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.