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The White House "Rush" to the Fairness Doctrine

Posted By Rory Cooper On March 4, 2009 @ 11:54 am In Ongoing Priorities | Comments Disabled

Over the past few weeks, America has seen President Obama, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel and former Campaign Manager David Plouffe channel much of their focus on what they see as a major problem facing America. You might think the object of this affection is the spiraling economy, which has led them to declare war on moderately successful investors and small business owners while they refuse to acknowledge a war on terror. That is certainly a focus. Secondarily, you might think it is the housing crisis, where they are attempting to cram down irresponsible mortgages so that responsible homeowners pay for the irresponsible mistakes of their neighbors. Definitely a focus. You may also think their focus is on creating a national health care plan, complete with community servicing centers and government run treatment plans paid for by a select few and at the expense of charitable contributions [1]. Nobody argues that is a focus.

No, with these important issues being debated on Capitol Hill, President Obama, Rahm Emmanuel and David Plouffe have channeled their focus towards Rush Limbaugh. Arguably the most successful radio host in American history, Rush has historically drawn the ire of the left, for building an army of conservatives poised to battle bad ideas, and offer better solutions to the nation’s challenges. But this time, it is a bit more calculated, a bit more centralized and a bit more vitriolic. So the question has to be asked, why? Why would the President risk taking his eye off the ball to clash with one radio host?

Why would Congressman Grayson (D-FL) call Limbaugh a “sorry excuse for a human being [2],” in these times when President Obama is calling for bipartisan solutions and a change in Washington tone? And most importantly, why would David Plouffe, one of the President’s closest confidents over the past year, devote a full editorial [3] only to the subject of Rush Limbaugh? He chose to use the platform afforded to him by the Washington Post, not to sell America on Obama’s economic, housing or banking solutions, nor to sell America on the largest spending increases ever seen in a budget in Washington. He chose this platform to attack a syndicated radio host who disagrees with the President’s ideas.

You may remember that Obama had problems with disagreeable radio hosts in the past. During his presidential campaign, Obama’s team led by David Plouffe, battled against WGN Radio in Chicago [4], for having one single conservative guest on the Mitt Rosenberg show. WGN, known mostly for favorable coverage of the then-Senator, was awash in vitriolic hate mail and phone calls from Obama supporters urged into action by the campaign, because Mr. Rosenberg wanted to discuss Obama’s connection to William Ayers, a popular topic at the time.

But again, the question remains, why? There is only one simple answer. By making Rush Limbaugh the target of their attacks, they have the ability to rally their political capital around the Fairness Doctrine, or elements of it. It can be the only reason why this battle against free speech has been waged. The timing is impeccable. It was only two weeks ago that Rush Limbaugh wrote an editorial for the Wall Street Journal [5] asking the President to “keep the airwaves free.” Only days later, the White House was pulling together their official government muscle to silence him.

As has been documented here before, there is little question that one of the top priorities of Washington’s liberal leaders is to muzzle conservative and religious broadcasting [6]. It is also well known that American public opinion tends to favor the first amendment and free speech, and oppose measures to limit it. The only opportunistic time for such a measure would be in the early days of a popular presidency. And the only way to make it palatable to the American people is to vilify a recognizable name of the opposition. Much like Senator Joe McCarthy needed Edward R. Murrow; David Plouffe needs Rush Limbaugh.

Today, the Obama Administration announced their choice of Julius Genachowski [7] to head the FCC, on the same day David Plouffe’s editorial [3] ran in the Washington Post calling Rush Limbaugh the “Minority Leader.” James Carville, Rahm Emmanuel and Paul Begala charted this course in their daily phone calls together [8], where the three plan the strategic communications of the liberal message. It was capped off yesterday by White House spokesmen ending his official White House briefing with a jab at Limbaugh, “I was a little surprised at the speed in which Mr. Steele, the head of the RNC, apologized to the head of the Republican Party,” Gibbs quipped with a grin, before striding out of the press room, according to Politico.

The economy is not the focus of the President’s communications team. Neither is the housing crisis, the banking crisis, the auto bailout or any of their solutions to those problems. Why? Because their solutions are not popular. And the more radio hosts that tell America about these bad ideas, the worse off they are. [9] So their focus is on the real problem, free speech. The sooner they nip it in the bud, the better. And the only way to do that is through the Fairness Doctrine.

So while the President’s top aides will continue to get America to focus on Rush Limbaugh. They will try and split conservatives, as some fell trap to earlier this week. They will divide America into pro-Limbaugh and anti-Limbaugh groups, and then they will offer the only reasonable solution they have to the anti-Limbaugh group, the Fairness Doctrine.  And what better target than the man credited as ”the first man to proclaim himself liberated [10] from the East Germany of liberal media domination.”

Conservatives cannot lose their focus. They must remain vigilant against bad economic decisions [11], bad banking decisions, bad auto bailout decisions, bad housing decisions and above all bad Constitutional decisions. The Constitution gives Rush Limbaugh the right, even the duty, to inform the American public of the Obama Administration’s record. And when they try and take that right away, conservatives must stand against it.

As Rush himself asks; “will the arena of ideas remain a free market [5].” From now on when Obama’s top advisors mention Rush, conservatives should answer Fairness Doctrine. That way, the conversation will be about what matters, free speech and accountability.


Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2009/03/04/the-white-house-rush-to-the-fairness-doctrine/

URLs in this post:

[1] the expense of charitable contributions: http://www.foundry.org/2009/03/03/why-make-300000-when-250000-is-so-much-more/

[2] sorry excuse for a human being: http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0309/Dem_Congressman_Limbaugh_is_a_sorry_excuse_for_a_human_being.html?showall

[3] devote a full editorial: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/03/AR2009030303210.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

[4] battled against WGN Radio in Chicago: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/08/obama-wgn.html

[5] wrote an editorial for the Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123508978035028163.html

[6] muzzle conservative and religious broadcasting: http://www.foundry.org/2009/02/19/fairness-doctrine-confusion/

[7] Julius Genachowski: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123180775460975639.html

[8] their daily phone calls together: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/19596_Page2.html

[9] the worse off they are.: http://www.foundry.org/2009/03/03/santelli-responds-to-team-obama-character-assination-attempt/

[10] proclaim himself liberated: http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/dhenninger/?id=110006626

[11] bad economic decisions: http://www.foundry.org/2009/03/03/in-their-own-words-4/

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