Franken: “Go Pound Sand, Unions”, Part II – The Prize

It’s no secret – American trade unions have been hemorrhaging membership for decades.  Outside government, there really is very little future for unions; in the private sector, they are a cost that generally can not be sustained.

And so when the unions can find a hidden trove of tens of thousands of workers that can be unionized in one fell swoop, it’s like candy at Christmas.

The proposed merger between ATT and TMobile will release just such a stockpile of fresh potential dues-paying recruits.  ATT is unionized; TMobile is not, but being the absorbed entity, its employees – 20,000 of them – would be potential union recruits.

That’s a lot of money.

And the unions knew it.  And so the unions – almost all the big ones – aggressively lobbied the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to approve the merger.  The record is long and ornate; the unions really, really wanted this deal.

Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO., sounded off when the news of the proposed merger broke:  “Yesterday’s announcement of the acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T hasimportant, positive implications for consumers in the U.S. and Germany, forthe U.S. telecom workforce and for our country’s economic future. The acquisition ensures AT&T a strong telecom workforce well-positioned tocompete globally, while offering tens of thousands of T-Mobile USA employees the opportunity to make their jobs good jobs by benefitting from the pro-worker policies of AT&T, one of the only unionized U.S. wireless companies”

The AFL-CIO’s house blog was similarly effusive: ““The announcement over the weekend that AT&T is buying T-Mobile USA could benefit both consumers and employees”

And Larry Cohen, President, Communications Workers of America. also spoke up: “For more than a decade, the United States has continued to drop behind nearly every other developed economy on broadband speed and build out. The Federal Communications Commission sounded the alarm more than a year ago with its broadband report, and President Obama in his State of th eUnion address called for increased efforts to bring the U.S. back to global parity as a key stimulus for economic development. Today’s announcement of the acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T is  avictory for broadband proponents in both the U.S. and Germany. For the U.S.,it means that T-Mobile customers will get quick access to the AT&T network,soon to include LTE or data speeds of at least 10 megabits down stream.More important, as part of the deal, AT&T is committing to build out to nearly every part of the U.S. within six years”    Bear in mind that Cohen and the CWA are not cheerleaders for big telecoms; they’ve fought a long, losing battle with Sprint over their practice of contracting out labor, rather than hiring expensive union employees and taking on their pension burden.

And here in Minnesota – the state Franken represents, and whose unions worked themselves into a fine froth getting Franken elected three years ago?

Last month, Philip Qualy, legislative director of the Minnesota United Transportation Union’s mailed the FCC’s Julius Genachowski to support the merger; you can read the letter here.  Ditto Shar Knutson and Steve Hunter, from the MN AFL-CIO.  And Julie Schnell, President of the SEIU’s Minnesota State Council; while the SEIU is reliably in bed with the Democrats and the DFL, they know money when they see it.

And Edward Reynoso, political director of the Teamsters’ “Democratic Republican Independent Voter Education” (DRIVE) project, who estimated the long-term upside for the unions, and the private economy, at up to 96,000 jobs.  Not to mention Mona Meyer, president of the Minnesota Communications Workers of America, the union that’d be most affected by the merger.

There is no doubt that labor has close ties with Democrats in Congress.  A list of eighty members of the House of Representatives – including Betty McCollum, of Minnesota’s Fourth Congressional District, signed a letter to the FCC also supporting the merger.

So it’s a big deal for the unions.

And as such, it should be a big deal for Democrat – right?


Last Wednesday, Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl recommended that the FCC spike the almost-$40-billion deal:

”I have concluded that this acquisition, if permitted to proceed, would likely cause substantial harm to competition and consumers, would be contrary to antitrust law and not in the public interest, and therefore should be blocked by your agencies,” Kohl said [last] Wednesday.

The unions seemed flabbergasted.  Candice Johnson, communications director for the Communications Workers of America, wrote to tell the FCC that no, they were not amused:

CWA Response to Kohl Letter 7 20

So what does this mean for Al Franken, for  you private sector union people out there,and for the country?

More tomorrow.


Dire Straits’ single “Money For Nothing” was one of the iconic songs of the 1980s when it came out in 1985.  Chock full of reference to MTV and the styles of the era, and featuring a video that was fairly bleeding-edge computer animation (albeit very, very stylized) for the time.

It also created a brouhaha; the original, album version included a naughty word; three times, in fact.  “The little f***ot in the earring and the makeup?  Yeah, buddy, that’s his own hair…” and so on.    As songwriter, singer and guitar legend Mark Knopfler said at the time, the entire song was written in the second person, and was a conversation between a couple of delivery guys at a furniture store in New York, commenting on the MTV videos they were watching during the glory days of big new-wave hairdos.

It’s been a quarter century – but the controversy is baaaaaaack:

Classic Dire Straits track Money for Nothing has been banned from public broadcast in Canada – after receiving just one complaint 25 years after its release.

The global hit single came out on the band’s iconic fifth album, Brothers in Arms, in May 1985 and won a Grammy for best rock performance the following year.

But the original version included the word “faggot” referring to homosexuals, and although a cleaned-up edition was made available, Oz-FM in Newfoundland played the first edition in February last year.

The result was a single complaint – but the self-regulating Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has upheld it, and no outlet in the nation can now play Money for Nothing the way Dire Straits intended it to be heard.

The complaint said: “Money for Nothing was aired and included the word ‘faggot’ a total of three times. I am aware of other versions of the song and yet Oz-FM chose to play and not censor the version I am complaining about. As a member of the LGBT community I feel there is no reason for such discriminatory remarks to be played on air.”

And that’s all she wrote – notwithstanding that this is a very, very old rhubarb:

Dire Straits mainman Mark Knopfler has fielded angry reaction to the lyrics since the song first came out. He has pointed out the song is written from the viewpoint of a stupid character who thinks musicians make their “money for nothing” and his stupidity is what leads him to make ignorant statements.

Speaking in 1985 he said: “Apart from the fact that there are stupid gay people as well as stupid other people, it suggests that maybe you have to be direct. I’m in two minds as to whether it’s a good idea to take on characters and write songs that aren’t in the first person.”

Now, I’m not bringing this up because it’s a great case of PC run amok – although it is.

And I’m not bringing it up because it’s a great example of the lunacy of Canadian “Human Rights” law – although, again, it is.

I’m bringing it up because it’s the shape of things to come, if Julius “Seizure” Genachowski and Representative James Clyburn want with all their proposed interventions into the First Amendment – from the “Fairness Doctrine” to “Net Neutrality”; they want, and if not stopped they will get, a system where the First Amendment will be subject to the tastes, whims and tantrums of those who complain the loudest.

Alan Cross of Canadian service ExploreMusic comments: “The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council is run by Canada’s private broadcasters. In exchange for the government not meddling, broadcasters have long promised to regulate themselves.

“It’s seen as much preferable to the arrangement in the US where the FCC – a government organization run by political appointees – carries a very heavy hammer when it comes to regulating broadcast content; or in the UK where Ofcom plays a similar role.

“In Canada, if no one complains, the feeling is that there’s no need to censor it. But all it takes is one person making one complaint for the entire apparatus of the CBSC to come to full gallop.

All of the proposals to return the “Fairness Doctrine” involve returning a frightening degree (if you care about free speech) of control over broadcast licensing to pressure from citizens – and not even a lot of them; organization will count for more than numbers, just as it did before 1987.

The little jagoffs with the suits and the Yale ties?  Yeah, buddy – they want control.

