Monday, July 16, 2007

Keeping Things "Fair": On Friday, the attempt (led by, among others, Sen. Coleman) to add an amendment limiting the ability of the FCC to reinstitute the "Fairness Doctrine" to the current Iraq funding proposal was stopped for the moment by an objection. An interesting exchange between Sen. Coleman (R-MN) and Minority Whip Sen. Durbin (D-IL), who is sympathetic to the "Fairness Doctrine," on this issue. Newsbusters has a transcript of the exchange (though it's a little muddled). Telling part of that exchange (as transcripted--emphasis added):

[Mr. Coleman] But I'm disappointed that the other side of
the aisle will not give us an opportunity for a full debate on this issue. In
fact, I think -- I want all sides to be heard. What I don't want and where the
fundamental disagreement is for the regulatory power of government to sit in judgment as big brother, to oversee and take stock with pencil and pad and take notes, well, we had Sean Hannity over here and now we've got to get somebody on the left over there. Balance should be heard but we have a marketplace that provides that opportunity.
We have folks who support the Senator from Illinois's perspective. We have folks who support my perspective. Sometimes we're the same. But for government to dictate, that's the concern. That's why the -- that's why the F.C.C. Got rid of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987. It's why the Supreme Court has raised questions about the necessity of the fairness doctrine. I don't think it's constitutional. We haven't got to that question.
Mr. Durbin: Would the senator yield for a question?
Mr. Coleman: I would yield to one further question.
Mr. Durbin: I'm sorry to interrupt you but I really wish that
through the commerce committee or the appropriate committee of jurisdiction, we
can really get into this question. But the senator is arguing that the
marketplace can provide. What is the senator's response if the marketplace fails
to provide? What is the marketplace does not provide opportunities to hear both
points of view? Since the people who are seeking the licenses are using
America's airwaves, does the government, speaking for the people of this country, have any interest at that point to step in and make sure there is a despair balanced approach to the -- a fair and balanced approach to the information given to the American people?
Mr. Coleman: Mr. President, I'll respond to the final question here. Very clear disagreement here. The government does not -- does not -- have the responsibility.