87-11: Senate passes DeMint amendment to ban Fairness Doctrine

posted at 4:30 pm on February 26, 2009 by Allahpundit

Good news. Kind of.

The Senate voted Thursday in favor of an amendment to the District of Columbia voting-rights bill that would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reinstating the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which critics say would decimate conservative talk radio…

Republicans have introduced the Broadcaster Freedom Act in the House as well, but Democrats are not expected to allow a vote on the bill…

The amendment, sponsored by Senate Republican Steering Committee Chairman Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman John Thune (S.D.), would block the FCC from reviving equal-time requirements by enacting the Broadcaster Freedom Act.

I thought they’d vote it down but in hindsight that was silly. Like I said in last week’s post about this, when they reestablish Fairness it won’t be called Fairness. It’ll be done in the guise of “localism” or piecemeal by incremental legislative changes. Forcing the Democrats to vote up or down on the old doctrine is useful insofar as it puts them on the record, but practically speaking, it doesn’t achieve a lot. And in fact, DeMint’s amendment wasn’t the only Fairness-related bill passed today:

Cased closed right? Umm, not really The Senate also voted for Democratic Leader Dick Durbin’s amendment 57-41 which states the following:

“To encourage and promote diversity in communication media ownership, and to ensure that the public airwaves are used in the public interest.”

Here are the rolls for DeMint’s and Durbin’s bills; the latter, unsurprisingly, was party-line. Durbin himself voted for DeMint’s amendment, as did Debbie Stabenow — who, you’ll recall, was calling for hearings on bringing back Fairness as recently as three weeks ago. They’re not taking DeMint’s bill seriously, in other words, partly because of its expected fate in the House and partly because they’re willing to sacrifice the label “Fairness Doctrine” if they can bring back the substance of it later. Like the boss says, the fight’s not over.


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Yes….

DL13 on February 26, 2009 at 4:32 PM

It’s a step in the right direction. DeMint is showing he’s got balls. He should be the GOP’s go-to guy for the next couple of years.

MadisonConservative on February 26, 2009 at 4:34 PM

Gotta love that. “Democrats are not expected to allow a vote on the bill…” but Republicans are the party of NO!

ctmom on February 26, 2009 at 4:36 PM

Then it gets lost in reconciliation with the house…..

Vashta.Nerada on February 26, 2009 at 4:36 PM

The attempt to censor the opposition has failed as it should due to the values of this nation even the majority of democrats could not ethically deny. Freedom of speech has won a battle, but the leftwing extremists will not stop their attacks on our Constitution.

volsense on February 26, 2009 at 4:36 PM

“To encourage and promote diversity in communication media ownership, and to ensure that the public airwaves are used in the public interest.”

So basically its the same as the fairness doctrine. Boy those lefties are so smart.

MDWNJ on February 26, 2009 at 4:36 PM

I expect the next “stimulus” package to include billions for “new minority/underserved groups’ radio station ownership.”

I mean, what the hell? “Reverend” Wright and Bomber Billy Ayers don’t have their own radio stations….

MrScribbler on February 26, 2009 at 4:37 PM

Fairness Doctine? You guys are paranoid. Liberals are fair and never have been against free speech. They maybe against the rules when it suits them in other cases like….



(We interrupt this comment to provide you fair and balanced coverage of the issues)



Stupid right wingers. We got to silence theses dopes! They are nothing but #$!#@#@ racists and don’t care about our children! #*(#*@ in the *#(@%$ and #$@!%.

/sarcasm

shick on February 26, 2009 at 4:37 PM

The DeMint Amendment will likely die when the entire bill is found to be unconstitutional anyway.

Selkirk on February 26, 2009 at 4:37 PM

The 11 NO votes:

Bingaman (D-NM)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Harkin (D-IA)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Reed (D-RI)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Whitehouse (D-RI)

Mike D. on February 26, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Absolutely amazing.
I’m not surprised that everyone who voted no is a Democrat.
Now we have to see if Pelosi will allow this come to a vote in the House.