Never Waste A Blazing Reichstag

As the world learns more about Jarred Loughner, the unlikelihood that any “political rhetoric” had even the most oblique role in causing his atrocity over the weekend is becoming more and more clear to just about everyone.

Everyone that hasn’t been waiting for something to come along to shut up the newly-uppity right, anyway.

America’s village idiot Paul Krugman tipped his hand, comparing the episode to Oklahoma City in his deeply depraved column over the weekend.  But he wasn’t entirely off base; there was at least one valid comparison to 1995.

Back then, Bill Clinton had just seen his agenda repudiated at the polls with the second-greatest mid-term drubbing in recent memory.  The left lost both chambers of Congress for the first time in more than a generation.  Clinton needed something to get his message across; his administration didn’t “waste the crisis”; Hillary as much as blamed the horror on Rush Limbaugh and his “rhetoric”.

It was, of course, “rhetoric”, itself.

Today’s left isn’t wasting the Tuscon massacre.  Carolyn McCarthy (D[emigog], NY) is using the crisis to introduce gun control legislation of the type that utterly failed to prevent her own husband from being murdered in New York, or to keep Chicago from being the most dangerous city in the Western Hemisphere north of Juarez – a place that suffers as many deaths as Tuscon once or more a week.

And James Clyburn wants to redefine free speech as, well…:

The shooting is cause for the country to rethink parameters on free speech, Clyburn said from his office, just blocks from the South Carolina Statehouse. He wants standards put in place to guarantee balanced media coverage with a reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, in addition to calling on elected officials and media pundits to use ‘better judgment.’

‘Free speech is as free speech does,’ he said. ‘You cannot yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater and call it free speech and some of what I hear, and is being called free speech, is worse than that.’

Clyburn used as an example a comment made by Sharron Angle, an unsuccessful U.S. senatorial candidate in Nevada, who said the frustrated public may consider turning to ‘Second Amendment remedies’ for political disputes unless Congress changed course.

Clyburn’s lying, by the way; Michael Medved addressed Angle’s “second amendment remedies” comment last August (here’s the audio).  Angle was not calling for armed insurrection…

…but as we’ve seen throughout the left’s reaction to the Tuscon massacre – as during the Healthcare debate, with its spurious claims of violence – what people actually say and do isn’t really the issue.

Democrats: Criminalizing Dissent

Democrats Diane Feinstein and Dick “Turban” Durbin – who have long been the Dems’ official trial-balloon-floaters for assaults on free speech like the “Fairness Doctrine” – are proposing an amendment to a Senate bill (S.448) clarifying the press shield law.

And it’s aimed squarely at citizen journalists like you and I.  Via RWN, here’s the amendment text, with some emphases added:

AMENDMENTS intended to be proposed by Mrs. FEINSTEIN (for herself and Mr. DURBIN )


In section 10(2)(A), strike clause (iii) and insert the following:

[a “journalist” is shielded if he/she] (iii) obtains the information sought while working as a salaried employee of, or independent contractor for, an entity

(I) that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, 1or other means; and

(II) that—

(aa) publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical;

(bb) operates a radio or television broadcast station, network, cable system, or satellite carrier, or a channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier;

(cc) operates a programming service; or

(dd) operates a news agency or wire service;

In other words, you need to be an employee of a news business.  All of us hobby hacks in our pajamas in our basements are out in the cold.

In section 10(2)(B), strike ‘‘and’’ at the end.

In section 10(2)(C), strike the period at the end and insert ‘‘; and’’.

In section 10(2), add at the end the following:

(D) does not include an individual who gathers or disseminates the protected information sought to be compelled anonymously or under a pseudonym.

This would seem to be aimed at the likes of James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles – provided they’re not employed by a Major News Outlet, of course.

Leaving aside the obvious indication that this is the Democrats’ way of circling their wagons around ACORN – this is a fascinating look into the authoritarianism of the Democrat party at work.

The conservative blogosphere is dominated by independents who cover their fields of expertise, whatever they are (this blog: music, financial planning, wine, tomatos and Minnesota politics) for the pure, unadulterated love of the game.  From Power Line (which covers all they survey) to Speed Gibson (who patrols the ramparts of northwest-suburban education), we mostly do it because we want to, money be damned. 

The left, on the other hand, has built up a network of “business” entities and non-profits, from the pseudo-newspaper-y “MNPost” to the not-very-covert propagandists at the “Center for Independent Media” (parent of the Minnesoros “Indepdendent”), at exquisite cost; one might now presume that this money was spent to get ahead of the legislative curve that the Feinstein/Durbin proposal represents, as a further attempt to shut down independent, non-government-vetted thought in this country.

This is Obama’s America.

We’d Have Had An Insurrection…

…if Bush’s administration had suggested this – federal control over content on the Internet. White House advisor Cass Sunstein is talking about the White House – the Feds, anyway – taking a huge role in censoring the Internet.
And the insurgents – whatever their party?  They’d have been right:

Perhaps most disturbing is Mr. Sunstein’s vision for the future of web content, as he argues for a so-called “notice and take down” law. Under this provision, those who operate websites – – The Washington Post, radio stations, private bloggers, and perhaps even you, yourself -we would all be required “take down falsehoods upon notice” from the U.S. government.

And not only would the original content of websites be scrutinized by the government for “falsehoods,” website operators would also be held responsible for the content of “posts” created by the website’s visitors and readers. At first blush it may seem that, for a web operator to be held accountable for content generated by “posters,” is completely untenable. But that may very well be Mr. Sunstein’s goal – – to create an “untenable situation” for website operators – given his assertion that “a ‘chilling effect’ on those who would spread destructive falsehoods can be an excellent idea..”

Well, we all want “the truth” to prevail, don’t we?

But who shall determine what, exactly, is “true” and “false?” Mr. Sunstein laments the supposed “lie” that emerged during last year’s presidential race, that “Barack Obama pals around with terrorists.” Despite that fact that a friendship between Obama and known domestic terrorist William Ayers was something that both men acknowledged, Sunstein alludes to the notion that this was one of those “destructive falsehoods” of the sort that needs to be policed.

As I was recently talking about this matter on-air at Arizona’s NewsTalk 92-3 KTAR radio, a caller to the show observed that “there’s no way this could be legal, or constitutional..” Thoughtful Americans of all sorts will immediately view this situation through the lenses of constitutionally guaranteed rights.

But issues of “legality” don’t seem to matter, at times, with the Obama Administration. In March of this year, there was nothing illegal about executives of the AIG Corporation being paid bonuses that they earned from their employer, but they were harassed and publicly belittled, nonetheless. President Obama himself demonized them, while dozens of Obama supporters “demonstrated” in front of the private residences of the executives, alleging that it was “unfair” for those executives to be making “so much money.”

Remember when the lefties told us we were paranoid for thinking Obama would re-institute the Fairness Doctrine?

They may have had a point.  This makes the Fairness Doctrine look like a piker.

In a similar way, it appears that the Obama Administration may be ushering-in an era of harassment for website operators. Regardless of what U.S. courts may or may not say about this in the future, a “notice and take down” letter from the White House could have quite a “chilling effect” for today.

‘ For my part?  Consider this post a “Notice And Take Down” letter for this entire wretched administration.

I used to joke, before the election, that Obama would be the worst President of my lifetime by sometime on inauguration day.  I was joking.  At the time, anyway.

