Bill Bennett's Comments Now Denounced By Bush
Our extensive coverage of Air America's scandal has actually been good for the radio network, some liberals assert. After all, any publicity is good publicity, right?
When it involves sleazy transfers of tax dollars to the liberal network from an inner-city community center, the Radio Equalizer does not agree.
And, when the mainstream media refuse to expose dishonest and hypocritical behavior surrounding these allegations, they must be brought to light.
What about Bill Bennett's case, then?
His recent comments, while poorly worded and insensitive, have been grossly taken out of context, in what was really a discussion of a book's thesis. There's an examination here.
Now, even President Bush has felt compelled to criticize Bennett.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
The White House on Friday criticized as "not appropriate" a comment from former Education Secretary William Bennett that aborting black babies would reduce the crime rate.
Bennett, a conservative radio commentator, stirred outrage for saying on his talk show on Wednesday: "But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down."
"That would be an impossibly ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down," he said on his call-in program "Morning in America." "The president believes the comments were not appropriate," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.
Bennett has held various senior roles in administrations of President Ronald Reagan and Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush. He is a former education secretary and head of U.S. drug policy.
Why does Bush now feel the need to weigh in on what talk show hosts and television presenters have to say? On the heels of Pat Robertson's assertion Venezuelan thug Hugo Chavez should be executed, this marks the second recent Bush response.
When taken out of context, Bennett's comments look horrible. While proof Al Franken lied about his knowledge of misused taxpayer funds is ignored, there's no reason for the incident to generate banner headlines, however.
While the left's having a field day with Bennett again (previously over his days as a Las Vegas whale), two things should be noted:
1) Many conservatives have really never trusted Bill Bennett. In the 1990s, Bennett and Jack Kemp came out on the liberal side of issues concerning illegal immigration and racial preferences. During key statewide proposition battles, they were a thorn in the side of Republican reformers in California.
2) Bennett's morning talk show really isn't any more successful that Air America's troubled programming. An infamously bad hiring call that had radio chuckling, he just doesn't belong in a morning talk position. More recently, the show's simply been forgotten, a part of Salem's lineup on smaller stations in some cities.
While Franken and Air America's hosts suffer with each new revelation, this enormous publicity surge gives Bennett's obscure talk show a shot in the arm. There's a difference between a poorly-worded comment and money missing from an inner-city children's charity.
Expect Bennett to milk this controversy for all it's worth. He's no doubt happy to reap the publicity whirlwind, even if it may not ultimately save his long-floundering talk show.
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Stepping Up The Attacks
MALLOY PUSHES VIOLENCE
Suggests Attacking GOP Blogger Mark Noonan
Proving Air America Radio's Randi Rhodes doesn't have an extremism monopoly, the otherwise deadly dull fellow host Mike Malloy has called for violence against a conservative blogger.
On Thursday's show, Malloy recommended Mark Noonan be physically assaulted over "Do Democrats Want a Civil War", a piece he wrote for the BlogsForBush website.
BlogsForBush has the audio here.
Hearing Malloy for the first time, some conservatives today are expressing surprise that liberal talk radio, aside from these occasional, bizarre outbursts, could possibly be so dry and boring.
Used to entertaining and informative programming from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and others, right-leaning talk listeners no doubt would find Air America's NPR-style delivery terribly dull.
Try sitting through a whole hour of Jerry Springer's Air America radio program some time, if you truly need a dose of snooze radio. It has even less energy than Malloy's program.
Again, don't expect the mainstream media and liberal blog sites to honestly address this kind of rhetoric. They're too busy pounding away at conservative host Bill Bennett (more on this today) to deal with their own side's loose cannons.
More Thursday Updates
Plus, Franken's Co-Host Exits Air America Radio
Abysmally low ratings have led to liberal talk radio network Air America's removal from the Philly airwaves, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper:
By Michael Klein
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Al Franken and Randi Rhodes are getting the boot from Philadelphia airwaves, as WHAT-AM (1340) is pulling off programming from Air America, the liberal talk-radio network.
Friday will be the last day, and a new WHAT lineup will begin Monday, said general manager Kernie Anderson, adding that "things were not working out" with Air America after about a year.
WHAT aired Air America's programming from noon to 7 p.m. weekdays, sandwiched between the rest of its lineup. The juxtaposition of liberal talk and WHAT's African America-targeted talk programming seemed an odd fit from the start.
Ratings were abysmal.
Something tells me we won't be reading about this at the Daily Kos. By the way, Philadelphia is a huge market, ranked sixth overall by population.
"Abysmal" in a liberal newspaper and city. Thought this was a right-vs.-left debate? Guess again- it's about performance. Portland alone isn't going to carry this network.
Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin was among the first today to note the sudden departure of Al Franken's co-host from the network. RedStateRant was also right on it.
More details coming later.
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Talk Radio Turmoil Continues, Other Updates
--- Where's Jay Severin? The New York-based Boston talk host has been missing from WTKK-FM, since announcing a deal with rival Infinity Broadcasting to host a program for some of their planned FM talk stations. Sean Hannity is temporarily in the timeslot.
Did the Infinity deal, scheduled to begin in January, lead to Severin's removal? The Radio Equalizer last week contacted Greater Media Boston Market Manager Matt Mills, who hinted the Boston Globe piece on the host's bizarre Pulitzer Prize claims may actually have a bigger role in the mystery than thought.
At the time, Mills said that Severin's status was being determined. Today I've contacted him again for an update. More when I hear back.
Previously, we've covered the Pulitzer controversy and Severin's ugly MSNBC departure.
--- Severin's not the only MIA Boston host. The Radio Equalizer's getting emails from listeners wondering about WRKO's John DePetro, off the air a lot recently, especially after a bizarre outburst at a Providence radio station's Katrina benefit.
DePetro apparently stormed into the event, grabbed the microphone and went into an angry on-air tirade. It's the competitor to his former employer, apparently there is lingering bad blood.
Previously heard in Rhode Island, DePetro has had a tough time in Boston, virtually ignored by Hub media outlets. He still has a Providence focus, which doesn't work well in major-market Beantown.
--- Meanwhile, there's so much turmoil at my former employer, KIRO/Seattle, I wouldn't know where to begin. Liberal talk radio blogger BlatherWatch has a number of details and extensive coverage here. Some of his points are simply common sense and go beyond the liberal/conservative ideological debate.
--- Check back for a number of other updates later today, including on Air America and James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal.
Plus, Hound's Faulty Scent, Spin Of The Week
Here's an idea for Air America's promotions department: merge host Al Franken with that giant squid making big headlines today. It'll do wonders for the network's faltering ratings, won't it?
With Frankensquid at the helm, the show could be funnier, honest and certainly more compelling. Maybe the Cartoon Network is interested.
While the monster sea creature grabbed all the attention Tom DeLay didn't get from the mainstream media today, Air America's CEO Danny Goldberg (say, Danny, what's your corporate exit strategy?) released an all-but-ignored statement.
Luckily, the Radio Equalizer is here to help (we wouldn't want Goldberg's thoughts to be overlooked), so here it is in full:
From Danny Goldberg, CEO of Air America Radio.
