Air America Issues Second Statement In Funds Scandal
Is Air America Answering Questions, Or Creating More?
(Friday evening updates below)
So far, in seeking to determine whether Air America benefited from taxpayer money meant for a community youth center, we've accomplished two things: sending the blogosphere into action mode and compelling the company to respond to the developing firestorm.
Early Friday morning, I was made aware of a new, second press statement on the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club scandal. A number of emails and blog comments quickly followed, leading me to wonder if there was some kind of organized effort to turn the tables.
Sure enough, at the Daily Kos (king of the liberal blogosphere), there is this new post:
Hey folks, I'm the webmaster over at Air America and there has been some discussion in the right wing blogosphere, basically accusing AAR of stealing from poor kids. BlatherWatch has the rundown.
For a full explanation of what REALLY happened, here is Air America Radio's official statement.
That Daily Kos post links to my site, which is why I've been hearing from AAR fans this morning.
The new release seems strange on many levels, in its wording, timing and what it still doesn't say. Here it is from Air America's website.
Note that my comments are the ones in italics in this case, their words in boldface:
If the allegations of mismanagement and corruption at Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club are true, it is absolutely disgraceful.
(If you know Air America received the money, as you indicate below, then aren't the allegations clearly true?)
As reported in the Wall Street Journal and the HBO Documentary, Left of the Dial the company that the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club officials gave money to, Progress Media, has been defunct since May 2004. That company was run at the time by Evan Cohen who has not had any involvement in Air America Radio since May 2004.
(I don't like the way this paragraph is written. It implies that HBO's documentary and the Wall Street Journal covered the transaction between Gloria Wise and Air America. You need to read it very carefully to realize they're merely saying it was reported that Progress Media was purchased in May 2004.
The problem is that the reader could be led to believe that this was somehow old news, previously published, now being dredged up for some ulterior motive. And so what if Cohen didn't have any involvement after May 2004, these actions still took place in Air America's name.)
The current owners of Air America Radio have no obligation to Progress Media's business activities. We are very disturbed that Air America Radio's good name could be associated with a reduction in services for young people, which is why we agreed months ago to fully compensate the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club as a result of this transaction.
(Glad you're disturbed about it. Note the strange choice of words here. "We agreed months ago", what exactly does that mean? See my questions below regarding this paragraph.)
We at Air America Radio strongly believe in the mission of Boys and Girls Clubs to provide a safe and nurturing place for young people to learn and grow. As a result, we recently allowed the same club, Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club, to use our name in a fundraising effort for a summer camp for children in their community.
(So you knew Air America's previous owner engaged in a shady deal with Gloria Wise, but you still continued to deal with them? I thought your contention is that this was all about Cohen and former management? It wouldn't make sense to continue any type of relationship. This paragraph doesn't mesh well with the previous one: it says you realized the problem with the Wise deal months ago. Here, you say you've recently associated with them.)
The funding for Camp Air America was raised and collected entirely by the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club, and Air America promoted the camp on air and urged support for it. A link on our web site sent those interested in contributing to the camp to the Gloria Wise web site.
Regrettably, the camp did not survive the closure of the Gloria Wise organization. We have offered any individuals who contributed to the camp as a result of Air America's promotion the option of a refund paid for by Air America Radio and the Club offered the alternative option of having their donation redirected to Kip's Bay Boys and Girls Club.
There you have it, now, some questions:
1. Have you actually repaid the money to Gloria Wise, or did you simply "agree to" repay it at some future time?
2. How much did you pay them, and when? Can we see a cancelled check?
3. If you repaid the money, what happened to it at Gloria Wise? They don't have it, that's why programs were shut. Where did it go, who did you give it to?
4. When you made the decision to repay the money, why didn't you let the public know?
5. If you were above-board on this from months back, why wait until news of a criminal investigation hits the press?
6. If you knew Cohen had put Air America in a bad position with this money, early in 2004, why did you wait until early 2005 to agree to repay it?
7. Again, if you knew Gloria Wise Boys And Girls Club had participated in an unethical or illegal transaction with Air America's previous owner, why would you choose to have further dealings with the organization, months later?
8. Did any current Air America employees or managers have a role in, or knowledge of, this "transaction"?
9. If you had, in fact, repaid the money months ago, why didn't you say so in your earlier press statement? What would have been the use of holding back that important information?
10. Does Air America realize that even if you've since repaid the money, the network had benefit of its use, while inner-city youth and senior programs were threatened? If I rob a bank, but return the money later, does it mean I'm off the hook?
I just don't buy the transfer of ownership excuse they throw around so sloppily in these releases. Have Air America's hosts been this accommodating toward corporate America during their recent scandals?
11. Are your hosts welcome to discuss this matter on the air, or have they been asked not to, by management or the company's legal department? Have any addressed it so far?
What am I leaving out? Please leave comments below.
New: Washington Times editorial addresses the issue, both yours truly and Michelle Malkin are mentioned.
New: Malkin points to this excellent legal analysis at Macho Nachos.
New: note from Captain Ed:
Brian and Michelle,
Congratulations on your excellent work on the Air America story! You've got them stuttering now ....
New: More legal questions from Macho Nachos. And further follow-up here.
New: BoreAmerica weighs in, site regularly covers Air America issues.
--- Lance at RedStateRant alerts me to this at Wizbang today.
Wizbang nails a huge point that I should have thought of first: are they repaying Gloria Wise with cash, or non-cash consideration? This means advertising, or other promotional consideration. This is very common in radio. Radio is heavily into barter and scrip. Did Camp Air America promotions count toward this?
--- Catch me on the Hugh Hewitt Show tonight, should be 6pm EDT, but we are still ironing out the details. (Update: interview went well, welcome to Hugh's listeners).
--- Also John Carlson's KVI/Seattle program, at 4pm PDT, 7pm EDT. Go to KVI for audio streaming. (welcome KVI listeners)
--- Here's Michelle Malkin's latest piece on the situation to date. It's a home run!
--- Here's the Captain's Quarters take on this.
--- One thing interviewers continue to bring up with me today (Melanie Morgan of KSFO, Hugh Hewitt, John Carlson of KVI): doesn't this mean that Franken and the other hosts were likely paid with taxpayer funds intended for children and seniors? Don't they have anything to say about it?
--- Coming up tonight: an update on this story, plus another about Michael Graham's removal from WMAL/Washington over remarks about Islam. Here's Michelle Malkin's very complete version. Mine will have additional points, seen only here, because I've been hearing from radio industry people all day who have knowledge of the situation.
--- CNN picks up Air America story for "Inside Politics". Radio Equalizer, Michelle Malkin, Wizbang and others mentioned. Here's a transcript link, scroll down toward the bottom to get the segment.
--- Hugh Hewitt has evening developments on the story here. He's been very helpful in moving the story along.
Welcome KSFO listeners, Powerline, Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, RedStateRant, Orbusmax, Wizbang and other readers today!
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