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Dick Durbin Introduces Backdoor Attempt at the Fairness Doctrine

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: In the Senate this afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, the Senate today is voting on two versions of the Fairness Doctrine, starting in 24 minutes, if they're on time. The first bill in the Senate on the Fairness Doctrine is authored by Dick Durbin of Illinois. His bill proposes these contrivances that I wrote about in the Wall Street Journal op-ed. "Localism," meaning local content, "a notice to broadcasters they must ratchet up and increase the local content on their radio stations. Other guidelines for programming and diversity and advisory boards overseeing radio stations, "making sure that the laws," the requirements in the Durbin bill "are monitor and upheld." The second vote is the anti-Fairness Doctrine bill offered by Senator Jim DeMint. It's an amendment, actually that would forever close off the Fairness Doctrine as something that could be voted on in the Senate.

The conventional wisdom is that Durbin will win and DeMint will lose, because there are more Democrats than there are Republicans in the Senate. Now, of course, this is just the Senate. It'd then have to go to the House, and it's interesting. Obama has said that he's not in favor of the Fairness Doctrine, but I don't think this is the Fairness Doctrine. They're not calling it the Fairness Doctrine. These are new guidelines, new restrictions: "local content," "diversity in ownership," that kind of thing. So don't let anybody tell you they're not going for it. They certainly are, and it's happening in the Senate even as we speak.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Dick Durbin on the floor of the Senate this afternoon.

DURBIN: Section 307(b) of the communications act requires that the FCC ensure license ownership be spread among diverse communities. It's there already. I don't think this is socialistic, communistic, or unconstitutional. It's in the law. So to say we're going to promote what the law already says is hardly a denial of basic constitutional freedoms. Second, the communications act requires the FCC eliminate market entry barriers for small businesses to increase the diversity of media voices. That's Section 257. So to argue that what I'm putting in here is a dramatic change of the law, is going to somehow muzzle Rush Limbaugh, it's not the case. What we're suggesting is that it is best that we follow the guidelines already in the law to promote and encourage diversity in media ownership.

RUSH: All right, folks, I've been in this business all my life. I understand the Communications Act of 1934, 1944, 1995, 2003, '04, I know it all. Let me first ask you a question. Senator Durbin, if it isn't about changing things, why do this? If the law is already the law, why do this? Why throw my name in here? And why talk about it being communistic or socialistic or whatever else -- communistic, socialistic, unconstitutional -- you must be sensitive to the charge here, if you start defending it that way. Let me tell you about diversity of minority ownership. This has happened not just in broadcasting. It has happened in automobile dealerships. Let me tell you how it works, or how it did work, and how it has worked. FCC did come out with diversity in ownership rules. The only problem was that the people who were the targets of being the owners had no way of buying broadcast properties. So what happened was that a consortium of white business people would hire a black or minority to lead the group and go purchase properties. The black guy would be given equity, the African-American would be given equity in this company, and that's how minority ownership came about. I've seen it.

Auto dealerships. I remember in Los Angeles and parts of Northern California, all of a sudden a rule came down that certain dealerships, a number of dealerships had to be owned by minorities, so what would happen is a bunch of traditional auto dealers would go down to the barrios of Los Angeles, and they would pick somebody out, "Hey, you, Hector, over here," and they'd put Hector in charge of the company, and Hector is at the dealership, doesn't know beans about what he's doing, but they teach him along the way and Hector gets his self-esteem up, he's running a Lexus dealership. He's out there test-driving Acuras with people. What Durbin wants to do here is ramp this up and expand it and just as people who can't afford homes are being lent money they can never pay back and then be allowed to live in the homes, what Durbin wants to do is to allow diversity -- he means racial and ethnic diversity of ownership -- he wants to break up companies that own significant numbers of radio stations, and none of them are violating the law at the moment in the number of stations they own.

There are laws about cross-ownership of newspapers, television stations, radio stations in the same market, and some companies have expanded their radio holdings, they've had to divest a TV station in the market or a newspaper or what have you. There isn't a company in violation of the law right now in terms of diversity in ownership. What Durbin wants to do is force additional minority ownership and then the local ownership, the new diversity ownership will then say, "You know, I don't care whether the Limbaugh show is making a lot of money, I don't want it on my station. I'm going to put on whatever I'm going to put on." That's the objective, and the words fairness and the words doctrine are never used. This is just one of the three branches. Then, after they get diversity in ownership, minority diversity ownership, then will come the local content rules, which I'm sure Durbin will then say, "Well, those rules are already on the books, too, we gotta start enforcing, nothing unconstitutional, communistic or socialistic about this. I mean, Pol Pot never even did this, and the gulags, and our people at Club Gitmo. This is perfectly within the grounds of the Constitution." So we're just going to enforce the local content rules which are going to say that 90% of a station's programming must be local.

The Fairness Doctrine will never be used, and they're voting on this today in the Senate. The very idea, he says, that something in the law is going to muzzle Rush Limbaugh is not the case. Then why do it? Obviously, I'm not being muzzled by the current law, which you say is already the current law, Senator Turban, so there's something different here. When somebody goes to the floor of the Senate and says, "I'm not trying to muzzle Rush Limbaugh," yes, you are. It's like when somebody says, "Look, it's not the money," it's always the money. So they're trying it, while Obama is out there saying he has no interest in it. Well, and he can say truthfully, if this thing ever gets past the House into the Senate, say it gets to his desk, just sign it, "You know what, I don't see Fairness Doctrine in here, I said I was opposed to that, but I'm all for diversity in ownership. I'm all for more minorities and poor people being able to own radio stations, it's only fair." Sign it off. That's how this stuff is going to happen. This is why I wrote the op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, said Mr. Obama, okay, you've told us about Fairness Doctrine, about some of these other contrivances, how do you feel about -- never got an answer. Yes, that's right, I did get an answer. It's happening on the floor of the Senate -- (laughing) -- right now.

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