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  • Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee Bans Talk Radio

    In what could only be described as a bizarre and illogical first move as the newly elected governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee (I) announced a ban on state employees having any contact with radio broadcasters. The move is part of a broader attack on radio broadcasters by liberals across the nation in the wake of the tragedy in Arizona.

    Shortly after the heartbreaking incident in Tucson, liberals across the spectrum immediately began assigning blame for it, without evidence, to conservatives and the tone of rhetoric in today’s politics. Even after this notion was completely debunked as anything was learned of the shooter, Jared Loughner, liberal leaders persisted. Even after President Obama wisely rebuked such a suggestion in his Tucson address.

    Congressman Bob Brady (D-PA) chose to introduce a bill that would limit the exercise of free speech to that which a member of congress agrees with, dismissively saying: “Let the Supreme Court deal with freedom of speech. Let the Supreme Court deal with the Constitution. Congress passes laws. That’s what we do.”

    Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) chose to call for a return to the Fairness Doctrine, looking for a better way “to control our airwaves.” Of course, Congress censoring the airwaves was an idea rejected long ago. In fact, the Fairness Doctrine was in place when President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated, so its connection with the incident in Arizona is nothing but opportunism on the part of elected leaders looking to stifle free speech and debate.

    Taking a cue from Clyburn and Slaughter, Governor Chafee didn’t even wait for the FCC to take action against radio broadcasters, and instead muzzled all state employees unilaterally. Chafee’s spokesman defended the decision saying talk-radio is “ratings-drive, for-profit programming” and went on to say they don’t “think it is appropriate to use taxpayer resources” -in the form of state employee work time to- “support for-profit, ratings-driven programming.”

    This attempt to conceal their personal animosity towards one broadcast vehicle and the free speech platform it provides is simply illogical and obtuse. If the problem is simply that radio hosts are “for-profit” than any media ban would absolutely have to include television, print newspapers and the internet. Since almost all media is a business enterprise. But of course, it does not. If the problem was that radio is “ratings-driven” then even National Public Radio (NPR) and PBS television would be off-limits since they absolutely pay attention and promote ratings as well.

    And to wage a battle against a broadcast medium rather than simply choosing not to go on a particular show, as Chafee has done in the past, simply demonstrates a lack of awareness of how the media operates in the 21st century. Americans are no longer tied to three networks for news, and a handful of newspapers. If they don’t like a personality on Twitter, they can unfollow them. If they don’t like a newspaper, they can choose from thousands of publications online. If they don’t like a television show or network, they can flip to one of the many other choices. And if they don’t like a radio host, they can strategically choose another show to listen to, or appear on.

    Americans need to celebrate the media choices available to them today, rather than allow elected leaders to try and limit their options and access to news and analysis through raw government dictates like the Fairness Doctrine or Chafee’s radio ban.

    Seeing that their crusade against the airwaves was lacking intellectual substance, Governor Chafee today announced that the ban may only be temporary. Chafee denied it had anything to do with the criticism he himself faces from radio hosts saying: “we can’t be diverted with all the nonsense on talk-radio,” adding “it’s more entertainment than journalism.”

    Whether Governor Chafee has any respect for those who take to the airwaves each day to report and analyze the news isn’t important. He does not need to respect them. But what he does need to do is respect their power to exercise their first amendment rights without fear of government retribution.

    As an elected official, Governor Chafee should know that he cannot build consensus on issues facing the state, or the actions he plans to take without properly explaining his agenda to the people of Rhode Island. He certainly is aware of this, since he often took to the same radio airwaves he now seeks to ban as he was campaigning for the office of governor.

    If Chafee chooses to use the tragedy of Arizona to further a goal of silencing his critics, it will be a terrible precedent for civil and free discourse. Rhetoric is not inherently uncivil simply because it disagrees with the liberalism Chafee espouses.

    As President Obama said last night in his Tucson address: “[I]t’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.” Using this tragedy to satisfy a grudge against an entire broadcast spectrum is not a strategy of healing, but will only further divide our nation and our discourse.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    22 Responses to Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee Bans Talk Radio

    1. George Colgrove, VA says:

      It is states rights I suppose. They have the power to impose anything they wish, but the voters also have the right to vote these tiny dictators out of office as well. Chafee will answer for this act at the next voting booth. What get me is how stupid these people are acting. What part of the last election did they not get?

      Public officials are definitely scared of the public – and they have every right to be. We are waking up to their inherent corrupt nature.

    2. Cris Chicago says:

      I'd laugh at Rhode Islanders, but in IL we have Gov. Pat Quinn. Quinn tells us his new state tax increases will be good for us. Only 352 days ubtil 2012!

    3. LibertyAtStake, Alex says:

      The knee-jerk move to ban, followed by the back-tracking, is the pattern of a lightweight. But, then, conservatives already knew that about this repentant (R), didn't we?

      "Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive"

    4. Bobbie says:

      The government is condescending law abiding people! How ugly and indignant can they get?!

