Reid Calls Fairness Doctrine a ‘Ghost that Doesn’t Exist’

By Josiah Ryan | March 10, 2009 | 5:42 PM EDT

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

( - The Fairness Doctrine is a “ghost that doesn’t exist” and neither Democrats nor Republicans are interested in seeing it restored, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning.
“The Fairness Doctrine – what a ghost that doesn’t exist,” said Reid. “None of us want to go back to the way it was before. It is an issue they brought up to talk about. No one wants to re-establish the Fairness Doctrine – Democrats or Republicans.”
The Fairness Doctrine was a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation introduced in 1949 that said companies with broadcast licenses had to present controversial political issues in a fair and balanced way, which usually translated into broadcasting divergent political viewpoints on issues. The FCC stopped implementing the rule in 1987.
On Feb. 26 Sen. Jim DeMint (D-Calif.) proposed an amendment to the D.C. Voting Rights Act that would permanently ban reimplementation of the Fairness Doctrine. The amendment passed 87-11. Reid voted for the amendment.
Minutes before the amendment passed the Senate, however, Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) proposed a separate amendment that says “certain affirmative actions” are “required” of the FCC, including “actions to encourage and promote diversity in communication media ownership and to ensure that broadcast station licenses are used in the public interest.” This amendment also passed, on a vote of 57-41.
Reid also voted for the Durbin amendment.
The amendment’s language is viewed by many conservative media experts as a means to regulate conservative talk radio, particularly popular programs such as the “Rush Limbaugh Show” and the “Sean Hannity Show,” among many others.