Congressman Maurice Hinchey is out to silence talk radio---or at least talk radio he disagrees with.
He has proposed a bill called the "Media Ownership Reform Act" or MORA which "seeks to restore integrity and diversity by reinstating the Fairness Doctrine to "protect fairness and accuracy in journalism. "
Hinchey believes the Fairness Doctrine should be re-established because he claims that the American public is not being given "sufficiently robust debate on controversial and pressing issues"
The MORA would require licensed broadcasting companies to provide a "reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance."
In addition it would limit the number of broadcast networks any one company can own limiting them from owning stations that reach "more than 35% of US television households" and would cap a single company's ownership of FM and AM stations to 5%.
MORA would also create a new review procedure in which every three years on how these regulations "promote and protect localism, competition, diversity of voices, diversity of ownership, children's programming, small and local broadcasters, and technological advancement. "
At an event sponsored by the the "Free Press" organization and funded by George Soros, Congressman Hinchey stated that conservative radio hosts were responsible for leading the US into the Iraq war, and were behind planning future invasions in the Middle East. He also stated that these talk radio hosts post a threat to national security.
Hinchey would attempt to convince Americans that talk radio hosts create policy. No, they don't. What talk radio does however is influence policy, but it's not the hosts who do that, it's the listeners, the constituents, the people who vote. When issues are discussed on talk radio, the people become informed and involved, sharing their opinions with the hosts, with coworkers, family members, friends and even with people they don't know such as I do in this blog. These opinions are reflected in the way people vote. And how the people vote does influence policy.
Hinchey's bill is supported by Vt. Senator Bernie Sanders who stated "Now is the time to begin asking that if networks provide their listeners with 99 percent of talk shows being with right-wing extremists, whether that really is what public trust is about"
The bill seems to be aimed at right-wing extremist talk radio.However keep in mind that not all talk radio is Republican right-wing? Boortz and Savage have been targeted and they are libertarian and independent respectively. One thing they have in common is they don't agree with the liberal establishment.
Does this mean that there is no left-wing talk radio? What is Sharpton's show? What is Randi Rhodes show? Who was Al Franken? What was Air America? Air America wasn't tough enough to handle the talk circuit so they went under. If there were successful liberal-based talk shows, they would do well, there is a market in many places. But if they go under it's only because nobody cares about what they have to say or those who care just aren't the ones listening to talk radio.
It is my opinion that the speech Hinchey and his cohorts are attempting to cease is the speech they disagree with, which would deem that as "unpopular" speech and if I am correct in my interpretation of the Constitution, the protection of free speech was obviously created more than anything to protect "unpopular speech" which in the old days could get a person jailed or sentenced to death.
This proposed legislation also means that Hinchey and his cohorts do not believe the American people as a whole are smart enough to weigh the issues carefully and make decisions for themselves. Over and over these politicians prove this by mandating legislation that takes the decision-making process away from the people. This time is no different.
The legislation is aimed at right-wing extremists. Does this mean that only Limbaugh and Hannity go off the air? Boortz is a libertarian, Savage is an independent. Who decides which hosts go off the air and which don't? And if you're thinking "oh nobody's going off the air" think again. One of the goals of this legislation is to provide a rebuttal debate from the opposite side whenever any major issue is discussed. If the "other side" can't be stated, then the station will not be able to air the broadcast.
And then when talk radio or at least unpopular talk radio is silenced for good, then where will we be?