Brian C. Anderson, editor of Manhattan Institute's stellar City Journal, explains at length how the McCain-Feingold "reformers" now have talk radio and the blogosphere in their gunsights. He starts with background: Congress was snookered into passing McCain-Feingold because it did not realize that left-wing groups used the Pew Trusts plus money from George Soros and like-minded lefties to finance the pressure campaign. Mass media went along, as its relative voice would be made more powerful if others were silenced. 43 committed the greatest domestic policy disservice of his tenure when he signed the bill to placate John McCain (who 43 feared might have run a third-party race in 2004). But the Supreme Court's McConnell v. FEC (2003) ruling upheld the law, contrary to what 43 and his too-clever-by-half advisers expected. (McConnell is Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who challenged the law; the FEC is the Federal Election Commission, a monstrosity created after Watergate.) And so the greatest-ever peacetime diminution of political speech by statute became law of the land.
Now the "reformers" aim to put Internet advertising and advocacy under the FEC regulatory banner. They further aim to resurrect the Federal Communications Commissione's defunct Fairness Doctrine, which required balance in broadcast programming. When there were a few stations it made superficial theoretical sense, although in reality big-gun liberal media were not forced to balance anything. The Reagan FCC killed the doctrine in 1987 and talk radio, a mostly right-wing phenomenon, flourished in the 1990s. Right-of-center blogs lead in the blogosphere, too: 157 of the top 250 blogs lean right--that tally from a liberal survey, no less. So the lefties want the government to silence them, rather than leave the debate to the free marketplace of ideas. One piece of good news: When Samuel Alito takes the Court in place of Sandra Day O'Connor, he replaces the Justice whose swing 5th vote sustained McCain-Feingold.
Anderson: Shut Up, They Explained