Liberals don't like free speech? I'm shocked. Senate Democrats on Friday blocked an amendent that would have prevented the return of the Fairness Doctrine, a fedeeral rule requiring broadcasters to air opposing views on issues.
Although no legislation has been offered to bring back the regulation, which was scrapped in 1987, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman and other Republicans have been mounting a pre-emptive attack in recent weeks. They argue that a return to the old rule would give the government too much power in regulating content. The House recently passed an amendment banning the rule's return.
When Coleman, R-Minn., tried to bring up his amendment Friday to a defense auhtorization bill, Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who chairs the Armed Services Committee, objected. Levin's office said he objected because the amendment belonged in the Commerce Committee's jurisdiction, and because it would have taken up time while the Senate was trying to debate Iraq.
The subtext of the debate over the Fairness Doctrine is talk radio's perceived dominance by conservative voices.
In a telephone interview, Coleman said his motivation was to preserve the First Amendment. But he added: "I do have a strong objection to folks wanting to cut off talk radio because it's conservative. Let the people be able to make the choice." Conservatives succeed on talk radio because they have a message that people want to hear, and they're far more entertaining than their dull or whiny counterparts. It's called a result of the free market-something else liberals aren't too fond of.