MarkTheGreat on February 26, 2009 at 4:40 PM

The Demonrats definitely view the constitution as a liability

larvcom on February 26, 2009 at 4:41 PM

The Facist 11 are exposed. There is no reason any of these lefties should be re-elected again.

volsense on February 26, 2009 at 4:41 PM

Too early to start cheering for this.

PappaMac on February 26, 2009 at 4:42 PM

Kerry (D-MA)

Mike D. on February 26, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Thank you, George W. Bush!

Abby Adams on February 26, 2009 at 4:42 PM

This is a straw man. The real threat to talk radio will come from localization and supervisory boards made up of community organizers.

Don’t brake out the champagne just yet.

RadioFreeUSA on February 26, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Okay, so let me get this straight:

The amendment, sponsored by Senate Republican Steering Committee Chairman Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman John Thune (S.D.), would block the FCC from reviving equal-time requirements by enacting the Broadcaster Freedom Act

Republicans have introduced the Broadcaster Freedom Act in the House as well, but Democrats are not expected to allow a vote on the bill

Isn’t that a bit like saying it’ll do nothing at all to block the FCC from reviving equal-time requirements?

Ryan Gandy on February 26, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Congress will restrict how many stations a company can own in a market. They’ll also require advisory boards for each station and make it easier to address consumer complaints against stations.

An excerpt from a link from a previous post here on the subject.

If that is the case, it would seem that they would have ample opportunity to put that in the next TARP under the guise of increased regulation, on the rhetorical back of their Main Street vs. Wall Street shtick.

Spirit of 1776 on February 26, 2009 at 4:45 PM

This means absolutely, positively nothing…ZERO!

winston on February 26, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Stabenow is pure scum.

BUT! I have a new theme song for Obama (and crew)
http://spiritk9.wordpress.com/2009/02/26/cant-resist/

…just couldn’t resist.

Spiritk9 on February 26, 2009 at 4:46 PM

Like I said in last week’s post about this, when they reestablish Fairness it won’t be called Fairness. It’ll be done in the guise of “localism” or piecemeal by incremental legislative changes.

When it is obvious that the goals [the way you have been trying to do it] cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.
- Confucius

MB4 on February 26, 2009 at 4:47 PM

Abby Adams on February 26, 2009 at 4:42 PM

YEAs —87

Burris (D-IL)

Thank you, Rod Blagojevich!
/half sarc

Abby Adams on February 26, 2009 at 4:48 PM

Q: How do you know when an IL pol is lying to you?
A: They use the word “diversity”

yo on February 26, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Like I said in last week’s post about this, when they reestablish Fairness it won’t be called Fairness. It’ll be done in the guise of “localism” or piecemeal by incremental legislative changes.

All democrat politics are based on deception. Hey, what’s that behind you?
- Sun Tzu’s Nephew

MB4 on February 26, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Hallelujah! A brief bit of rationality comes to the senate.

fbcmusicman on February 26, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Is Stabenow the older fat gal married to the guy young enough to be her son that cheated on her with the hooker?

OmahaConservative on February 26, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Yup, those sneaky Dimocrats will try to slide something through the backdoor. I’ll bet Barney Fwank will be in charge.

Come to think of it…wasn’t there some talk (unfounded or not)…(can’t remember how it got ‘spun’ or specifics)) during the campaign about Hussein being familiar with the “Backdoor?” I was always taught…if you smell smoke, there is usually fire. I’m sure someone here will enlighten me.

JoeySlippers on February 26, 2009 at 4:53 PM

The issue is with the modern technology, there are so many radio channels that they are not utilized in most markets. So if some group wants to broadcast, they do as they can today, just either buy a station, or build their own.

The First Amendment is not about fairness, it’s about free speech. And free speech does not include the right to be heard. If it did half the TV channels would have to go dark.

The purpose of the FCC is to keep spectrum users free from interference.

tarpon on February 26, 2009 at 4:54 PM

The Fairness Doctrine is dead!!

