The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

31 October 2005

Monday Updates


Deals With Two Companies, Sheldon's Mouth, More

Since May, we've had a lot of fun examining Rev. Al Sharpton's would-be, could-be talk radio career. Because announced plans never seem to pan out, it's mostly involved a lot of head-scratching.

With a new deal now reportedly signed, the Sharpton saga takes an especially puzzling turn: he's apparently a talk radio two-timer!

That's right, with the Boston Globe's Clea Simon revealing his new agreement, he's got a bit of a mess on his hands:

QUINCY -- Two powerhouses of urban radio are teaming up to launch an African-American centered talk radio network, the cornerstone of which will be programming hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Baltimore-based Radio One, the nation's seventh-largest radio company, and Reach Media, which owns and syndicates the highly successful ''Tom Joyner Morning Show," aim to roll out the network after the first of the year.

Radio One owns a controlling interest in Reach Media. The ambitious plan was discussed yesterday by Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins III during an interview at the new WILD offices at Marina Bay.

WILD-AM, which will carry the new network's programming, and its sister station, WILD-FM (the former Hot 97.7 WBOT-FM), underwent format changes on Oct. 20.

Both are owned by Radio One. If all goes as planned, the fledgling talk network will begin broadcasting on as many as 10 of Radio One's 70 stations, including AM outlets in Baltimore, Detroit, Miami, Cleveland, Washington D.C., and a handful of other cities.

The programming would also be offered to stations not owned by Radio One.''When we look across the landscape of formats that are missing," Liggins said, ''black -- African-American -- [talk radio] is one that is really underrepresented."

While programming has not been finalized, Liggins said that the as-yet-unnamed network will provide programming from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

All well and good, with one small problem: according to Inside Radio and other sources, he still has the deal with Chicago-based Matrix Media, signed in May. That program was supposed to have begun some time ago, but never got off the ground.

Look for lawyers to quickly rack up hours, as Matrix and Radio One battle over which has exclusive rights to Two-Timin' Sharpton Radio.

Worse, nobody even knows if Sharpton has what it takes to survive in radio.

Another liberal always
good for a laugh is Lyndon LaRouche-following, Air America Co-founder Sheldon Drobny, said to cause considerable Al Franken unease due to his loose cannon-like qualities (though Franken resembles him a lot more these days).

What now? Drobny makes this outlandish claim in the leftist Buzzflash:

Sheldon Drobny, a founder of Air America and someone who "helped prosecute and defend white collar crime offenses for 38 years including experience with Mr. Fitzgerald's office in my home town Chicago," questions the prosecutor's independence and focus.

"Essentially Fitzgerald indicted Libby for preventing his prosecutor from proving the underlying crimes he was investigating by using a baseball metaphor in that Libby "threw sand in the umpires eyes," he writes.

"That part is patently absurd….... Those of us who know about prosecutors and Grand Jury investigations would tell you that Fitzgerald, using a baseball metaphor, threw the Bush cabal a "softball." And using a football metaphor, he "fumbled the ball."

Thirty-eight years as a prosecutor and defender in white collar crime cases? Which Sheldon Drobny personality is this one? His claims get more outlandish by the day.

Sure enough, BuzzFlash lefties don't bother to question this assertion.

Even some of Al Franken's supporters (read the comments below the article) think he was a day late and a dollar short with this Huffington Post piece.

Singer-songwriter-Air America weirdo Steve Earle is still pushing his bizarre off-off-off-even-further-off-Broadway play about executed murderer Karla Faye Tucker.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Texas singer-songwriter Steve Earle's play Karla opened off-off-Broadway last Sunday to mixed reviews. Earle, a longtime opponent of the death penalty, wrote the play about Karla Faye Tucker, who in 1998 was executed in Huntsville.

First staged in Nashville three years ago, the play now has a limited engagement at 45 Below Theatre, in the East Village. The play begins with its protagonist's lifeless body on the gurney.

Tucker (played by Obie winner Jodie Markell) arises to find herself in purgatory, where she recounts the story of her life, the gruesome pickax murders of her ex-boyfriend and his new flame, and her death-row conversion to Christianity.

The hard-living Earle, whose latest album and Air America radio show are both titled The Revolution Starts Now, has frequently discussed his own drug addiction and prison stint. He has said in interviews that in Karla his theme is "forgiveness."

What's so great about Earle's "hard living"? Would you want to meet this guy in a dark alley?

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Sharpton's A Real Card by Pete at IHillary. Steve Earle photo: AP.

30 October 2005

'Unhinged' Does Just That For Liberals


New Book Revives Critics, What's Their Real Message?

What is it about Michelle Malkin that so quickly works liberals into a frenzied state?

All it takes is a television appearance, published column or radio interview to enrage so-called "progressives". Why, reserved for her, these particular heapings of vitriol?

Certainly, ethnicity and gender must play a role, as liberal anti-Malkin hate closely resembles that of serial Condi-bashers. For non-conformity to leftist cultural expectations, both experience routine partisan media punishment.

And as can be imagined, some of the meanest attacks come from liberal Asian-Americans, who seem to feel there is some ethnic mandate to follow Democrats off the cliff's edge.

Crossing the line well into stalking territory, they've plastered her personal details all over the Internet and make a constant, bizarre and irrational fuss over her maiden name.

With the impending bookstore release of Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild, Malkin's critics are gearing up for a sequel to the meltdown they experienced over In Defense of Internment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror.

If recent history is any indication, it won't be a pretty sight, likely to underscore the very topic of her new release.

