Accuracy in Media

House Prohibits 2008 Spending on Fairness Doctrine.
Pence Amendment Passes 309-115.

Find out here how your Representative voted.

Craig Crawford of Congressional   Quarterly, a news analyst for NBC, MSNBC and CNBC, warns that “Unless   broadcasters take steps to voluntarily balance their programming, they   can expect a return of fairness rules if Democrats keep control of Congress   and win the White House next year.”

The Rep. Mike Pence amendment,  adopted by a vote of 309-115, was to the Financial Services Appropriations   bill. It prohibits funds from being used by the Federal Communications   Commission to impose the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters. But it only   applies to fiscal year 2008 dollars and there is no plan by the current   Republican-dominated FCC to re-impose the doctrine. 

Pence himself points out that   “Although my amendment to the Financial Services Appropriations bill   passed, prohibiting any funding to the FCC for the enforcement of the   Fairness Doctrine, should it be resurrected, we must keep in mind that   it is only a one-year moratorium on funding. While I am pleased that   309 Members of Congress supported this short-term fix, it is   my hope that they will continue to stand for freedom of speech by joining   me in a long-term solution to the problem by passing the Broadcaster   Freedom Act.” (emphasis added). 

On June 29, Pence introduced   his long-term solution, the Broadcaster Freedom Act. This bill would   prevent a future Democratic Administration from reinstating the Fairness   Doctrine. It has only 111 co-sponsors.

On the House floor, after Pence   introduced and explained his amendment, Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano   declared that “…I would just like to inform the gentleman that we   will accept his amendment.” Serrano voted for it. 

In other words, Democrats were   prepared to let it pass without debate or opposition. 

But a debate ensued anyway.

The debate may have served   a purpose if it raised awareness by the public about what Democrats   have planned—and that more action to protect the First Amendment is   urgently needed. 

Democratic Rep. David Obey   pointed out that “…the totally Republican-dominated commission is   not going to resurrect that doctrine.” Even Obey voted for the Pence   amendment.

Rep. Diane Watson said that   the Pence amendment was designed to “prevent spending on something   that doesn’t exist.” Watson voted against it. 

Rep. Dennis Kucinich said the   debate over the Pence amendment was “a red herring” because the   Bush Administration “would never reinstate” the Fairness Doctrine   anyway. He said, “It’s a debate about something that’s not going   to happen under this administration, but it may happen under a future   administration.” (emphasis added). Kucinich voted against the   Pence amendment. 

Rep. John D. Dingell called   the Pence amendment “entirely unnecessary,” noting that “I understand   from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman’s office   that the FCC has no plans to even debate the issue, much less take action.  In other words, there will be no action at the FCC on the Fairness Doctrine.  It is therefore unclear why the gentleman—who must know this fact—is   even offering the amendment.” Dingell voted against it. 

The critical matter, which   Pence acknowledges, is a long-term solution. Unfortunately, the chances   of a Democratic-controlled House and Senate passing Pence’s Broadcasters   Freedom Act are considered to be slim or none because it would tie the   hands of a possible Democratic president who could appoint a Democratic   FCC majority. And that majority could reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.

Can a liberal-controlled Congress   be forced to safeguard First Amendment rights by passing the Broadcaster   Freedom Act? That is the tremendous challenge ahead. Conservatives should   not be misled by erroneous media coverage into thinking that passage   of the Pence amendment by an overwhelming margin solved the problem.  It did not. It is symbolic and largely irrelevant. 

Accuracy in Media has led opposition   to the return of the Fairness Doctrine, covering a “media reform”  conference where Democratic politicians and members of the FCC urged   more media regulation. Our special report (PDF) examines the history of the   Fairness Doctrine and how Democratic administrations use it to silence   conservative media.

AIM Editor Cliff Kincaid points   out that when a Democratic president appoints the chairman of the FCC,  the Democrats will have a 3-2 majority. He explains, “Hillary Clinton’s   backers in the Media Matters group want the return of the Fairness Doctrine   so they can enlist FCC bureaucrats in the effort to control and influence   the content of conservative talk radio.” 

What is the current Republican-controlled   FCC doing, if anything, to counter this threat?

Kincaid asks, “Where are   the FCC studies making the case for freedom in broadcasting? By making   the case that the Fairness Doctrine is no longer needed, and that it   would interfere with free speech rights, the current FCC could make   it difficult for a Democratic-dominated FCC to legally justify the return   of the Fairness Doctrine. Such studies could prompt the courts to throw   out any new Fairness Doctrine emanating from the agency.
  “But FCC chairman Kevin Martin, a Bush appointee, doesn’t seem too   concerned. In a recent interview with John Eggerton of Broadcasting   & Cable magazine, Martin was asked about ‘talk of trying to re-institute   the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine’ and whether he would support that.  His reply was, ‘No. The commission eliminated the doctrine in 1987.  Doing so has made for a lot of opportunities in things like talk radio.’
  “That was it. Martin decided not to challenge any of the Democratic   proposals to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine or to make a strong statement   in favor of the First Amendment.”

House debate.  June 28.

(From the   Congressional Record, roll call vote at end of debate.)

    Mr.  PENCE. Mr. Chairman, I come to the floor today, along with my partners   in this amendment, Congressman JEB HENSARLING of Texas, Congressman   JEFF FLAKE of Arizona, very much in a spirit of bipartisanship.  We come   to the floor in this moment, on this amendment, to be about that which   I think we are all about.

    The   freedom of speech and the freedom of the press is not a partisan issue   in this Congress. We all live under and cherish that first amendment   that says Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech   or of the press.

