Comedian-turned-possible-senator Al Franken became the target of a rather disjointed debate on the Fairness Doctrine on Wednesday.
A handful of Democrats are promoting the return of a policy created decades ago that required broadcasters to provide opposing views on controversial issues. But conservatives are opposing the effort, saying the policy is outdated and wouldn't change the fact that the audience is responsible for the success of hosts like Rush Limbaugh.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said reinstating the '40s-era mandate would be tantamount to censorship and warned, "They're not going to stop with radio talk shows. We need to act here to make sure that this oppression, this tyranny is not reimposed on the American people."
Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, ever the jokester, agreed and took a shot at Franken, who's currently awaiting the outcome of a contested Senate election in Minnesota to see if he'll become a senator.
"We've already had an opportunity for fairness, if you will, with respect to talk radio when a group of people got together and financed a liberal talk show host, one who aspires to enter this body at some time," Bennett said, referring to Franken.
"The public spoke. The station went out of business. It went bankrupt...Let the public decide what they're going to listen to," he said.
DeMint has an amendment to bar the FCC from reinstating the "Fairness Doctrine," but he has not introduced it yet. If he were to do so, Democrats could, and likely would, move to immediately table the provision. This has the effect of killing the amendment, and Democrats only need 51 votes to succeed.
The Senate is expected to consider a tabling motion by Democrats on Thursday morning. DeMint is expected to lose this fight.