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Durbin and the crazy

Monday, Nov 24, 2008 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’m not sure what brings out the crazy in some people when it comes to US Sen. Dick Durbin. He sure does attract the tinfoil hatters.

For instance, a bizarre cottage industry has sprung up which believes that Durbin will refuse to support the reappointment of US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald’s reappointment was never in doubt, and as you saw on Saturday if you surfed this way, Durbin has made that point crystal clear for the doubters…

“I think he has done an extraordinary job as U.S. attorney; I have the greatest confidence in him,” Durbin said. “I want to do what he wants to do, I want to support what he wants to do and I won’t presume what that is.”

By the way, whomever gets Obama’s Senate seat will have zero input into the reappointment. This is the perogative of the president, who also supports Fitzgerald, and the state’s senior Senator. So, spare us your conspiracy theories about the governor’s appointment, please.

* Meanwhile, a far larger group of online and talk radio denizens has been whacking the Senator for months after he made this 2007 comment to The Hill

“It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”

Google “Durbin” and “Fairness Doctrine” and you get 28,300 hits - most of them quite unkind.

* Durbin is now walking that all the way back

Rauschenberger accuses U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) of wishing to restore the Fairness Doctrine to squelch right-wing talk radio, but Durbin’s office says the senator was merely giving a flip answer when he was asked about it by Roll Call last year. Durbin has no desire and no plan to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine, his office says.

* Durbin’s spokesperson also had this to say to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“That’s a completely made-up issue,” the press secretary to Sen. Dick Durbin told Cogan, stressing that Durbin has “no plans, no language, no nothing.”

So, either the pressure got to him, or Durbin really was being flippant. Either way, with President-elect Obama opposing a return to the Fairness Doctrine, I don’t see any way this happens.


  1. - Deep South - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 10:01 am:

    I love watching the right get up in arms about the Fairness Doctrine. They are so afraid of it that they’re making up all sorts of misinformation and half-truths in an effort to whip up the faithful. But I say we don’t need it…these right wing radio dudes should just keep on with their rhetoric…which by the way seems to get nastier and nastier. Despite their best vitriol, the Dems won the election anyway. It won’t be long before these guys talk themselves off the air. Its bound to happen…I mean it took almost 30 years, but the Dems finally defeated Ronald Reagan. It ain’t your daddy’s GOP anymore.

  2. - Wumpus - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 10:02 am:

    Ricardo, I think a lot of people see Durbin as disingenuous and not trustworthy (moreso than othe rpoliticians). It basically comes dow to a disagreement over politics. He is not part of Chicago, so he is not hurt as much by Fitzy. From my perspective, he is a non-Chicago dem..similar on positions though. Plus, his poo-eating grin does not help his appeal.

  3. - Secret Square - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 10:17 am:

    After reading the AJR article, I wonder if the “paranoid” mindset it refers to isn’t motivated by a somewhat natural desire to envision oneself as a hero making an historic last stand against a great enemy. That might explain why talk-radio hosts and listeners have taken the harmless little lizard of the Fairness Doctrine and painted it as a giant, fire-breathing dragon.

  4. - Bill Baar - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 10:17 am:

    It’s a weird statement though… I want to do what he wants to do but I don’t presume to know what that is?

  5. - Ronaldinho - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 10:18 am:

    I worked with a bunch of his staff during the election, and in public and private, they all say that Durbin is honest, fair, hard-working, and talented. I can’t wait to see what he can get done with a big majority and a Democratic president.

  6. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 10:22 am:

    There was serious talk about bringing back the Fairness Doctrine by Dems, but I think it was misguided. Rush and company certainly have an audience, but they preach to the choir.

    Let them talk. There’s certainly no shortage of information sources out there for people who want it. Try your library or a bookstore.

  7. - Bill Baar - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 10:34 am:

    Did anyone ask Durbin about Localism?

  8. - Speaking at Will - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 10:38 am:

    I host one of those “right wing” talk radio shows (or at least I get pigeon holed as such) and I have always thought that Rush, Hanity, and Bortz coverage of the fairness doctrine was over blown hype.

    I heard Hanity say on Friday that “it wasnt going to be the fairness doctrine that the democrats were going to bring back, but that they would force localism on radio stations so that national issues would not be covered, hence his show would be cancelled.”

    The whole issue is simply used to rally the base and push people into website subscriptions for “insider information.” Rush, Hanity, and Bortz, do a disservice to the conservative cause with thier pompous drivel about the fairness doctrine. This talk show host can see through it, hopefully other will as well.

  9. - Bill Baar - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 10:40 am:

    Wait six months. Maybe less… the guys Obama/Emanuel/Clinton/Bob-Rubin’s-Finance-Crew will want to silence will be on the left, not the right.

  10. - Six Degrees of Separation - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 10:48 am:

    I can’t wait to see what he can get done with a big majority and a Democratic president.

    I can’t wait to see what we can get done with a big majority and a Democratic governor.

