One of the great fears of right wing media is that the incoming Obama administration will reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. For those of you not familiar with it, the Fairness Doctrine was an FCC policy that required any radio or television broadcaster with an FCC license to present public issues in an honest and balanced manner. The Museum of Broadcast Communications has a good piece on the Fairness Doctrine here http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/F/htmlF/fairnessdoct/fairnessdoct.htm .
It is ironic that with the existing fear over the re-establishment of the doctrine, conservative personalities like Rush Limbaugh continue to do as much as they can to demonstrate how badly it is needed. Limbaugh, in fact, only started to achieve any sort of prominence in 1988; the year after the fairness doctrine was ended by the Reagan administration.
Limbaugh’s specialty has been taking what is a bad situation for Republicans and twisting it to make it seem like it is the fault of one or more Democrats. The truth is inconsequential to Limbaugh in making these arguments. This is why the repeal of the fairness doctrine was so crucial to his assent. Any marginally competent opposition on the same show would easily demonstrate how Limbaugh’s pronouncements often have no basis in fact or reality.
Conservative America, who tunes in to hear what Limbaugh has to say about the issues, is treated to the most dishonest and vicious propaganda in American history. If you want to assess blame for the polarization of America and the warped views of the conservative electorate, Rush Limbaugh is one of the people that deserves a large portion of the blame. His false statements don’t just claim that Democrats are wrong on the issues; he demonizes Democrats and seeks to make his supporters believe that Democrats are evil.
One of the most recent of Limbaugh’s outrages was his claim that the current recession is the fault of Barack Obama. For those of you who have not heard this before, yes, you read it correctly and it is not a typo on my part. Limbaugh blames the recession on someone who is not even in office yet and wipes out any responsibility from Bush and the Republican administration. You can read all about what Limbaugh had to say here http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_110608/content/01125107.guest.html .
The Limbaugh “Obama Recession” show was aired on November 6. Five weeks later, on December 11, the agency that determines whether we are in a recession or not and when one began, the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Business Cycle Dating Committee, released a finding that showed that the Recession began in December 2007. You can read their findings here http://www.nber.org/cycles/dec2008.html . If you rewind to December 2007, not only was Obama not the President-elect yet, he wasn’t even the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. The news reports of the time all suggested that Hillary Clinton was the inevitable Democratic nominee.
Even if you narrow your focus of Limbaugh’s statements to his suggestion that the Dow Jones industrial average lost around 700 points right after the election, it has been back up about the same amount, then down again and then up again. This is all pretty much in line with what it had been doing since mid September. Incidentally, McCain was still viewed as polling evenly with Obama until the end of September. There is no correlation between the Dow or the economy and Obama.
Limbaugh, of course, knows this. His whole piece on the “Obama recession” was made up out of thin air, but in the post fairness doctrine world, no one is there on his show to challenge his wild allegations. Nevertheless, immediately after Limbaugh did his piece on the so-called “Obama Recession” conservatives started repeating the mantra all over the web and on other conservative talk shows. As this piece on Media Matters points out. http://mediamatters.org/items/200811070011?f=h_latest Sean Hannity and Dick Morris immediately picked up on Limbaugh’s comments and passed them on. Hannity repeated the suggestion a few days later as pointed out in a subsequent Media Matters report http://mediamatters.org/items/200811120011 . Google shows nearly 50,000 hits on the term in quotes.
This recession is a serious issue that demands and deserves that the media discuss it in a serious and honest manner. The right wing media cabal doesn’t care. They are only concerned with scoring political points no matter the gravity of the situation, no matter that a huge percentage of the country is suffering greatly in this recession.
While I spend a lot of time outlining one particular instance of a conservative commentator’s dishonesty, there are hundreds of thousands of similar statements on a wide variety of issues since the end of the fairness doctrine twenty years ago. It is more glaring in this instance because an impartial official agency happened to come out with a finding that makes it apparent that Limbaugh’s statement (and those who have since parroted it) had no basis in fact. Everyone should consider what the impact has been of hundreds of conservative journalists spewing all of these lies for twenty years. It is time to end this and reinstate the fairness doctrine.