Repel The Gathering Fascism

The “Broadcaster Freedom Act” may come up for a carefully-hidden vote – and if you support freedom of speech, we need your help:

There’s a chance to get the newly expanded Broadcaster Freedom Act (BFA) tacked on as an amendment to the Financial Services appropriation on Tuesday. The BFA is currently being redrafted to prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from not only reimposing the Censorship Doctrine – also mis-known as the “Fairness Doctrine” – but also to address the new censorship threats – inc“localism” and “media diversity.”To get it a full, fair up or down vote, we need to act over the weekend and all day Monday.

We need to get as many people as possible to call their Representatives and have them tell Speaker Nancy Pelosi to add the BFA as an amendment.

Contact your representative…

Countdown To The Obamanschluss

If a DC liberal pundit tells you you’re paranoid for worrying about your house being robbed, aim your gun at your door; there will be an armed burglar bursting in shortly.

Anytime a liberal pundit, politician, apologist or powerbroker “guarantees” to keep hands off a liberty that might undercut the left in any way, they are lying.  Every time.  There are no exceptions. To the left, civil liberties are not “rights endowed to us by our creator”; they are tools in the political toolbox, to be manipulated to the left’s singular advantage.
For the past year, as conservatives warned that Obama (and/or his followers, and/or his masters in Congress) were aiming towardreimposing the “Fairness” Doctrine, the lefty peanut gallery tittered and tut-tutted; “you’re being paranoid!”, we were assured – ignorant, of course, of the fact that we conservatives have in our institutional memory many examples of the left’s casual outlook on civil liberties issues.

We are right, of course:

[Chris] Wallace asked [Obama minion David Axelrod] about an issue making the rounds on both conservative and liberal radio shows, where Democratic Congressional leaders (and even Bill Clinton) have recently weighed in.”Will you rule out reimposing the Fairness Doctrine?” asked Wallace.

Now, remember; Obama was putatively “crystal-clear” on the subject last summer, when his press flak Michael Ortiz said “Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters.”

Why would there be any need to fudge what was once – as the lefty peanut gallery has pointed out – a clear, definitive statement?

Because Obama is no more about “clearness and definition”, to say nothing of honesty, than he is about “depth”:

“I’m going to leave that issue to Julius Genachowski, our new head of the FCC, to, and the president, to discuss,” Axelrod said. “So I don’t have an answer for you now.”

Um – why not?

The One’s position seemed (we have been assured!) pretty clear before the election.  Why not now?

Lester Kinsolving, the conservative radio host, has twice asked Robert Gibbs about it in the briefing room, and each time, the press secretary didn’t reveal the administration’s position.Last week, I reached out to press office staffers in order to find out if the administration’s position is the same as in June, and have not yet received a response.

This is, unlike many political questions, an utterly black and white issue; “Do you support free speech?”  You do, or you don’t.  Last year – when Obama was trying to suck in reach out to “moderates” –  he saw it as such, as well.  No “Fairness” Doctrine.


If Obama’s position on the Fairness Doctrine is the same as during the campaign — and I have no reason to believe it isn’t — stating that clearly would quickly silence a lot of conservative critics who assume the Democratic president is going to push to reinstate the defunct policy. Otherwise, the Fairness Doctrine chatter on the airwaves isn’t likely to die down.

I won’t rule out the idea that Obama wants to leave the question open.  Knowing as he does that conservative talk radio is the most focused, effective opposition to his rule right now, and knowing that actually acting to shut it down would tie his Administration downin endless litigation and justifiable accusations of overreach, it might be in The One’s interest to leave this issue out there, to serve as a stalking horse to occupy peoples’ attention.

It’s equally likely that Nancy Pelosi has told The One “jump”, and Obama is still just wondering “off what?”

What Do These Three Items Have In Common?

The Brits deny Geert Wilders – critic of Islamofascism – entrance to the UK because it might upset Moslems who are busy picking on Jewish kids.

US Senators jump on board for a reprise of the “Fairness Doctrine”.

And a dictator messes with a hero who’s already notched one dictatorship:

Nobel laureate, former Polish prime minister, and hero of the Cold War Lech Walesa will not be allowed to visit Venezuela ahead of that country’s referendum on extending the rule of Hugo Chavez. El Jefe told Venezuelan media that Walesa was unwelcome in Caracas, where he was set to meet with opposition student groups, and would be prevented from entering the country. After Walesa cancelled his visit, Chavez claimed that he would, in fact, be allowed through customs but would be “closely monitored” on his visit.

The left’s chattering classes around the world can not handle criticism of them or those they deign to protect.

By the way, look for Jon Stewart or Keith Olberman to start bagging on Lech Wałesa sooner than later.

Getting Off The Pot

When the subject of the “Fairness” Doctrine comes up, Democrats respond “Obama’s said he won’t for it”.  It’s both correct and irrelevant; Obama doesn’t need to do a thing; the cynical among us believe he knows that full well, and that he’s got henchpeople to do that hyperpartisan, not-so-hopey-changey work for him.

And they are doing it:

Another Democratic U.S. senator has gone on record as supporting the reinstatement of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” adding, “I feel like that’s gonna happen.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told radio host and WND columnist Bill Press yesterday when asked about whether it was time to bring back the so-called “Fairness Doctrine”: “I think it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else – I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves. I mean, our new president has talked rightly about accountability and transparency. You know, that we all have to step up and be responsible. And, I think in this case, there needs to be some accountability and standards put in place.”

Did you catch that?

We need “Accountability” and “Standards” for free speech?

Can you imagine if, at any point in the past eight years, any Republican had suggested we needed “standards” for any First Amendment liberty?  He’d have been tarred and feathered…no, he or she’d have been pilloried in the media, and quietly shuffled off the stage.

Of course, no Republican suggested doing any such thing to the civil rights of Americans in the past eight years.

Asked by Press if she could be counted on to push for hearings in the Senate this year “to bring these (radio station) owners in and hold them accountable,” Stabenow replied: “I have already had some discussions with colleagues and, you know, I feel like that’s gonna happen. Yep.”

I have felt that the Democrats were going to use Obama’s anointment and coronation as an excuse for overreach; in their decades on the intellectual margin, they have become brittle, shrill, dogmatic…

…and I guess, given these proposals, “authoritarian”:

“For many, many years, we operated under a Fairness Doctrine in this country,” Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., told Albuquerque radio station KKOB last year. “I think the country was well-served. I think the public discussion was at a higher level and more intelligent in those days than it has become since.”

It was not.  It was dreary, monochrome, and nobody cared, because nobody listened to it.

And yes – behind the shaking heads and the solemn assurances, the Dems have been lining up behind the proposals.

And, lest we forget, the Dems don’t need Obama, or Congress, or the title “The Fairness Doctrine” to ram this piece of garbage through:

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, a Bush appointee whose term runs through June, however, warned that Democrats may be adopting a stealthier approach to shutting down conservatives on talk radio.

In a speech to the Media Institute in Washington last week, Multichannel News reports, McDowell suggested there are efforts to implement the controversial policy without using the red-flagged “Fairness Doctrine” label.

“That’s just Marketing 101,” McDowell explained. “If your brand is controversial, make it a new brand.”

Instead, McDowell alleged, Democrats will try to disguise their efforts in the name of localism, diversity or network neutrality.

McDowell further suggested that the FCC may already be gearing up to enforce the “Fairness Doctrine” through community advisory boards that help determine local programming. While radio stations use the boards on a voluntary basis now, McDowell warned if the advisory panels become mandatory, “Would not such a policy be akin to a re-imposition of the Doctrine, albeit under a different name and sales pitch?”

I warned you about this months ago. The Dems have been preparing the ground for this fight for quite some time.