    I,  myself, Mr. Chairman, have worked in a bipartisan way in this Congress   to fashion legislation that ensures a free and independent press. The   amendment before this body today is simply an extension of that mission.

    Our   legislation would simply say that none of the funds made available in   this act may be used by the Federal Communications Commission to implement   the Fairness Doctrine, as repealed in 1985.

    Now,  the Fairness Doctrine actually came to pass in 1949, part of a regulation   of a much older law. It required broadcasters to present controversial   issues in a fair and balanced manner. That sounds reasonable enough.  But because of the lack of clarity in the regulation, in the commission’s   rulings, broadcasters, during almost four decades, often opted not to   offer any controversial programming whatsoever.

    The   FCC concluded that in fact, by 1985, this regulation was having a chilling   effect on the public debate and repealed it effective 1987. Since the   demise of the Fairness Doctrine, talk radio particularly has emerged   as a dynamic forum for public debate and, I offer, an asset to the Nation.

    Our   amendment, simply put, is an effort to maintain the status quo, to prevent   this administration and this Federal Communications Commission, in this   fiscal year about which we are debating, to use no funds to return the   Fairness Doctrine.

    Now,  I want to acknowledge the fact that there are some who are skeptical   about the need for this amendment. I have heard distinguished and respected   Members of this body come to this floor and say that this is, quote,  “an issue which does not exist,” and have seen writing, and I expect   we will hear rhetoric to that effect, and I will respect the words of   each person that utters that view, but I will differ.

    Just   for example, in the last 2 days, the Senate majority whip, the distinguished   Senator from Illinois, RICHARD DURBIN, said, “It’s time to reinstitute   the Fairness Doctrine.” That was yesterday. In the last several days,  the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, Senator DIANNE FEINSTEIN,  said she was looking at reviving the Fairness Doctrine. The Democrat   nominee for the President of the United States in 2004, the distinguished   Senator JOHN KERRY, said, “I think the Fairness Doctrine ought to   be there,” and he went on to say, “I also think the equal time doctrine   ought to come back.” Most recently, the Center for American Progress,  a liberal think tank, published an entire report on what it called the   “structural imbalance of political talk radio.”

    So   you will forgive me if many of us sense there is afoot in the Nation’s   Capital a bit of a cool breeze on the freedom of the press and the freedom   of expression on the airwaves. So we seize this opportunity in the appropriations   process, with my partners, JEFF FLAKE and JEB HENSARLING, and hopefully   a bipartisan majority in this Congress, to say yes to freedom and to   reject, in this fiscal year, the power that we have in the spending   bill, any funds to be spent to bring back this unfairness doctrine to   American broadcasting law.

    Mr.  Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time. 

  Mr. SERRANO. Mr. Chairman,  I would just like to inform the gentleman that we will accept his amendment.

    The   CHAIRMAN. Who claims time in opposition?

    Mr.  OBEY. For purposes of debate, I would like to claim the time in opposition.

    The   CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Wisconsin is recognized for 20 minutes.

    Mr.  OBEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 3 minutes.

    Mr.  CHAIRMAN, this issue is much ado about nothing. We have been subjected   to filibuster by amendment all week, and now we are going to be subjected   to 40 minutes of so-called debate on a nonexistent issue. Now, why is   this issue here?

    There   isn’t anybody in the Congress that I know of who is trying to legislatively   resurrect the Fairness Doctrine, and, certainly, the totally Republican-dominated   commission is not going to resurrect that doctrine.

    What’s   at stake here is that a certain Senator, who evidently was afflicted   by a bad case of being hit by sun spots so he no longer believes that   there is anything like global warming, claims that he was in an elevator   and overheard a couple of Senators talk about resurrecting the fairness   clause. The two Senators involved say that’s nonsense.

    But   what you have got going on here is an effort on the part of right-wing   radio to gin up the folks by inventing a fight that doesn’t exist.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s immaterial to me how people vote on   this. If Members want the debate to go until 8:00 tonight instead of   7:00, fine, spend 40 minutes debating an issue that doesn’t exist.

    But   what I do find interesting is that folks who scream every day of the   week about that so-called “liberal press,” all of a sudden they   are now saying, “Oh, my God, can you imagine, somebody might force   a fairness doctrine on us.” Well, one would think that if they really   do believe the press is liberal, that they would then want the protection   that would come from the Fairness Doctrine.

    I   think the very fact that they don’t want to see the Fairness Doctrine   resurrected is, in fact, an open admission that they recognize the radio   waves are largely and almost totally dominated by the right and the   far right and the off-the-wall right.

    I   don’t see any purpose in taking any more time.

    Mr.  CHAIRMAN, I reserve the balance of my time.

    Mr.  PENCE. Mr. CHAIRMAN, first let me acknowledge my gratitude that the   chairman of this subcommittee will accept this amendment and has endorsed   it on the floor.

    Mr.  CHAIRMAN, I yield 1 minute to my partner in this amendment, the gentleman   from Arizona (Mr. Flake).

    Mr.  FLAKE. I thank the gentleman for yielding. 

  The gentleman from Wisconsin   mentioned that he heard one Senator with sun spots overheard two other   Senators talking.

  Mr. OBEY. Would the gentleman   yield? 

  Mr. FLAKE. Yes, I would.

  Mr. OBEY. I didn’t say he   was from Arizona. 

  Mr. FLAKE. No, he wasn’t   from Arizona. The gentleman can be excused. He has been very busy, and   I am glad he has been reading earmark request letters. There have been   a lot of them, so he has been tied up. 

