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The Hot Air over 'Fairness Doctrine'

Talk radio recently has been abuzz over the possible return of the Fairness Doctrine. First, Michigan senator Debbie Stabenow brought it up with Bill Press. Then Iowa's Tom Harkin did the same. Finally, former president Bill Clinton said this to Mario Solis Marich:

Well, you either ought to have the Fairness Doctrine or we ought to have more balance on the other side. Because essentially there's always been a lot of big money to support the right wing talk shows and let face it, you know, Rush Limbaugh is fairly entertaining even when he is saying things that I think are ridiculous.

President Obama could've put this dog to bed if he wanted to. After all, as a candidate, he let it be known that he's not interested in reimposing the Fairness Doctrine, which was abolished in 1987. But when given a chance to re-affirm that pledge, his senior adviser demurred.

When asked by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday whether the Fairness Doctrine is coming back, Axelrod replied: "I'm going to leave that issue to Julius Genachowski, our new head of the FCC, to, and the president, to discuss. So I don't have an answer for you now."


Audio from Politico

It seems a mystery why the Obama administration would allow this issue to dangle out there like a pinata for the conservative radio crowd to whack at. Axelrod simply could've said, "No, the Fairness Doctrine is not coming back. We've got better things to do." Then it would've been dead. It's pretty obvious that there is no political will, either from Congress or the White House, to start something from which the Democrats have little to gain from. Even just the talk seems to galvanize their political adversaries.

The best I can gather is that by allowing the issue to be a hot topic, it takes some heat off the Obama administration on the highly-contested stimulus bill. But that's like assuming Limbaugh, Hannity, Boortz, et al, can't talk and chew gum at the same time. They have plenty of time to bash both.

Just a wild guess. Turn on your radio today to hear for yourself.