The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

28 April 2005

Gunshot Warning Has Secret Service Concerned

THREAT, OR STUNT?

Over Presidential Threat, Air America Host Again in Hot Water







Did Randi Rhodes threaten
the President again? Was it real, or another desperate stunt to gain attention for a failing network?

While Matt Drudge has splashed the latest incident in huge type, some readers will note this is at least the second time Rhodes has allowed something like this on the airwaves.

According to his report:


Government officials are reviewing a skit which aired on the network Monday evening -- a skit featuring an apparent gunshot warning to the president!

The announcer: "A spoiled child is telling us our Social Security isn't safe anymore, so he is going to fix it for us. Well, here's your answer, you ungrateful whelp: [audio sound of 4 gunshots being fired.] Just try it, you little bastard. [audio of gun being cocked]."


Last year, Rhodes did something similar and while opinions differed on what exactly she said and meant, there's no question she's been crossing the line.

And Radio Equalizer readers will be familiar with another matter, involving a extreme-left Seattle talk show host, who last year demanded on-air the President be executed. He denied the entire matter, but threatened a lawsuit after being confronted with tapes of the broadcast.

I was also able to obtain a recording of the show, where he did in fact make the remarks, but faced no reprimand over the incident. In fact, he was rewarded with an additional hour, he's now heard four full hours nightly.

The host, KIRO's Mike Webb, is a former co-worker with a long history of litigation threats against any and all critics. He has been successful at keeping the Seattle media from exposing his behavior, by outbullying opponents.

That seems to be an effective strategy for career survival, even when ratings haven't held up: have your attorney send another threatening letter.

The obvious: why the double standard? Would conservative hosts ever be allowed to threaten the President, whether directly or indirectly?

For all of the fuss over indecency, I believe that inciting violent acts against Bush, whether one supports him or not, is a more serious matter.

So far the Secret Service has not taken action against Rhodes or Webb, but that may yet change, if they determine things are getting out of hand.

Do you know of other hosts who have made similar remarks and gotten away with them? Three documented incidents does begin to show a trend, but if there have been others, the Radio Equalizer needs to know.


Update: Air America, in a release, is denying Drudge's report. This from Radio and Records:


"We are not under investigation from the Secret Service," said Sinton. "We regret that a produced comedy bit that was in bad taste slipped through our normal vetting process. We do acknowledge that it was an internal error and internal discipline will be enforced.” No word on just what actions might be taken against Rhodes or any other AAR employees who were involved in the incident.



If this is true, then why isn't the Secret Service investigating these repeated instances? The security incident involving the White House today should serve as a reminder that the last thing we want to do is allow radio hosts to incite, or encourage, violence against the President just because they don't like him.

Is this going to require a large number of telephone calls to the Secret Service?


Update: Drudge reports White House calling skit "very inappropriate and over the line." Rhodes apparently apologizes on the air for "lame attempt at humor."

Was my original premise correct? With the way Rhodes is featuring it on her website, it looks like a publicity grab. It worked, but is it the right kind of ink? Will advertisers want to be a part of this show?


Thursday
: Now the New York Post's John Mainelli reports the Secret Service is investigating the incident:


Secret Service spokesperson Lorie Lewis told The Post that "if we determine that questions need to be asked, we will attempt to get them answered, but at this point we have not made any inquiries to anyone connected with the show."

During Dan Quayle's vice-presidency, ex-WABC lefty Lynn Samuels was investigated by the Secret Service for saying "Too bad it can't happen here" while discussing a vice-presidential candidate getting beaten up in South America.

"There are very few things that you absolutely, positively cannot do on the radio," she said, "and pretending to shoot the president is right up there at the top."



Update
: Meanwhile radio trades are covering for Rhodes, the way they have for hosts in previous incidents. Here's the Radio and Records version:


The Air America Radio host opened her show on Wednesday with an apology for airing a pre-recorded comedy skit earlier this week that some have argued advocated shooting President Bush. Although she noted upfront that the bit originated from AAR's New York studios and she told listeners that she had "no control" over its content, Rhodes nevertheless took responsibility for its airing during her program. "I didn't think it was funny at all," said Rhodes. "And I apologize to the President of the United States and anyone else who didn't like it."


From where did "some have argued" emerge in this story? I haven't heard anyone try to maintain that this was actually about something else, including Rhodes and Air America! Why do the radio trades cover for these people?

Answer: they rely on advertising from Air America and other syndication networks to stay afloat.

Radio and Records has not retracted, or updated, the incorrect assertion from Air America that it was not under Secret Service scrutiny. As you've seen above, they are being investigated. Nice to have apologists, isn't it?


