Obama Appears To Circumvent Rush Limbaugh's Op-Ed
Obamists Launch Preemptive Strike Against Limbaugh Essay
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Clearly hoping to take the wind out of his sails, Barack Obama has launched an apparent preemptive strike against an upcoming Wall Street Journal Fairness Doctrine Op-Ed written by Rush Limbaugh.
Just ahead of its publication, expected Friday, Obama has made his first and only direct, emphatic denial of any desire to push for government regulation over talk radio's content.
Though we'd like to believe his administration values free speech in broadcasting, it's far more likely to represent the same mind games we've encountered from Democrats for over a year on the subject. Just as there is more than one way to skin a cat, the Obamists are certain to find a less direct, back-door approach to the suppression of dissent that avoids inflaming his critics.
First, from Fox News:
President Obama opposes any move to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine, a spokesman told FOXNews.com Wednesday.
The statement is the first definitive stance the administration has taken since an aide told an industry publication last summer that Obama opposes the doctrine -- a long-abolished policy that would require broadcasters to provide opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.
"As the president stated during the campaign, he does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated," White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said.
That was after both senior adviser David Axelrod and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs left open the door on whether Obama would support reinstating the doctrine.
"I'm going to leave that issue to Julius Genachowski, our new head of the FCC ... and the president to discuss. So I don't have an answer for you now," Axelrod told FOX News Sunday over the weekend.
The debate over the so-called Fairness Doctrine has heated up in recent days as prominent Democratic senators have called for the policies to be reinstated. Conservative talk show hosts, who see the doctrine as an attempt to impose liberal viewpoints on their shows, largely oppose any move to bring it back.
After an extended period of silence on the subject, Obama's sudden willingness to address the issue directly didn't escape Limbaugh's attention. From Wednesday's show:
RUSH: I wouldn't read anything into this. Of course they're not going to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. They're going to call it something else. They're going to use a series of contrivances. They will use ownership restriction, ownership rules. They will use local content rules. The Wall Street Journal, two days ago, asked me for an op-ed on this. I submitted the op-ed this morning. It is an open letter to President Obama asking for clarity and definitive answer on -- on censorship of the media. Now, I'm wondering. I am just wondering if somebody along the line did not leak my op-ed and the White House heard of it coming and they want to preempt its publication." I'm going to...
At the next break, I'm going to fire off a note to the people at the Journal, because there is an expiration date on every Obama statement. He can say today he doesn't believe in it but then something of an emergency will come up in another day or two, in a week, and force him to change his mind. Now, the FCC, he's got a lot of people working on this. ACORN is gearing up to enforce the same type of restrictions on broadcasting that the Fairness Doctrine would require. They're not going to call it that. They are going to go for it.
As I've told you, I'm reluctant to talk about this, because I don't want to sound like a victim. I don't want to sound like, "They're coming after me! They're coming after me! (crying)" but they're going after any area there is dissent. They're even going after the Internet. The Obama administration people are talking about the unfairness and the imbalance and the lack of a "filter" on the Internet.
It's not just talk radio. They're not going after cable TV; they're not going after NPR; they're not going after broadcast TV; they're not going after newspapers or magazines. They are focusing on talk radio. The very idea that he says he opposes the Fairness Doctrine? But he doesn't oppose the results of the Fairness Doctrine. He is in full-fledged support of what would happen if the Fairness Doctrine were ever re-implemented. But I just have to ask myself -- and I spent a lot of time on this op-ed and the publication date scheduled for tomorrow.
And outta nowhere, out of nowhere, on Fox, some spokesman says Obama's not even considering it? Why now? I mean that didn't come up at the housing meeting today. It didn't come up in Denver yesterday. It hasn't come up on Air Force One.
Where did it come up from? I didn't tell anyone. I mean, I told, you know, a couple friends that I was going to write this thing. It's fascinating stuff going out there.
The intrigue, ladies and gentlemen.
At Human Events, Connie Hair has details of ACORN's push for talk radio censorship:
ACORN’s own website proudly displays their intent:
II. Make the mainstream media accessible and accountable to low- and moderate-income people.
A. Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting, so that grass roots community groups have equal time to express their views.
B. Require cable TV companies to make good on their promises to allow community groups access to air time, or revoke their operating licenses.
Membership on the local board is a key to the ACORN’s plan: activists on state and local boards can give their national agenda support that can’t be obtained elsewhere. “Diversity” and “underserved communities” are their mantra. The plan is for the boards to control the content of stations with their ability to make licensing renewal recommendations to the FCC. We all know how intolerant the left is of any ideas other than their own -- just look how any conservative speaker is treated by the left when they speak at any college campus around the country today.
I asked House minority leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) about this open secret called “localism” yesterday. He told me, “‘Localism is quickly becoming code for the efforts of liberals to limit free speech and dissent. The American people do not believe the federal government should be in the business of dictating or restricting what’s on the public airwaves, and Republicans will fight any and every effort to stifle free speech.”
As we noted just over a week ago, Democrats are clearly trying to have it both ways on this issue:
At the same time, however, the left is engaged in a game of doublespeak, as they repeatedly attack conservatives for "making up" the controversy. It will never happen, they claim, so why are those on the right so worked up about it?
Though they claim Obama himself is against the forced elimination of conservative talk radio, we don't have him on the record saying that directly. Instead, a spokesperson made that claim on one occasion during last year's campaign. Since taking office, the question has been ducked during press conferences.
While Obama's "opposition" to talk radio censorship clearly isn't fooling anyone, it will be up to those who value a free press and vibrant public discourse to monitor the FCC's future proceedings. Like the fine print buried inside hundreds of pages of the Porkulus bill, the crackdown will likely be hidden inside otherwise-mundane agency business.
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