In fact, Amazon "reviewers" are already busy trashing her book:

Unfortunately, Michelle Malkin is an American traitor and an enemy of this country. She doesn't realize that liberals have America's best interests at heart, while conservatives are selfish, and will lie, cheat, and destroy others to get ahead- witness Jack Abramoff, Ken Lay, Scooter Libby, and Tom DeLay.

Malkin clearly needs therapy or needs to be confined to an asylum. She's a crazy nutjob conservative who gives aid and comfort to terrorists with anti-American rants like "Unhinged." If you buy this book, you hate America- just like Michelle Malkin, who wants to destroy everything that's great about this country.

As regular Radio Equalizer visitors know, I've a dog in this fight: three months ago, Malkin and I teamed up to cover the (still ongoing) Air America Radio funding scandal and its subsequent developments.

When, on July 26, I realized the unfolding liberal radio network's corruption scandal investigation would prove impossible to cover alone, I immediately contacted Malkin.

Why this reflexive action? Having watched Malkin's investigative work from my January 1998 Seattle talk hosting arrival, where she was a rabble-rousing Seattle Times columnist, to her present-day material, several things have stood out:

--- Particularly difficult to maintain in Seattle's "good ol' boys" politics/media environment, a real lack of fear in taking on powerful sacred cows.

--- By strongly defending her positions, a well-established ability to fight off nasty criticism.

--- A stubborn investigative sense of follow-through, where a story isn't abandoned before seen to full completion, a quality found only in the best talk hosts, reporters, columnists and bloggers. This concept is understood by very few.

--- Most importantly, a refusal to follow the crowd, independently analyzing events to determine what the media's "pack" is overlooking, crucial for the Air America investigation.

Of all the places to sharpen your journalistic or talk radio teeth, Seattle is one of the best, as it's a true liberal media hellhole.

Because the old guard has never been pushed from power, journalism and politics in the Puget Sound Area reek like a decaying geoduck (don't ask). As a result, citizens suffer with lousy government, a lack of open debate and a perpetually uncertain economic future.

Even when 3000 miles away, it turns out there's no escaping the Soviet of Washington's demons. In the course of our investigation, it's become clear Air America's decision-making and financial considerations originate in Seattle far more than New York City. In addition, many of its loudest defenders live there.

Given this background, it's probably no surprise many of Malkin's angriest detractors reside in the Stealth Canadian Province of Washington and they're among the first to emerge this weekend, in anticipation of the book hitting store shelves.

What's clear: some have old scores to settle and lingering animosity. Take, for example, this piece by hardline liberal Seattle author David Neiwert:

The other day, Atrios -- in discussing Cathy Young's (Boston Globe) piece questioning right-wing bloggers, particularly Michelle Malkin, for their handling of a series of incidents involving the appearance of explosive devices at various campuses around the country (see my take on that) -- asked the 64,000-dollar question:

By the current rules of the road is Michelle Malkin really a "professional journalist?"

I'm not really sure what the current rules of the road are, but the answer really depends on what your definition of "professional journalist" is, particularly within the realm of print media, which is where Malkin primarily operates.

If it's "anyone who works in a public capacity for a media organization" -- which does indeed seem to be the current rules of the road -- then she probably is.

But by the old-fashioned standards of what makes one a "journalist" -- which entails being primarily a truth-seeker -- she is not.

You see, it used to be that, in order to be called a journalist, one had to actually be, or have been, a reporter. And Malkin has never been a reporter, at least not in any professional capacity.

Now, part of this involves traditional professional ladders within the business. For many years, nearly everyone who was ever an editor was, first, a reporter. Then, once on the editor's rung, one had the option of writing editorials. Columnists -- the star positions on editorial pages -- were culled either from the ranks of editors or star reporters.

Thus, traditionally, anyone who held a column-writing position at a newspaper had first been a reporter and perhaps an editor as well, and thus was in every regard a "professional journalist." Indeed, it often was the case that columnists provided original reporting within their columns.

Those days have now largely gone by the wayside. Nowadays it is not unusual to find columnists chosen from the ranks of non-journalists, and often from among professional ideologues, simply for their ability to string words together in an entertaining fashion. Or sometimes they are chosen just because they fit a certain profile the editor wants for his page.

Does this sound like anything more than journalistic sour grapes? Malkin's been at this a long time, it's hard to argue she hasn't paid her dues.

Worse, Neiwert is the author of a competing book on Japanese-American internment camps and that's a likely element of his obvious animosity.

Yet this site was linked to a number of liberal blogs this weekend, resulting in much higher than average traffic. Anything to slam your enemies, one supposes.

By the same standard, how many liberal writers would hold up as "journalists"? Why can't a commentator be a journalist? Yes, the times have changed, but Malkin's role is clear to her readership.

In working with Michelle, it's clear her investigative abilities are well-honed, so is small town newspaper "crime blotter" experience really necessary to develop this skill?

Especially interesting: in order to bash Malkin, circa-1999 Seattle Times columns are cited (and their backlash), forcing the reader to trust Neiwert's interpretation of ancient history. Proving only that there were differences of opinion over a talk show guest booking dispute, his argument falls flat.

Further utilized is this tangent-ridden, conspiracy-laden 2004 anti-Malkin hit piece. In coming days, don't expect these points to get much sharper.

Aren't they revealing their real hand here, a fear of Malkin's true effectiveness?

Also: From Human Events, Michelle's top ten list of unhinged celebs.

'Unhinged' can be ordered, or its details and reviews examined, in the small, upper-right sidebar Amazon box above.

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Weekend Latest


Radicals Target Stations, Schultz vs. Armed Forces Radio

Need more proof appeasement doesn't work?

As Clear Channel's learning the hard way, placing low-rated Air America programming on several dozen AM stations nationwide has failed to placate left-wing activists.