      Just like more gun control? There is nothing wrong with the laws now, it's up to those that conduct background checks, those that sell, and those that use them to those that enforce them. Whoever violates civil law aren't going to follow the new ones either? Lets grow up Congress!

      Start holding people accountable to their actions and punish harsh enough to deter any future actions of the same.

      People have the right to hear, give and act on opinion. Hypocrites in government do it all the time when it's negative, to stir up illusions.

    5. Bobbie says:

      Correction: 3rd sentence: to those that enforce THE LAW. I meant…

    6. Ed, Washington says:

      I think that the Rhode Island decison has more to do with the former Mayor of Providence's talk radio show than with the larger issues.

      See: http://www.projo.com/news/politics/content/chafee

      Excerpt below:

      As a candidate, Chafee made the talk-show rounds. The exception: the WPRO talk show hosted by former Providence Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci, a convicted felon with a sharp tongue.

      Trainor said Chafee felt Cianci had stepped over the line in his attempts to raise questions about the “stability” of the Chafees’ marriage, and to link Chafee to an alleged Ukrainian mob associate based on unsubstantiated reports, even playing the theme to “The Godfather” movies when he talked about Chafee.

      Trainor recalled Chafee saying: “I would demean myself, my candidacy by going into that environment.”

    7. MrShorty, Cave Creek says:

      He should be sued and the people of Rhode Island should start a petition for his removal from office. Talk about a dictator !!

    8. J. Daniel, Chicago says:

      If anyone doubts the hypocrisy of those liberals blaming political speech as inciting violence, consider this: We are to believe that an advertisement using the cross hairs of a rifle scope as a graphic or that lively discussions on talk radio can be causes of violence; right? But if at another time and place someone suggest that the ubiquitous and graphic violence in movies, TV, internet, and video games should be curbed because of its negative influences on society, the same liberals scream the freedom of speech argument. Certainly it is a much more plausible thesis that the perpetrator in Tucson saw thousands of acts of graphic violence in our popular media dwarfing anything he might have encountered in political discourse.

    9. Edith Cheverly, Md. says:

      Of course Chafee’s talk radio ban is about more than attempting to score political points off of this tragedy he was criticized extensively by talk radio during his gubernatorial campaign, which means that this is also about petty political payback. I guess he has taken a page from Obama book of play it safe interviews. Has Chafee been scheduled for Comedy Central yet?

      As for congress if this is how you handle a threat or a crisis we all have something to fear.

    10. Lloyd Scallan (New O says:

      Citizens of this nation had better stand back and recognize just how we are

      continuing to loose our freedoms and liberties at an alarming rate since Obama

      took control by fraud. This latest move by Chaffe is pulled directly from the playbook of dictators who have known for generations that one of the best way to control the masses is to control free speech and the exchange of ideas. Those

      politicians such as Obama understand that buying off the national media

      is the first step. Now that's been done, they turn their treachery to the free airways. Chafee, being one of Obama's left ilk, also know this. He is is just doing the bidding for the dictators to be that controls from the White House.

    11. Kenneth E. MacAliste says:

      Here you have another product of The Stupid Party & their insane notion of, "We need more RINOs!" The Stupid Party "leadership" are entirely to blame for this clown. They put him on the map. How much longer will it take before The Stupid Party realize RINOs are a cancer that is killing them?

    12. Bob Pohl, Beavercree says:

      This fits right in with the Progresive agenda to abridge free speach they do not like. He should be impeached for not defending the Constitution which I assume was part of his oath of office.

      What does he suggest as a penalty for an employee that does not follow his directive?

      One more Comment.

      If asked, what do Progresives say is the ultimate Government they see for these United States and would they need to change the Constitution to achieve that end?


    13. LMR, Rhode Island says:

      LibertyAtStake has at least half of the "knee-jerk" reaction correct. Mr. Chafee is showing himself to be a petulant, vindictive little snipe, while he dons the costume of children's sing-along icon, Barney the Purple Dinosaur.

      Yesterday, Mr. Chafee was encouraging RI advertisers to stop "funding" talk radio. Except we listeners are the advertisers' customers, LOL. Mr. Chafee also blamed Ann Coulter, citing an excoriating column she wrote about him… in 2006. Correlating an archived print article to contemporary talk radio indicates desperate straw-grasping.

      By the way, RI "state employees" do not call in to local talk shows to chew the fat; those who call are generally department directors or other authorized officials who announce, clarify, or answer questions about relevant and timely government issues and policy. Mr. Chafee's hasty, thoughtless ban HAD to be modified because of impending severe weather and the need for Emergency Management to be in communication with the public.

      However, there may be something even more insidious about this "ban" that has not yet been mentioned. In our state, there is a deep chasm between our excellent commissioner of education, who has the plan and the determination to make substantive improvements to the system, and the horrendous teachers unions, who just love the status quo (with more pay and benefits please). The teachers union got Chafee elected. The director of RI NEA was even on the Chafee transition team. Chafee has implied our commissioner is "divisive" and he favors the teachers union. The commissioner has always taken to the radio airwaves, lately to explain her plan and keep the public informed… and the public reaction is positive, engaged and supportive. Meanwhile, the behavior of the teachers unions – and of teachers themselves in one particular school district – is drawing legitimate and well-deserved criticism from talk radio hosts, audiences, and the general public. Chafee's ban would essentially keep our commissioner off the air – and the teachers union's shenanigans out of the public eye. Just another interesting consequence (or benefit, if you're the teachers union) to consider.