  But what he missed, as the   good gentleman from Indiana mentioned, Senate Majority Whip DICK DURBIN   from Illinois, not afflicted with sun spots, by the way, just yesterday   said, “It is time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine.” So I don’t   think that we are seeing things here. There is a move afoot. 

  Make no mistake, this is targeted   at talk radios, where conservatives seem to have done a little better   in the marketplace than the other side of the argument. 

  So forgive us for being skeptical   that nothing is afoot. But when the majority leader in the Senate says   it’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine, I think we’re right   to be concerned. 

  Mr. OBEY. Mr. CHAIRMAN, I yield   3 minutes to the gentleman from Ohio. 

  Mr. KUCINICH. I agree with   my colleague from Wisconsin that this debate is a red herring, that   it is an effort to perpetuate the abuse of the public trust by holding   up the usual straw man to divert attention from the fact that our airwaves   are being abused and our democracy is being eroded. It’s an effort   to fire up a base. 

  An informed electorate is essential   to a strong democracy. One of the things that I would like to say to   my colleagues, there is a conflation here where they are talking about   freedom of the press. In the Constitution, freedom of the press relates   to freedom that newspapers have.

    The   electronic media is governed by the FCC, and the 1934 act says that   electronic media has to serve in the public interest, convenience and   necessity. Just for the sake of keeping the record straight, you can   talk about the freedom of the press and you may mean newspapers, radio   and TV.

    But   it is a fact that the electronic media is governed by the FCC. Under   the laws of the FCC, 1934, we are supposed to be operating a public   interest, convenience and necessity.

    Now,  the proponents of this amendment and of right-wing corporate radio and   TV are saying that they are threatened by this fairness doctrine because   they think, incorrectly, it will require corporate radio and TV to be   actually fair and balanced. I think they are probably threatened by   such a prospect because they know that this particular type of radio   and TV communication is not.

    Now,  any proposal to address the real issue here, restoring genuinely productive   public debate, would need to restore accountability to those who use   the publicly owned airwaves. The first step would be to reverse the   extreme concentration of media ownership. Let’s have this debate out   in the open, not when some are trying to use a red herring to try to   prevent reinstatement of a rule that this administration would never   reinstate, never, not a way. 

  As Mr. Obey said, what’s   this debate about? It’s a debate about something that’s not going   to happen under this administration, but it may happen under a future   administration. 

  Mr. PENCE. I think the gentleman   from Ohio knows how much I respect his liberal passion and often feel   it mirrors my conservative passion, but let me emphasize and agree with   his final point. 

  It is precisely about the next   administration that many here in this Chamber and many here in America   are concerned with leaving in the Federal Communications Commission   the resources or the authority to reregulate the public airwaves. 

  Mr. CHAIRMAN, I yield 1 minute   to my partner in this amendment, the distinguished chairman of the Republican   Study Committee, JEB HENSARLING. 

  Mr. HENSARLING. I thank the   gentleman for yielding. I thank him for his leadership. 

  Mr. CHAIRMAN, there is no greater   guarantor of our democracy and our freedoms than the first amendment.  There is no greater threat to our first amendment, freedom of speech,  than the resurrection of the so-called Fairness Doctrine. The use of   the term “fairness doctrine” would make George Orwell blush. The   use of the program would make Hugo Chavez jealous. 

    Fairness,  fairness particularly, as defined and policed by government, is the   absolute antithesis of freedom. 

  It is patently unfair, and   there was a time in our Nation’s history when liberals proudly spoke   out and jealously guarded our first amendment rights, and now, as we   have heard from others, they seek to shut it down. 

  If, in doubt, colleagues err   on the side of freedom. 

  Mr. OBEY. Mr. CHAIRMAN, I yield   2 minutes to the distinguished gentlewoman from California (Ms. Watson). 

  Ms. WATSON. Mr. CHAIRMAN, I   find this very odd, this situation we are in. 

  We heard a number of our Republican   colleagues come to the floor today to object to particular spending   items in the bill, but this might be a first. Mr. Pence has an amendment   here to prevent spending on something that doesn’t exist. 

  Mr. CHAIRMAN, I think it’s   worth us having a real debate on the need for a fairness doctrine. But   before we get into the merits of the Fairness Doctrine, we should point   out that the Fairness Doctrine has not existed since 1987, so that the   argument that the Fairness Doctrine has somehow caused bias in America   media is a complete red herring. 

  But I think we need to take   a hard look at what happens to our public dialogue in this country when   only six companies have dominion over public debate. 

  Mr. Pence says he doesn’t   want the Federal Government deciding what is fair and what is not fair,  but at least the Federal Government is accountable to voters. And so   I think we need to get back to what is really fair in an open society.  And I urge my colleagues to vote against the Pence amendment. 

  And I would urge Mr. Pence   to join us in working to open up a free, true market in American media.  And I stand ready to work with you, Mr. Pence, or any other Member of   this House who wants to shift our public debate away from the centrally   planned media environment we have today to a truly, functional, free   market where new entrepreneurs have a chance to compete with established   media companies and where new ideas have a chance to compete with the   old and failed policies of the past. 

  Mr. PENCE. Mr. CHAIRMAN, I   yield 3 minutes to the distinguished Republican whip of the House of   Representatives. 

  Mr. BLUNT. I thank the gentleman   for yielding, and I’m on the side that this debate does matter. And,  in fact, I think I just heard debate begin, as our good friend just   suggested that this doctrine does need to be looked at and does need   to be changed. 

  I certainly think that this   debate is more meaningful than whether the Vice President is part of   the executive branch of government or not, and I’m grateful to Mr.  Pence and Mr. Hensarling and Mr. Flake for bringing this issue to the   floor today. 