Recently, Air America Radio came under attack from the same cast of right wing media characters who have attacked the Network for ideological reasons from day one. A recent piece in the New York Post by John Mainelli states that “Air America is in...bad financial shape.”
On September 20th Bill O’Reilly on Fox News which, like the New York Post is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation said that Air America “could be on its last legs.”
This is untrue. Air America is in strong financial shape. Last week we started broadcasting from our new multi-million dollar studios. Several weeks earlier the Board of Directors of Air America’s parent company accelerated re-payment of a loan from the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club of $875,000 two years in advance of a previously agreed upon re-payment plan.
In the last several months, Air America has expanded its executive team to augment our efforts on the internet and in affiliate relations. The pretext for the latest smears is an initiative I launched last week called Air America Associates, in which I asked our listeners to support our programming financially and at various levels offer bumper stickers, tote bags, etc. as a way of thanking them. (We received thousands of responses, far beyond what we projected for the first few days).
Many of our listeners also listen to NPR stations and Pacifica and are used to supporting radio programming they like. I got the idea from the Nation Magazine’s program “The Nation Associates” which helps them fund investigative journalism. Like Air America Radio, The Nation is a for-profit company.
But the conservative propagandists have tried to make it seem like there is something unseemly because Air America Radio is both commercial—and a radio network, as O’Reilly said last night, “I have never seen a commercial enterprise ask their listeners for money—ever” This is also false. The modern model of the broadcasting business involves numerous revenue streams.
If anything, Air America has been late in fully building such an infrastructure which the “Associates” is a part of. For example, Rush Limbaugh’s Web-site offers his fans the “Limbaugh Letter” for $34.95 a year and a totally separate service called Rush 24/7 which includes access to archived programs at the cost of $49.95 a year.
The Limbaugh site also features the “EIB Store” which sells such items as $19.95 polo shirt which amusingly says, “My Mullah went to G’itmo and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.” The Sean Hannity Web-site features a “subscription” to something called, “The Hannity Insider” for $5.95 a month. But no one tops the self proclaimed non-spinner Bill O’Reilly. Bill O’Reilly.com offers a “premium membership” for either $4.95 a month or $49.95 a year.
He also offers a “Gift certificate” for $14.95. Products for sale on the Web site include:
-- Radio Factor diner coffee mug available in white or navy blue for $14.95
- O’Reilly Factor keychain for $7.95 “while supplies last.”
--Three different “No Spin” tote bags at $14.95 apiece
--Ten different hats at a cost of $16.95 each
--The “no spin” jacket for $79.95
--The “ Unisex Black Fleece” embroidered with “The Spin Stops Here” for $39.95
--Several bumper stickers including one that reads “Boycott France” for $2.50
--License plate frame for $18.95
--Three different “No Spin” tote bags at $14.95 each
--An O’Reilly Factor Gear Bag at $64.95
-- “Mens Garment Bag” for $64.95 (sorry ladies!)
--a “Spin Stops Here” organizer briefcase
--A “Spin Stops Here” pen and pad bundle for $19.95
--Two different designs of “Spin Stops Here” doormats for $49.95 and
--Two different “Rain Stops Here” umbrellas at $24.95(“Show everyone who protects you from the rain”)
Mainelli’s article also repeated another falsehood about Air America saying “More recently the 70 station left network has been suffering lower ratings.” His corporate cousin O’Reilly wishfully stated on August 17th said “Air America—nobody is listening to it,”
On Aug 3rd O’Reilly claimed that “Air America cannot support itself because of low ratings” and on July 26th O’Reilly said “The Air America radio network continues to fail with catastrophic ratings here in New York City. ” In fact, the ratings for the Bill O’Reilly radio show in New York were worse than those on Air America that he described as “catastrophic.”
In the key 25-54 year demographic which talk radio offers to advertisers, the Spring, 2005 Arbitron ratings showed that Monday-Friday from 2-4 PM when O’Reilly is on WOR-AM and which at Air America’s 1190 WLIB-AM contains the last hour of “The Al Franken Show” and the first hour of “The Randi Rhodes Show,” that O’Reilly had a .3 share and Air America a .4 share. O’Reilly had a cumulative audience of 75,400 and Air America had a cumulative audience of 89,300.
Inevitably ratings go up and down and vary from time slot to time slot and from market to market. Right wing bloggers have had fun cherry picking isolated pieces of ratings reports to distort the enormous enthusiasm Air America’s growing audience has demonstrated. At the vast majority of our affiliates Air America ratings are up.
On a nationwide basis the most recent Arbitron ratings Spring 2005 ratings book showed that our affiliates reach over three million people per week each of whom listens for an average of several hours a week. This is more than triple the amount of people who were listening when measured one year earlier in the Spring, 2004 book.
I do not intend to write something every time something like this happens. In the almost six months during which I have been CEO of Air America Radio, I have refrained, for the most part, from responding to the litany of attacks, lies, half-truths and smears from various members of the right-wing media.
In general, it seems to me that paying too much attention to these people only encourages them and that we, at Air America, need to get used to the fact that the spirited progressive opinions of our on-air talent and of our audience will attract the kind of mean-spirited smears that are endemic to contemporary political conversation. After having a near monopoly on talk radio for so many years, some conservative media types are literally freaked out at confronting robust, persistent and passionate opposition.
On Sept 26th, O’Reilly desperately claimed that “Air America’s basic flaw is that “Americans do not want to hear that their country sucks 24 hours a day.” Of course the talent and management of Air America have a love of our country which is what animates all passionate debate on political issues form the left, right and center.
It is an obsession with stifling debate—even at the cost of using lies and distortions, which is un-American.
We'll break this lovely work of art down, distortion-by-distortion, a bit later.
Meanwhile, we knew we could count on the liberal NewsHounds site to attack us over Tuesday's O'Reilly segment. Sure enough, they came through.
Right off the bat they call Malkin, O'Reilly and myself "pigs", but the only evidence provided to refute our points comes from Air America's own site. Here, the same article appears again with a watered-down headline and many reader comments.
Looks like this dog just won't hunt.
Our "Spin of the Week" award goes to MediaWeek, for this reworking of the truth:
Since Air America launched in March 2004, the network has signed 70 affiliates, but has not had an easy time getting a financial foothold, bouncing checks during the initial launch period. Recently, the network had to repay $875,000 to the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club, which helped fund the start-up network.
Is a bank robber's loot nothing more than a "start-up loan" to fund operations?
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Lying Liar Hors d'Oeuvres
What Thirty Clams Buys In Maine
(Catch me tonight on The O'Reilly Factor, FOX News Channel)
--- Gosh, why pay a mere $10 to watch Al Franken slam Republicans at Maine's Bates College October 1, when for 20 extra clams, you can mingle with the man himself?
No reason to worry: there won't be any unpleasant questions about shady "loans" from inner city youth organizations, corporate shell games to escape nasty bill collectors, or notarized documents proving Al lied.
Just turn the brain off, relax, mingle and take in the phoniness all around you.
--- Drudge obviously still has it in for Bill O'Reilly, doesn't he?
Quickly linked at the Drudge Report Monday, was a story claiming the latter was cancelled in Denver, due to low ratings.