Long Live the Fairness Radio Freedom of Information and Equality for All Act of 2009

angryed on February 26, 2009 at 4:56 PM

RI Sux

Wade on February 26, 2009 at 4:57 PM

I remember when I lived in England in the 80′s how there were a few “pirate” radio broadcasting ships anchored off the coast in international waters. The British authorities tried to cut off their resupply ships and efforts to put them out of business failed. Instead the people were going out in civilian flotillas to resupply the ships themselves. I was never sure exactly why they were broadcasting offshore like that but I think it was because of something like the “Fairness Doctrine”. Anyway they were wildly popular, did great business and paid 0 taxes all because of the governments interference of free speech.

The point is, the market will always find a way. All that will happen in the long run if it is implemented is that millions of tax dollars will be spent in policing the unenforceable idea of stifling free speech.

Guardian on February 26, 2009 at 4:57 PM

Conrad, along with Dodd, is one of those who got a sweetheart loan from Countrywide.

Why isn’t that a**hole taking more heat from that?

BuckeyeSam on February 26, 2009 at 4:58 PM

made up of community organizers.

RadioFreeUSA on February 26, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Read: ACORN which is now in the process of breaking and entering. They will waste no time, especially since they are funded.

Did anyone READ this headline? This is NOT good news. This is bad news. DeMint should have reference localism…somehow. Call them out on it.

Wow. These people are in a big hurry to silence everyone. I’m actually more scared now than ever.

Mommypundit on February 26, 2009 at 5:00 PM

Why isn’t DeMint running for any higher office? Clearly the man gets it.

TheUnrepentantGeek on February 26, 2009 at 5:00 PM

They have made the FD into a straw man to distract from localism. The votes today were a Double Ali Dickie Shuffle.

petefrt on February 26, 2009 at 5:04 PM

Republicans have introduced the Broadcaster Freedom Act in the House as well, but Democrats are not expected to allow a vote on the bill…

That just about says it all. The Democrats then pass Durbin’s bill to “encourage and promote diversity in communication media ownership, and to ensure that the public airwaves are used in the public interest.”

Yet they won’t “allow a vote” on a Republican bill.

Which is what the Democrats intend, I am sure, in that Durbin language: “the public interest” and what is in that as to “diversity” is what the Left says it will be, apparently because, otherwise, why the language in that Durbin bill…

This is not a done-deal. I’m actually more concerned about that snip from the Durbin bill than earlier about the Unfairness Doctrine itself.

Lourdes on February 26, 2009 at 5:05 PM

The senate vote was a no brainer. It is easy to vote for something when you know that Nancy will kill it in the house. I just hope that the republicans can keep their three “nutcases” in line sufficently to kill Obabam’s budget. He doesn’t think money grows on trees, he think that the trees reproduce. The guy is dangerous and obviously never took or passed Econ 101.

duff65 on February 26, 2009 at 5:05 PM

I’m glad DeMint did it but the scumbags will try to find another way.

WisCon on February 26, 2009 at 5:07 PM

Like I said in last week’s post about this, when they reestablish Fairness it won’t be called Fairness. It’ll be done in the guise of “localism” or piecemeal by incremental legislative changes.

AP, you’re absolutely right. I got this in my email this afternoon from Freepress Action Fund…

Are you sick of hearing the same talk radio blowhards and cookie-cutter music on the radio in Jamestown?

By passing one bill, we can open the radio dial to thousands of stations with fresh new voices and alternative music, ending decades of radio domination by Big Media and their mouthpieces.

The Local Community Radio Act of 2009 (H.R. 1147) was just introduced in the House. The Act nearly passed in the last Congress with the support of more than 100 members.

With just a little urging from you, Rep. Higgins could be the deciding vote in this Congress and help usher in a new era of better radio:

Tell Congress to Open Up the Radio Dial

This Act would open up the airwaves to more Low Power FM (LPFM) radio stations, creating a megaphone for new bands, fostering more local and independent news and giving people across the country a chance to break into radio. This is how we inject new blood into a radio system that could be better serving all of us.

Please get Rep. Higgins on board by clicking below and signing the letter:

Dear Rep. Higgins: The Time for Better Radio Is Now

Rural communities from Ringgold, Ga., to Woodburn, Ore., have benefited tremendously from their own LPFM stations, which bring local perspectives, music, news and information to the public airwaves.

