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Obama Aide Declines Comment on Fairness Doctrine

Related: Fairness Doctrine: Complete Coverage from Broadcasting & Cable

White House senior adviser David Axelrod would not comment on the possible reintroduction of the FCC's fairness doctrine Sunday, saying that would be up to the president and his new FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski.

That may the closest the administration has come to officially confirming what the media press have been reporting for weeks about Genachowski's standing as the presumptive chairman. Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps is acting chairman in the interim.

Axelrod was more definitive about ruling in Genachowski than ruling out the doctrine.

Asked by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday whether he would rule out reimposing the doctrine, Axelrod said: "I'm going to leave that issue to Julius Genachowski, our new head of the FCC, and the president to discuss, so I don't have an answer for you now."

It may not reassure conservative talkers that Genachowski was an aide to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) when Schumer was in the House. Schumer's pro-fairness doctrine comments to Fox News in November provided new life to suspicions that once Democrats controlled both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, they would try to revive the doctrine. Scrapped in 1987 by the FCC, the Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to report both sides of controversial issues.

But Genachowski will have plenty on his plate without picking that fight, with the DTV transition spreading analog cut-off dates all over the map and the FCC charged in the new economic stimulus package with coming up with a broadband rollout blueprint within the year.

The White House press office has not returned inquiries as to just where President Barack Obama stands, but candidate Barack Obama, through an aide, told B&C twice during the campaign that he did not support bringing it back.

The issue has returned to the front burner with the control of Congress and the White House in the hands of Democrats, some of whom have expressed a fondness for the doctrine as a governor on the right-wing talkers that have been so critical of their party.

There are progressive talk radio shows, but the dominant voices witDeclineWhiWh vast audiences belong to conservative hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Just last week, former President Bill Clinton suggested the doctrine's return, and broadcasters, beyond simply conservative talk radio, have become concerned.