They've long accused the company of being radio's Wal-Mart, with a right-wing programming bent, to boot.

Until conservative shows are removed from KNEW-AM, the Bay Area's Youth Media Council says it won't ease up. According to, FCC broadcast license challenges are being filed against all of their area stations, except Air America outlet KQKE-AM.

That includes several apolitical FM music stations.

Is the youth organization alone in this effort? Fringe radical group Not In Our Name is apparently involved. And in one photo, a protestor is wearing a SEIU union cap. Could they also have a role?

While chances of success in this effort are zilch, previous license revocation demands have created renewal-time headaches. When a Seattle station was subject to such a campaign, initiated by violent radical activists, it led to FCC paperwork and red tape.

Friday, the group and its supporters held a rally outside of Clear Channel San Francisco's headquarters.

How many were there? Organizers say 60 and photos show at least a few dozen.

Especially ironic: while Clear Channel pays Michael Savage's syndicator at least $1 million per year to run on KNEW, Air America has the opposite arrangement, spending a staggering sum to place its programming on San Francisco's KQKE-AM and KTLK-AM in Los Angeles. That's a result of market forces, an increasingly foreign concept in the Bay Area.

These radicals have a very selective sense of censorship, where it's okay when Air America calls for presidential executions, or rips off inner-city youth organizations to the tune of $875,000, causing afterschool program closures.

When conservatives make comments with which they disagree, however, it's time to pull the station's plug.

That makes these protest photos especially ironic, given the young age of the participants. Were they from the Bronx, rather than Oakland, Union City or Hayward, they'd be affected by the Gloria Wise funding diversion scandal.

And did they actually make these on-air remarks? While Bill Bennett's words have been taken wildly out of context, local host Jeff Katz did make the comment about illegal aliens, many years ago in Sacramento and was fired after a public outcry.

Michael Savage's insult was actually directed toward an individual, he lost his cable talk show immediately thereafter. As for Bill O'Reilly, one can only imagine how his comments have likely been twisted.

While conservative hosts have been held accountable for their missteps, "progressives" such as Randi Rhodes, Al Franken and others at Air America have not.

When Bay Area fringe radicals keep kids in the dark, they're easy prey for this sad exercise in intellectual dishonesty.

From their release:


Radio listeners stage Halloween Action to Unmask hateful talk radio of Bill Bennett and Michael Savage

[FRIDAY October 28, San Francisco]

One month after Bill Bennett aired a racist remark about aborting black babies, Bay Area protestors will conduct a Halloween themed direct action to revoke the broadcast license of host station 910 KNEW.

The protest is in direct response to KNEW host Bill Bennett’s racist remarks on his “Morning in America” show, which airs from 3-5AM on Clear-Channel owned 910am KNEW. Bennett remarked: “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.”

This is just one example of reprehensible statements made by KNEW talk show hosts. Michael Savage, who was fired from MSNBC for telling a caller to “get AIDS and die” but who was promptly hired by Clear Channel, routinely calls immigrants “vermin” who are “raping, stealing, murdering and defecating on our lawns”.

Jeff Katz, a “local host” rarely mentions local issues and instead advocates violent solutions to “Islam”, stating we should “torture, kill, pull their fingernails out and crack their skulls.”

Protesters say this content is grounds for revoking KNEW’s broadcast license.

”The Federal Communications Commission has a responsibility to regulate the airwaves in the public interest,” says Taishi Duchicela, organizer for the Youth Media Council.

“KNEW violates the public interest by broadcasting inflammatory content that incites fear and violence. We’ve petitioned the FCC to revoke KNEW’s license because Clear Channel should not be given a license to hate.”

Stay tuned for updates as this hypocritical censorship effort moves forward.

A nameless Dallas-Fort Worth talk show host, from "out of state" (aren't they all?) is in hot water with Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy.

Why? For slamming a fizzy drink, not just any, but one with sacred Texas ties: Dr. Pepper.

Of all the things to get worked up about, a (tonic, soda, pop, pick your regional term) drink?

A tip: if you really want to tick off Texans (and make them think you're nuts), go after Blue Bell ice cream. You really would be crackers, though, because it's incredible stuff.

Why isn't it sold nationwide? It would wipe out the competition virtually overnight.

Democrats are still
screaming about the liberal Ed Schultz Show's non-appearance on Armed Forces Radio, even pushing for a full investigation into the matter.

Did Schultz ever have a real agreement with the network, however? That's never been resolved.

Syndicated talk host Rusty Humphries tells the Radio Equalizer he thinks it's a pointless debate.

Why? He doesn't believe many soldiers still tune in, with ready Internet broadcast access available. While interviewing troops in Iraq, Humphries says he repeatedly asked, but didn't come across any regular listeners.

From Stars And Stripes:

WASHINGTON — Democrats are demanding an investigation into defense officials’ decision to delay a liberal talk show’s debut on American Forces Radio last week. On Thursday, Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., and other House Democrats requested the Defense Department inspector general look into “the Pentagon’s delay in providing balanced programming on AFN Radio.”

In addition, about 90 House Democrats sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asking for a timetable on when liberal radio programs might start airing on the military’s international network, saying the current offerings lack political balance.

Producers of the Ed Schultz show, broadcast in about 100 markets in the United States, had been told by AFN staff in September that the first hour of the show would be aired for troops overseas starting Oct. 17.

But that morning, defense officials scrapped those plans, telling the talk show host that officials had not sufficiently reviewed the decision. Schultz was in Washington on Thursday to meet with Democratic leaders on the issue, and said he still has not received word when or if the show will air on AFN Radio.