The Local Community Radio Act would open urban areas to local radio, too. Organizations like the Chicago Independent Radio Project, which promises to restore local independent programming to the radio dial, are ready to go — but they need your help.

A few companies have dominated the radio dial for too long, muting the voices of so many others. Make sure that Rep. Higgins makes better radio a reality now.

Onward,

Candace Clement
Campaign Coordinator
Free Press Action Fund
http://www.freepress.net

1. Join us on Facebook for updates and alerts on the fight to open up the radio dial.

2. Learn more about LPFM: http://www.freepress.net/lpfm

3. Support our hard-working allies at Prometheus Radio Project: http://www.prometheusradio.org

It’s scary when your predictions are not only right…but materialize so fast.

DakRoland on February 26, 2009 at 5:07 PM

They say the militart is always preparing to fight the last war. This is the same kind of thing. Radio is 1920s technology for crying out loud.

Let the FD come back and. It will just push Limbaugh, Levin, et al to internet only radio. Try to impose the FD when Limbaugh’s servers are in the Cayman Island. The end result will be the closing down of hundreds of AM radio stations and thousands of job losses. Just like the results of everything Obama does.

angryed on February 26, 2009 at 5:08 PM

It never ceases to amaze me what these people think is their business. This is the problem with calling them “the public’s airwaves.” There is nothing “public” about the expense of broadcasting. It’s the same principle as calling restaurants “public” and therefore banning smoking–the minute something is considered “public” these meddlers get their fingers in the pie. I really do hate these people with a white-hot passion.

I apologize if this sounds like an outburst. I am as indignant as I can be.

DrMagnolias on February 26, 2009 at 5:13 PM

Won’t work.

Obama will veto it.

Kokonut on February 26, 2009 at 5:15 PM

The end result will be the closing down of hundreds of AM radio stations and thousands of job losses. Just like the results of everything Obama does.

angryed on February 26, 2009 at 5:08 PM

Of course this will happen. Even in the middle of a of major downturn all the dems care about is stopping decent.

duff65 on February 26, 2009 at 5:17 PM

Little Dick Durbin’s offering is the key to their strategy.

marklmail on February 26, 2009 at 5:19 PM

The real head-scratcher here is why we’re even debating the various ways in which the FD can be re-instated.

61 Senators just violated their oaths of office.

Doesn’t anyone CARE about the Constitution anymore?

Talk radio won’t touch it, conservative blogs won’t touch it, and (predictably) the MSM won’t touch it.

What gives?

wv619 on February 26, 2009 at 5:19 PM

Rather than apply layer to layer upon layer of which way the wind blows, repeal every law beyond the Constitution as prejudicial, beginning with preference for precedence over urtext and logic.

Constitutional grounds need to be preserved for free speech and journalism. Just because PAPER communication was the only known source in the late 18th Century does not limit paper printed venue the only “press” provided Constitutional freedom. As newspapers and paper journals become outmoded by electronic communications, freedom of the press is freedom of electronic journalism. Else wise, freedom of the press disappears along with paper newsprint. Finally, free speech does not provide Constitutional protection for false reporting.

Hold every media source responsible for accuracy in reporting.

maverick muse on February 26, 2009 at 5:20 PM

The end result will be the closing down of hundreds of AM radio stations and thousands of job losses. Just like the results of everything Obama does.

angryed on February 26, 2009 at 5:08 PM

But the great Obama will be able to provide them shovel-ready jobs instead!
/sarcasm

shick on February 26, 2009 at 5:21 PM

The end result will be the closing down of hundreds of AM radio stations and thousands of job losses. Just like the results of everything Obama does.

angryed on February 26, 2009 at 5:08 PM

Exactly. They will kill a viable business for their political purposes. Their efforts will fail because, as the Guardian pointed out with reference to another situation, free speech will prevail.

DeMint is making a point, and his efforts deserve attention and support. I’m really proud of him and consider him to be the only Senator from my state.

Cody1991 on February 26, 2009 at 5:25 PM

But the great Obama will be able to provide them shovel-ready jobs instead!

