Rush Limbaugh is calling out the President to be more specific about his position on components of what make up the so-called Fairness Doctrine. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Limbaugh pens an open letter to the President titled Mr. President, Keep the Airwaves Free – As a former law professor, surely you understand the Bill of Rights.
Limbaugh gets right to the point:
Dear President Obama:
I have a straightforward question, which I hope you will answer in a straightforward way: Is it your intention to censor talk radio through a variety of contrivances, such as “local content,” “diversity of ownership,” and “public interest” rules — all of which are designed to appeal to populist sentiments but, as you know, are the death knell of talk radio and the AM band?
You have singled me out directly, admonishing members of Congress not to listen to my show. Bill Clinton has since chimed in, complaining about the lack of balance on radio. And a number of members of your party, in and out of Congress, are forming a chorus of advocates for government control over radio content. This is both chilling and ominous.
As a former president of the Harvard Law Review and a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, you are more familiar than most with the purpose of the Bill of Rights: to protect the citizen from the possible excesses of the federal government. The First Amendment says, in part, that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” The government is explicitly prohibited from playing a role in refereeing among those who speak or seek to speak. We are, after all, dealing with political speech — which, as the Framers understood, cannot be left to the government to police.
As I have stated in previous blog entries on this subject, I do not think that this current (or any expected future) Court would uphold the Fairness Doctrine. But that does not mean that some hyper-frustrated leftists are not going to try. In some circles there are two decades of built-up rage at Limbaugh and a desire to silence him may override their political sensibilities (does that sound like the just-passed porkulus bill to you?).
Rush closes with this:
The fact that the federal government issues broadcast licenses, the original purpose of which was to regulate radio signals, ought not become an excuse to destroy one of the most accessible and popular marketplaces of expression. The AM broadcast spectrum cannot honestly be considered a “scarce” resource. So as the temporary custodian of your office, you should agree that the Constitution is more important than scoring transient political victories, even when couched in the language of public interest.
We in talk radio await your answer. What will it be? Government-imposed censorship disguised as “fairness” and “balance”? Or will the arena of ideas remain a free market?
I love that line about being a “temporary custodian of your office”.