While the Rocky Mountain News report does go with that theory, there's a much better explanation: O'Reilly's KHOW replacement, The Glenn Beck Show, is owned by a division of station owner Clear Channel, while Bill's comes from rival Westwood One.
Clear Channel likes to move company-owned talk shows to its own stations whenever possible.
Why was this very minor story worth a Drudge link?
--- Lots of talk radio turmoil this week: hosts Alan Prell and Tony Ventrella fired from KIRO/Seattle, former Massachusetts GOP Congressman Peter Blute removed from WRKO/Boston's morning show, and WTKK's Jay Severin now mysteriously off the air for several weeks.
Update: welcome O'Reilly Factor viewers from the FOX News Channel! Be sure to check out all of our recent Air America reports, here and at Air America investigative partner Michelle Malkin's site.
--- A follow-up to our recent report on Air America's fundraising troubles appears today in the New York Post, with a story by John Mainelli.
--- O'Reilly himself predicts Air America's demise here, as well as on tonight's Factor.
--- RedStateRant covers Neil Boortz's defense of the Second Amendment here. Lots of other great updates at RedState tonight, as well.
--- Political Teen has the Malkin/Maloney FOX News video clip here.
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Wonderful Franken graphics created by Pete at IHillary. Check out his other work here.
Disclosure: KIRO/Seattle is my former employer.
Kennedy's Selective Outrage
RING OF HYPOCRISY
Kennedy: 'Six Men Control News Content'
Could Air America's radio hosts possibly be in a stickier situation?
While they rail endlessly against Bush and "corporate America", more damning revelations are uncovered almost daily about their own company's sleazy actions. Yet the network's personalities continue to pretend nothing is happening.
Compounding the on-air dishonesty: fiery public speeches filled with especially ironic ethical allegations. Don't they feel guilty, knowing their own hands are unclean in the integrity category?
After all, even if they weren't directly involved in the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club scandal, where $875,000 in taxpayer funds were apparently diverted to the liberal talk network, the cash infusion did enrich Air America's coffers.
How can they have a moral leg to stand on, while remaining silent on this sleazy situation?
Hypocrisy's poster child is the increasingly extreme Robert F Kennedy, weekend Air America host. Why would anyone listen to a word he says?
Clearly, some still do, at least in granola country. Speaking at Maine's Unity College, Kennedy managed to keep a straight face while delivering this tired tirade:
(via Village Soup)
“We have a negligent and indolent press that has let the American people down,” he said.
But that’s not surprising, according to Kennedy, when only six men decide what news will be broadcast on almost all of the more than 20,000 radio and television stations in the country.
With right-wing, pseudo-religious talk radio the major source of news for many Americans, it’s no surprise that Bush won re-election in 2004, according to Kennedy.
“There is no difference between the aspirations and values in the red states (which went for Bush in 2004) and the blue states (which favored John Kerry),” said Kennedy.
“There is no moral difference, but there is a huge information difference … The residents of the red states are just Democrats who don’t know what’s going on.”
But a short time later, Kennedy suggested there were some important moral distinctions between the conservative, deeply religious red states and the liberal, relative secular blue states.“Massachusetts,” said Kennedy, “ has the lowest divorce rate in the nation … In fact, the 10 lowest divorce rates are all blue states.
“I had my research assistant check, and a resident of a red state is more likely to murder you, impregnate your teenage daughter, commit a violent crime against you, commit a nonviolent crime against you, buy pornography …”
Kennedy suggested the conservative, religious “patriots” who are running the country are neither conservative, religious nor patriotic.
“They have torn the conserve out of conservatism,” he said.
“They have violated every one of the manifold mandates of the Christian faith. And I look at the White House and say, ‘How did they get all of these draft dodgers in the same place?' … All of these guys loved the war in Vietnam, they just wanted someone else to fight it.”
Kennedy encouraged people to be skeptical of what the White House said. “Look at where their feet are going, rather than their rhetoric.”
Mr. Kennedy, shouldn't we really be skeptical of what you say?
Might we instead keep an eye on Air America's feet, lest they find another charity to raid?
Mr. Kennedy, why won't you address the sleaze and dishonesty that's made your radio network harmful to New York's inner-city children? And how can you expect to maintain a shred of public credibility in the meantime?
Meanwhile, it's time to have a drink with six buddies of mine.
RFK Jr. photo: Wikipedia
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Why Let Franken Win?
Franken Scores At WSJ Columnist's Expense
Rather than taking on one of the left's sleaziest characters, is maintaining a stuffy media pecking order more important? Or can this blunder be chalked up to pure ignorance?
Exposing a key danger of conservative disunity, a Wall Street Journal columnist has needlessly allowed Air America talk show host Al Franken to score points at his expense.
And it's forced the Radio Equalizer to address one of the conservative media's biggest weaknesses: structural quirks that interfere with good story judgment. Is it about rivalries, or other issues?
We watched the liberal media establishment ignore Air America's funding scandal story, where $875,000 in taxpayer funds were apparently diverted from an inner-city nonprofit, until readers began to fight back. Eventually, some relented, including the New York Times. Increasingly, the story is attaining nationwide awareness levels.
Completely missing in action, however, has been the Wall Street Journal. Why?
Since it published 2004's best expose on the liberal talk network's many unpleasant operational issues, it would seem natural for the WSJ to tackle sleazy revelations instead left to Malkin and Maloney, the New York Sun, Post and others.
Nothing about the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club's money transfers to Air America, Franken's confirmed lying on when he first knew of the scandal (proven via a notarized document), corporate shell games, near-constant lawsuits, or quasi-panhandling seem to interest the Journal's staffers.
Coming to terms with this eventually occurred for the Radio Equalizer, but an infuriating incident this week finally uncorked the bottle.
Exceptionally popular online writer James Taranto, who writes "Best of the Web Today" for WSJ's OpinionJournal.com, managed to roll over and play dead in an elementary playground-level fight with sleazy Al Franken.
Since July, the Radio Equalizer isn't aware of one word written by Taranto on the Air America scandals. If he's not interested, fine, but we've always sent email alerts to the latest developments.
On September 16, Taranto appeared on the FOX News Channel's Hannity and Colmes show, claiming President Bush's poll numbers had begun to improve after a post-Katrina hit. Colmes and Internet liberals quickly pounced on Taranto, who conceded he may have been mistaken.
Though a later Rasmussen survey did appear to partially verify the assertion, it's not clear what he thought he'd seen. When pressed, Taranto quickly backed off of it, which in hindsight appears a good call.
Enter previously uninvolved Al Franken, whose intellectual dishonesty is exceeded only by his incredible arrogance. Writing Taranto, Franken's account of events was, according to the leftist Media Matters:
In an on-air conversation with Media Matters president and CEO David Brock on September 21, Franken described the email exchange he initiated with Taranto asking him about his assertion on Hannity & Colmes:
FRANKEN: Now I emailed James Taranto.
BROCK: Is that right?
FRANKEN: Yeah, I got his email address from somebody.
FRANKEN: And this is what I wrote. I wrote, "Hi, James. I have a radio show on Air America Radio, and something we do is check stuff that doesn't sound right to us."