And while Republicans’ prediction of “Fairness Doctrine” legislation remains unfulfilled and highly speculative, a WND investigation has revealed that McDowell and Walden aren’t just fear-mongering, as some have suggested. A think tank headed by John Podesta, co-chairman of Obama’s transition team, mapped out a strategy in 2007 for clamping down on talk radio using language that has since been parroted by both the Obama campaign and the new administration’s White House website.

In June of 2007, Podesta’s Center for American Progress released a report titled “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” detailing the conservative viewpoint’s dominance on the airwaves and proposing steps for leveling the playing field.

I worked this report over when it came out. Please read that piece – it’s one of the better pieces I’ve written.

To borrow a phrase from Reagan, we do have a time for choosing, here.  After eight years of whinging endlessly about Americans’ civil liberties that were never in the faintest shred of danger, we now face a genuine threat to the First Amendment, intended purely to stifle debate in this country.

Part of me hopes the Democrats try.  They’ve overreached badly in Obama’s first two weeks; this would be the mother lode.
(Coming soon – Fairness Doctrine FAQ)

The Fairest Doctrine

I don’t follow talk radio around the country quite as much as I used to; it’s not like I’m about to go move across the country to take a talk show gig or anything.

Fifteen or twenty years ago, when I still followed talk radio obsessively – almost like I was trying to make it a career or something – I’d have known that a DC-area station had christened itself “Obama 1260”.  The station was a liberal talk operation, featuring the likes of Bill Press, Stephanie Miller and Fast Eddie Schultz.

I said “was”:

President Obama may be riding high in Washington, but OBAMA 1260 is not.

The area’s only progressive talk station is changing formats…The move by Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who purchased the station, WWRC, and others in Washington last summer, leaves the city without a liberal radio outlet. Program Director Greg Tantum says he thought the station could work because of enthusiasm over Obama, but that ratings collapsed to a level that could not be measured after the election.

“Of course, it’s because all talk radio is tanking”, you might hear someone say.

Er, no:

But ratings nearly doubled, he says, at Snyder’s conservative station, WTNT, which features Laura Ingraham and Bill Bennett. Tantum said he will move Schultz to WTNT to give him another shot.

Which isn’t so much a nod to the efficacy of liberal talk radio as to the fact that Schultz – dumb as a bag of hammers as he is notwithstanding – understands the basics of making a talk show entertaining, unlike just about every other liberal host in the nation.

This brings up an interesting question, though; one of the purported justifications for the “Fairness” Doctrine is to make sure there’s “competition” between ideologies, and a variety of them, on the airwaves. And yet in Washington DC – the ultimate “buyer’s market” for political talk, and a place with the most favorable demographics for liberal talk anywhere this side of Berkeley, and in a perfectly free market, let me repeat, “ratings collapsed to a level that could not be measured”.

The pattern holds true everywhere. After a poor start, Air America is barely clinging to existence.  Locally, AM950 – after making a play of it for a few ratings books back in 2006 – is well behind AM1280 in ratings, even though it has a vastly more powerful signal than The Patriot (disclosure for those who are new to this blog; I do a show on the weekends at AM1280) and revenue (where it’s not even close).
How exaggerated were rumors of conservative talk’s death?  Leaving aside Rush Limbaugh’s titanic eight year contract, conservative talk is the only format in radio that’s even making a pretense of holding its numbers and revenues during the current recession.

Locally?   Of the six commercial talk stations in the Twin Cities (WCCO, KSTP-AM, KTLK-FM, Chicktalk 107, Air America Minnesota 950 and the Patriot), the Patriot has by far the weakest signal – and yet the Patriot crushes AM950 in all time slots. On the vitally-important Saturday time slot, the Northern Alliance is not only demolishing AM950, but from 1-3PM is even beating KSTP and WCCO, to say nothing of KTLK and 107.

Conservative talk is not only alive; it’s moving silently through the woods and taking aim at the left’s packed masses of rhetorical redcoats marching in step down the road…

Damn, this is fun!

At any rate, best of luck to all you Obama 1260 people.  You might wanna think about leaving the ideology at home, swallowing your pride, and looking for a gig in a format that can survive…

(Via Ed)

Romp Not Lest Ye Be Romped

Note to Twin Cities’ Leftybloggers:  Please, please try to get your facts straight when you want to try to noodle about with issues I genuinely care about.  You might get Haugenned.

Fair warning.

Liberal in the Land of Conservative writes:

HOLY CRAP, the Democratic leadership in Congress is pushing the Fairness Doctrine. Who are the magical creatures that can pass a doctrine without nary a bill in existence?

Dear LITLOC:  Congresspeople, thanks to the miracle of “voices”, the “First Amendment” and “the Media”, can say things outside the context of “bills”.  For example, they can tell a reporter “It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine. I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”  That’d be Dick “Turban” Durbin.  Bear in mind, he said that without authoring a bill on the subject.


And – just so’s you learn something, LITLOC – let’s be clear; Congress needn’t pass a single bill to reinstate the “Fairness” Doctrine.  If Obama puts three pro-Doctrine members on the FCC Board, the “Doctrine” can become fact again by executive fiat; no legislation will be needed, beyond confirmation hearings.  This, indeed, is the most dangerous scenario for supporters of free speech; Obama (and the smarter Dems) don’t want to pee on the third rail by legislating censorship – but how much political capital do you think Obama will burn getting in the way of an allied bureaucracy doing it for them?

Seriously, I thought Mitch Berg was supposed to be the smart one.

Among conservative bloggers?  No. I’m the cute one.

Compared to Twin Cities’ leftybloggers?  In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

Do your homework, kids.  You’re gonna need to.

Franken’s Old Boss Hearts Rush Limbaugh

Limbaugh Is Right on the Fairness Doctrine

Conservative talk radio has worked itself into a tizzy lately over the rumored revival of the Fairness Doctrine — the FCC policy that sought to enforce balanced discussion on the nation’s airwaves.

As the founding president of Air America Radio, I believe that for the last eight years Rush Limbaugh and his ilk have been cheerleaders for everything wrong with our economic, foreign and domestic policies. But when it comes to the Fairness Doctrine, I couldn’t agree with them more. The Fairness Doctrine is an anachronistic policy that, with the abundance of choices on radio today, is entirely unnecessary.

The conventional wisdom is that Rush’s success depended on the 1987 repeal of the Fairness Doctrine. Some say that if he had to make time for opposing opinions, Rush would have flopped. Personally, I think he is most entertaining when he is dismantling opposing arguments. He’s successful because he is a superior entertainer.

…I also think he’s successful because despite his personal foibles, he’s right more often than he’s wrong.

As Far As We Can Throw Them

“Obama doesn’t support the “Fairness” Doctrine” is the standard response from lefties when asked about Barack Obama’s putative fascist tendencies.

Of course, it’s really not about him. It’s his caucus in Congress that’ll be the problem, that’ll push legislation to extinct conservative talk radio, and that Obama will (very likely) not veto after they ram their legislation through.

More proof? Brian Maloney finds another Tic that is committing a “gaffe” by telling the truth:

Now, we can add another Dem’s name to the list: far-left Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA), who represents an oddly-shaped district covering portions of the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas.

Not content to merely silence Rush Limbaugh, however, Eshoo would take her crusade to cable and satellite broadcasts as well. Could they shut down the Fox News Channel as well as commercial talk radio? How about XM – Sirius?

Anna Hush-You would tackle them all in a way that would make Vladimir, Hugo and Fidel proud, not to mention her new friend in the White House.

