House and Senate Republicans who are fighting reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine hope to enlist the support of Al Franken (D.) should he become the next junior senator from Minnesota. “If he comes in, I’m sure we’d get him on board right away,” Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) told NRO today.
The Fairness doctrine, which was enacted in 1949 but repealed in 1987, would require broadcast media to present both sides of any controversial issue. Such a restriction would definitely kill both conservative and liberal talk radio by putting the broadcasting licenses at risk of stations that carry opinion programming. The two-page bill they have proposed, which is carried by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.) in the Senate, would prevent this or any future administration from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine without an act of Congress.
Several key Democrats, including Senators Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Hillary Clinton (N.Y.), have expressed interest in reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated her own support and went so far as to say of efforts to preserve broadcasters’ freedom that “the interest in my caucus is the reverse.”
But Republicans hope that Franken, formerly a broadcaster for Air America and currently in litigation over his victory in November, will join their cause. A Franken spokesman confirms that he opposes reinstatement of the Fairness doctrine — his radio show could not have existed in a world where the Fairness Doctrine was in effect. Air America’s founder wrote a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed in opposition to the Fairness Doctrine.
When Rep. Mike Pence (R., Ind.) presented a House amendment to block any enforcement of the Fairness doctrine in June 2007, it received broad bipartisan support and 309 votes.