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Kerry Wants Fairness Doctrine Reimposed

Senator John Kerry is calling for reimposition of the fairness doctrine.

In a radio interview on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show, excerpted on YouTube, Senator Kerry said he thought the doctrine should return. Calling it one of the "most profound changes in the balance of the media," he said conservatives have been able to "squeeze down and squeeze out opinion of opposing views. I think it has been a very important transition in the imbalance of our public dialog," he said.

Kerry joins what appears to be a growing Democratic push-back against conservative talk radio, which flowered after the FCC in 1987 declared that the doctrine was unconsititutional. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has called for the doctrine's return, and Senator Diane Feinstein (9D-Calif,) says she is looking into it.

The fairness doctrine required broadcasters to afford reasonable opportunity for the airing of both sides of "issues of public importance." The doctrine was scrapped in 1987 when the FCC concluded it had come up with the rule rather than it being imbedded in statute and thus could declare it unconstitutional. Congress then tried to imbed it in statute, but President Ronald Reagan vetoed the bill.

In 2000, a court also threw out corollaries to the doctrine that required broadcasters to provide response time to personal attacks and political editorials.

Kerry supporters considered him under personal attack from broadcasters in the 2004 campaign when Sinclair aired the documentary Stolen Honor. They eventually declared victory when what they called a more balanced, edited version of the piece aired. Sinclair claimed the show had always been a work in progress.