When it comes to the “Fairness” Doctrine, liberals are like a two-headed pit bull; Head #1 might talk you into scritching its ears – but only to give Head #2 cover to chomp onto your butt. When it comes to fighting the “culture war” in this country, there is no such thing as an honest liberal.

The Internet Doesn’t Kill People…

When a young person takes his or her life it is of course a sad story. A life snuffed before it has begun.

When it happens with an audience, on the internet, it becomes national news.

…and a threat to the first amendment.

MIAMI (AP) — The father of a college student whose suicide was broadcast live over a webcam said Saturday he was appalled by the virtual audience that egged on his son and called for tougher regulation of Internet sites.

I can’t imagine the devastation and loss this father feels. Maybe it is the depth of that sorrow, looking for some meaning or utility for his son’s death that leaves him thinking that a law restricting the internet, or holding providers culpable could have prevented his son’s suicide.

Police found Abraham Biggs Jr. dead in his father’s bed Wednesday, 12 hours after he first declared on the website for bodybuilders that he planned to take his own life. He took a fatal drug overdose in front of an Internet audience. Although some viewers contacted the website to notify police, authorities did not reach his house in time.

“I think after this incident and probably other incidents that have occurred in the past, they all point to some kind of regulation is necessary,” Biggs said. “I think it is wrong to have this happen for hours without any action being taken from the people in charge. Where were they all the time?”

Bigg’s son suffered from bipolar disease and had previously threatened to commit suicide at least once before he took his own life.

Let’s hope lawmakers don’t leverage this type of event coupled with recent talk of resurrecting the “Fairness Doctrine” to restrict unfettered self expression and the free flow information on the internet.

That would also be a tragedy.

Back Underground

On Saturday, King and I filled in for John, Chad and Brian on the second hour of NARN Volume I.  To kill the time with as little effort as possible, we did our “Top Ten” lists of best and worst things about having an Obama Administration. 

Because it beat doing show prep, that’s why.

Anyway, one of “best things” was “Conservatives make better underdogs”.  Another was “Maybe our ‘leadership’ will finally get the message” – but we’ll get back to that.

“Evil Conservative” over at TvM extrapolates on the thought:

My first feeling and it’s a surprising one both in how strong it is and that it’s lasting even until now – relief. Relief from the stress of following the election. Relief from defending George W. Bush all the time. Relief from defending Bill Frist when he wants to ban internet gambling. Relief from defending House and Senate Republicans when they get together to do something colossally stupid like, y’know, banning internet gambling!

For all of you on the “right” that tried to ignore all of us Forbes supporters back in 2000 – you may express your apologies, at least as re spending and economic issues, in the form of bottles of single-malt and/or good vodka.  Thanks.

The bottom-line: the pressure is off us at last. We have had some semblance of control of the federal government for 14 straight years. In that time, many Republicans have lost their way (Lott, Bush, Santorum), many have become embarrassingly corrupt (Foley, Abramoff, Stevens), and many are flat out hypocritical (Larry Craig, most who voted for socializing the banking system especially the No votes the 1st time around who voted Yes the 2nd time around when it was loaded with pork).

One last bit of relief that connects my points above about the past and my points below about the future. I’m relieved that our side is taking the correct steps to right the ship. We are not reacting like spoiled little babies like MoveOn and the nutroots in the DailyKos did in 2004.

Actually, I’m impressed by all three of the principals’ approaches to the transition, so far.  Bush is by all accounts being gracious about the transition (and seems unlikely to tolerate the vandalism and less-visible obstruction that his predecessor did eight years ago); McCain has done his best to quell the anger on the part of many of his supporters (although I’m looking forward to him dropping the hammer on some of his more petulant soon-to-be-ex staffers), and Obama has exercised his prerogative to be manganimous in victory.  All to the good. 

Suffice to say I’ll be particularly merciless to any rightybloggers that want to take the low road.  Don’t bother; its still too crowded with leftybloggers who’ve been squatting there for the past four years.


There are no more targets on our backs. The media has to report on Obama, Pelosi, and Reid. They have no choice but to be negative to sell, re-state their expectations of The One that they have promoted for the last 18 months, and resist the backlash now that the meme of the media favoring Obama is accepted by at least half of the audience – many who are refusing to watch or buy.

Not so sanguine here.

Of course they have a choice.  The media soft-pedalled Bill Clinton’s transgressions years ago (remember, it took Matt Drudge to get Newsweek to stop sitting on the Lewinski scandal?), and I see no reason to believe they won’t try again.

Of course, the media scene has changed since 1998; blogs, talk radio and a phalanx of alternative media have broken the logjam of “gatekeepers” that so benefitted Clinton.

Prediction:  Congressional Democrats will try to institute the “Fairness” Doctrine; it’ll be a dumb, ugly overreach that starts people thinking “maybe these people are too powerful”.

Dangerous Measure. Stupid Man.

I’m not sure what to think of Senator “Chuckles” Schumer’s take on the return of the “Fairness” Doctrine. 

Three possibilities present themselves:

  1. He’s an idiot.
  2. He assumes his audience and constituency are idiots.
  3. 1 and 2.

Read this and then you be the judge:

Asked if he is a supporter of telling radio stations what content they should have, Schumer used the fair and balanced line, claiming that critics of the Fairness Doctrine are being inconsistent. 


“The very same people who don’t want the Fairness Doctrine want the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] to limit pornography on the air. I am for that… But you can’t say government hands off in one area to a commercial enterprise but you are allowed to intervene in another. That’s not consistent.”

There’s a vote for #1; if he thinks political speech is in the same weight class as pornography, he’s clearly been hanging out with Barney Frank and Al Franken too long.

In 2007, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a close ally of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told The Hill, “It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine. I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”

There’s a vote for #1 and #2:  Americans can hear dozens of sides to every story, 24/7.  There is no shortage of free speech in this country.

Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last year said, “I believe very strongly that the airwaves are public and people use these airwaves for profit. But there is a responsibility to see that both sides and not just one side of the big public questions of debate of the day are aired and are aired with some modicum of fairness.”

Another vote for both.  “Fairness” comes from having the ability to get your point out there.  Nothing prevents the left from being heard in (it’s absurd that I have to even mention this) the media. 


He also defended “card check” legislation [saying] “there has to be some counter” to the leverage businesses have, claiming “employers have every leg up on people who want to organize and that’s why union workers have gone down from about 25 percent to 6 percent [in the private sector].”


There’s a vote for #1, because nobody could be stupid enough to think that a private ballot benefits business any more than it harms unions.

So that’s four votes for “Schumer is an idiot”, and two for “He thinks everyone else is an idiot”. 

As long as Chuckles Schumer sits in office, no New Yorker has any reason to feel superior to any toothless, Klan-voting yokel from Alabama.

It’s A Theory…

So why is the media so very, very in the bag for The One?

Theories, as they say, are like, um, toes.  Everyone has one.

But Michael Malone – a career journalist and columnist – has a theory of his own.

It’s the editors (managing editors, executive producers, etc), and it’s about self-preservation (I’ve added some emphasis):

Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you’ve spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power … only to discover that you’re presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent. Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared. Your job doesn’t have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you’ll lose your job before you cross that finish line, 10 years hence, of retirement and a pension.

In other words, you are facing career catastrophe — and desperate times call for desperate measures. Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail Mary play. Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here. After all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway — all that counts is keeping them on life support until you can retire.

And then the opportunity presents itself — an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career.

With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived fairness doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

And besides, you tell yourself, it’s all for the good of the country …

Self-preservation has driven people do do stranger things…

Read the whole thing, by the way.

