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Rush Limbaugh, Randi Rhodes and the Fairness Doctrine

OK, dittoheads, that's my explanation of how all these bailouts are going to lead to a government Rush takeover of the American economy that will bankrupt us all. And now I'm going to hand my microphone over to those fine young folks from Air America for the next two hours to explain how idiotically wrong I am about all this.

Can you imagine it? The Limbaugh lying down with the lamb? The Christians-and-lions slaughterhouse of talk radio turning the other cheek, or, at least, the other ear? Conservatives can -- though in place of the word imagine, they're more likely to use fear.

They say the incoming Barack Obama administration and its Democratic allies in Congress plan to strangle talk radio with fairness: specifically, the Fairness Randirhoded Doctrine, a long-abandoned federal policy that requires radio and TV stations to balance conservatives with liberals and vice-versa.

At its most extreme, the Fairness Doctrine might require Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck to follow every right-to-life phone call with one from a doctor who does partial-birth abortions. Or, for that matter, pro-gun-control people calling in to lefty Randi Rhodes to be balanced by commentary from AK-47 owners.

Even a more moderate and more likely scenario -- forcing stations to carry shows from across the ideological spectrum -- would wreak havoc with talk radio, station managers and other industry figures say, since most talk stations brand themselves as either conservative or liberal. Read my full story on the controversy over the return of the Fairness Doctrine in Sunday's Miami Herald.


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Your article regurgitated most of the right-wing talking points about how FD would supposedly mean the end of talk radio -- not realizing that the refutation of those arguments was right in your own backyard.

Back in the 70's and 80's -- when FD was still in force -- Miami had the best talk radio in the country, hands down. The most listened to as well -- the three and sometimes four English language talkers usually drew double-digit shares in the aggregate. And there was no requirement that stations be "balanced." WNWS was all liberal except for one token conservstive on the weekends. Over on the west coast of Florida, WPLP was all-conservative, except for one token liberal on a similarly obscure weekend slot. Ask Neil Rogers or any of the hosts who were around back then if they ever thought one minute about the Fairness Doctrine. Points off for incomplete research.

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