  11. - Rich Miller - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 10:49 am:

    BB, please remove your own tinfoil hat.

    During Hurricane Katrina, one of the huge problems that came to the forefront was that few local radio stations actually offered up local news, so people without electricity had few if any places to turn to find out what was going on.

    Requiring companies that operate on the public airwaves to inform the public about local emergencies isn’t particularly onerous.

  12. - Bill Baar - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 10:57 am:

    So Durbin offering up Localism as a solution to problems from Katrina? Or what Cedar Rapids or Galvaston suffered recently?

    If he’s dropping his flip comments on Fairness Doctrine but persuing Localism instead (and I don’t know that for sure, but these reporters should have asked) it would be nice to know.

    But I like I said, Obama’s going to have a tougher time with the left than the right if progressives find Clintonism is going to be as left as it gets.

    They’re will be howling for sure and it won’t be Rush.

  13. - cover - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 10:57 am:

    Another way to look at the situation regarding the Fairness Doctrine is this: the “right wing” talk-show hosts, by shining a bright light on statements by Congressional Democratic leaders such as Pelosi and Durbin favoring reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, have embarrassed them into not pursuing the matter. I certainly can’t say that this is why President-Elect Obama has put it on the shelf, but I’m sure Rush and Sean Hannity will take credit nonetheless. Bill O’Reilly hosted Rev. Al Sharpton (definitely NOT a right-winger) last week to discuss the issue, and Sharpton seemed to agree that reinstating the Fairness Doctrine was not a good idea.

  14. - Rich Miller - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 10:59 am:

    ===They’re will be howling for sure and it won’t be Rush.===

    LOL. Let’s move along, please. You’re predictions ain’t exactly the most prescient. ;)

  15. - Secret Square - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 11:32 am:

    Rich, you don’t even have to go all the way to New Orleans to see the value of “localism” when it comes to emergencies. Remember the 2006 tornadoes in Springfield? I do. That’s one reason I keep a battery-operated radio on hand at all times — tuned to a particular station known for LOCAL news coverage.

  16. - GOP'er - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 11:35 am:

    Sure, it’s easy to say now that Patrick Fitzgerald’s reappointment was always assured, but that’s only because the sunshine has been kept on.

    And no one should rest easy until it actually happens.

    It’s easy to slur people as “tinfoil hatters,” but the simple fact is tons of effort have gone into stopping independent U.S. Attorneys in the past.

    For cryin’ out loud, Peter Fitzgerald was crucified by his own party’s old players largely BECAUSE he recruited Pat Fitz. And the Feds just cited a scheme to try and remove Pat Fitz in their indictment of Bill Cellini.

    I guess the federal prosecutors wear tinfoil hats too.

    NOTHING is beyond the sleaze and corruption of Illinois politicos. No good deed goes unpunished and no good decision should ever be taken for granted.

    I would keep the tinfoil on for awhile longer if that’s what it takes.

  17. - Boscobud - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 11:46 am:

    I think Durbin needs to hang out in the right side of us Senate. He needs to hear what they are saying. Some people just listen to right wing media or the left wing media, and we need to listen to both sides. I think the mass media has a habit of leaning one way or the other and there is nothing wrong with that. Why make Rush talk about a left wing issue when we all know that he is so far to the right ?

  18. - Boscobud - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 11:53 am:

    What I am trying to say is why make the media change what they do best. We the everyday people need to listen to both sides. I listen to Rush and I also watch CNN. To different viewpoints but I believe we need to do that.

  19. - VanillaMan - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 2:40 pm:

    Durbin is a weathervane.
    However an issue blows, he points in the same direction. When it is raining, he is also wet. When it is hot outside, he is also hot.

    The Fairness Doctrine is an old-fashioned idea that belongs in 1960, along with a Channel One and a Public Broadcasting System. Trying to impose this obsolete idea is on the backburner, along with other obsolete ideas being promoted by some New Deal Democrats, circa 2008.

    But Mr. Durbin swings with the times, except when the times demand otherwise.

    He isn’t a leader - he is a classic Senator; a follower.

  20. - ArchPundit - Monday, Nov 24, 08 @ 2:44 pm:

    ==Rich, you don’t even have to go all the way to New Orleans to see the value of “localism” when it comes to emergencies. Remember the 2006 tornadoes in Springfield? I do. That’s one reason I keep a battery-operated radio on hand at all times — tuned to a particular station known for LOCAL news coverage.

    Interestingly, I’ve found that the weather band is the best choice in Saint Louis–KMOX even does a very poor job during emergencies compared to what I remember say 20 years ago (and I made fun of WJBC for so long).

  21. - lngnthtooth - Friday, Nov 28, 08 @ 5:11 pm:

    As for Durbin and disengenuousness–you can be that and a phony and, at the same time, surprise, surprise, be honest. Isn’t that the formula everyone uses for coping in this world? The first two are necessary qualities in a politician. But, dishonestt is deadly.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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