  I’m also grateful, and appreciate   the majority’s willingness to accept this. And while this may not   be an item that was on the House agenda last week, I think it’s clearly   an item on the agenda of debate in the country. 

  The Fairness Doctrine, or the   so-called fairness doctrine is a clear and bald-faced attack on free   speech. It’s been declared such by the Supreme Court and the FCC,  and just about every reasonable American who ever heard about it.

  Proponents of the doctrine   don’t like what they hear on the radio, but instead of empowering   the process by engaging the points with regular Americans, they prefer   to empower a government agency to silence those voices.

  This is a diverse country with   rich and robust views on politics, on culture, on society, on the role   of government. The right to vocalize disagreements on all those topics   in whatever medium or whatever way is available, is fundamentally what   differentiates us from the countries, the totalitarian views of regimes   that our country has stood against for now 230 years. 

  But the fairness doctrine would   limit those rights and submit private broadcasters to arbitrary rules   of so-called fairness, rules, I suppose, that would change from year   to year, depending on who controlled the Congress or who controlled   the White House. 

  The content of radio and television   shows should be directed by station managers, not by government bureaucrats.  The success or failure of that programming should be determined by the   marketplace of options and the marketplace of ideas, not by some arbitrary   rule of a government agency. 

  Again, I want to thank Mr.  Pence, Mr. Flake and Mr. Hensarling for offering this important amendment.  I urge its support, both in the House today and in the debates that   I believe are starting now. 

  It may have been in an elevator   yesterday and a hearing room tomorrow and the FCC in the future, if   we don’t engage in this important debate again. 

  I’m grateful to the majority   for accepting this amendment, but I urge all Members of the House to   speak out loudly against this so-called doctrine as this debate continues. 

  Mr. SERRANO. I move to strike   the last word.

  The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman   is recognized for 5 minutes. 

  Mr. SERRANO. First of all,  if this is not a political stunt for the public and for those talk shows   to carry in support, then why are we debating for 40 minutes an amendment   that I accepted at the beginning and almost interrupted the gentleman   in accepting it? 

  Another thing that’s very   interesting, if you don’t believe that you have great support in the   electronic media right now, if you don’t believe that those stations   have gone out of their way to give the conservative point of view and   leave out those of us who may be considered liberals and who consider   themselves liberals, then why are you so afraid of something called   the fairness doctrine? If there’s nothing to get fixed because there’s   nothing broken, what’s the concern? 

  Well, obviously, you must know   that there’s something that you may stand to lose, otherwise you wouldn’t   make a big fuss about it. 

  Now, let me tell you something.  Probably any so-called liberal you would get on radio, if one was hired   by any of those stations, would probably be a moderate. You have nothing   to worry about. Mr. Kucinich and I are not leaving Congress. We will   not have a radio or TV show any time soon, and therefore, it won’t   be what you think it is. It’ll be pretty moderate. 

  But, again, what is the problem   with going against an issue where you claim that there’s a problem   and, in fact, we know no issue exists. Now, that seems to be a prevailing   behavior here today. You have seen amendments and you will see more   coming later that speak to something that’s not an issue. It’s not   a problem. And this one, I’m actually accepting it. I’m saying let   Rush and the other guys, you know, continue to be fair and balanced   in their approach. That’s fine with me. And here you want more and   more and more of the same. 

    But,  again, not to be flippant in any way, I assure you that neither in Spanish   or in English have I been offered a radio show that would make your   skin crawl moving it to the left where the debate should be at times.  Have no fear, I’m staying in Congress for as long as I can be in Congress,  and you have nothing to fear but your fears itself. 

  I yield back. 

  Mr. PENCE. Mr. Chairman, might   I inquire how much time I have remaining? 

  The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman   has 10 minutes remaining. 

  Mr. PENCE. Mr. CHAIRMAN, and   to the distinguished chairman of the subcommittee, I appreciate both   the tone and the good natured aspects of his remarks. But I say very   seriously when he asked the question rhetorically, he says you act as   though there’s something you would stand to lose. 

  Our view is, despite the gentleman’s   assurances that I completely accept as sincere, what we stand to lose   is freedom. We have some of the most prominent and powerful Members   of this Congress stepping forward and calling for the regulation of   free speech on the air waves of America using this archaic doctrine   dubbed as the Fairness Doctrine. 

  And today, with the support   of the majority, we will send a deafening message that not on our watch   will that occur. 

  Mr. CHAIRMAN, I yield 2 minutes   to a former broadcaster, distinguished member of the Commerce Committee,  Mr. Walden of Oregon. 

  Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. I am   still a broadcaster, actually. My family has been in radio broadcasting   for more than 20 years. 

  The CHAIRMAN. Will the gentleman   suspend? The microphone is not on. 

  Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Mr. CHAIRMAN,  it seems rather cruel that a radio broadcaster would not have his microphone   turned on. And so I stand here today in support of this amendment because   it really is about the first amendment. And it is about the freedom   of speech on the air waves. And if you don’t think so, go back to   what the U.S. Supreme Court said in Red Lion Broadcasting vs. FCC 38   years ago when they cautioned that while the doctrine may be constitutional,  if it’s ever used to restrain speech its constitutionality should   be reconsidered. 

  1974, in Miami Herald Publishing   Company vs. Torino, the Court concluded that the doctrine inescapably   dampens the vigor and limits the variety of public debate. 

  Twenty-three years ago, in   FCC vs. League of Women Voters, the court concluded the scarcity rationale   underlying the doctrine was flawed, and the doctrine was limiting the   breadth of public debate. The U.S. Supreme Court made that series of   rulings and, as a result, the FCC overturned it. And as a result of   overturning that all of a sudden, the air waves blossomed with both   conservative speech and liberal speech. 