Nothing Here But Us Authoritarians

We conservatives, concerned that a potential lefty supermajority will try to impose the “Fairness” Doctrine to destroy talk radio (the backbone and beating heart of American conservatism today), warn the nation that an unprecedented assault on the First Amendment rights of average Americans is imminent.

“No – what, us?  Noooooooo!” responds the left.  “Why, Barack has even said he won’t push to reinstate the Doctrine!”

To them – disingenuous or naive as the case my be – that closes the discussion.

Of course, it’s not closed. 

New Mexico liberal Senator Jeff Bingaman:


Nah.  Nothing to worry about.


Look; it’s probably natural for lefties to expect that their elected representatives do have the Constitution’s, and the nation’s, best interests at heart.

It’s just that the documentary evidence doesn’t seem to bear this out in any way.

(Via Maloney)

Bound And Gagged

I ask my liberal acquaintances if they’re aware that the Democrats plan to muzzle conservative opinion in this country, by reinstating the “Fairness” Doctrine.

Leave aside for a moment that most people of all political stripes have not the faintest clue how the “Fairness” Doctrine worked during its heyday (until Reagan repealed it in 1987), to say nothing of how it would work in the future; the current party line on the left is “Barack Obama doesn’t favor restoring the Fairness Doctrine!”.  I’ve heard it from no less than three different local lefties in the past 36 hours.

It’s true, sort of – in the same sense that “George Bush didn’t support McCain/Feingold”.  He didn’t.  Until Congress made it clear that they did, and he opted not to expend any political capital opposing it.

Because the threat isn’t Obama himself; it’s a Congressional Democrat caucus that’s already thoroughly committed to re-instating the Doctrine, combined with a President that, at best, is going to expend no political capital opposing a Democrat-controlled Congress on the issue.

Brian C. Anderson at the NYPost analyzes the reality:

SHOULD Barack Obama win the presidency and Democrats take full control of Congress, next year will see a real legislative attempt to bring back the Fairness Doctrine – and to diminish conservatives’ influence on broadcast radio, the one medium they dominate.

Yes, the Obama campaign said some months back that the candidate doesn’t seek to re-impose this regulation, which, until Ronald Reagan’s FCC phased it out in the 1980s, required TV and radio broadcasters to give balanced airtime to opposing viewpoints or face steep fines or even loss of license. But most Democrats – including party elders Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and Al Gore – strongly support the idea of mandating “fairness.”

Would a President Obama veto a new Fairness Doctrine if Congress enacted one? It’s doubtful.

The Democrats – and their RINOid supporters on the right, the thin film of Republicans who also support them on the Doctrine – paint a rosy picture to each other and the people about what a “Fairness” Doctrine means to free speech in this country.

Anderson has the ugly truth:

The Fairness Doctrine was an astonishingly bad idea. It’s a too-tempting power for government to abuse. When the doctrine was in effect, both Democratic and Republican administrations regularly used it to harass critics on radio and TV.

Most people have at least an idea – however vague and propaganda-driven – of the “what” of the Doctrine.  Few on either side know of the “how”:

Second, a new Fairness Doctrine would drive political talk radio off the dial. If a station ran a big-audience conservative program like, say, Laura Ingraham’s, it would also have to run a left-leaning alternative. But liberals don’t do well on talk radio, as the failure of Air America and indeed all other liberal efforts in the medium to date show. Stations would likely trim back conservative shows so as to avoid airing unsuccessful liberal ones.

Then there’s all the lawyers you’d have to hire to respond to the regulators measuring how much time you devoted to this topic or that. Too much risk and hassle, many radio executives would conclude. Why not switch formats to something less charged – like entertainment or sports coverage?

That, indeed, is exactly what talk radio was before 1987 (except at those very rare stations that could support political hosts on both sides of the aisle – and by “support”, I mean even putting a 25 year old kid on weekend graveyards to talk conservative politics); at all but the stations that could afford to commit to it, the subject was avoided. 

Anderson catches what is by far the most chilling facet of this story; the Orwellian hijacking of the language that the left will need to do to make this go down the American throat:

For those who dismiss this threat to freedom of the airwaves as unlikely, consider how the politics of “fairness” might play out with the public. A Rasmussen poll last summer found that fully 47 percent of respondents backed the idea of requiring radio and television stations to offer “equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary,” with 39 percent opposed.

Liberals, Rasmussen found, support a Fairness Doctrine by 54 percent to 26 percent, while Republicans and unaffiliated voters were more evenly divided. The language of “fairness” is seductive.

Who wouldn’t support being “Fair”, after all?

Of course, it’s ludicrous; there is  no shortage of left-leaning points of view in any medium, other than terrestrial radio (and the left has had ample chances to try to stake out a piece of that turf).  It dominates the print medium, broadcast TV, cable news (save Fox), public TV and radio…every medium save AM radio and the blogs.

Anderson notes, correctly, that the “Fairness” Doctrine is only one of the bureaucratic chicanes – albeit the marquee effort – the left is going to attempt:

[Obama] and most Democrats want to expand broadcasters’ public-interest duties. One such measure would be to impose greater “local accountability” on them – requiring stations to carry more local programming whether the public wants it or not.

And on the surface, this looks like a good thing – after all, my program is local.  Gotta be a good thing, right?

Well, not so much.  The public votes with its feet; and while everyone pays lip service to the benefit of local radio, the market still rewards quality – and for better or worse, the best quality is usually syndicated.   And that syndicated programming – everyone from Limbaugh on down – is rewarded with excellent numbers and tons of money. 

The left wants to kill this status quo with a thousand bureaucratic paper cuts:

 The reform would entail setting up community boards to make their demands known when station licenses come up for renewal. The measure is clearly aimed at national syndicators like Clear Channel that offer conservative shows. It’s a Fairness Doctrine by subterfuge.

Obama also wants to relicense stations every two years (not eight, as is the case now), so these monitors would be a constant worry for stations. Finally, the Democrats also want more minority-owned stations and plan to intervene in the radio marketplace to ensure that outcome.

Read the whole thing.  Become informed.  Because you never know when some mindless lefty parrot is going to greet the debate with “Obama opposes the Fairness Doctrine”, and assume that’s that.


In a post last Friday about the “Fairness” Doctrine, a commenter quipped:

Imagine the outcry when the wacko Phelps family of Kansas gets to have anti-gay programs on all of the stations that have pro-gay rights material.

Heh. Funny – but as luck would have it, that’s not how the “Fairness” doctrine works.

Here’s how I remember it working in the first eight years of my radio “career”, from 1979 to 1987, when both the Doctrine and my job at KSTP were repealed.

The “Fairness” Doctrine didn’t assign ideological quotas to station’s programming; there was no bureaucrat in the Minneapolis office poring over stations’ schedules, coloring in liberal shows in crimson and conservative shows in blue, comparing swatches, and issuing orders to reprogram dayparts.

What the “Fairness” doctrine did was give the public – or parts of the public that were up in arms about a station’s presentation of one or several issues – legal and procedural grounds to challenge a station’s license renewal.

When stations renew their licenses (and I forget what the time period is for that; it happens every several years; I want to say “seven”, but don’t bet your mortgage on that), the FCC takes complaints from the public about the station’s “public service”. During the period of the “Fairness” Doctrine, that meant that people could write the FCC and complain that the station’s politics didn’t grant equal time to one view or another. Investigating these complaints and adjudicating them was part of the license renewal process was part of getting the license renewed; the FCC could assign corrective actions or (in theory; don’t know if it ever happend) deny renewal.