“We did all our homework,” he said. “We provided them with all the demos and notes. They knew exactly what they were getting.

“The timing on this is very suspect.”

A Defense Department spokeswoman said the decision on Schultz’s show is still under consideration, a process that includes a review of all department guidelines for new programs.

Yes, everything with the left these days is a big right-wing conspiracy, isn't it?

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Protest photos were taken by event organizers and slightly cropped (around the edges) to fit this site's formatting needs.

28 October 2005

Kitty To The Rescue


Time For Our Secret Weapon

While we certainly don't expect news outlets in ultra-lefty Portland to ask book-tour hypocrites tough questions, today's Oregonian interview piece officially takes the Frankenfluffy cake.

For that rare honor, the Radio Equalizer rolls out ace interrogator Hello Kitty, fresh from Git'mo, who we think can hold Al Franken's feet to the fire much better than the Northwest's puff-piece-churning "journalists".

Kitty, we believe, could probably manage at least one question about Al Franken's knowledge of the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club scandal, where $875,000 in taxpayer funds were diverted from the Bronx-based nonprofit, to the liberal radio network.

With even a quick Google check, the Oregonian's Jeff Baker could have uncovered what we proved here, via a notarized document, that Franken at the very least knew about the scandal in 2004, not this past August, as he claims. Other questions about Franken's role in Air America's many flaps still beg to be asked.

In this alleged "interview", however, none of it is ever mentioned. Forget the Twin Cities townhouse, Al, Portland is the place for you! It's where corruption is overlooked, at least for those with the correct partisan designation.

It doesn't seem to be an accident, either, that it's one of the few cities where Franken actually admits to working for Air America! Elsewhere, he's generally failed to mention it, except when directly asked.

Yes, for partisan fluff of this magnitude, Baker is hereby inducted into the Frankenfluffy Hall of Shame. Get a load of this:

When Al Franken takes over the world, he won't forget the little people. Like you, Mr. and Mrs. Portland Liberal.

It was you who listened to Franken's talk show on the Air America Radio network, thereby convincing radio conglomerate Clear Channel to start carrying the network in other markets, thereby allowing Franken to run for the U.S. Senate and launch his political career.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Franken's on the phone from Air America headquarters in New York.

He's just finished his radio show and is getting ready to go on a national tour to promote his new book, "The Truth (With Jokes)" (Dutton, $25.95, 352 pages), and he's eager to give some love to his people in the Pacific Northwest, especially those who listen to him on KPOJ (620).

"Portland is great," Franken said. "We do really well in Portland. It's one of our better stations, and it's a Clear Channel station. Because of the progress we made in Portland, we're now on 27 Clear Channel stations around the country.

"What happened was we were doing well in Portland, but (Clear Channel) said, 'This is Portland, a very liberal city, so we need to try this in another market.'

So they took it to San Diego, and it worked there, so they've taken it elsewhere because they're seeing that every place they put us on, we go up and the right-wing stations go down."

Franken says San Diego "worked", but KLSD-AM is currently in 22nd place overall, according to Radio & Records. Again, basic Oregonian fact-checking could have uncovered this deceit. Ratings for the station essentially peaked a year ago, later dropping, then settling into a low-flying holding pattern.

Portland, Oregon, remains Air America's only real runaway success. That's great for KPOJ, but a network can't be built on one city alone.

As for his claim Air America's supposed "increasing" ratings mean conservative talk is losing listeners, can we have at least one piece of evidence to back that up?


Those numbers are enough to make Franken chuckle with delight, something he does all the time, even when he's making a serious political point.

He's a comedian who cracks himself up and who enjoys tormenting Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh every day.

His one-word critique of O'Reilly's recent appearance on "The Daily Show": "Awful."

His one-word critique of O'Reilly can't be printed in a family newspaper. Reminded of this, Franken happily amended it to "jerk."

Al, have you seen the reviews of your recent TV appearances?

Once Franken declares his candidacy, for anything, he would have to give up his show on Air America.

He said he couldn't talk about his contract with the network but did say he didn't plan to replace his co-host, Katherine Lanpher, who left this month.

"I like radio a lot," Franken said.

"When I was writing this book, the three hours a day I was on the air I was like, 'My God, I don't have to write.'

There's a lot of preparation you have to do, and it can be a little relentless, but the immediacy of it is great."

Franken's show is made up of him talking, bantering with his producers and interviewing guests. He doesn't take many calls from listeners and can get into detailed conversations that can come across as scintillating or hopelessly wonky, depending on the topic or point of view.

Al, along with others on Air America, don't take calls because they lack necessary debating skills. Who are we kidding here?

Hope Franken's ready for Hello Kitty, the questions are about to get much, much tougher.

We're declaring war on Frankenfluffy.

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Hello Kitty, Mr. Franken graphics by Pete at IHillary

Franken Softballs by David A Lunde

No 'Fitzmas' Friday


Rove-less Indictment A Ratings Bust, Other Updates

For liberal talkers, still failing to carve a significant niche in a fiercely competitive media environment, today apparently won't bring their hoped-for "Fitz-mas".

Yes, that's how they describe the elusive ratings windfall indicted senior Bush Administration officials might (in a Rhodesian fantasy world) bring to floundering "progressive" talk shows.

Al Franken used the term (which refers to special counsel Patrick J Fitzgerald) during a Wednesday CNN interview, as have his radio counterparts, repeatedly.

As the New York Times is now reporting, however, Karl Rove is not likely to face charges for now, if ever. Can "Scooter" Libby alone save liberal talk radio?

Of course, the answer is most certainly no. Most Americans are unfamiliar with him and not likely to get worked up over alleged false statements made by the vice president's chief of staff.