FRANKEN: "Recently on Hannity & Colmes, you said, quote: 'I think we've already seen the poll numbers start to bounce back.' When Colmes asked, 'Where?,' you said, 'I've seen some polls in which the approval rating is almost as high as the disapproval.' We've had difficulty finding such polls. Could you direct us to them? Thank you, Al Franken."
FRANKEN: Now to James Taranto's --
KATHERINE LANPHER (co-host): Credit?
FRANKEN: -- credit -- to his credit, he emailed me back and wrote this. He said, "Dear Mr. Franken, It's possible that I was mistaken about this. Cheers."
FRANKEN: Now, here's the thing. Let's not punish a guy --
FRANKEN: -- for getting back to me. Right?
BROCK: Sure. Absolutely.
FRANKEN: It was a very quick and forthright response.
BROCK: Right. And he's not being dishonest in his response.
FRANKEN: No. Now I -- and when I wrote him back, I was extremely careful to -- I just said, "Thank you for the quick and forthright response."
FRANKEN: And I didn't say anything snarky.
FRANKEN: I didn't say like, "Oh, one other question: Why would you act like you're so certain" --
FRANKEN: -- "about something that you clearly were mistaken about and had no basis for?" I didn't do that.
FRANKEN: And you know why? You don't punish someone.
Of course, one wonders how much Franken has twisted and contorted these events. Why did Taranto fall for it in the first place, however? He'd already admitted his potential mistake to others. Why give Franken the satisfaction?
Rather than fire back over Franken's proven ethical lapses in Air America's sleazy scandal, Taranto rolled over and played dead. Franken and Brock are now having a great time at his expense.
Did maintaining a stuffy media pecking order force Taranto into a duel with an unloaded weapon? How could you not shoot back by mentioning Franken's unclean hands in the honesty and accuracy department?
It appears not acknowledging a Journal-ignored, blogger-led story was more important than holding Al Franken accountable for his sleaziness. Franken hasn't a moral or ethical leg to stand on, regardless of the topic. He's the last person that should challenging anyone on accuracy matters.
Or could it really be possible Taranto isn't aware of the Gloria Wise scandal? Seems unlikely, but one never knows. Would he face the wrath of his Journal editors?
Luckily, the Journal has been nearly alone in shunning the topic, at least from conservative-leaning publications. Between top-quality blogs, the National Review, Weekly Standard and a number of newspapers including the Washington Times, coverage has steadily increased with each damning revelation.
The Radio Equalizer makes these points as a longtime fan of both the WSJ and Taranto's work. In that spirit of constructive criticism (of which I now expose myself to his), add this: what good came from trying to appease Franken?
In Thursday's column, Taranto noted the Media Matters attention, realized he was actually correct on the Bush poll data, and mentioned Franken. Yet somehow, the Air America scandal still wasn't worth addressing (Tip: reader Andy B.)
Today Powerline has a superb piece on Al Franken's Friday Yale Law School speech (tipped off by investigative partner Michelle Malkin), with rough notes from "our own correspondent" on scene in New Haven. It shows how Franken's now busy using Taranto's weak response as ammo against the right:
· Taranto says on Hannity and Colmes that Bush’s numbers are bouncing back. Franken writes him and e-mail asking for polls that show president is bouncing back from Katrina…Taranto writes back “Dear Mr. Franken I may have been mistaken” and corrects himself the next day…says he got lots of angry mail, that all the angry left can do is be angry.
· Franken says he’s bullsh------…sometimes you have to get angry. Why shouldn’t we be angry at this malfeasance? Why shouldn’t we be angry a guy with no experience is at head of FEMA? Same with homeland security? Wasting billions going to cronies that could be used to educate people? Used to save lives in Africa? Is that not worth being angry about?
I'd like to find out why Taranto took this approach with Franken. If he responds to my email, I'll let you know here. If events have been mischaracterized (which would be good news), that will be indicated as well.
In the meantime, should you find yourself in a battle with the likes of Al Franken, go ahead and take the gloves off. With any hesitation on your part, you may get nailed below the belt.
Welcome Powerline and Free Republic readers.
Franken graphics by Pete at IHillary. Franken/AAR scandal by Darleen Click. Taranto photo and WSJ graphic from OpinionJournal.com. Your Amazon orders help to support this site's efforts. Thanks!
Dominating The Discussion
Plus, Franken vs. Horowitz, Earle's Strange Play
--- A radio industry chat site has banned all further Radio Equalizer discussions. Apparently we were dominating their News-Talk board:
(moderator) I'm gonna put the kabosh on the radioequalizer's blog being the center of the posts here. We are not here to discuss what HE says in his blog. It is getting old...
--- Check back later today (Friday) for an announcement on where you'll be able to see Michelle Malkin and I updating the Air America scandal's latest.
--- Extremist Seattle talk host Mike Webb, who previously said President Bush deserved to be executed, is now threatening liberal bloggers who expose his hypocritical actions:
But when we kid the liberal, we get threats and the f-bomb. We're embarrassed by him. We kid, but this isn't the first time Webb's come after us.
Back in 2003, after we wrote a talk radio piece for a local magazine that didn't give him enough ink (he thought the song was about him), he wrote: "F--- You. Don't come near me. That would be regretful."
Then he tried to murder us with the publisher, the editor, and threatened to report us for harassment to our Internet provider. Recently, he wrote: "So, please, just leave me the f--- alone and have fun on your little 'website.' Let me be clear: the next email from you will be considered harassment."
(We've seen his show's "cumes" and we can assure you, our "little website" has more readers on a Sunday than he does his little talk show 'most any day. We kid Mike Webb, but his ratings are lower than Mike Siegel's).
(From Blatherwatch, language editing mine)
--- Air America host Steve Earle (you didn't know he was in their lineup?) has produced an odd off-Broadway play on the life of murderer Karla Faye Tucker. Run, don't walk, to get your tickets to this certain audience pleaser.
--- A Microsoft exec confuses Boston talk host Howie Carr with Harvard's Nicolas Carr. How to tell them apart: one's obsessed with finding Whitey Bulger, while the other is fixated on whatever it is they're pondering these days over lattes in Harvard Square.
--- Robert Novak was the odd-man-out at an Aspen Bash-Bush-Bash sponsored by a major radio station owner.
--- Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, will host both Al Franken and David Horowitz within days of each other. Why not at the same time?
--- Seattle's KIRO-AM, my former employer, has fired liberal 9am-noon host Alan Prell after lackluster ratings. Some say it's the start of major changes to come. KIRO's hard-left turn last year has been a disaster of Arbitronian proportions, I'm told Rush Limbaugh may move into the slot, in a last-ditch effort to save once-proud KIRO from extinction.
--- The Washington Post has an update on fired WMAL talk host Michael Graham.
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Air America's Odd Pledge Drive
AAR Seeking 'Gifts', Limbaugh, O'Reilly Won Election
In what appears to be just short of outright panhandling, a desperate Air America Radio is now begging listeners for cash donations.
From a mass email pitch sent Wednesday afternoon, Air America supporters were taken to a webpage where a direct solicitation is made.
Resembling an online PBS or NPR pledge drive, the site offered paltry "benefits" for cash "gifts" to the liberal talk network. Is Air America unintentionally a not-for-profit enterprise?
