The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

28 August 2005

Conservative Group's Impact On Debate

Monitoring Crawford

Crowd Counts Vary, Leading Evening News

As certain as Halloween candy on late-August grocery shelves, obtaining honest, accurate details from the mainstream media on events in Crawford, Texas, hasn't proven easy.

Move America Forward's pro-American counter-demonstration against Cindy Sheehan's Ben Cohen-funded political stunt is being characterized in many ways, but thankfully not ignored by the media.

It led local newscasts here and there are now a number of stories available online, ready for Sunday's editions.

Before we examine the "You Don't Speak For Me, Cindy!" caravan's media coverage, here's how I see its significance:

--- In recent memory, has a successful political force ever been built this quickly?
For its fresh energy on hot-button issues, Move America Forward now consistently generates headlines.

--- Is it a model for future activist movements? Combining California's top GOP strategists with a highly-rated San Francisco talk host, put the battle plans together with the megaphone, in a highly successful combination. It's a shot in the arm for conservatives.

--- If MAF hadn't organized the caravan, would any group have ever stepped forward to counter Cindy's circus? It's distressing that her media stunt continued that long without a well-organized response.

--- It also provides a blueprint for saving talk radio from oblivion, where it's now rapidly headed. Listeners like their favorite talk stations to take an active role on major issues. Floundering outlets should take note.

Initially, mainstream media reports on MAF's Saturday arrival and rally were hard to come by, but by evening there were a good number filed.

How many caravan supporters reached Crawford? Numbers vary, from hundreds to thousands.

From KGO-7's Mark Matthews:

The protests have been going on at either end of this little town.

Crawford is a town of about 700 people, but there are about 3,000 people present. To one side you can see a small contingent of supporters of Cindy Sheehan in the actual spot where she began her protest weeks ago.

On the other side, supporters of the President, supporters of the war in Iraq. These are two smaller representations of much larger rallies that were happening earlier Saturday.

The "You Don't Speak For Me, Cindy" caravan that started in San Francisco earlier this week came to rest at the Crawford Community Center Saturday afternoon. The group is led by Roseville mother Deborah Johns. Her son has served two tours in Iraq. She says Cindy Sheehans' opposition to the war doesn't represent the feelings of most military families.

Deborah Johns, caravan leader: "The majority finally, someone is getting up to speak for the majority. And we're not going to be silent any longer."

A crowd of more than a 1,000 joined Johns and several Gold Star families whose sons have been killed in Iraq.

From the AP:

CRAWFORD, Texas -- Several thousand people descended on President Bush's adopted hometown Saturday, most in a cross-country caravan for a pro-Bush rally and others to support an anti-war demonstration led by grieving mother Cindy Sheehan.

Bush supporters gathered for an event marking the culmination of the "You don't speak for me, Cindy!" tour, which started last week in California. The crowd of about 1,500 chanted, "Cindy, go home!"

"You are giving hope and encouragement to the enemies of America," said former California Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, a Republican who co-founded the group that coordinated the rally.

From Lisa Sandberg of the San Antonio News-Express:

Thousands of Bush supporters descended on this small town this afternoon for a rally aimed at countering the three-week anti-war vigil led by California mom Cindy Sheehan.

Waving American flags and chanting “Cindy Go Home,” a caravan of Bush backers drove into town around noon to show their support for the U.S. war in Iraq.

The town's police chief estimated the crowds on both sides of the divide at about 8,000.

“It's the biggest one yet -- ever,” Chief Donnie Tidmore said. “The (Bush supporters) maybe outnumber the other side but it's close.”

He added that there were a few minor flare ups and several people treated for heat exhaustion but nothing serious.

From Canada's CTV Network:

Pro-Bush supporters picket in downtown Crawford, Texas on Saturday.  Pro-Bush supporters picket in downtown Crawford, Texas on Saturday. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Thousands of people gathered in Crawford, Texas on Saturday to show either their support for the war in Iraq or their opposition to it.

Most of the visitors to Crawford, the town nearest the ranch of U.S. President George Bush, attended a rally supporting U.S. involvement in Iraq.

The town was the final stop of the "You don't speak for me, Cindy!", which got underway in California last week.

Some of the best updates are found at this Free Republic thread.

Meanwhile, still no word on what type of jet brought Air America's Randi Rhodes to Texas, we sure hope she didn't have to resort to flying coach with the "little people".

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  • You gotta love the "blogosphere". I, having lived through the Viet Nam era, see the absurdity of people like Mrs. Sheehan. It aint flying today thanks to the blogs. The MSM is being exposed on a daily basis for the incompetents they are. You just gotta love it. I only hope I live long enough to see the fall of msm in it's entirety!

    By Blogger NtvAmrcn, at 28 August, 2005 10:02  

  • Ms. Sheehan has obtained some wealthy sponsors, and leveraged herself into a viable career as spokesperson for the anti-war movement. How long she can sustain her substantial media backing remains to be seen. At this time, she is a media darling, but if the media ever chooses to put other grieving mothers in front of the camera--mothers who support the choices their sons or daughters made to give nascent Iraqi democracy a chance--opinions may change.

    Sheehan is actually "channeling" her son at the present time. The quasi-supernatural nature of Sheehan speaking for a dead son whose very life contradicts her words, is eerily contradictory. And yet it sells in Peoria as long as the media spins it properly.