While Rove isn't yet completely out of the woods, the magical indictment day over which liberals have been salivating is looking far less likely, if the New York Times is correct.

Conservative talk radio in the nineties wasn't built on blasting Clinton sleaze alone, however. Instead, Republicans campaigned on a series of ideas for changing the way America's government functioned and the medium became its voice.

With Democrats failing to articulate an alternative, liberal talk lacks an agenda that can be sold in a proactive manner to listeners.

Even if, in their best-case scenario, Rove and Cheney were indicted with Libby, leftist hosts would have to learn to deliver a focused, entertaining and informative package that could rally like-minded listeners. So far, they haven't shown this ability, regardless of the topic.

And because "progressive" radio is overseen by egomaniacal former Hollywood and pop music executives, there's a complete inability to read what a mainstream talk radio audience might want to hear.

An independent Venezuelan opinion site takes great issue with NBC's Matt Lauer slamming Pat Robertson after calling for Hugo Chavez's execution, while laughing at Al Franken's idea that Karl Rove and other Bush Administration officials should meet the same fate.

That's a good point, why is Chavez sacred, while Bush, Rove, Cheney and Libby are fair game for this type of rhetoric?

Thuggish Hugo's having a very good time in this photo from

The un-American talk radio crackdown in the Stealth Canadian Province of Washington has been upheld by a Thurston County judge, who says on-air commentaries can be considered in-kind campaign contributions.

Now, the reaffirmed ruling is to be appealed to the Washington State Supreme Court. From KIRO-TV (and more here):

Talk is not cheap. An Olympia judge says it can be a campaign contribution. The judge yesterday affirmed his earlier decision that Seattle radio talk shows leading the anti-gas tax campaign must count their air time as political contributions.

Vote CorrectlySponsors of Initiative 912 say the decision is a blow against free speech. They plan to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham rejected the civil rights claim because he said the shows on KVI in Seattle organized the anti-gas tax campaign.

A legal group, the Institute for Justice, says the ruling is a first and could be a dangerous precedent. No other on-air commentary is subject to campaign finance law.

A spokesmen for KVI in Seattle says if the ruling stands, it would affect talk shows across America.

The "ex-gay" movement is kicking off a syndicated talk radio show. From

The 'ex-gay' movement is starting its own radio network which will start broadcasting in eight states. Straight Talk Radio, a daily half hour program, is being launched by Stephen Bennett and his wife Irene. Bennet, who describes himself as "a former homosexual," has a long history within the 'ex-gay' movement, and is the leader of Stephen Bennett Ministries (SBM).

"SBM firmly believes no one is born homosexual; that unnatural homosexual attractions tragically develop early on in the childhood; and by biblically dealing with the root cause(s) of one's same-sex attraction, homosexuality can be completely overcome - just as drug addiction, alcoholism or any other sinful behavior," Bennet says in a statement on the ministry's website.

From DCRTV, a Beltway television and radio news site:

Redding News Review reports that a Morgan State University administrator says the school has "removed" a radio host from the airwaves after a gay rights group claims he spread "blatant homophobia."

Clinton Coleman, public relations director for the university, said Duane Johnson, a host on Morgan State's WEAA (88.9 FM), was removed from the Baltimore station because he failed to run a disclaimer, when he asked his listening audience to protest a "Coming Out" event being held at Pikesville High School. Coleman said it is not clear when or if Johnson will return to his Sunday show. More in DCRTV's 10/26 newsblurb.....

Best Rush Limbaugh chuckle in some time, from his website:

Just to see the look on Dan Rather's face would make it all worthwhile, even if Limbaugh lasted only a day in the position. Rush will be hired for this gig the same day Air America ratings go through the roof.

Perhaps some liberals
can be funny, even if it's unintentional. David Brock's Media Matters site thinks NBC's Today Show has a conservative bias, especially on the Flame-Plame case:

In recent days, NBC's Today has featured a number of conservative guests commenting on the investigation into the alleged leak of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity, but very few progressives.

Since October 16, when reporter Judith Miller recounted her grand jury testimony in The New York Times, seven conservative guests have appeared on Today and have been asked to comment on the investigation, several of whom have made false statements about the case in other news outlets.

By contrast, during this time, the show featured one journalist and only two progressives or Democrats -- Democratic political strategist James Carville and Air America Radio host Al Franken.

Moreover, Franken was asked only one question about the leak investigation, and Carville was paired with a conservative. The other conservative guests appeared on their own.

You guys really wanted Franken to be asked two questions about the leak investigation?

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Bush photo: Stephan Crowley/New York Times

27 October 2005

Thursday Latest


Franken Quickly Cut Off, Ratings Comparison Released

While Al Franken continues to have his pick of cable and late night television interviews, there may be signs some are leery of his creepy Rove/Cheney/Bush "execution" rhetoric.

Appearing on CNN yesterday, Franken's American Morning interview segment seemed abruptly cut short as soon as he brought up this supposed "joke".

Were producers ready and waiting to pull the plug?

Interviewer Zain Verjee became visibly uncomfortable as soon as Franken mentioned the "E" word. Was that the planned segment end, after just three minutes?

After insultingly trashing CNN International as a "broccoli" network, Franken may have sealed his fate, right off the bat.

Flunking the straight-face test, he responded to a question about why he had a corner on the "truth" market:

"It's the truth, because I actually do the research."

Claiming conservative authors don't back up their assertions, Franken apparently forgot he's previously disclosed some of his writing and research is done by a large team of staffers.

Sure enough, nobody mentioned Air America's scandals. In fact, he continues to avoid mentioning the network in almost every interview, unless asked about it.

