Remember when the Left laughed at conservatives’ concerns over the Fairness Doctrine? Barack Obama already said he opposed the reimposition of the FCC rule, they said. After all, Obama’s campaign gave this definitive statement in June 2008:
“Senator Obama does not support re-imposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters,” said press secretary Michael Ortiz in an e-mail to B&C late Wednesday.
“He considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible,” said Ortiz.
As our friend Jim Geraghty reminds us, all of Barack Obama’s statements come with an expiration date. Today, Chris Wallace interviewed David Axelrod and asked him directly about the Fairness Doctrine — and suddenly the White House adviser got a lot less definitive:
WALLACE: Will you rule out reimposing the Fairness Doctrine?
AXELROD: I’m going to leave that issue to Julius Genachowski, our new head of the FCC, to, and the president, to discuss. So I don’t have an answer for you now.
That’s hardly a denial, as Politico’s Michael Calderone notes:
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.
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 such clearly would quickly silence a lot of conservative critics who assume the Democratic president is going to try and reinstate the defunct policy. Otherwise, the Fairness Doctrine chatter on the airwaves isn’t likely to die down.
It’s an easy question. Does this administration believe in free speech or government censorship? Their sudden inability to provide a clear answer, when they had no problem giving such assurances eight months ago, does not bode well for the answer.
I’d like to say I told you so to all of those who accused us of paranoia, but the window on that ability to do so on the airwaves looks like it’s about to expire — like all of Obama’s campaign promises.
The American media should be ashamed of themselves on this issue. They pose as the defenders of the First Amendment and free speech. Why are Chris Wallace and Michael Calderone the only MSM people pursuing this?