      Be that as it may, Chafee is not a contemplative man. With a sheepish, hesitant demeanor, he appears to spew the first thoughts that come into his head (or what has been planted there), with no filter. His speech pattern seriously reminds me of my mother's early dementia: inappropriate answers and statements that barely relate to the question or situation.

      If this is what we get in his first two weeks, it will be a LONG next four years.

    14. Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI says:

      I saw a billboard on my road trip to New Orleans this past New Years which noted: "You Can't Fix Stupid – All you Can Do Is Vote Them Out Of Office."

      I agree.

    15. Greg, Virginia says:

      Let's see…….North Korea………Venezuela……..Cuba……….Iran……….and now….RHODE ISLAND ! Nice company there, Ocean Staters.

    16. Spiritof76, NH says:

      I think we need to start a Radio Free Rhode Island across its border in Mass. May be a 100,000W station drowing out the whole state with Rush and Hannity.

      We seem to elect stupid and incompetent fools as governors and government leaders.

    17. Denise, Utah says:

      Move over Chavez! Here comes Chaffe!!!

    18. Jan Abraham says:

      I have little problem with this if it is a temporary measure. People with legitimate comments will find plenty of forums to debate in. I just don't want this constant stream of profit driven negativity to continue being fed by the ignorant. I applaud Chaffee for contributing to a PAUSE, and let's see what happens. Doing something to quiet the present airwaves would be great. Let's talk about what we can do, rather than who we hate. This is a nation of great strength. We need to come together in our tragedy and recognize it as a product of our society that needs addressing with simple solutions and thoughtful reflection.

      We need to improve our mental health availability, our educational system, and our gun control legislation.

      I personally feel that all the congressional members should have more friendly forums, retreats, and safety. Bipartisan activities should be a joy, not a fight. How about senators from each side of the parties, visit Afghanistan, Detroit, Arizona, etc. A tour of American plants producing solar solutions, microprocessors, medical equipment, and Cancer laboratories would be beneficial to promote our newest, ideas that need more exposure to the general public. This sounds so optimistic, but we could use some simple fixes, and sunshine right now.

    19. Denver, Oklahoma says:

      I see the Governor's intellect and character haven't improved he's still as undeserving of the title of "American" as he was in congress. His poor family, what a disgrace! The people aren't going to lay down mentally and accept the reversion to the return to Feudalism. The perverse so-called liberals can't imagine the disaster that would follow the achievment of their idiotic goals The very technological development needed to advance our energy rersources would die for lack of capital and intellectual talent from our failed educational system

    20. Just Tex says:

      Governor Chafee has every right to boycott "talk radio". And he probably has the authority to stop state employees from from being on the airwaves of "talk radio" while on duty as well, providing it's an across the board ban, and not just a selectively enforced ban.

      On the other hand, the scores of millions of "talk radio" listeners have the right to boycott Rhode Island, and every business headquartered in Rhode Island too!

      So, until Governor Chafee lifts his obviously retaliatory boycott of "talk radio", I'm going to boycott every Rhode Island business I can.

      Including: CVS pharmacy – operating in 45 states, Caremark Pharmacy Services – operating in at least 26 states, MinuteClinic – a subsidiary of CVS Caremark Corporation operating in 25 states, FM Global insurance company – operating in the USA and internationally, Hasbro toy and boardgame company – operating in the USA and internationally, Amica Mutual Insurance Company, and any others I find.

    21. jim smith new york says:

      The inability of dems/libs to debate or communicate is so glaring, they must resort to jackbooting tactics like "limiting" what we used to call free speech. The "Fairness Doctrine" is just another way for them to admit that their too lazy or, more accurately, too elitist to respond to honest challenges. What are they afraid of?

    22. Paula Maxwell North says:

      wHY do you think u have the right to ban state workers like this. What a state worker does on thier time is tweir business. Instead of wasting money on crap like this, why don't you pass a law that requires 5 yr residency for RI people that apply for welfare or food stamps and showing proof such as a RI id , RI license, bank account statements etc. The same with aliens who apply for SSI or Social Security. Why should people from Puerto Rico be able to leave PR, come here and apply for these programs when PR is not s STATE, doesn't pay INTO THE SYSTEM OR ANY TAXES. What about colleges, lets tax them the same way homeowners r taxed. They r buying up houses all over the state, making money on them by renting them out as dorms. Do something for us middle and low class taxpayers. We aren't all born with a silver spoon in our mouth like you. After all, isn't your mother a descendant of the Brown family.? Yiu know, the ffamily that made alot of their fortune by slave running, sending ships down to Africa, kidnapping people, then selling them in the South?

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