While it's nice AAR has a piece of the book action, that's a one-shot deal, not an ongoing revenue source. Meanwhile, a golden network promotional opportunity is being squandered by a reluctant Franken.

At this point, why is anyone booking Franken for interviews? Do they really want this kind of hate-filled rubbish on their programs?

Checking Franken's upcoming schedule, it's now primarily made up of bookstore appearances and radio interviews:

Hear Al on Fox News Radio's
The Alan Colmes Show
Thursday, October 27, 2005
10:00-11:00 PM EST
(check your local listings for station information)

Ridgewood, NJ
Thursday, October 27, 2005
232 East Ridgewood Avenue
7:00 PM

Hear Al on National Public Radio's
Morning Edition
Friday, October 28, 2005
(check your local listings for stations and times)

Huntington, NY
Friday, October 28, 2005
Book Revue
313 New York Ave
Al’s Air America show will broadcast from the store. Booksigning will follow.

Portland, OR
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Powell’s Books / First Congregational Church
1126 SW Park Ave
7:00 PM
Ticket info: (503) 228-4561

Seattle, WA
Monday, October 31, 2005
University Bookstore
Town Hall Seattle
1119 8th Avenue
7:30 PM

Meanwhile, over at Al's Air America page, conservative websites are credited with pumping up sales of The Truth (With Jokes):

Thanks to certain (conservative) websites, Al's ranking has skyrocketed since the release of "The Truth (with Jokes)" yesterday. To view the comedy video (yes, Al's not really beating someone senseless -- he saves that for our 3:30 staff meetings), check the page.

While I'd hate to pass up the potential opportunity to share in this credit, do you really think liberals base book-buying on coverage from conservative websites? Why admit we could have that kind of impact?

Also at his site, more whining about negative Amazon reviews. Is that why the violent video clip was produced? Why so touchy about critics, Al, aren't you used to it by now?

By contrast, Michelle Malkin's enemies are already busy trashing her upcoming book, Unhinged. Check out the personal attacks here, you won't catch Malkin crying about it as Franken seems to do.

Not aware of any mean-spirited promotional films being produced, either.

Premiere Radio Networks, home to Rush Limbaugh, has just issued this handy ratings press release:

According to the Arbitron Summer 2005 ratings survey for New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, Mr. Rush Limbaugh beat liberal talkers in the ratings game.

In New York, Mr. Limbaugh's Persons 12+ audience is more than three times larger than Mr. Franken's audience. Heard Monday through Friday on WABC-AM from noon-3 p.m., The Rush Limbaugh Show scored, among Persons 12+, a 4.8 share with an average quarter-hour audience of 159,400 listeners.

Mr. Al Franken, who airs at the same time on WLIB-AM, has a Persons 12+ share of 1.4 with an average quarter-hour audience of 47,800 listeners. Mr. Jerry Springer also airs on WLIB-AM and has a Person 12+ share of 1.0 with an average quarter-hour audience of 30,100.

Below are their rankings among all AM and FM programming for Persons 12+ in New York:

Host              Share    Avg. Qtr Hr  Rank
(Persons 12+) (P 12+)

Rush Limbaugh 4.8 159,400 3
Al Franken 1.4 47,800 23
Jerry Springer 1.0 30,100 27

In Los Angeles, The Rush Limbaugh Show is heard Monday through Friday on KFI-AM from 9 a.m.-noon and scored a Persons 12+ share of 4.8 with an average quarter-hour audience of 112,700 listeners.

Mr. Franken, who airs at the same time on KTLK-AM, scored among Persons 12+ a 1.3 share with an average quarter-hour audience of 29,500 listeners. Mr. Limbaugh ranks #1 in his daypart for Persons 12+ and draws 3.5 times the listeners of Mr. Franken.

In addition to Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Franken, here are the numbers for liberal talker Mr. Ed Shultz, who broadcasts at a different time:

Host         Share      Avg. Qtr Hr  Rank
(Persons 12+) (P 12+)

Rush Limbaugh 4.8 112,700 1
Al Franken 1.3 29,500 28
Ed Shultz 0.9 22,900 33

Heard Monday through Friday on WLS-AM in Chicago from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., The Rush Limbaugh Show scored a Persons 12+ share of 5.9 with an average quarter-hour audience of 96,300 listeners.

Mr. Franken, who airs at the same time on WCPT-AM, scored among Persons 12+, a 0.9 share with an average quarter-hour audience of 14,900 listeners. Mr. Limbaugh ranked #1 in his daypart and draws 6.5 times the listeners of Mr. Franken.

In addition to Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Franken, here are the numbers for other liberal talkers in Chicago, who broadcast at a different time:

Host          Share      Avg. Qtr Hr   Rank
(Persons 12+) (P 12+)

Rush Limbaugh 5.9 96,300 1
Al Franken 0.9 14,900 29
Ed Shultz 0.9 14,300 31
Jerry Springer 0.4 6,500 42

Now you're armed with the facts.

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Franken/Lunatic by David A Lunde

26 October 2005

Wednesday Roundup


Could Be Part Of Calculated Strategy

After Michelle Malkin's scoop on Al Franken's violent promotional video was picked up by a number of major websites, public focus turned to the latter's state of mind.

frankenunhinged005.gifBetween the bizarre clip and jokes about executing Bush, Rove and Cheney, has Franken gone completely nuts? Or is it some kind of bizarre book selling strategy?

In emails to the Radio Equalizer, readers thought that while it might help his Amazon sales ranking, these antics could hurt a potential 2008 Minnesota US Senate run.
In the process of moving back to his home state, Franken has long been mentioned as a future candidate.

While conservatives shook their heads in disbelief, liberals looked the other way, pretending Franken's book content should be taken seriously. From

Al Franken's new book probably won't get the free ride to No. 1 bestseller status that his last one did. Since its title does not satirize any phrases trademarked by his rivals, you see, it will be difficult for Fox News to figure out how to sue.

Franken's "The Truth (With Jokes)" will thus be left in the unenviable position of having to succeed on its own merits. And, I'm guessing, it will.

Or, could it be Franken doesn't think he can succeed without crazy promotional stunts? Begging for a lawsuit isn't working anymore, nobody's falling for it.

MSNBC continues to provide cover for Franken, this time on Keith Olbermann's Countdown show. In a seven-minute interview, Al was allowed to defend his violent promotional video, attack Bush and reuse the same tired, alleged "jokes".

On every show in the country, Franken seems determined to continue his presidential "execution" act. Does that really sell books?

So far, it's only making him appear increasingly psychotic.

Asking not a single question about Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club, or any of the recent flaps, Olbermann played along with Franken's careful Air America distancing act (he doesn't seem to mention the network, unless directly queried).

Franken also falsely claimed his enemies were placing negative reviews at Amazon, before the book was even on the shelves. Clearly, he's unaware it was available in some stores, as early as last Friday.

For Keith, meanwhile, there's a gold star ready to placed on the mainstream media's walk of shame. Thanks, buddy!

The Political Teen has the footage here, I recommend watching the entire clip.

Meanwhile, Frankenfluffy has returned with a vengeance, contributing a number of new softball interviews, book reviews and stories.

USA Today led things off yesterday with this work of art:

Franken, who can be serious and silly at opposite ends of the same sentence, says he's seriously considering running for the U.S. Senate in 2008. He would run for the seat now held by Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman.

In February, Franken said he would pass on a Senate race in 2006 because the timing wasn't right. At 54, he says his political future depends, in part, on Air America Radio, the fledgling liberal talk-show network he helped start last year.

But he is laying the political groundwork. Early next year, he plans to move from New York back to Minnesota. (He left when he was 22.) He and his wife, Franni, have bought what she calls "a city home" in Minneapolis and what he calls a "town house."

He concedes: "I'm not clear on the distinction." He also is planning to transplant his daily three-hour radio program, The Al Franken Show, to Minneapolis. And he plans to devote a lot of time in 2006 to campaigning and fundraising for Democratic candidates in Minnesota.

More Frankenfluffy (a soft cotton puffball, in case you were wondering) here and here:

"The Truth" is a very different kind of book than the ones this multifaceted genius has given us before. Oh, it’s funny. (How could Al Franken not write a funny book?) But it’s more than that.

Gone is the familiar cast of villains: the psychotic Ann Coulter, the sex-addicted Bill O’Reilly, the drug-addicted Rush Limbaugh. Consigned to their own personal hells by their failings as human beings, Franken mercifully leaves them be.

Ann Coulter has been banned as effectively from these pages as from the intellectual salons to which she so desperately craves admittance.In "The Truth," the fish are bigger, and the fry is deeper.

Franken’s targets this time include both people — Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rove, DeLay — and something new: ideas. In particular, the idea that the 2004 election meant that Franken’s beloved America had moved to the right. Al Franken ain’t buyin’ it.

That excerpt is actually straight from Franken's foreword, reprinted verbatim at NBC's Today website. Nice work if you can get it.

Agreeing with my assertion that so far (still true as of Wednesday), Franken's toughest question has actually come from David Letterman (last Friday),
the Media Research Center's Newsbusters site made note of it here.

The MRC also has the full story of Franken's Tuesday television visit with Matt Lauer.

After six months in a new city, a talk show host should know the basics of local government, don't you think? As reported in the Portland (OR) Tribune, Air America's Thom Hartmann proved he hasn't spent much time figuring things out:

Thom Hartmann has been playing host at the local morning show on Portland’s Air America affiliate, KPOJ (620 AM), for about six months now. But apparently getting to know how the city governs itself wasn’t part of the job description.

Hartmann was interviewing Brenna Bell of Tryon Life Community Farm on Monday morning and asked Bell how Portlanders could help her cause. She listed several ways, then offered, “or you can call David Bragdon over at Metro.”

Obviously confused, Hartmann said, “What is Metro? Is that a business?”

Well, Thom, not really.

The interesting thing is, according to the show’s producer, Paul Pimentel, Metro President Bragdon was on Hartmann’s show recently. “Somtimes,” Pimentel said, “it takes awhile.”

A funny aside from the Washington Times:

Speak up, Al

We were huddling with a local broadcaster yesterday when the topic turned to Air America Radio, the nationwide network that brings the politics and opinions of left-wingers such as Al Franken into our living rooms and automobiles.

This columnist expressed curiosity about why Air America's latest Arbitron numbers for its Washington affiliate, WWRC-AM (1260), are dismal -- so low that they didn't even measure on the listener scale -- when barely two months ago, on Aug. 4, Air America Radio President Gary Krantz issued a rather upbeat press release saying his network's Washington listenership had grown a whopping "300 percent" between spring 2004 and spring 2005.

The local broadcaster answered my question by forwarding the Arbitron figures from six months ago: Sure enough, Mr. Krantz was correct, listenership in Washington did grow 300 percent -- but from 0.1 to 0.4 percent. Now, apparently, that minuscule 0.4 percent has switched networks.

That's been repeated across the country, by the way.

Got $25 and nothing to do on Halloween? From the Seattle Weekly:

National Live Broadcast of "The Al Franken Show" Seattle's Air America affiliate, KPTK-AM (1090), hosts a second visit of the radio network's flagship program to Seattle, at Town Hall from 9 a.m.-noon, with a book signing from 1-2 p.m. 1119 Eighth Ave., 800-838-3006. $25. Mon., Oct. 31.