  It’s not my fault that Air   America didn’t find a huge audience out there and went bankrupt. There   are others out there who have done very successfully. It has encouraged   speech. 

    If   the Fairness Doctrine is put back in place, as it was pre-1987, you   will silence, not expand, public debate. I’ve been a broadcaster.  I know what it was like when it was in place, and I know what it will   be like again. And while I don’t always agree with those who are on   the air waves, I will always defend their right to speak their piece   because it actually energizes people to get involved. 

  So yes, I have a talk radio   station and yes, it does have Rush Limbaugh on it, and it does have   Sean Hannity on it and Michael Reagan and others. And this is what American   broadcasting is about, in part. 

  But what we’re really about   here is protecting the fundamental constitutional rights of first amendment   speech that we stood on this floor and raised our hand to protect and   uphold, and the courts have made it clear that reinstituting the fairness   doctrine, if used to restrict speech, would be unconstitutional. 

  Mr. PENCE. Mr. CHAIRMAN, I   am pleased to yield 1 minute to the distinguished Republican leader   of the United States House of Representatives, the gentleman from Ohio   (Mr. Boehner). 

  Mr. BOEHNER. Let me thank my   colleague from Indiana for yielding, and thank he and his colleagues   who have introduced this amendment for their work. 

  All of this talk about bringing   back the Fairness Doctrine caused me to think about the whole idea of   the Federal Communications Commission, set up in the 1930s to regulate   the air waves and the spectrum that’s out there so that we didn’t   have two radio stations on the same wave. This was set up in the 1930s. 

  And then in the 1940s we got   into the idea that well, there aren’t that many options in TV and   radio, and so maybe we ought to make sure that all of them, in terms   of what they say, is fair. 

    Well,  that might have been helpful in the 1940s and 1950s and 1960s, but my   goodness, we’re in the 21st century, where people get their news from   thousands of different sources. It could be radio, from hundreds and   hundreds of radio stations. It could be from TV, where we now have hundreds   and hundreds of stations. It could be from the Internet. It could be   from the newspapers. There’s lots of places for people to get their   news. 

  And at the end of the day,  as I think about the Fairness Doctrine, I think about those of us in   Congress. We get elected based on our constituents and what we’re   for and what we’re against, whether they like us or they don’t like   us. And if they like us, they might vote for us again. And if they don’t   like us, guess what, they get to go punch the ballot for somebody else. 

  Well, when it comes to the   issue of the Fairness Doctrine, when we’re dealing with radio, they   can go a lot of different places. And I think that the best way is to   let the judgment of the American people decide. And they can decide   with their finger. They can turn it off or they can turn it on. They   can change channels or they can decide to go to their computer and read   it on the Internet. 

  And the idea that people are   calling for the Fairness Doctrine to be called back reminds me, once   again, of why I came here. I came here because I thought government   was too big, it spent too much, and no one was holding the government   accountable.

    Let’s   trust the American people to do what they think is best. Their finger   can make all the decisions, all that they need to make on their own   behalf. Let’s trust them to do the right thing.

    Mr.  PENCE. With gratitude to the Republican leader for his eloquent remarks,  I yield 1 minute to the distinguished gentleman from Florida (Mr. Feeney). 

  Mr. FEENEY. I too want to thank   Congressman Flake and the cosponsors of this amendment. Our friends   on the Democratic side have two arguments. Number 1, they say this is   a superfluous, it’s a red herring because nobody’s talking about   it. But we’ve already had two of our colleagues on the Democratic   side say that they like talking about and maybe rehabilitating the Fairness   Doctrine, which is a bad misnomer. In fact, this is the leftist censorship   doctrine, and we ought to refer to it as such. 

  The second argument that they   give us is that Republicans ought to like the fairness doctrine because   we’re always complaining about liberal bias in the media. And to that   I would say this: The difference is that Rush Limbaugh knows and admits   he’s a conservative. 

      Dan Rather and Katie Couric   don’t know and they don’t admit that they are liberal. That is the   difference. Rush will get regulated; the others will not. And I would   tell you that the First Amendment, freedom of speech, means nothing   if it means the government can tell you what you must say or what you   must publish. The freedom of speech inherently means the freedom not   to say certain thoughts or certain words. 

  Supreme Court Justice Potter   Stewart, no conservative, once said: “Censorship reflects society’s   lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”

    In   China, North Korea, and elsewhere, they have their “fairness doctrines.”  We don’t need one. 

  Mr. PENCE. Mr. CHAIRMAN, I   am pleased to yield 1 minute to a member of the Appropriations Committee,  the distinguished gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Kirk). 

  Mr. KIRK. Mr. Mr. CHAIRMAN,  I thank Mr. Pence for bringing this amendment and I support it. I do   not think that we should spend taxpayer dollars to resurrect the 1929   doctrine, which was imposed by the old Federal Radio Commission. 

  Several Senators now say they   don’t like free speech on radio and TV, and they are looking to exhume   the body of a 1920s-era radio regulation because they do not want Americans   to hear. This 1920s radio regulation, appropriately called a “doctrine,”  was put into law by President Herbert Hoover. Remember, during that   time, Western powers also signed a Kellogg pact that outlawed war, Alaska   and Hawaii were not States, Mickey Mouse got his first cartoon, and   Joseph Stalin became the unquestioned ruler of the Soviet Union. 

