Dem: Fairness doctrine needed 'as long as it's the people's airwaves'

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said on Friday that the Federal Communications Commission should reinstate the fairness doctrine for broadcast television to ensure that multiple sides of controversial topics are offered to the public.

“For over the airwaves TVs, I think they should bring it back,” said Nadler on Fox Business Network with Andrew Napolitano.

“I think it makes sense for people to be able to hear as many sides of political opinions as possible, and as long as it's the people's airwaves that should be used for that purpose.”

Nadler’s comments come in the wake of the recent shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), which has re-launched the debate over what role heated political rhetoric plays in the spurring people to take violent actions.

In a Quinnipiac University poll conducted this week, only 15 percent of people in Giffords’ district said they thought heated political rhetoric was to blame for her shooting.

More than half of the people in the poll said they thought politically heated talk was enough to drive mentally unstable people to commit acts of violence, while 41 percent of people surveyed said they did not believe it would.

Assistant Democratic Leader Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) argued earlier this week that some violence was thwarted in the 1960s because the fairness doctrine mandated that opposing political views be broadcast.

Republicans are opposed to reinstating the fairness doctrine, with several lawmakers recently offering amendments that would have banned the FCC from using taxpayer dollars to dictate what views broadcast television was required to portray.

In the immediate days following the attempted assassination attempt on Giffords, Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.), the ranking Democrat on the House Administration Committee, said that he planned to introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress.