Salem talker Michael Medved keeps calling out other conservative talkers – about McCain.
Medved says the “bitter, highly personal, spiteful and relentless” attacks by the conservative talk establishment on John McCain should cease – at least long enough to acknowledge that McCain’s been leading the fight to keep some Democrats from trying to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine. Medved’s Townhall column says “the Fairness Doctrine would be a devastating assault on free speech. McCain-Feingold, for all its faults” – one of the reasons McCain’s been “ripped, reamed and smeared” – “was not.” This year’s turning out to be a wake-up call for talk radio, don’t you think? With Rush Limbaugh and others complaining about the choices made by the voters in many of the primaries and caucuses. I heard from talk consultant John Mainelli – the g uy who brought Rush to WABC, New York – and John says “The funny thing is that I now think that returning the Fairness Doctrine would be a very good thing. The Fairness Doctrine would sure as hell put an end to all these one-note, crusading, agenda-driven talkshows. Or at least the hosts would have to be a tiny bit clever to sneak around the rules, like everybody used to. Maybe they would actually have to become thoughtful, insightful, open-minded, and possibly even humorous.”
For me, the illuminating part of this item involves the comments from the top industry professional John Mainelli. I think it's chilling that even someone within our medium would want the government and the FCC to regulate the content of talk shows and the programming of talk stations. Like Senator McCain, I'm COMPLETELY opposed to any such crackdown.
However, when even a prominent radio insider things the Fairness Doctrine "would be a very good thing" it tells you something about the depth of the disaster for our industry in its one-sided, monochromatic, hysterical and grotesquely unfair focus.
Wouldn't it help our industry if we achieved more fairness, and promoted more open debate, without bringing government censorship down on us? Sure, it's fine to uphold conservative principles -- that's what I try to do, without compromise, every day. I don't want to change conservatism -- I want to promote it and advance it, and I believe that McCain's candidacy provides the best vehicle for implementing conservative values and ideas. I know many of my colleagues sincerely disagree. And sure, it's fine and fair if your concept of those principles leads you to support Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, or in the (apparently serious) case of Ann Coulter, Hillary Clinton.
But demonizing a Republican candidate you oppose (McCain), with relentless and unaswered and endlessly repeated distortions and outright lies, makes our industry look bad, far more than it makes McCain look bad. Indulging in daily hsteria isn't a way to help the country, the GOP, or talk radio.
The Arizona Senator (and, yes potential president) will continue to fight with us to block liberal attempts to "balance" talk radio with government fiat. But when a widely-respected radio pro takes the other side of this truly threatening issue, shouldn't it persuade us to reconsider a self-destructive course?
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