  This 1929 radio regulation   that these Senators want to dig up was written when there was no TV,  no cable, no Internet, not to mention no satellite or MySpace or YouTube.  As kids today would say, this doctrine is so 20th century, and it should   not be part of our 21st century. 

  Mr. PENCE. Mr. CHAIRMAN, I   am pleased to yield 1 minute to the distinguished and eloquent gentleman   from Missouri (Mr. Akin). 

  Mr. AKIN. Mr. Mr. CHAIRMAN,  in just several days, America will be celebrating her birthday. As we   enjoy the 4th of July, we recall the brave patriots who stood up to   the biggest military power in the world and defended basic principles   that they were willing to lay their lives down for. Their wives and   their children suffered as well. 

  As they had a chance to develop   a systematic form of government and to lay out the very most important   things that they had suffered so hard for. The very first amendment   to the Constitution was about free speech. The Founders believed that   it was critical to protect property, and of all forms of property. The   thing that issues from a man’s heart is the most precious. For a person   to be able to have a belief and to be able to speak that freely is a   precious thing not only to our Founders but to all who have been defenders   of the first amendment. 

  I thank our colleagues who   have issued this fantastic amendment. I think we should support it with   the last drop of our blood and the last farthing of our treasure. 

  Mr. PENCE. Mr. CHAIRMAN, I   am pleased to yield 1 minute to a force of nature on the House floor,  the gentleman from Georgia, Dr. TOM PRICE. 

  Mr. PRICE of Georgia. Mr. CHAIRMAN,  I thank the gentleman for yielding time and I appreciate his leadership   on this. 

  Mr. CHAIRMAN, freedom is the   foundational principle of our society. Our Founders were champions of   this God-given right and charged future generations with eternal vigilance   to protect it. 

  We are here today because some   very prominent Democrat leaders, including the Senate whip, want Uncle   Sam to start telling radio and TV personalities what to talk about,  to limit their freedom and ours. Rather than fight in the marketplace   of ideas, they want to bring back a 1929 radio regulation known as the   Fairness Doctrine, which has nothing to do with fairness.

  A so-called “Fairness Doctrine”  today tramples upon freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It dictates   to Americans that in an open and free and flooded marketplace of ideas,  they need Washington politicians to sort it all out. 

  Mr. CHAIRMAN, real freedom   means a government that listens to the people, not one that dictates   to the people whom they must listen to. 

  Let’s keep the Fairness Doctrine   off our airwaves and in the history books where it belongs. 

  Mr. PENCE. Mr. CHAIRMAN, I   am pleased to yield 1 minute to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Garrett).

  Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey.  Mr. CHAIRMAN, I rise to strongly support this amendment by the gentlemen   from Indiana and from Texas. 

  Fair and balanced media, truly   a laudable goal. But, quite frankly, Mr. Chairman, we achieve that result   when we do, in fact, let the public decide. They report; you do decide.  That is more than just a catch phrase. That is what this American public   is about. 

    You   see, it is the market, and when I say the “market,” I mean the American   people, for they are the best arbiters of what a free press is and to   obtain it and they are the best mechanism to achieve it in this Nation.  It is not the unelected bureaucrats of a central government that we   must look to. We must look to the American public. 

  So I rise to strongly support   this amendment, this amendment that will guarantee us a free press. 

  Mr. REGULA. Mr. CHAIRMAN, I   move to strike the last word. 

  Mr. CHAIRMAN, I yield to the   gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Westmoreland). 

  Mr. WESTMORELAND. Mr. CHAIRMAN,  I want to thank my friend from Ohio for yielding and my friend from   Indiana for offering this amendment. 

  Let me say this: there seems   to be some doubt over there or something from the subcommittee Chair   and the full committee Chair about why we don’t believe them. Well,  in November they kind of snookered the public. They had told them that   they were going to give more affordable health care to all Americans,  which hasn’t been done. They were to bring gas prices down, which,  hello, if you are out there at the pump, you know that’s not true.  And then we were going to get away from dependence on foreign oil, which   last night we saw that we voted not to do that but to be dependent on   them. 

  So you fooled the public in   November; so we don’t want you to fool us this time. And I think it   is evident that you are trying to trick us when you had two Members   go down and talk about the only reason why you are not going back against   the Fairness Doctrine is because you don’t have the FCC. 

  And let me say you have said   that the Republicans are calling this a red herring. Well, I want to   say the majority party is looking at the Fairness Doctrine as the one   that got away. The one that got away. You all want to recapture that   one that got away. 

  So I hope that all of my colleagues   will vote in support of this. I thank the gentleman from Indiana for   offering it with Mr. Hensarling and Mr. Flake. 

  And I thank the gentleman from   Ohio for yielding. 

  Mr. REGULA. Mr. CHAIRMAN, I   yield to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Gingrey). 

  Mr. GINGREY. Mr. CHAIRMAN,  I thank the ranking member for yielding. 

  And I want to take this time   to say how much I support the Pence-Flake-Hensarling amendment in regard   to this so-called “fairness” issue. It would be patently unfair,  this so-called doctrine. 

    Wouldn’t   it be nice if we could say the same thing to the editorial boards of   the Los Angeles Times and the Atlanta Journal Constitution? Wouldn’t   it be nice if we could say the same thing to Hollywood in regard to   all these movies that our young people are being exposed to? Wouldn’t   it be nice if we could say the same thing to our public universities   and colleges in regard to the teachers of political science and the   guest lecturers and those who give the baccalaureate addresses? But   freedom of speech doesn’t allow that. 

  I clearly endorse this amendment.  The FCC should not spend one dime promoting this so-called “Fairness   Doctrine,” which is anything but fair. 