For most radio stations, the “programming” was mostly music – a matter of taste, certainly, but not a matter of public policy interest; writing to the FCC to demand a country station switch to alt-rock (record stores in Minnepolis in the mid ’80s frequently had “petitions” sitting around from groups that wanted the FCC to “serve the public” by forcing, say, K102 or KOOL108 or some other FM frequency to play alternative rock) would pretty much fall on deaf ears. But stations did (and to an extent, still do) have to show some effort to serve the public interest; these efforts had/have to be documented to the FCC at license renewal time. For a music station – like the first four I worked at – it was a matter of filing logs showing that the station had played

  • public service announcements – non-paying commercial spots for non-profits and charities.
  • “public affairs programs” – these still pop up; some stations will do a half-hour interview with some community figure or organization, and play it back on Sunday mornings when nobody’s listening and it won’t kill the ratings.
  • news – back then, anyway. This hasn’t counted in over 20 years – which is why radio station news departments are scarcer than polka stations these days.

For talk stations, though, the potential was there to discuss controversial topics – news, current events, social issues and so on. These issues go way beyond having political overtones; most are inextricably political.

Under the “Fairness” Doctrine, the public could complain about the “balance” of the station’s presentation; at renewal time, if people complained the station was “too liberal”, the management had two options: have some sort of counterbalancing conservative on the air so they could tell the FCC they were taking measures to balance things out (which was how I got my first show, in 1986; KSTP had plenty of liberals on the air, and Scott Meier put me on weekend graveyards to cover the station’s butt for very, very cheap), or avoid controversy in the first place.

It all came down to showing to the FCC’s satisfaction that the broadcaster was adequately “serving the public interest”, so they’d renew the station’s license to use their frequency.

Since the license was mandatory for keeping the station on the air, most stations’ managers opted not to rock the boat – opted to play toward the middle and avoid complaints that could lead to costy, license-risking challenges.

So if the “Fairness” doctrine is reinstated, what’ll happen?

There won’t be any more time given to Fred Phelps; there won’t be a huge phalanx of complaints demanding equal time for his views. I have THAT much faith in my fellow citizens.

There also won’t be any equal time for conservatives on network newscasts, because it’s news and journalism, and everyone knows news and journalism are balanced and objective.  Also they subscribe to “journalistic codes of ethics”, and while you and I both know that a “journalistic code of ethics” is nothing but a framework to rationalize dodgy behavior on the part of journalists, to the FCC it’s a get-out-of-“fairness”-free card. It’s not bias – it’s journalism!

But talk radio? The leaders of the medium – Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingraham, Hewitt, the Northern Alliance – proudly identify themselves as conservatives. It’s part of their marketing; it’s how they reach their audience.

So when stations come up for renewal, their schedules will show a number of hours of talk that, for marketing purposes, labelse itself “conservative” talk. And in a world where Atrios and Kos draw half a million visits a day, the left powers that be COULD, in a “Fairness Doctrine” run broadcast world, send hordes of droogs after that station up for renewal, demanding more liberal programming “in the public interest”; an Obama-appointed FCC would likely give the complaints plenty of credence.  In order to retain their license, the station would have to add some liberal programming, like the Stephanie Miller or Ed Schultz – if they’re lucky (they’re the two liberals who show any life in the ratings at all) – or some stiff like “Lionel” or Michael Jackson (who do not).  While there is nearly no audience for this programming, the FCC will be acting on the complaints, not ad receipts or ratings.  The station would do as well to leave the transmitter off.

Of course, conservatives could in theory challenge the licenses of the few liberal talk stations – Minneapolis’ KTNF, the local FrankenNet “Air America” affiliate is a good example – but that’d really be a side issue and a diversion. The entire liberal commercial talk radio audience could fit into Rush Limbaugh’s garage with room enough left over for his cars. Limbaugh, Hannity, Bennett, Ingraham, Boortz, Miller, North, Liddy, Medved, Prager, Hewitt and even Jason Lewis are an army of 900 pound gorillas driving armored bulldozers, in ratings and financial terms. Comparing the ratings firepower of conservative and liberal talk radio is like scrimmage between the US Seventh Fleet and the Saint Paul Sailing Club.

So given the pain that the Doctrine will cause stations that run conservative talk, saying “conservatives can get equal time on liberal stations” would be like getting stripped of a Super Bowl ring, but knowing someone else gets a free toaster as a consolation prize, On a station running five 900 pound gorillas in armored bulldozers, it’d be like being forced to trade three of them for schnauzers on trikes.

It’s a win-win for liberals – – they get to water down the conservative movement’s best vehicle for free speech –  and a lose-lose for conservatives.  And anyone who tries to convince you there’s any other rationale to it is either uninformed, disinformed, or trying to make you one or the other.

47% Of Your Neighbors Are Unclear On The Concept Of “Liberty”

According to Rasmussen…:

Nearly half of Americans (47%) believe the government should require all radio and television stations to offer equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary, but they draw the line at imposing that same requirement on the Internet. Thirty-nine percent (39%) say leave radio and TV alone, too.

I have to wonder what kind of rock those alleged 47% live under, to either think…:

  • that there isn’t an over-ample amount of both liberal and conservative opinion out there
  • that the “Fairness Doctrine” will “balance” anything.

I also wonder something that wasn’t in the Rasmussen breakdown: were part of that 47% conservatives who believed that the “Fairness” doctrine would actually bring conservative points of view to network, non-Fox cable and the major-market print media?

It’d be interesting to see the way the questions were put to the audience. Stating the issue as “should television and radio be balanced by federal decree”, for example, might make respondents think the question was about the general question of “balance”, rather than the left’s attempt to silence talk radio and the conservative internet.

At the same time, 71% say it is already possible for just about any political view to be heard in today’s media, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Twenty percent (20%) do not agree.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) say the government should not require websites and blog sites that offer political commentary to present opposing viewpoints. But 31% believe the Internet sites should be forced to balance their commentary (full demographic crosstabs available for Premium Members.)

Again, I’d love to know the actual questions.

Is it worth being a “premium member”? Probably not.

If It Were Important, It Wouldn’t Be The “First” Amendment

People sometimes ask me “Mitch, how does the “Fairness Doctrine” work?”

And I respond “Very badly, if real-life experience counts for anything”.

While the notional idea behind the doctrine is to force “balance” in programming, it really works one of two ways:

  • As it did with about 90% of talk stations before 1987 – by eschewing political or remotely controversial talk, or…
  • …as in the example linked above, mixing conservative and liberal programming. Which fails because the liberal programming (as well as some of the conservative shows in the example above) is pretty dreadful, unmarketable stuff.

And that’s not even the worst news: the doctrine will likely put a damper on all alternative media, including this blog.

There’s a huge concern among conservative talk radio hosts that reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine would all-but destroy the industry due to equal time constraints. But speech limits might not stop at radio. They could even be extended to include the Internet and “government dictating content policy.”

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell raised that as a possibility after talking with bloggers at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. McDowell spoke about a recent FCC vote to bar Comcast from engaging in certain Internet practices – expanding the federal agency’s oversight of Internet networks.
The commissioner, a 2006 President Bush appointee, told the Business & Media Institute the Fairness Doctrine could be intertwined with the net neutrality battle. The result might end with the government regulating content on the Web, he warned. McDowell, who was against reprimanding Comcast, said the net neutrality effort could win the support of “a few isolated conservatives” who may not fully realize the long-term effects of government regulation.