Oh, he’ll be subsidizing the liberal talk stations, then?

Snowed In on February 26, 2009 at 5:26 PM

It is amazing that Obama’s poll numbers aren’t below 20% after only five weeks. I guess that his supporters have an IQ about the same as his. I think it is time to reestablish the CSA.

duff65 on February 26, 2009 at 5:27 PM

how much diversity can be shoved down our throats?

**sighs**

upinak on February 26, 2009 at 5:27 PM

I can see the logic of just letting things stay the way they are. What’s the point if all the major news services go bankrupt and there’s no one left to publish anything. The air waves will go silent by themselves. Then what?

News Corp price @ 6.42 a share, down over 80%, GE, under $10, New York Times less than $4.00 – All are cutting staff like mad.

SocratesShadow on February 26, 2009 at 5:36 PM

Thousands of jobs will be lost at AM stations across America….thousands of jobs will owever be created in the Cayman Islands, Bahamas, etc to maintain the web transmission of talk radio.

And all those people will then buy American products, which will hire Americans workers.

See it’s all part of the plan by OBAMA THE GREAT.

angryed on February 26, 2009 at 5:39 PM

So shines a good deed in a weary world……..

Techie on February 26, 2009 at 5:53 PM

Boxer voted Yea?!!

And I thought Feinstein was the more sensible one.

eaglescout1998 on February 26, 2009 at 6:37 PM

There is some serious bad news to this story, guys. This is just an amendment to a bill giving congressional representation to the District of Columbia.

I’m sorry… if this passes, we lose. No wonder so many dems voted for it.

stefanite on February 26, 2009 at 7:08 PM

I’m more worried about Durban’s amendment that leaves the door open to change ownership for the betterment of the community at a later date. A creeping Fairness Doctrine in the works?

DL13 on February 26, 2009 at 7:12 PM

DeMint is fully awake. From his twitter:

# Greg Walden joined me to talk about Fairness Doctrine ban and Democrats’ new backdoor censorship http://tinyurl.com/b2outsabout 3 hours ago from web

# Our ban on Fairness Doctrine passes 87-11. But fight not over, Dems have attacked from back door on media ownership, localism #tcotabout 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry

# We have closed the front door on Fairness Doctrine, but Durbin amend opens back door to censorship. The fight goes on #tcot #protectfairnessabout 5 hours ago from TwitterBerry

# Looks like our amend to ban Fairness Doctrine will pass. Victory for free speech #tcotabout 5 hours ago from TwitterBerry

# Durbin pass 57 – 41. All GOP opposed. Democrats exposed their plans to impose the fairness doctrine in the backdoor by FCC regulation #tcotabout 5 hours ago from TwitterBerry

# Here’s an article on the Senate vote today on Fairness Doctrine http://tinyurl.com/cptnr8 #tcot #protectfairnessabout 5 hours ago from web

# Voting just started on Durbin’s backdoor Fairness Doctrine amendment, mine to ban FD is up right after
#tcotabout 5 hours ago from web

# Here’s audio of the Fairness Doctrine floor debate: http://tinyurl.com/d2xzl6 #tcot #protectfairnessabout 6 hours ago from web

# Durbin says “the contents of media should reflect the diversity of America.” translation: DC politicians decide what Americans hear #tcotabout 7 hours ago from web

# Fairness Doctrine votes now set for 2pm, first on Durbin’s backdoor FD amendment, then a vote on mine to ban FD. #tcotabout 7 hours ago from web

# Just spoke on Senate floor, Durbin now speaking, defending Fairness Doctrine and unwilling to admit the true intent to censor free speechabout 7 hours ago from web

# 2 votes on un-Fairness Doctrine today, my amend would ban FD, SenDurbin will offer amend imposing FD through FCC regulations #tcotabout 8 hours ago from web

INC on February 26, 2009 at 7:27 PM

Dimint/Jindal 2012!!!

greataunty on February 26, 2009 at 7:29 PM

DeMint is fully aware of what Durban is doing. Some excerpts from his twitter. The most recent ones are at the top.