2006 update: after being charged with insurance fraud, Webb was fired from KIRO-AM.

11 Comments:

  • Randi Rhodes is a talentless hack.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 April, 2005 14:08  

  • For the record, she apoligized today (ht: Drudge).

    For me, the interesting thing will be when "the Left" starts to use this as an example of the White House "cracking down on dissent". I'd put the over/under at July 1st.

    By Anonymous SaveFarris, at 27 April, 2005 16:49  

  • Today I heard Randi Rhodes drone on about the so called, Skit. Well, if it's no big deal, why whine about it for your 3 hour show?

    I reported her language once before, but got a form letter back from the FCC for my troubles. ( Not surprising )

    As for this skit, Oh well. What happened to that book writer who promoted killing Bush? She's correct on one point: It's her show. If she can't control the content, oh well, suffer the penalty.

    Personally, I feel Ms Rhodes is facing a big fine, and she's crying FOUL for her own short comings.

    PS....today as part of her excuse, she mentioned something about not having a computer nearby to KNOW what the " headsheds " are doing on/to her show. Just as quick, she remarked about a friend who JUST IM'D HER .......ummmmm, how did you get an IM if you have no computer on the show?
    To top it off, it was all done today ( 27APR05 ) on her show.

    typical.
    Randi got caught, and as in anything else, don't blame others for your own screw up, especially when you're about to be made an
    " example of " to warn others.
    Too late to cry now.

    By Blogger LNaranjoiv, at 27 April, 2005 19:26  

  • "A radical leftist on the radio? Whodathunkit!"
    Regards,
    Al Franken-stein

    By Blogger Galt-In-Da-Box, at 28 April, 2005 05:07  

  • AAR's ratings are in the toilet and with shows like Rhodes' that comes as no surprise. Her debating skills are adolescent at best, which is why she talks over most callers.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 28 April, 2005 13:28  

  • Randi got some great calls from "recovering Republicans" and even one self-identified Christian conservative towards the end of her program yesterday--all pulling for her. I think this is going to blow over and y'all are trying (as usual) to ignite a scandal brushfire without any decent tinder to be found. I ought to take offense, but for some reason today it just seems, well...bizarrely adorable. Keep at it!

    Oh, and Maloney--you really need to learn how to close your HTML tags.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 28 April, 2005 13:53  

  • It was another Blogger issue, it went haywire. Should be fixed now, sorry about that.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 28 April, 2005 14:02  

  • Hey, Have you ever heard Randi Rhodes? I dare say you have not. If you listen to her for 30 minutes, you will be blown away by her knowledge and common sense approach to the incredible mess our government has gotten us into. To the anonymous blogger who said she is "a talentless hack", you are wrong. Listen and be enlightened. Or don't and keep hiding in the bushes...

    By Blogger BLOVIATOR, at 29 April, 2005 03:53  

  • /me applauds bloviator

    By Blogger Gerry, at 29 April, 2005 06:25  

  • This "joke" was harmless. Sending others children off to die without proper equipment so as to avenge his daddy; and enrich his friends is HARMFULL.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19 July, 2005 18:18  

  • RANDI RHODES seems to have made a mistake that has taken down THE ONLY left dem radio talk show host.Tell me where I can hear oppisong radio? to RUSH and Hannity and Bill O Riley. none, not , zilch

    I smell fish, the bush admin did so much she was on them like a fly on fish.
    Hannity and rush continue to spread hatred/desent and just downright propaganda and opinion instead of real factual news

    Randi is well researched and had TONS of bush admin crimes and proof of it so she basicly screwed up and lucky for the GOP she is history.
    Go Figure, I listened to her for years in florida and I never heard anything more inflamitory that Rush or the other paid off murdock minions of smear and dis inforamation.
    I just want A middle to left talk show host to balance all the hatred and educate americans of what really went down in florida in 2000 and what they did in secret, like Have a privste army contractor(blackwater) to do the dirty work for the admi, and not under aany review by the govt because someone with ALOT OF POWER has silenced an ILLEGAL crime AGIAMST THE CONSTUTION.
    Dont tell me they did nothing.
    so where is fair and ballanced media for people to hear the lefts
    fair time and for US to no be saturated by republican radio and tv.approx 20% is claiming they back the GOP. so where does the cash come from to keep these extreemist right wingers whom spew dis respect, twisted and 1/2 truths amd frenzy mob hatred toward obamma
    where is liberal radio?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 24 August, 2009 13:31  

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