They’re going to have to smart up mighty fast.

“I think the fear is that somehow large corporations will censor their content, their points of view, right,” McDowell said. “I think the bigger concern for them should be if you have government dictating content policy, which by the way would have a big First Amendment problem.”

“Then, whoever is in charge of government is going to determine what is fair, under a so-called ‘Fairness Doctrine,’ which won’t be called that – it’ll be called something else,” McDowell said. “So, will Web sites, will bloggers have to give equal time or equal space on their Web site to opposing views rather than letting the marketplace of ideas determine that?”

On the one hand, it sounds stretchy. On the other hand, liberals have been unable to make the faintest dent in talk radio, and their strength on blogs is largely on hive sites heavily supported by the likes of George Soros and his various sockpuppet non-profits; surely they would like to save a buck or two and have government, especially an Obama government heavily in their debt, to “level the playing field” for them.

“The Fairness Doctrine has not been raised at the FCC, but the importance of this election is in part – has something to do with that,” McDowell said. “So you know, this election, if it goes one way, we could see a re-imposition of the Fairness Doctrine. There is a discussion of it in Congress. I think it won’t be called the Fairness Doctrine by folks who are promoting it. I think it will be called something else and I think it’ll be intertwined into the net neutrality debate.”

The other “rationales” for the “Fairness” Doctrine – scarcity of media (in a world where it takes two minutes to start a blog, and digital radio is about to explode the number of frequencies available), corporate censorship of liberal views (which explains why a black maria came for Keith Olberman and why Bill Maher is breaking rocks on a chain gang in Mississippi) and public interest (in a world where media of all types are orders of magnitude more ubiquitous than they were 21 years ago) – don’t stand up to even silly scrutiny.

So I guess the order of business is to figure out which leftybloggers I have to add to the staff to balance out Roosh and I.

Given the quality of leftyblog writing in this town, I’ll probably have to make it like five or six of ’em.

The Boot On Your Throat Looks Fabulous With Her Handbag

Can’t shut ’em up with reason, or in the marketplace?

Sic the government on ’em!

The speaker of the House made it clear to me and more than forty of my colleagues yesterday that a bill by Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) to outlaw the “Fairness Doctrine” (which a liberal administration could use to silence Rush Limbaugh, other radio talk show hosts and much of the new alternative media) would not see the light of day in Congress during ’08. In ruling out a vote on Pence’s proposed Broadcaster’s Freedom Act, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-CA.) also signaled her strong support for revival of the “Fairness Doctrine” — which would require radio station owners to provide equal time to radio commentary when it is requested.

And that?  That was the good news!

“Do you personally support revival of the ‘Fairness Doctrine?’” I asked.

“Yes,” the speaker replied, without hesitation

Let’s dispense with a myth here:  “The Fairness Doctrine” is about making the public airwaves public again”: Oh, goody.  Then we’ll also bring federal sanctions against the imbalances in the print media?  Academia (especially public academia)?

It’s a simple lie:

Experts say that the “Fairness Doctrine,” which was ended under the Reagan Administration, would put a major burden on small radio stations in providing equal time to Rush Limbaugh and other conservative broadcasters, who are a potent political force. Rather than engage in the costly practice of providing that time, the experts conclude, many stations would simply not carry Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and other talk show hosts who are likely to generate demands for equal time.

Let’s remember a couple of things:

  1. Limbaugh, Hannity, Hewitt, Ingraham, Medved, Bennett and Savage are free to radio stations.  No radio station pays a nickel to carry their programs.
  2. If  they are forced  by law to “balance”  the likes of Limbaugh and company, most stations will do what they did before 1987:  punt.  They’ll avoid politics altogether; they’ll broadcast the bland teleshrink or blander, crypto-liberal MPR-Lite pap like Owen Span and Larry King.  Or they’ll pick up on the biggest trend in talk radio in 1985-86 – “Brokered Talk”, selling airtime to real estate agents and investment advisors and nutrition supplement dealers.  That’s the way talk was headed up until the Fairness Doctrine was repealed.
  3. Or they can look for successful free “liberal” talk to fill out their requirements under the Fairness Doctrine.Um, yeah.  Good luck with that.

This is a coup against the First Amendment.  There is no other explanation.

(Which isn’t to say that I don’t want my left-of-center readers to try to provide one.  Expect a spirited response).

Freedom Hangs By A Thicker Thread

I’ve written a lot this past week about the Dems’ push to re-instate the “Fairness Doctrine”.  

Let’s be clear about one thing:  the push to re-instate the Doctrine is based on a huge, cynical lie that the left is repeating, true to Goebbels, over and over.  Dick Durbin, for example (I’ve added emphasis):

Dick Durbin — the Senate’s Majority whip — came out four-square in favor of the Fairness Doctrine today, declaring in The Hill — a newspaper for Capitol Hill: “It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine” It’s the clearest statement yet from a member of the congressional leadership that there will be a real fight over the issue.

Oddly, Durbin explained his position with an appeal to old-time values: “I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”

And there – in the bold type – is the lie.  Americans hear both sides of the story.  Every story.  All the time.  The metaphorical marketplace of ideas in the broadcast, cable, and (since the early ’90’s) online media over the past 20 years has been a lot like a literal marketplace in, say, Warsaw Poland.  In 1986, it had pretty much what the government said it could have.  Today, both are jammed with a dizzying assortment of stuff, of widely varying quality – and the consumer has almost infinite choice.

Rush Limbaugh is absolutely correct about one thing; before 1987, the “Fairness Doctrine” didn’t explicitly stifle free speech; it merely made it too complicated for the vast majority of radio and TV stations to attempt.  When I started in talk radio in 1985, even the mighty KSTP-AM broadcast only a thin film of “controversial” content, sticking mostly to the usual pre-1987 miasma of sportstalk, recipes, relationship talk, author interviews, counseling, and “stuff going on around the community”.  Talk was a fringe format, the province of the very old, the housebound, and the shift-worker who was bored with music radio.  AM radio was on the brink of extinction. 

Today, the consumer is bombarded with opinion of every stripe, from all corners.  Newspapers, magazines and broadcast TV and radio have been joined by cable and internet TV, satellite and streamed radio, home-made video and pod streaming, blogs in text or audio or video – which have forced the traditional media to adjust to keep up. 

Senator Durbin:  How does the average American not have access to “both sides of the story”?

Congressman Mike Pence is sponsoring an effort to legally bar the FCC – which administers the “Fairness Doctrine” – from regulating poltical content.  Ed Morrissey, my radio colleague, liveblogged the debate on the amendment, about which he reported:

Pence says it represents an “existential threat” to the conservative movement, and believes that the aim isn’t for “fairness” but for the silencing of conservatives. The problem is that the threat is that government retains this ability, either by legislation or executive order. We have to very aggressively explain that the high legal and administrative costs of the FD would simply choose not to carry any political talk radio at all.

Pence points out that the FCC actually has the authority on its own to reinstate the FD, without any action from Congress or the Presidency. They have chosen not to do so, but if the FCC wants to, they could reinstate it tomorrow. The judiciary may have a say in this eventually, but Pence’s bill would strip the FCC of that ability altogether. That doesn’t mean that Congress can’t pass future legislation to do it, but it would have to do so openly.

Do us a favor; call your Congressional representative.  Tell them to support the Pence amendment on the Fairness Doctrine..

Liberals, remember – when they came for conservative alternative media, you need to speak up, or when “they” come for liberal media, there’ll be nobody left to speak for you.

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