  Mr. REGULA. Mr. CHAIRMAN, I   yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Gohmert). 

  Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. CHAIRMAN,  I thank the ranking member for yielding. I appreciate that very much. 

  The Fairness Doctrine is such   a misnomer. It may be an oxymoron, if you would. But one of the great   things about this country throughout our history since we became a country   has been that rather than have another revolution, people can express   their views. They can say what they want. The Fairness Doctrine suppressed   that a great deal and it fomented a lot of agitation. 

  As long as people can get out   there and express their views, we’re going to be okay. We can disagree.  We can fix things. We can complain about things. But when you run in   and start saying you’re talking too much about this issue, you’re   saying too much on this side, then we are looking for another revolution.  I do not want to see that. 

  We don’t need the Fairness   Doctrine, this misnomer. It is time to set it aside for good and move   forward with free speech. 

  Mr. REGULA. Mr. Chairman, I   yield to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Pence). 

  Mr. PENCE. Mr. CHAIRMAN, I   thank the distinguished gentleman for yielding and for his support of   this amendment. And I also wish to thank the gentleman from New York   for accepting this amendment. 

  I believe what we will do in   this legislation will demonstrate a bipartisan commitment to freedom   on the airwaves at a time that intemperate remarks are being made by   others in Washington, D.C., both within the Capitol Building and within   the punditocracy that surrounds this Capitol Building. 

  This Congress in bipartisan   numbers, and I trust the numbers will be large, will say “yes”’  to freedom on the airwaves, “yes” to the freedom of expression,  and “yes” to the freedom of the press. 

  I urge my colleagues on both   sides of the aisle to reject the “unfairness doctrine” and vote   “aye” on the Pence amendment on behalf of my colleagues JEFF FLAKE   and JEB HENSARLING. 

  Mr. OBEY. Mr. CHAIRMAN, I move   to strike the last word. 

  Mr. CHAIRMAN, as someone of   note said a long time ago, it will be little noted nor long remembered   what we say here today. Certainly this has not been one of the most   scintillating debates in the history of the Republic. 

  But I do want to thank my friends   on the right because if our folks on talk radio and yap yap TV, if they   actually believed that there was a fiercely liberal press that dominated   the country, then they would be running kicking and screaming, demanding   a Fairness Doctrine. And the fact that the folks on talk radio and yap   yap TV are doing just the opposite indicates to me that they are publicly   admitting that they are not “fair and balanced.” 

  A lot of fun has been made   of the FCC. It started in 1929, Herbert Hoover. Herbert Hoover was a   very unlucky President who happened to be a very fine man and who had,  I think, for his long illustrious life, a pretty good understanding   of what it takes to be basically fair in this country. You ought to   go back and read some of Herbert Hoover’s speeches. He takes a lot   of guff, but he was a very impressive man, with a misguided economic   policy, but he was a very impressive human being. 

  When the FCC was created, it   was based on the idea that the airwaves, which were being licensed to   private holders, were, in fact, property of the public and that it is   sort of like our stewardship of the Earth. My religious beliefs tell   me that we never really own property even if we have title to it. We   lease it from God for a while and we have stewardship responsibility. 

    Now that in my view, is the   same view that the government had when they started licensing radio   stations. What they said to people who stood to make a lot of money   with those licenses is, “Look, if you’re going to use the public   airwaves, make sure that all sides get a fair shake of the argument.”  That’s what it was all about. It has long since gone by the boards   because of court decisions and other administrative actions by various   administrations. 

  Right-wing radio today looks   at those airwaves as being their open private preserve, and they’re   not going to give them up at all. But don’t worry, I would not, for   a second, want to see Rush Limbaugh or good old Sean moderated. I want   to see the real, raw Rush. I want him and folks like him to be thoroughly   and fully exposed to the American listening audience in all of their   bloviating glory. I want to let Rush be Rush. And that isn’t going   to bother me if he goes on for hours and hours with his one-sided diatribes.  Everybody knows he’s plugged directly into Republican national headquarters.  And so in my view, he is virtually discredited, and I would like to   keep it that way. 

  So all I guess I would say,  Mr. CHAIRMAN, is that I think we ought to let right-wing radio go on   just as they do now. Rush and Sean are just about as important in the   scheme of things as Paris Hilton. And I would hate to see them gain   an ounce of credibility by being forced by a government agency or anybody   else to moderate their views enough so that they just might become modestly   influential or respectable. 

  With that Mr. CHAIRMAN, could   I inquire of how much time is remaining on the other side? 

  The Acting CHAIRMAN (Mr. McDermott).  The gentleman from Indiana has 1 minute. 

  Mr. OBEY. Mr. CHAIRMAN, I reserve   the balance of my time and let the gentleman use his minute, and then   I will close. 

  Mr. PENCE. There is no question   that the chairman of the Appropriations Committee is a tough act to   follow, but I appreciate his decorum, his demeanor and always his candor   on this floor. 

  But let me reassure him and   all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle that the bipartisan   vote that I expect will be recorded today will be an encouragement to   people on the right, to people on the left, and people in the center,  people in front of microphones and people listening to those people   on microphones because this House will say what some in the other body   are not saying, and that is, we believe in freedom on the airwaves.  We reject the archaic doctrines of the past that would have this Federal   Government manage political speech on the public airwaves.

  It is time that we come together   as a Nation, we move past the archaic rules of broadcasting fashioned   for a Depression-era America, and we embrace the dynamic national conversation   that is the American media today. 

  Mr. CHAIRMAN, I yield back   the balance of my time. 

  Mr. OBEY. May I inquire of   the Chair how much time I have remaining? 

