Washington Prowler

Her Royal Fairness

Nancy Pelosi moves to harass conservative radio. Also: Hagel's Third Way.

By 5.14.07

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SALEM'S WITCH TRIAL
According to two members of the House Democrat Caucus, Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer have informed them that they will "aggressively pursue" reinstatement of the so-called Fairness Doctrine over the next six months. In January, Democrat presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich announced that he was going to pursue the Fairness Doctrine through his Government Reform subcommittee. That announcement was greeted with silence. But now, Pelosi has moved things to the front burner.

Much of the doctrine, regulated through the FCC, was largely dumped in 1987. Other parts of it, related to "personal attack" rule and the "political editorial" rule, remained in place until 2000. The personal attack rule required anyone "attacked" over the airwaves to be notified beforehand and given an opportunity to respond. A similar rule was followed for the political editorial, where a broadcaster endorsing one political candidate or issue had to give similar time for a response from those not endorsed or supported.

The decision to press for re-establishment of the Fairness Doctrine now seems to have developed for two reasons. "First, [Democrats] failed on the radio airwaves with Air America, no one wanted to listen," says a senior adviser to Pelosi. "Conservative radio is a huge threat and political advantage for Republicans and we have had to find a way to limit it. Second, it looks like the Republicans are going to have someone in the presidential race who has access to media in ways our folks don't want, so we want to make sure the GOP has no advantages going into 2008."

That last comment appeared to be a veiled reference to former Sen. Fred Thompson, who appears to be gearing up for a presidential run. Over the past year, he has built a following both over the AM airwaves through the ABC Radio network, as well as through almost daily appearances across cable TV on the TV show Law & Order, where he plays a tough-talking district attorney.

According to another Democrat leadership aide, Pelosi and her team are focused on several targets in the fight, including Rush Limbaugh and the Salem Radio Network. In fact, Kucinich's staff has begun investigating Salem, one of the fastest growing radio networks in the country, which features such popular -- and highly rated -- conservative hosts as Bill Bennett and Michael Medved, and Christian hosts such as Dr. Richard Land.

"They are identifying senior employees, their political activities and their political giving," says a Government Reform committee staffer. "Salem is a big target, but the big one is going to be Limbaugh. We know we can't shut him up, but we want to make life a bit more difficult for him."

FINANCING CHUCK
Nebraska's anti-war Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel on Sunday indicated that he is willing to join New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a third-party run for the White House in 2008. Hagel insiders say that Hagel would run on the bottom of the ticket, which would largely be financed by the man on the top of the ticket, Bloomberg.

Bloomberg, according to New York insiders, has been meeting with both Republican and Democrat political consultants, pollsters and media advisers. They informed him that a run would most likely require $100 million. "And probably a bit more," says one with knowledge of the discussion. "Bloomberg didn't even blink when he heard the number. He's ready to cut the check."

A Bloomberg-Hagel ticket would if nothing else rank in entertainment value with the campaign of Democrat Rep. Dennis Kucinich. It would also create a host of problems for Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Sen.John Edwards, who have steadily been turning their campaigns in an anti-war direction.

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