Protecting Themselves From Nonexistent Threats

It’s been more than a month since Marin Cogan explained in The New Republic that fears over the re-introduction of the Fairness Doctrine were nothing more than “Republican paranoia” because Democrats had no intention of actually trying to implement it. 

Just yesterday, Rep. Steny Hoyer told CNS News much the same thing:

The House Democratic leadership, which controls the legislative schedule, currently has no plans to bring the Broadcaster Freedom Act – which would permanently ban the Fairness Doctrine – up for a vote, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told at the Capitol on Wednesday … “That has not been discussed, and I do not contemplate it, but I have not discussed it with the committees,” Hoyer told on Tuesday when asked if the Democratic leadership would schedule a vote on the ban this year. “There is a lot of discussion from the other side on the Fairness Doctrine but less discussion on our side. That has not been a major item.”

But, as the old saying goes, just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean you shouldn’t introduce pre-emptive legislation to block this non-existent threat – and that is exactly what several Republicans did yesterday:

Republicans introduced a bill Wednesday that would bar Congress, President-elect Barack Obama and federal media regulators from bringing back the Fairness Doctrine, which they said would all but eliminate the talk-radio industry.

“Freedom of speech is under attack in this country,” said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican and co-sponsor of the Broadcaster Freedom Act. “I am just committing today to use every rule, every tactic that we have at our disposal to keep the Fairness Doctrine from moving in Congress or to overrule it if it is implemented by the FCC.”

“Bringing back the Fairness Doctrine today would amount to government control over political views expressed on the airwaves,” said Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican and a former broadcaster.

Joining Mr. Pence and Mr. DeMint were Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma and Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon.

The Washington Times reports that “the group did not cite any immediate effort to revive the doctrine, but argued for the legislation as a preventive measure.” So at least they are protected against this non-existent threat should it ever be re-introduced … which it won’t, as a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid explained:

“We have enough real problems facing this country that we don’t need to invent ones that don’t exist,” Reid spokesman Jim Manley said. “This is not even close to being on our radar screen.”