  The Acting CHAIRMAN. The gentleman   has 8 minutes. 

  Mr. OBEY. I won’t take the   time, let me just simply sum up very briefly. 

  As the Chair knows, we’ve   gone through the last 30 minutes debating a nonissue. The amendment   has already been accepted by the committee. And I would expect that   there will be an overwhelmingly vote for it because there is no prospect   of any serious effort to revive the Fairness Doctrine, either legislatively   or legally. And so, this has really been another political exercise. 

  I’ve almost given up expecting   that substance will dominate legislative debate. We had a State senator   by the name of Lynn Stalbaum, who served in Wisconsin many years ago.  And the legislature was covered by a man by the name Aldric Revell.  Aldric was an acerbic reporter who had the temperament of H.L. Mencken   and a pen to match. And he wrote this about Stalbaum one day, he said,  “Stalbaum is a superb legislator, but he has the maddening tendency   to expect reason to dominate legislative debate.” 

  I don’t really expect, on   issues like this, to have much common sense in the House. You get six   like-minded people in this institution, they talk to each other in the   cloakroom and they think they’ve conducted a public opinion poll. 

  So all I would say is, I fundamentally   disagree with the gentleman who indicated that this is a highly important   vote. I think, as another famous author once said, this is a lot of   sound and fury signifying nothing. 

  Mr. DINGELL. Mr. CHAIRMAN,  I rise in opposition to the amendment offered by the gentleman from   Indiana concerning the Fairness Doctrine. 

  I am opposed to this amendment.  The amendment concerns an important communications policy issue that   is properly addressed in the authorizing committee. This is a classic   example, of which I have seen many, of an attempt to legislate on a   spending bill. 

  The Fairness Doctrine is an   important, complex issue. It concerns many of the core policy values   that Congress assigns to local broadcasters. It concerns the First Amendment,  and localism in the media. It is, in short, an issue that should first   be considered by the authorizing committee. For that reason alone, I   oppose the amendment.

    Even   if the amendment were not procedurally defective, the amendment is entirely   unnecessary. I understand from the Federal Communications Commission   (FCC) chairman’s office that the FCC has no plans to even debate the   issue, much less take action. In other words, there will be no action   at the FCC on the Fairness Doctrine. 

  It is therefore unclear why   the gentleman—who must know this fact—is even offering the amendment.  I hope my colleagues consider that question as they vote on the amendment.  I will vote against it.

[Roll No. 599]











  Barrett (SC)


  Bartlett (MD)

  Barton (TX)






  Bishop (NY)

  Bishop (UT)











  Boyd (FL)

  Brady (TX)

  Brown (SC)

  Brown, Corrine

  Brown-Waite, Ginny



  Burton (IN)



  Camp (MI)

  Campbell (CA)














  Cole (OK)













  Davis (AL)

  Davis (KY)

  Davis, David

  Davis, Lincoln

  Davis, Tom

  Deal (GA)




  Diaz-Balart, L.

  Diaz-Balart, M.













  English (PA)











  Franks (AZ)



  Garrett (NJ)













  Green, Gene

  Hall (TX)


  Hastings (FL)

  Hastings (WA)





  Herseth Sandlin








  Inglis (SC)




  Jackson-Lee (TX)


  Johnson (IL)

  Johnson, Sam

  Jones (NC)






  King (IA)

  King (NY)



  Kline (MN)


  Kuhl (NY)






  Lewis (CA)

  Lewis (KY)





  Lungren, Daniel E.



  Mahoney (FL)





  McCarthy (CA)

  McCarthy (NY)

  McCaul (TX)







  McMorris Rodgers

  Meek (FL)

  Meeks (NY)




  Miller (FL)

  Miller (MI)

  Miller (NC)

  Miller, Gary



  Moore (KS)

  Moran (KS)

  Murphy (CT)

  Murphy, Patrick

  Murphy, Tim













  Peterson (MN)

  Peterson (PA)








  Price (GA)

  Pryce (OH)












  Rogers (AL)

  Rogers (KY)

  Rogers (MI)










  Ryan (OH)

  Ryan (WI)







  Scott (GA)













  Smith (NE)

  Smith (NJ)

  Smith (TX)

  Smith (WA)
















  Udall (CO)

  Udall (NM)




  Walden (OR)

  Walsh (NY)

  Walz (MN)



  Weldon (FL)





  Wilson (NM)

  Wilson (OH)

  Wilson (SC)



  Young (AK)

  Young (FL)










  Bishop (GA)



  Boyda (KS)

  Brady (PA)

  Braley (IA)










  Davis (CA)

  Davis (IL)











  Frank (MA)


  Green, Al



  Hall (NY)









  Jackson (IL)


  Johnson (GA)

  Johnson, E. B.

  Jones (OH)





  Klein (FL)



  Larsen (WA)

  Larson (CT)



  Lewis (GA)


  Lofgren, Zoe


  Maloney (NY)



  McCollum (MN)





  Miller, George

  Moore (WI)

  Moran (VA)



  Neal (MA)






  Price (NC)


  Sánchez, Linda T.

  Sanchez, Loretta



  Scott (VA)







  Thompson (CA)

  Thompson (MS)


  Van Hollen


  Wasserman Schultz




  Welch (VT)









  Davis, Jo Ann











  Ms. MOORE of Wisconsin, Mr.  MEEHAN, Mr. ALLEN, Ms. BERKLEY and Mr. TOWNS changed their vote from   “aye” to “no.”

  Mr. LAMPSON, Mr. HASTINGS of   Florida and Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas changed their vote from “no”  to “aye.”

    So   the amendment was agreed to.

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