Limbaugh, the WSJ and the Fairness Doctrine

Has anyone belatedly slammed the barn door shut quite as aggressively as Rush Limbaugh does today in the pages of the WSJ? Days after the Obama White House made it clear it had no interest in reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, an FCC statute that hasn't been on the books in two decades, Limbaugh breathlessly arrived on the scene to beseech the president not to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.

Oh brother.

But this is what happens when the leader-less GOP anoints a radio talk show host to be the voice of the conservative movement; non-existent legislative initiatives like the Fairness Doctrine are treated as wildly important because they might concern Rush.

Note that the top headline in the Journal's news pages today reads, "Market Hits New Crisis Low: Dow Is Now 47% Below Its Peaks; Analysts Warn They See Few Signs of a Bottom." Yet there on the pages of the Journal's Op-Ed section is Limbaugh going on and on about some obscure AM talk radio regulation. I'm sure that agenda is bound to appeal to a large cross-section of struggling Americans these days.

Of course, Limbaugh's column is filled with all kinds of casual falsehoods that are his trademark. Like when he claimed Obama admonished “members of Congress not to listen to my show.” False. Obama suggested, in private, to Republican members of Congress they shouldn't legislate by taking their cues from a radio talk show host. (A radical notion, I know.)

Elsewhere, Limbaugh claimed the AM spectrum is just a rainbow of content diversity [emphasis added]:

Today the number of radio stations programming talk is well over 2,000. In fact, there are thousands of stations that air tens of thousands of programs covering virtually every conceivable topic and in various languages.

Actually, according to the most recent statistical analysis, 91 percent of talk programming in America is conservative. (And yes, I chuckled when Limbaugh referred to the broadcasters' “public interest” as a “contrivance.”)

But mostly, I was struck by the run-away egomania the column so effectively captured. Remember a couple weeks ago when Limbaugh appeared in the Journal to announce--aside from the fact that the current recession would simply fix itself in a matter of months--he was proposing his own stimulus bill. (Suddenly Limbaugh has the power to appropriate money?)

Well today, Limbaugh demands that the new president set aside all other pressing concerns and respond directly to the talker's demands and spell out White House communication policy, again. Because apparently Limbaugh needs things explained to him more than once.