    By Blogger al fin, at 28 August, 2005 10:43  

  • I find it interesting that Mother Sheehan's crowd are consistently referred to as "anti-war protestors" while the "You Don't Speak For Me" group are referred to as "Pro-Bush".

    I happen to know some people who are Gold Star families who were in Crawford with YDSFM and they aren't Bush supporters. They are, however, people who understand that we are in a war against terrorism. They understand that if we don't fight that war in the middle east, we WILL be fighting it here, see Israel as the model. They also understand that their sons (and mine) volunteered to be part of the armed forces and proudly went to Iraq to defend the US. They understand and honor the sacrifice of their sons.

    Cindy Sheehan, Ben Cohen, etc do not.

    By Blogger Becker, at 28 August, 2005 12:21  

  • Good work, guys!

    Go whack some Nazis. Really.

    Sweetness & Light is giving good coverage.

    By Blogger Josef, at 28 August, 2005 13:35  

  • I know she was in Denver Friday for the local station's 1-year anniversary. Maybe that station is paying for her return trip through Crawford as well.

    By Blogger BF, at 28 August, 2005 18:05  

  • Interesting suggestion for saving talk radio from oblivion, Brian. Except for a minor tweak, I think you're spot on.

    By Blogger Nathan, at 28 August, 2005 19:25  

  • Since Brian wrote such a boring column, I figured you all needed some good news.

    The S1 ratings are starting to trickle in, and you will be pleased to see that Air America is still growing.

    Los Angeles, CA (#2)

    KTLK up .1 up from .3 to .9 year over year (old format)

    San Francisco, CA (#4)

    KQKE up .2 up from 1.0 to 1.4 since AAR format began.

    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood, FL (#12)

    WINZ flat at 2.0 up from .7 to 2.0 year over year

    Seattle-Tacoma, WA (#14)

    KPTK up .4 up from .7 to 1.8 year over year

    Nassau-Suffolk, NY (#18)

    WLIB down .1 up from 1.1 to 1.4 year over year

    Denver-Boulder, CO (#22)

    KKZN up .1 up from .9 to 2.1 year over year

    By Blogger Dick Tuck, at 29 August, 2005 10:16  

  • Wonderful column, Brian. Please continue with the updates. Interest is definitely high.

    I enjoy Dick Tuck's comments. It would be especially helpful if Dick would post more specific information when he posts ratings. What exactly do the #2, #4 etc. mean? Is that for the station as a whole? Is it for a particular show in a particular time slot? Most of us are interested in AAR programming specifically and how it rates in particular markets. Stations that air a mix of programming, including AAR and non-AAR programming are harder to rate. Please specify, Dick.

    By Blogger Buffy, at 29 August, 2005 13:23  

  • It would be especially helpful if Dick would post more specific information when he posts ratings. What exactly do the #2, #4 etc. mean?

    They're the market ranks. #1 is New York, #2 is Los Angelos, #3 Chicago, etc..

    Most of us are interested in AAR programming specifically and how it rates in particular markets. Stations that air a mix of programming, including AAR and non-AAR programming are harder to rate.

    That's kind of tough, since Air America is a syndication based netwrok. People pick and choose which shows to air. The overwhelming majority of their affiliates, air about 9 hours or more of their programming. Many stations add a local host (good idea). Many western, large market stations fill in with Ed Schultz after Al Franken, in order to keep Randi Rhodes in the drive-time afternoon slot.

    This site has a decent list of websites of AAR affiliates, their join date, and their coverage:

    You can always check these things out for yourself.

    By Blogger Dick Tuck, at 29 August, 2005 15:03  

  • I wonder what Ben Cohen thought when he read the description of Ms. Sheehan's circus as a "makeshift camp".

    By Blogger eLarson, at 29 August, 2005 16:41  

  • More bad news for wingnuts. The Pheonix numbers just came in. Air America affiliate KXXT just blew by wingnut KKNT.

    KKNT hosts include Ingraham, Medved, and Hewitt.

    This was a .1 jump in KXXT audience, and a .2 drop in KKNT.

    KXXT carries 12 hours of AAR programming daily, plus all of the weekend programs.

    Keep up the good work, Brian. The advertising you're giving AAR is working wonders.

    By Blogger Dick Tuck, at 29 August, 2005 17:24  

  • More Air America ratings:

    Phoenix: Up from 1.1 to 1.2
    Miami: Stable at 2.0
    Seattle: Up from 1.4 to 1.8
    New Orleans: down from 1.4 to 1.3
    Honolulu: Down from 4.3 to 4.0

    By Blogger Justin, at 29 August, 2005 17:26  

  • Errr, Justin. The New Orleans station just went to AAR format on July 25th. Real numbers won't show up until the fall book. And the Hawaii station is KUMU-AM. You used the FM.

    No matter, the trends are clear. Air America blowing past a wingnut station in Pheonix is a real landmark.

    By Blogger Dick Tuck, at 29 August, 2005 18:26  

  • Dick Tuck-This is the way that KXXY “blew by” KKNT? For the past year they have been within .1 of each other with one or the other ahead. Now they are .2 away from each other with KXXY ahead. I hardly call this “blowing by” KKNT. Liberals see a .1 or .2 gain as AAR increasing by leaps and bounds?

    ......KXXT-AAR...KKNT (cons.)
    Su 04..0.0........0.9
    Fa 04..1.0........1.0
    Wi 05..0.8........0.7
    Sp 05..1.1........1.2
    Su 05 1.2.........1.0

    By Blogger Linn, at 29 August, 2005 21:29  

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