New Details On Liberal Seattle Host's Removal
Webb's Many Flaps, Paper Reworks Story, Rhodes Parallel
For those regularly keeping tabs on the mainstream media, it's downright comical to see what a liberal radio talk show host must do to reach the point of career suicide.
After all, it's exceptionally rare to see a "progressive" talker fired over the show's content, as left-leaning managers often appear ready to swoop in and play defense. As much as it is terribly bad for business, many in radio unfortunately do sometimes let their own political stances interfere with good programming judgement.
When could a conservative host get away with any of this?
For exhibit "A", here's a Randi Rhodes flashback:
A spoiled child (Bush) 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 b*stard. [audio of gun being cocked].
No matter the cost to Air America Radio in the form of sorely-needed advertising revenue, the liberal outfit stood by Rhodes. Randi's outbursts have not been good for the network, as national sponsors ran for their lives during 2005.
For Seattle's Mike Webb, calling for President Bush's "execution" had no effect on his position. In fact, his show was subsequently expanded by an hour. Nor did his on-air hope that Ronald Reagan had "really suffered" before his death make any difference.
While it's hard to imagine conservatives getting away with similar rhetoric, somehow one of America's most extreme, hate-filled radio programs managed to remain on a major radio station in Seattle for years, despite marginal ratings performance. To find something similar on the extreme right, one would have to look to shortwave radio broadcasts.
Mike Webb was to the left of Air America's programming (even if his rhetoric sounds much like that of Rhodes) and once told me that San Francisco was too conservative for him. Even moonbats as extreme as Oakland's Rep. Barbara Lee and Seattle's Jim McDermott just barely met his approval.
In fairness, since I have a great deal of personal familiarity with the situation, I can say many KIRO managers over the years wanted to do something about Webb and tried to bring him under control, but failed. One reason: fear, given his loaded gun, erratic behavior and history of litigation against employers. Wasn't it safer simply to leave him in place?
Even after his arrest on insurance fraud charges, it was not clear he would be sacked. Would the station feel compelled to keep him in place until after the trial?
Funny enough, Webb's undoing began with the now-infamous June traffic accident that actually happened during his talk show. How is that possible?
It was due to his astounding regular habit of leaving mid-program to get drinks and snacks at a nearby convenience store while board operators ran 10 to 15 minutes of commercial spots to fill the gaps.
In the history of broadcasting, I'm not sure anyone else has been crazy enough to make personal munchie runs during a radio talk show.
Now, a real question that must be addressed is whether Webb is capable of hurting anyone. Yesterday, I heard from a worried station staffer and after my own observations of his erratic behavior, I'd say this is a question that must be addressed.
Especially instructive has been monitoring newspaper coverage of his arrest and termination, where a curious reworking of a Seattle Times story seemed to downplay use of the word "liberal" to describe his program.
In the earlier version, it's featured in the first sentence:
Local radio talk show host Mike Webb fired
By Christine Clarridge
Seattle Times staff reporter
Liberal radio talk-show host Mike Webb has been fired from his job at KIRO radio after he was charged earlier this month with making a fraudulent insurance claim.
A spokesman for KIRO confirmed today that Webb, who pleaded not guilty to the felony charge last week, is no longer with parent company Entercom and will no longer have a show on KIRO.
Attempts to reach Webb or his attorney for comment this morning were unsuccessful.
Webb was charged with making a fraudulent claim after an accident in June 2005, when his Lexus was struck by an uninsured driver.
In the subsequent reworked version, note the changes:
KIRO radio host is let go after felony charge filed
By Christine Clarridge
Seattle Times staff reporter
Radio talk-show host Mike Webb has been fired from his job at KIRO radio after he was charged earlier this month with making a fraudulent insurance claim.
A spokesman for KIRO confirmed Wednesday that Webb, who pleaded not guilty to the felony charge last week, is no longer with parent company Entercom and will no longer have his liberal show on KIRO-AM (710). The spokesman did not provide further details.
Attempts to reach Webb or his attorney for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful. Webb allegedly made a fraudulent claim after an accident June 28, when his Lexus was struck by an uninsured driver.
According to charging papers filed in King County Superior Court, Webb allegedly produced a forged document indicating he bought an insurance policy with Geico before the accident.
Even a watered-down story, however, beats ultraliberal rival the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which has so far totally ignored it, save a mention in today's radio column.
Another reason to thank the Times: they finally gave credit to the liberal blogger who broke this story, Michael Hood of Blatherwatch. Without Hood, this news may never have emerged in the first place.
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