We have closed the front door on Fairness Doctrine, but Durbin amend opens back door to censorship.

Durbin pass 57 – 41. All GOP opposed. Democrats exposed their plans to impose the fairness doctrine in the backdoor by FCC regulation

Durbin says “the contents of media should reflect the diversity of America.” translation: DC politicians decide what Americans hear

Just spoke on Senate floor, Durbin now speaking, defending Fairness Doctrine and unwilling to admit the true intent to censor free speech

INC on February 26, 2009 at 7:30 PM

The dems won’t be happy until they completely silence all dissent, no matter how they slice it. Truly “fascism with a happy face.”

jdawg on February 26, 2009 at 7:33 PM

My prediction: in 2 or 3 years time, the federal gov’t will pass a massive bailout of the left-wing radio station owners who, like all left wing talkers before them, failed to make successful radio businesses, even though they were handed prime AM frequencies which were confiscated, in the name of public interest, from their previous conservative talk radio licensees.

Mr. Pickles on February 26, 2009 at 7:33 PM

Boxer voted Yea?!!

And I thought Feinstein was the more sensible one.

eaglescout1998 on February 26, 2009 at 6:37 PM

Beat me to it, ES. Was going to post the same thing.

silverfox on February 26, 2009 at 7:52 PM

And I thought Feinstein was the more sensible one.

You should put sensible in quotes though.
Feinstein said invading Iraq was not different than invading an ally like Portugal.

silverfox on February 26, 2009 at 7:54 PM

The loss of our freedom of speech will be buried appropriately in an earmark.

Rovin on February 26, 2009 at 8:17 PM

Like the boss says, the fight’s not over.

No. It’s over. Didn’t you hear? We lost.

We lost pretty much everything, and it’ll probably not be coming back for quite some time.

I guess writing and commenting on posts is a nice diversion, but it accomplishes nothing.

If the fight is indeed not over, I think it’s time to start dipping some old t-shirts into glass containers filled with flammable liquids, or stock up on tar & feathers, hell I’d even settle for a good old fashioned demonstration of pitchforks.

Stop posting. Start organizing – it’s almost too late.

Dorvillian on February 26, 2009 at 8:47 PM

Anyone want to guess how Al Franken would have voted, had he *shudder* been seated as a Senator?

ynot4tony2 on February 26, 2009 at 8:50 PM

As we are on the suject of free speech you might want to check out this site The Obama forum.com what a treat this lot is.

heshtesh on February 26, 2009 at 9:05 PM

Republicans have introduced the Broadcaster Freedom Act in the House as well, but Democrats are not expected to allow a vote on the bill…
That just about says it all. The Democrats then pass Durbin’s bill to “encourage and promote diversity in communication media ownership, and to ensure that the public airwaves are used in the public interest.”

Yet they won’t “allow a vote” on a Republican bill.

Which is what the Democrats intend, I am sure, in that Durbin language: “the public interest” and what is in that as to “diversity” is what the Left says it will be, apparently because, otherwise, why the language in that Durbin bill…

This is not a done-deal. I’m actually more concerned about that snip from the Durbin bill than earlier about the Unfairness Doctrine itself.

Lourdes on February 26, 2009 at 5:05 PM

Precisely! BTW Does the bolded section above from Durbin’s bill mean that federal funds will be used to “promote and encourage”– sort of like having ACORN or CRA on the airwaves?

onlineanalyst on February 26, 2009 at 9:25 PM

Nice. “Senate passes ban on Fairness Doctrine. In related news, Senate passes Fairness Doctrine.”

OneGyT on February 26, 2009 at 10:10 PM

When do we bring our muzzle loaders to the Hill?

All in fairness when we get a Tax from the
King.

Cromagnum on February 26, 2009 at 11:16 PM

Again, we are seeing brazen tactics by the Demos while the Repubs are actually doing something but are ultimately, neutered. How long can we take this jaw-dropping coup?

I agree with this: “Stop posting. Start organizing – it’s almost too late.”
Thank you Dorvillian. I’m wasting my time here.

Christine on February 27, 2009 at 1:26 PM