrine is the anti-First Amendment now unenforced Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule which chilled free speech on the radio from its FCC creation in 1949 until the Commission voted to stop its enforcement in 1987.
The Fairness in Broadcasting Act of 1987 (H.R. 1934) sprung up immediately after this latter vote to try to turn the Doctrine into law. Then Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich was one of its 71 co-sponsors.
I can’t for the life of me find the final vote, so I do not know if Gingrich voted for it – though it would be a might strange for someone to co-sponsor a bill and then not say Aye.
I did find a pro-Fairness Doctrine video that says the bill passed the House by a 3-1 margin – and that Gingrich voted for it.
It also passed the Senate – but President Ronald Reagan thankfully then broke out his veto pen.
This was all of course in the midst of the dark days of the Republicans’ 40+ years spent wandering in the House Minority wilderness, so there was rarely any need for any Elephant to sponsor anything – they were an irrelevant species.
The makeup of the 100th Congress was in fact 258 Democrats (59.3%) and just 177 Republicans (40.7%) – an overwhelming Donkey Majority.
Gingrich was not the lone Republican co-sponsor of the Fairness Doctrine – there were a total of twenty-one. Including several names you’ll know – conservatives (Illinois’ Henry Hyde and Phil Crane, California’s Bob Dornan) and…not so much (Mississippi’s Trent Lott).
Make of Gingrich’s co-sponsorship what you will – in the context of some of his other unconservative actions (Dede Scozzafava, his pro-global warming commercial with Democrat then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and his saying that his philosophy could “involve a very activist government” to name but a few).
Behold the full Republican co-sponsor list.
- Rep Bliley, Tom [VA-3]
- Rep Buechner, Jack [MO-2]
- Rep Callahan, Sonny [AL-1]
- Rep Coleman, E. Thomas [MO-6]
- Rep Conte, Silvio O. [MA-1]
- Rep Craig, Larry E. [ID-1]
- Rep Crane, Philip M. [IL-12]
- Rep Dannemeyer, William E. [CA-39]
- Rep Daub, Hal [NE-2]
- Rep Dornan, Robert K. [CA-38]
- Rep Fields, Jack [TX-8]
- Rep Hyde, Henry J. [IL-6]
- Rep Lagomarsino, Robert J. [CA-19]
- Rep Leach, James A. [IA-1]
- Rep Lott, Trent [MS-5]
- Rep Madigan, Edward R. [IL-15]
- Rep Marlenee, Ron [MT-2]
- Rep Nielson, Howard C. [UT-3]
- Rep Schuette, Bill [MI-10]
- Rep Sundquist, Don [TN-7]
- Rep Weber, Vin [MN-2]