For $50, they'll send three "official" bumper stickers, while $100 gets a "stylish" tote bag thrown in. The sucker who has everything might choose the $250 version, including the above and an on-air thanks from one of Air America's talk hosts.
Another option: send "any amount", for which they'll be "grateful". Only you can prevent the next Boys & Girls Club financial raid. Send a buck, save midnight basketball in the Bronx.
There's little indication of where the money will go, whether for overpaid air talent, sparkling new studios, the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club repayment fund, or perhaps to settle one of the endless legal flaps that plague Air America Radio. Somehow it will "help Air America Radio get on the air in every community in the nation," according to the website.
Radio industry reaction was swift to Air America's new fundraising approach, cooked up after recent private fundraising troubles and obvious advertising revenue shortfalls (simply listen to the commercial breaks). From one radio industry message board commenter:
Talk about cheap! Public radio has better offers than that. This sounds like a desperation move. How hard up for cash flow could they be? They are running spots but a lot of them sound like bottom-feeder PI (per inquiry) spots (no cash, they get a commission if anybody orders).
The least they could do is offer stock, then if the thing ever does take off people could see some return. Keep in mind folks, donations to a for-profit business are NOT deductible.
Radio Equalizer readers were busy forwarding the email here Wednesday evening:
Dear Air America Radio Listener,
When we launched the Air America Radio network one year ago, the country was being talked to death by conservative zealots like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and others. Right Wing radio saturated every media market and every community a dominance of the airwaves that has been a huge part of what allowed the Right Wing to:
* Drag America into the Iraq war.
* Open up the Arctic National Refuge for oil drilling.
* Take over both houses of Congress.
* And, of course, win the 2004 Presidential election.
Rather than wait for the Right Wing to run out of breath, we launched Air America Radio to give the country back its voice. Thanks to listeners like you, we have a presence on 70 stations covering 60% of U.S. media markets. Air America Radio currently offers 15 shows and runs 24 hours a day of entertaining but always enlightening programming.
To continue this great success story and start shaping the national debate the way that Right Wing talk radio does every day, we've got to reach into every community in this country. We know we can’t achieve this next stage of growth without significant help from you, our loyal listeners.
We’ve also been asked on many occasions by our listeners how they can help out. Today we are launching a new program called AIR AMERICA ASSOCIATES that gives you the opportunity to do just that.
As an Air America Associate, you are a member of a special group of listeners who support Air America Radio and are dedicated to building the Air America community. When you sign up, we will send you a packet of bumper stickers to remind you that your job as an Associate is to spread the word about Air America Radio to other progressives in your workplace, your family, and your neighborhood.
Also, as an Air America Associate, you'll be kept informed of events in your area and receive a monthly Associates insider newsletter with backstage news from our shows and our headquarters. And in time, when we launch our paid services, as an Associate you will be eligible for special discounts for premium content.
Rush Limbaugh didn't take over our airwaves by himself he had an army of "dittoheads" behind him. We will never reach the same critical mass that he has without our listeners helping us as well. So, please become an Air America Associate today by clicking here:
Thank you very much for your support,
Air America Radio CEO
I'm sure Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and other talk hosts are happy to know they swung the 2004 election for Republicans.
Funny, liberals were just blasting Bill O'Reilly for revealing Air America's financial troubles and collapse risk on Tuesday's radio show. Just one day later, the network itself has backed up his contentions.
Update- Captain Ed writes:
Anyone else see the resemblance between AAR and Blanche DuBois of A Streetcar Named Desire?
I loved the AAR promotion language that promised FREE STUFF if you send them $50. Who would be stupid enough to fall for that line? Well ....
See the Cap'n's brilliant take here.
Update: Powerline weighs in here.
AnkleBitingPundits has fun with the story.
Kevin at Wizbang has another angle on this. More at Memeorandum, California Conservative and Chris Christner's site. Chris has a nice "deathwatch" graphic I hadn't before seen.
Radio industry coverage from talk radio reporter Perry Simon at All Access:
AIR AMERICA RADIO is asking listeners for donations, an unusual move for a commercial broadcaster. The "AIR AMERICA ASSOCIATES" program is similar to public radio's pledge-drive offerings, with a $50 donation netting the donor three "I'm Building AIR AMERICA RADIO" bumper stickers and a $100 donation worth a tote bag. Donors of $250 or more will be thanked on the air and personally by hosts and staff. The donation page appears on AAR's website, accessible by clicking on the "Associates Program" ad on the right side of the home page.
And as expected, the move has drawn immediate criticism from conservatives, including blogger/radio host BRIAN MALONEY's RADIO EQUALIZER, which is featuring the text of an e-mail sent to AAR listeners by the network's CEO DANNY GOLDBERG asking for donations. AAR's move is not unprecedented, however: besides religious broadcasters who routinely ask for donations on commercially-licensed stations, TED TURNER famously asked for viewers of WRET-TV/CHARLOTTE to send in donations to keep the station on the air, saving the station, which he later sold and is now NBC affiliate WCNC-TV.
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Second Batch Of Phase II Summer Ratings
MORE RATINGS PAIN
Plenty Of Talk Radio Misery To Spread Around
What will it take to pump up talk radio's sagging fortunes?
In the second batch of Arbitron ratings updates released last night, the format's year-long downward trend continued, almost without exception.
In Philadelphia, conservative Limbaugh station WPHT held 11th place with a flat performance, while Air America's WHAT-AM remained in 27th, again with a 0.5 audience share. That's just one rank above rock-bottom.
It was ugly in Boston and because baseball-carrying WEEI (now the number one area station) actually fell a bit, it's hard to blame the Red Sox.
There, conservative talker WRKO-AM subtracted a half share, from 3.9 to 3.4, to tie for ninth. Rival WTKK-FM continued a year-long slide, dropping from a 3.4 to 3.0 to settle in at 14th place.
WBZ, with a news focus and dry evening talk shows, may have left the number one spot behind for good. It's now locked into second. We'll see for sure when baseball season is over, but its talk programming needs an urgent upgrade.
Air America's two Hub stations continued to bounce around at the bottom of the ratings, generating a combined 0.8 share. There's no sign they'll be leaving the cellar anytime soon.
In San Diego, KOGO (home to Roger Hedgecock and Limbaugh) fell further, from a 5.2 at last fall's peak to a 3.7 today. That's good for fifth overall.
Conservative rival KFMB-AM (Michael Savage affiliate) rose a bit, from 3.0 to 3.3, to take ninth. Air America's KLSD-AM actually increased, from 1.7 to 2.1, but is still off its earlier 2.3 peak performance. It appears stuck in this general range.
Detroit's conservative ABC-owned WJR-AM turned in another solid performance, holding first place yet again.
Air America's WDTW-AM vanished (0.0?), dropping off the list entirely, replaced by Canadian talker CKLW-AM, which generated a 0.4.
More updates coming soon!
Ratings data: Radio & Records
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Former Clinton Official Grilled On Air America Case
With Goodfriends Like These
Deposition: Air America Execs Long Knew Of Gloria Wise $$$
David Lombino's much-anticipated New York Sun piece on former Air America Exec/Clinton Administration official David Goodfriend has now been published, with interesting insights.
