Judd Gregg and the Fairness Doctrine

February 4, 2009

President Barack Obama's decision to nominate Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) to head the Commerce Department has at least one interesting ricochet.  How will Gregg affect Obama administration policy toward reimposition of the Fairness Doctrine?  The Commerce Department contains one of the federal telecommunications regulatory agencies, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  It appears that NTIA would have no direct role in matters pertaining to the reimposition of the Fairness Doctrine ....that capacity lies solely within the jurisdiction of the FCC and Congress.  Of course, judicial review would occur also.

That being said, what is Senator Gregg's position on the Fairness Doctrine?  Well, Save Talk Radio Dot Org posted the text of a press release from Senator Norm Coleman's office dated July 13, 2007.  The release states that on that date Senate Democrats blocked an amendment "to the Defense Authorization bill that would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine...."  One of the amendment's co-sponsors was Senator Judd Gregg. 

Even though Commerce/NTIA would not play a direct role in this matter, as a department secretary whose portfolio does touch on telecommunications issues, Judd Gregg would be better positioned to present a pro-First Amendment case to the President and the Obama cabinet.  He would certainly be much better placed to let the President know the sort of nuclear political war he will start should an Obama FCC go down that path.

Hopefully, Senator Gregg will be reminded of this 2007 vote during his confirmation hearing.