Fairness Doctrine paranoia never really went away

FAIRNESS DOCTRINE PARANOIA NEVER REALLY WENT AWAY…. For the first couple of months of the Obama presidency, right-wing activists and assorted conservative lawmakers seemed genuinely panicked about the Fairness Doctrine, for no apparent reason. In time, they hysteria faded, as even the most unhinged Republicans discovered that no one cared.

Two years later, it appears the paranoia is back.

There’s an official at the FCC, Mark Lloyd, whose job description includes helping “ensure that the communications field is competitive.” It’s hardly the most powerful office at the agency — Lloyd is the Associate General Counsel and Chief Diversity Officer — and no one at the FCC has so much as hinted about pursuing the Fairness Doctrine.

But Jonathan Bernstein notes that the right has labeled Lloyd the “Fairness Doctrine Czar,” and Republicans took steps to do something about this nefarious/imaginary threat.

[T]hat’s where we get to the Scalise Amdendment to the CR last week — which prohibited funding for nine “czars” including the “Fairness Doctrine Czar.” Putting aside how silly the whole “czar” thing is, and that an Associate General Counsel at the FCC hardly fits Scalise’s definition of “czars with cabinet-level powers,” what we have here is a Member of the House, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, trafficking in wacko-bait. There is no plot to reinstate the Fairness Docrtrine!

I’m sorry; did I say “a” Member of the House? Because Scalise’s amendment wasn’t just offered in the House; it received the unanimous-but-one support of the GOP conference (dissenting would be Reid Ribble of Wisconsin) and, 13 foolish Democrats. Granted, since there were nine “czars” included in the measure, it’s possible that enthusiasm for eliminating the “Obama Care Czar” was the key thing here, but still: that’s 236 Republicans voting for something that is, basically, pure hokum.

Here’s the roll call, showing that the Scalise Amendment passed 249 to 179. The 249-vote majority — 236 Republicans and 13 Democrats — actually voted to deny funding to a job that doesn’t exist, to resist a policy agenda that doesn’t exist.

Bernstein added, “Really, Republicans should be ashamed of themselves.” That’s true, but it presupposes these guys are still capable of shame.