Continuing a pattern where current and former network officials look to protect their interests against potential criminal and civil liabilities, it's the ultimate in corporate CYA.
When it comes to fallout over the apparent transfer of $875,000 in taxpayer funds from an inner-city community center to the liberal radio network, nobody seems to want to take responsibility. Goodfriend here is quick to pin the blame on everyone around him, particularly former college friend Evan Montvel-Cohen.
Though Lombino's report doesn't name the leaked deposition's source, connected to Multicultural Broadcasting's lawsuit against Air America parent company Piquant LLC, the Radio Equalizer independently understands it could be Goodfriend himself.
From today's story:
Mr. Goodfriend said in the deposition that when investors found out about the money from the Boys & Girls Club, "They hear this and hear about other liabilities and conclude, I think we better just form a new company clean of any old liabilities."
Mr. Goodfriend, now a Washington based lawyer, said in the sworn deposition that he refused to sign an agreement that transferred ownership and assets of Air America to a new company, Piquant LLC, from Progress Media because he believed it constituted a "fraudulent conveyance."
A spokeswoman for Piquant has denied that the transfer of ownership was fraudulent. Mr. Goodfriend, now 37, had met the founder of Air America, Evan Montvel Cohen, when they both attended Beloit College in Wisconsin.
Mr. Goodfriend said in the deposition that he thought Mr. Cohen borrowed the Gloria Wise funds and disguised them as his own personal investment in the radio network.
"The notion that money left the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club so that Evan could pretend that he was investing in Air America sickened me to my core," Mr. Goodfriend said in the deposition.
Mr. Goodfriend said he was introduced to the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club by Mr. Cohen, who simultaneously served as chairman of Air America and development director for the Bronx nonprofit. According to the deposition, Mr. Cohen had persuaded Mr. Goodfriend to join a Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club advisory board and visit the facility in Coop City.
Mr. Goodfriend testified that after he left the radio network he spoke several times to Charles Rosen, who served as executive director of the club, and that Mr. Rosen had approved the transfers of $875,000.
Mr. Rosen did not return repeated phone messages left by the Sun at his home. According to the deposition, sometime after Mr. Goodfriend left Air America in May 2004, he received a phone call from Charles Rosen's brother, Jacob, who said Mr. Cohen had offered to "invest" in his company.
"They had some small telecommunications startup that he wrote checks on the [Progress Media] account that were bounced for insufficient funds that led to the bankruptcy of their company. And they asked me for help to try to have some recourse," Mr. Goodfriend said in the deposition.
Mr. Goodfriend said he had been unaware that Progress Media was a vehicle for investment in ventures other than Air America. He said he learned of the transfers from the Boys & Girls Club in early May 2004 from Air America's vice president of finance, Sinohe Terrero, a former employee of the club who recently resigned from Air America.
The information about the Gloria Wise debt was passed on to Air America's investors in early May 2004, according to Mr. Goodfriend.
Most significant may be that last sentence, where Goodfriend says everyone was in the loop on the Gloria Wise loans clear back to May 2004. That flies in the face of Al Franken's assertion it took recent "forensic accounting" to discover what happened.
Michelle Malkin and I will have our own updates coming as well, stay tuned.
AAR Scandal logo by Darleen Click.
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Summer Ratings Trends Released For Key Cities
Air America's Pain, Others Show Faint Signs Of Life
While conservative news-talk stations begin to dig out of their giant post-election ratings hole, Arbitron trends released late Monday reveal more bad news for the troubled liberal Air America Radio network.
From New York, Long Island, Los Angeles and Chicago, there wasn't one piece of good news for Franken and Friends, according to figures posted at Radio & Records.
In New York, Air America flagship WLIB again showed a flat 1.0 audience share, for 24th place. It is still true, despite what you might hear to the contrary, that WLIB's previous Caribbean programming generated higher ratings.
Worse, in Los Angeles its KTLK fell slightly from 0.9 to 0.8, to tie at 30th with two other stations.
Chicago's Air America affilate WCPT-AM tied for last place with a 0.4, while on Long Island, the liberal network's WLIB offerings fell from 1.3 to 0.9, for 29th place overall.
You wouldn't know the situation's severity, judging by recent trade publication ads touting supposed huge ratings increases for liberal talk shows.
Meanwhile, conservative talkers are showing just minor signs of recovery from their ratings plunges this year, blamed by some on post-election listener boredom.
WABC/New York rose slightly, from a 3.2 to 3.4, ranking 10th. While a far cry from past highs, every little bit helps. In Los Angeles, KFI held steady with a 3.9, good for sixth, while Chicago's WLS increased from 4.0 to 4.2 to retake fourth place.
More ratings will arrive tonight from Boston and other large cities. Check back for updates.
AAR graphic by Pete at IHillary.
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Why Some Conservatives Like Liberal Radio Network
Some On Right May Want Air America To Stick Around
Of our efforts to expose Air America's sleazy Enron-like corporate behavior, is it safe to assume conservatives are united in support?
To a point, yes.
There certainly are some, though, who'd rather not see this investigative effort become too successful. That's because the liberal radio network's programming has gone so far off the deep left end, it's now a GOP gold mine.
By the same token, would Republicans want Rep. Jim McDermott of Seattle, or Sen. Ted Kennedy defeated? While having no impact on national political trends, the moonbat wing of the Democrat party provides a bounty of choice quotes for fundraising letters, making the answer a firm "no".
Primo case-in-point: Air America Host/rapper Chuck D's (one of the black hosts network co-founder Sheldon Drobny couldn't name on C-SPAN) support for Louis Farrakhan's assertion whites blew up levees to wipe out the black population in New Orleans.
This via NewsMax:
Two hosts at the liberal radio network Air America are defending Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan - saying he's not wrong to suspect that white people deliberately blew up the levees in New Orleans.
"You cannot blame people for coming up with conspiracy theories," Air America host Chuck D. said, after he was asked Thursday about the paranoid pronouncement by MSNBC's Tucker Carlson.
"They look on television and see that the government is four days late in saving people [who are] supposed to be their citizens," Chuck D. explained.
Carlson gave him a second chance to denounce Farrakhan's lunatic declaration, saying, "You're a smart guy. You know that white people didn't blow up the levees to kill black people. You've gotta know that didn't happen."
But the Air America host refused to budge, insisting instead that there was a chance Farrakhan could be right....
It gets worse:
After failing to persuade Chuck D., the MSNBC host turned to panelist Rachel Maddow, who also hosts a show on Air America.
Asked if she believed that white people deliberately destroyed the levees, Maddow declined to render a personal judgment - and instead defended the sentiment behind the toxic hypothesis.
The MSNBC transcript is available here.
It's one thing to hear Chuck D saying what's not much different than today's typical rap lyrics, but Rachel Maddow? She's the one held up by Air America supporters as intellectually superior, yet here looks moronic.
While these kooky conspiratorial comments (which oddly seem to fit Sheldon Drobny's fringe LaRouchian leanings) do boost conservative support, we can't overlook sleazy behavior of epic proportions simply for the sake of easier Republican fundraising pitches.
The fodder will have to come from somewhere else, I'm afraid.
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AAR/Scandal graphic by Darleen Click.
