Ed Schultz Bloviates Bogus Claim on Fairness Doctrine

November 7th, 2008 2:36 PM

Those blue meanies over in conservative talk radio, "progressive talker" Ed Schultz opined yesterday. There they go again, Schultz sighed, making a fuss for hardly any reason over possible reimposition of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine."

Here's what Schultz had to say (click here for audio) --

It's been interesting and I have listened to it more in the last couple of days than I have in a long, long time and that is the right-wing talkers of America and how they're ginning up this story about the Fairness Doctrine. So I'm going to be a little bit selfish here today about our industry because now there seems to be an attack on the reason why Barack Obama was elected is because the liberal media and the bias in the media has taken him to the doorstep of the White House and now they're attacking conservative talk radio. My Lord, these people are just, they are relentless when it comes to fear-mongering. You know what, I should be the one sitting here just pounding the drums for the Fairness Doctrine, the way that we have been able to be successful in recent years and stay afloat when we weren't given 90 days. I mean, if they were to put in the Fairness Doctrine, who do you think would benefit? I would make more money. Let me just be right up front about that. I'm not sure it's the right thing to do. I've never paid much attention to it.

Having "never paid much attention to it," Schultz plunged full gallop into the issue with characteristic bluster, claiming that calls to revive the Fairness Doctrine are limited to a single prominent Democrat, New York Senator Charles Schumer.

As stated here by Schultz (click here for audio) --

What they're doing is that they are taking one opinion from a United States senator who is in New York, Chuck Schumer, who I find it very ironic, Schumer's out there bitchin' about the Fairness Doctrine. Hell, he doesn't even show up on progressive talk radio! The guy doesn't even do radio! He doesn't even like the station in New York City we're on, WWRL. Somebody whipped him one time on the air and he's never come back.

Gee, why would Schumer pass on the chance to chat with such an Obamaesque model of civil post-partisanship ... (later in the show, Schultz could not resist a crude dig at Schumer, claiming Schumer appears on radio shows only when "pimping" a book -- click here for audio).

In fairness to Schultz, his claim is accurate in a hair-splitting, Clintonian manner of speaking -- Schumer just happened to be the only Democrat pining for the Fairness Doctrine while Schultz was paying attention. Much like the journalist's boast of an "exclusive interview" has come to mean that no one else with a notebook, microphone or laptop is talking to the same politician at the same moment.

Had Schultz poked his head more frequently above the gopher hole, he might have noticed that another liberal Senator, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, said much the same thing as Schumer less than two weeks before the election.

As reported by CNSNews.com --

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) told radio station 770 AM KKOB in Albuquerque, N.M., that he didn’t know if Democrats in Congress will try to re-impose the Fairness Doctrine next year – but he would certainly like them to.
Bingaman told the station he would support re-imposition of the regulation – which was rescinded in 1987 – on the station.
The Fairness Doctrine, which was first implemented in 1949 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), technically forced broadcasters to "afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of public importance."  Critics call it a “gag rule” on broadcasters.
Here’s a transcript of part of the interview with 770AM KKOB afternoon host Jim Villanucci:
Villanucci: You would want this radio station to have to change?
Bingaman: I would. I would want this station and all stations to have to present a balanced perspective and different points of view instead of always hammering away at one side of the political –
Villanucci: I mean in this market, for instance, you’ve got KKOB. If you want liberal talk, you’ve got Air America in this market, you’ve got NPR, you’ve got satellite radio – there’s a lefty talk station and a rightie talk station. Do you think there are people who aren’t able to find a viewpoint that is in sync with what they believe?
Bingaman: Well I guess my thought is that talk radio and media generally should have a higher calling than just reflect a particular point of view. I think they should use their authority to try to – their broadcast power to present an informed discussion of public issues. KKOB used to be a, used to live under the Fairness Doctrine, and every –
Villanucci: Yeah, we played music, I believe –
Bingaman: But there was a lot of talk also, at least it seemed to me, and there were a lot of talk stations that seemed to do fine. The airwaves are owned by private companies at this point. There’s a license to private companies to operate broadcast stations, and that’s the way it should be. All I’m saying is that for many, many years we operated under a Fairness Doctrine in this country, and I think the country was well-served. I think the public discussion was at a higher level and more intelligent in those days than it has become since.

Talk radio and media "should have a higher calling than just reflect a particular point of view," Bingaham tut-tutted. Needless to say, it would fall to arbiters like Bingaman to decide when that "higher calling" standard has not been, ahem, satisfied.

The opinions of Schumer and Bingaman on the Fairness Doctrine are hardly novel among Democrats, merely the most recent.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said this last year, as reported Nov. 6 by Investor's Business Daily --

I believe very strongly that the airwaves are public and people use these airwaves for profit ... But there is a responsibility to see that both sides, and not just one side, of the big public questions of the debate are aired and are aired with some modicum of fairness. 

Then there was this from Dick Durbin of Illinois, a close ally of a soon-to-be former junior senator from Illinois named Barack Obama -- "It's time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine," Durbin said, according to The Hill on June 27, 2007.

Another Democrat in favor of it? John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democrats' nominee for president before Obama, as reported by Broadcasting & Cable, on June 27, 2008.

Couple more for good measure? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, according to The American Spectator on May 14, 2007.

And these are just the ones to openly express their opinions. No doubt the more timorous Democrats will feel emboldened as momentum builds for government-imposed censorship in the guise of fostering diverse opinion.

To Schultz's credit, he is not in favor of bringing back the Fairness Doctrine, at least for now, and was skeptical during yesterday's show about how it could be enforced. Then there was this unintentionally humorous conversation with a caller who wants the Fairness Doctrine brought back.  Here's why (click here for audio) --

CALLER: You're a great example of the Fairness Doctrine. I've been listening to your show and you have people who I don't agree with, but you give them the air. You conferen-, you give them some confrontation, but you give them, but you're fair.

SCHULTZ: Well, I don't invent stuff (laughs).

But Schultz veers close when claiming that support for a revived Fairness Doctrine is far more limited than it actually is. And the caller has it backwards -- that Schultz became the 11th most prominent talk show host in the country in the absence of the Fairness Doctrine is a "great example" of why it isn't needed.