With all of the attacks on conservative talk show hosts and in the aftermath of an Air America smear on the Right, it's time to make sure that the Left cannot use the government to dictate political content on broadcast networks. A group of Republicans in the House have reached the same conclusion. They announced their intention to force a floor vote on a bill that will permanently bar any attempt to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine and make government the arbiter of political speech:
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) filed a discharge petition Wednesday to force a vote on legislation to ban the so-called Fairness Doctrine.
“The time has come to do away with the Fairness Doctrine once and for all,” the lawmaker said on the House floor. Pence’s legislation would require an act of Congress before the Fairness Doctrine, which would require broadcasters to give time to both sides on an issue, can be implemented.
A discharge petition allows a lawmaker to force an up-or-down vote in the House if it is signed by a majority of members.
“To my colleagues in Congress I respectfully say: If you oppose the Fairness Doctrine, sign the petition. If you cherish the dynamic national asset that is American talk radio, sign the petition. If you simply believe that broadcast freedom deserves an up-or-down vote on the floor of the people’s House, sign the petition,” Pence said.
Pence and his colleagues listed below understand what the Left's hysterical attack on Rush Limbaugh meant. They deliberately took his remarks out of context in order to create the notion that something had to be done to correct irresponsible political speech on broadcast radio, and they targeted the biggest name in the business to do it. No one in their right mind would believe that Rush didn't support the military or the right of troops to express their opinions on the war, but it certainly makes for a good dodge in order to panic people into giving up their right to free political speech.
We'll see how many signatures they can gather. The bill makes the choice straighforward. Those who sign the petition believe that Americans can make up their own minds about which political talk shows they want to hear, and will let the market decide who gets air time. Those who refuse to sign it want to leave open the option for top-down government control of broadcaster schedules and limitations on how much conservative or liberal political speech a broadcaster can publish, with an eye to eliminating political talk radio altogether by creating such a heavy regulatory burden that it disappears altogether.
That's the choice. Perhaps you can help your Representatives make it with a few calls to their offices.
Here's a link to the audio from the press conference today, which featured the following Representatives. The speaking order is as follows:
Congressman Mike Pence
Republican Leader John Boehner
Republican Whip Roy Blunt
Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam
Republican Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor
Congressman Greg Walden
Republican Study Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling
Rep. Blunt has guest blogged at Red State on this issue.