New Mexico Paper's Hypocrisy On Talk Radio Issues
Bugs Bunny Was Wrong
Left Turn At Albuquerque Not Better Move
Sorry, Bugs Bunny, you had it right the first time.
Don't take that left turn at Albuquerque, or you might end up as hypocritical as the hometown Tribune newspaper. Their one-sided talk radio coverage would have the Warner Bros. character asking, "what's up, doc?"
While quick to attack Rush Limbaugh and "right wing" talk radio this weekend, the Tribune has to date apparently said nothing about Air America's sleazy funding scandal, where $875,000 in taxpayer funds seem to have been diverted from an inner-city community center, to the liberal radio network.
That's despite the existence of a local Air America affiliate, KABQ-AM.
Meanwhile, Tribune columnist V B Price blasted Rush Limbaugh in a new piece:
Republicans have, of course, refined the art of deception and evasion of responsibility for the past 20 years, turning it into a political strategy of savage efficiency.
Everything's the fault of liberals, Democrats, environmentalists, "social engineers," big government and other domestic enemies who get in their way. Because of such enemies, they imply, government is made to oppress the strong - people like themselves - as it helps the meek inherit the earth. The strong are oppressed by basic fairness, because they believe might - especially financial might - makes right.
After Katrina, Republican operatives were, as always, locked into the blame game's major motive - to help their mighty friends in any way they can think of to smear and destroy those who need government help and those who want to give it to them.
Rush Limbaugh this week was heard, once again, to say that "liberals hate America" and are "happy" over the destruction of New Orleans, because it gives them something more to carp about. Limbaugh is merely the scorpion's tail of a huge Republican propaganda machine that has been working to crush its enemies by any means, fair or foul, since Watergate.
A search of the Tribune's archives, though, reveals they're more than happy to promote Air America when called upon. An example from March:
About 300 of the Franken faithful braved the aftermath of a winter storm to catch a glimpse of Air America's flagship radio program, "The Al Franken Show."
Comedian Al Franken and co-host Katherine Lanpher broadcast the show live from the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. In his typical dry and quick-witted style, the left-leaning comedian and political commentator interviewed Gov. Bill Richardson, University of New Mexico professor and former Oklahoma Sen. Fred Harris, New Mexico Secretary of Labor Conroy Chino, and Lois Meyer, a UNM College of Education associate professor.
Franken's show delved into serious issues Tuesday, touching on Social Security, Indian affairs and bilingual education, though the host cushioned the policy-laden interviews with his comic touch. "I'm a comedian first and a policy wonk second," said a jet-lagged Franken in a post-broadcast interview.
Franken and Lanpher are native Minnesotans accustomed to snow, but Lanpher exclaimed, "Just because we're from Minnesota doesn't mean we're shoveling!" Franken jokingly chastised the snow-trapped governor during a phone interview, shaking his head and remarking, "Santa Fe? What, that's like 60 miles away?"
The humor was not lost on the audience. "I've been listening to Air America and 'The Al Franken Show' since it first aired in Albuquerque," says Chad Perry, 50, a South Valley resident.
"The show's always informative and funny. And his Rush Limbaugh impression is excellent."
Albuquerque resident and Los Lunas teacher Melissa Drolet took advantage of a school district snow day to watch the broadcast.
"My husband and I are big Al Franken fans from way back to his days at 'Saturday Night Live,' " she said. Fans also seemed eager to see Lanpher, Franken's probing journalist co-host who often plays it straight against Franken's comedic antics.
How's that for a puff piece? Air America apparently doesn't have any critics in New Mexico?
While the paper twists Rush Limbaugh's Katrina comments, it can't quite bring itself to examine the facts about the sleazy scandal causing his rival network's sad self-destruction.
Need I mention how Limbaugh continues to dominate talk radio on New Mexico's longtime number one radio station, KOB-AM? In the most recent Albuquerque ratings, KOB held an 8.7 share, to Air America's 2.0, down from a 2.4 in the previous survey.
That puts Air America more than a few carrots short of KOB's conservative talkers.
Maybe that's what really has the Tribune so worked up.
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AAR/Franken by Darleen Click.
Air America Scandal News Unmentioned In Boston
Air America Scandal Details Yet To Reach Boston
It may not be as big as Tropical Storm Ophelia, now reaching the Bay State, but surely there must be some reason for the Beantown Air America scandal coverage blackout.
There sure was plenty of room for fawning profiles of liberal talk personalities over the last year in the Boston Globe and weekly Phoenix. Why isn't the diversion of taxpayer funds from a Boys & Girls Club to the liberal network's coffers now equally interesting?
After all, there are two Air America stations in the Boston area, while several personalities and network executives have Massachusetts ties. We hear Al Franken knows quite a lot about Cambridge.
In addition, one of the primary journalists investigating the situation resides in the Bay State. So the Radio Equalizer doesn't want to hear the out-of-state, out-of-mind excuse. There are plenty of local angles.
To be fair, I've so far appeared on two Boston-area radio programs to discuss the Air America scandal, but print publications have been MIA.
Friday, I took the opportunity to ask Boston Globe reporter Scot Lehigh about the coverage blackout, while exchanging emails on the Jay Severin story. He's certainly not in charge of story assignments, but might be a position to know something about the absence of stories on the matter.
Lehigh told me the Globe's media critic position had been vacant since a departure earlier in the year. He thought he'd written something on Air America's messes before leaving for a rival paper, but I wrote back to let him know a Boston.com search turns up nothing.
To be fair, the archrival Boston Herald hasn't touched it either and that may be the harder pill to swallow. In the past, the Herald could be counted on to go after what the stuffy Globe (sister paper to the New York Times) wouldn't.
Now, the Herald's watered itself down as it readies for a likely upcoming shutdown. Guys, you have little left to lose, why not pump it up? It's looking so tired these days.
I'll give the Globe this: at least they return messages, unlike Boston's other print publications.
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New York-Based Talk Host Exposed
Boston Globe Exposes Lies, Red Faces At CBS
In Boston, Jay Severin's luck may have finally run out.
After years of questions about the WTKK-FM talk host's wild boasts and other deceptive behavior, the Boston Globe's Scot Lehigh examined his most outrageous: Severin's claim to be a Pulitzer Prize winner.
The result was a devastating piece that should shatter sleazy Severin's talk radio future.
His academic background, place of residence, even his real name, have all apparently been faked.
And the timing couldn't be worse for the self-described "libertarian/libertine" host, more on that in a moment.
The Radio Equalizer raised other questions about Severin's claims in this July piece written after his sudden departure from MSNBC's "The Situation With Tucker Carlson". NBC insiders had claimed to cable news website TVNewser that Severin's bizarre behind-the-scenes behavior was disruptive.
Lehigh examined Severin's recent on-air assertion he won a Pulitzer for "online journalism" (were such an award to exist). From his report:
...last Friday, the talkmaster positively outdid himself in setting new laurels upon his brow: He awarded himself a Pulitzer Prize. That came as part of a conversation with a caller about the declining standards he sees in journalism.
Here's what Jay said: ''But since journalism began, and up until the time at least that I took my master's degree at Boston University -- and may I add without being obnoxious, up till and including the time that I received a Pulitzer Prize for my columns for excellence in online journalism from the Columbia School of Journalism, the highest possible award for writing on the Web -- right up to and including that in 1998, you still had to practice journalism to be a journalist."
That struck several listeners as unlikely. Once I'd heard the claim, I asked the Pulitzer folks to check it out. ''We looked at the records and there is no record of him winning a Pulitzer Prize," says Sig Gissler, administrator of the Pulitzers. Nor is there a Pulitzer for excellence in online journalism. How does Jay explain his assertion?
''What I said was, there is a prize that my editor told me is the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize for Web journalism," Severin said in an interview. ''That is a hell of a caveat."
Certainly it would have been if Severin had made it. The problem is, he didn't. I read him his on-air comment.
Things only look worse for Severin as it continues:
Interesting, a Google search turns up two mentions of Severin winning a Pulitzer for online journalism. They come in student newspaper articles covering a November 2003 appearance at Boston College.
''Currently, Severin is a featured columnist on MSNBC.com, for which he has won the Pulitzer Prize for online journalism," The Heights reported. Severin ''was the first recipient of Columbia University's Pulitzer Prize for online journalism," the Observer wrote. Both accounts also call him a graduate of Harvard Law School. He is not, Harvard says.
Joelle Pederson, who wrote the story for the Heights, thinks the information about Severin came from the person who introduced him.Now, where would anyone introducing Jay have gotten the notion that he was a Harvard Law School graduate?
''I have no idea," said Severin.
But one quickly occurred to him. As part of an arrangement made by his BU professors, he said, he had sat in on some classes at Harvard Law School, though not as an enrolled student. Perhaps, he said, whoever introduced him had heard him mention those classes on the air and arrived at that conclusion.
That's inventive, anyway. But then, there's long been an aura of self-invention about Severin.The young man known at Vassar as Jimmy Severino is now Jay Severin III.
The former B-grade political consultant would have his listeners believe he was once a top-level national strategist.
The Radio Equalizer has long tried to determine whether Severin really has the Republican campaign consulting background he claims on WTKK's website:
In addition to his daily “Extreme Games,” on 96.9 FM Talk, Severin is associated with NBC News, appearing regularly as a MSNBC political analyst. Severin also frequents The News with Brian Williams, he is a featured columnist on MSNBC.com and has served as an American political correspondent for the BBC.
Severin’s other media appearances include: NBC Nightly News, CNBC, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, PBS, FOX News Channel, Nightline, Politically Incorrect, Time, Business Week, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and more. As a national political advisor and critic, Severin is a veteran of more than 100 major campaigns for President, Governor, the Senate and the House.
One of the Google hits mentioned above is this 2003 piece from The Heights, a student newspaper at Boston College. It appears that somebody fed the reporter a number of dishonest statements:
"Politics is like sex ... there are really only two parties." So began Jay Severin, a featured speaker for the College Republicans of Boston College (CRBC), who delivered a lecture last Thursday evening. Severin, a notably conservative Boston talk show host, lectured for the first time at BC last year and was welcomed back.
Currently, Severin is a featured columnist on MSNBC.com, for which he has won the Pulitzer Prize for online journalism, and hosts the number one rated political talk show in Boston, titled "Extreme Games," on 96.9 FM Talk, which runs weekdays from 3-7 p.m. Originally from New York, Severin resides in Boston.
One of Severin's biggest lies has been in leading Bay State residents to believe he lives in Boston, while actually broadcasting from Long Island, New York.
In one of radio's biggest recent blunders, Infinity Broadcasting, a division of CBS, announced today they'd signed a deal with Severin to host a nationally syndicated talk show. How red the faces must have been at network headquarters!
Radio trade publication coverage predictably covered for him, leaving out the expose on his dishonest behavior. I alerted Lehigh to this earlier today.
From Radio & Records:
Infinity President/Programming Rob Barnett has signed Severin to host a show on "select Infinity stations" beginning January 2006.
The new deal reportedly does not include the Boston market, where Severin already hosts afternoons at Greater Media-owned FM talker WTKK.
However the Boston Globe reports that Severin's contract with Greater Media expires at the end of this year, and that has led to speculation that the talk host could jump ship to crosstown Infinity News/Talker WBZ or one of that company's four other Boston radio stations.
Specific Infinity stations on which the new show, Jay Severin Has Issues, might air have not been identified, but Severin's agent George Tobia told the newspaper he was assured by Infinity that they will include "several top 10 markets." Severin was an R&R Industry Achievement Award nominee as "News/Talk Local Host of the Year" in 2004.
Severin was not heard on WTKK today for unclear reasons. Conservative rival Howie Carr, of Boston's WRKO-AM, kicked off today's show with a crack about Severin's dishonesty.
Meanwhile, liberal bloggers have begun to tie his lying to the overall conservative movement, but trust the Radio Equalizer: he ain't one of us, Jay Severin's always been a fake.
Can WTKK really afford to keep Severin's damaged goods on the air until January's contract expiry? And what could CBS possibly do with him now?
Air America: An Investigative Blog Series
What Air America Still Hasn't Disclosed
Latest Malkin/Maloney Investigative Piece Now Available
The deeper we dig in the Air America Radio funding scandal, the more outrageous deception that's uncovered.
And the revelations have never been more stunning.
With the latest piece in our Air America Radio investigative series now posted at MichelleMalkin.com, we're examining many new details in the funding scandal that cost the Bronx-based Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club $875,000 in taxpayer grants. It appears to have been diverted instead to the network's coffers.
Why does Air America continue to hide so many crucial details? Is it because the truth blows the lid off of everything they've maintained since July?
What's the real story behind the strange departure of the company's vice-president of finance?
Why has it taken days of prodding just to get them to confirm it? And why won't they talk about his continuing company role?
Why aren't they revealing the full details about his stunning professional background, which includes a long stint as finance director at, of all places, the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club?
So much for their adamant contentions Air America's current management has no connection to the past.
Why are they seeking loans from "investors" to place in their attorney's repayment escrow account? Has the full $875,000 been maintained in it at all times?
The story takes many amazing new twists and turns in our exclusive report. See it here.
Welcome Powerline readers!
Update: Entertainment industry coverage today from Perry Simon at All Access:
There's still more on the AIR AMERICA RADIO-GLORIA WISE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB loan scandal, as conservative bloggers MICHELLE MALKIN and BRIAN MALONEY continue to report on the question of the improper loans of public funds by the club to the network.
The latest involves the pair's reporting that the network's current VP of Finance SINOHE TERRERO worked as finance director of the GLORIA WISE clun from 2000-2002 under AAR's original head EVAN MONTVEL COHEN. Reports that TERRERO has resigned from the network are as yet unconfirmed, and ALL ACCESS' request for a comment from the network and TERRERO have been unanswered.
The network has denied that its present ownership has any legal responsibility to pay back the loan despite its appearance on a list of liabilities in a "settlement agreement" signed by COHEN, former partner REX SORENSEN, the current owners, and host AL FRANKEN in late 2004, but says it has put the disputed amount in escrow held by its own attorney to be paid back at the conclusion of a city and state investigation.
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Scandal graphic by Darleen Click.