Run, don't walk, to get your tickets.

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Franken Softballs from David A Lunde

MSNBC Apologist Defends Air America


MSNBC'S Eric Alterman Thinks We're The Problem

After chugging down a rancid carton of Air America Brand milk, well past its sell-by date, MSNBC's Eric Alterman concludes we're the network's real problem. Hope he didn't give them all of his lunch money.

MSNBC NewsYes, it's a right-wing conspiracy to silence the "progressive" alternative, led by yours truly, Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity.

It couldn't have anything to do with $875,000 in shady taxpayer grant transfers from a Bronx-based community nonprofit, to the liberal network and resulting city investigation, right?

Or that we proved (after producing a signed, notarized document) Al Franken knew about the situation last November, not this August, as he's claimed on-air?

How about the outrageous radio and television antics that suggested President Bush's execution? Or wild, unverified claims about ratings and revenue success?

None of this is fair game?

If Alterman had contacted Malkin, or myself, he'd learn the real story: that it took quite a stink to get conservative heavyweights even talking about it. None wanted to be slammed as intolerant of liberal talk radio competition.

Rather than a right-wing conspiracy, it's a response to just how bad things are at Air America, where big guns realized its importance outweighed any flak discussions might generate.

Writes Alterman:

What is it about Air America suddenly has the right-wing fog machine—in the persons of Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh in particular-- so worried? In recent weeks, we’ve seen and heard what can only be a concerted disinformation campaign to undermine its increasingly effective challenge to the hegemony of the caveman right on the air. Some examples:

“The O’Reilly Factor” with guests, Michelle Malkin and Brian Maloney. 9/27/05

O’Reilly: the ratings at Air America aren’t good and the programming and talent are full of personal attacks. Last week the AAR sent out a mass e-mail asking people to send money much like PBS and NPR. Why do they need money if they claim they are doing so well. Brian, you study this crew, I have never seen a commercial enterprise ask their listeners for money – ever. Is this unprecedented?

Brian Maloney: Well, Ted Turner did this many decades ago at a TV station in Charlotte, when he made an on-air appeal for funds, but yes, this is like the NPR and PBS approach, send us a dollar and save midnight basketball in the Bronx.

O’Reilly: OK, so their ratings are low, advertising is low and they need sugar daddies like Soros to save them.

Malkin: They have a bad business model and they aren’t drumming up enough advertising. The content on Air America and the talent say outlandish things. …It’s almost comical how they put out this panhandling plea.

O’Reilly: – well, they are trying to survive.

Maloney: – they are down to their last couple of months – that could change if Soros steps to the plate – but things are looking bleak. They overpay their talent, they are fending off lawsuits and are overspending. The just got a new studio, they didn’t need that but Franken insisted on it and now he is not even going to use it – he’s moving to Minnesota.

Alterman continues with more O'Reilly, Malkin and Limbaugh comments, then attempts to counter it all with Enron-esque corporate PR spin from Air America's Danny Goldberg (my responses are below each point):

As for the debts, Danny writes me:

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.

(What previously agreed-upon repayment plan? With [now virtually defunct] Gloria Wise? Actually the money has been funded by "investors" and placed in their attorney's escrow account. Would they have ever repaid the money if not for the publicity? As it was, they stalled as long as they could.

As for the new studios, since when does spending money point to a strong financial condition? Anybody can blow money these days, it's not very impressive.)

As for the handouts,

The Air America Associates Program was created in response to our listeners requests to support our programming financially and is modeled after the Nation’s Magazine program, “The Nation’s Associates,” which is also a for-profit company.

(Do Nation readers expect a small magazine to have much in the way of funds? If AAR's in such great shape, as they constantly insist, why do they need to go this route? Because they're obviously broke.)

And hey look:

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’ offers a “premium membership” for either $4.95 a month or $49.95 a year. He also offers a “Gift certificate” for $14.95.

(Also really obvious: these hosts actually offer something of value for the money. Giving away three cheap-looking bumper stickers for a $50 contribution looks too much like NPR and PBS fund drives.)

It's Alterman and his mainstream media friends that seem truly worried, not conservatives. Are they afraid we're really on to something, that maybe the criticism is a bit too effective?

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25 October 2005

Latest Fodder


Hosts, Management Dispute Situation, Plus: Roundup

Despite new management assertions
to the contrary, two KVI/Seattle talk show hosts believe a July court ruling now prevents them from discussing a key November statewide ballot initiative on the airwaves.

In a stunning decision, a Thurston County, Washington judge forced organizers of Initiative 912 to report, as in-kind campaign contributions, favorable comments made by KVI hosts Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson.

Backers of I-912, which seeks to repeal a statewide gas tax hike, were required to place a dollar value on talk radio's supportive statements.

Critics of the ruling say it's a judicial attack on free speech, especially when related to pre-election campaigning.

As the election has drawn closer, Wilbur and Carlson now feel they can't even mention the issue. Given the judge's bizarre ruling, who can blame them?

In a strange twist, station management no longer agrees with its own hosts on the issue's sensitivity. From the Olympian newspaper:

"Essentially it means my clients are in an extraordinarily difficult position. Carlson and Wilbur probably blew through that $5,000 already," institute lawyer William Maurer argued late this week, estimating that at a radio ad rate of $140 a minute, the limit would cover just over a half-hour of air time.

Maurer added that Carlson, Wilbur and station owner Fisher Communications have a choice to "face fines and penalties or shut up and not face fines and penalties."

But managers at Fisher strongly disputed that claim Friday, saying it simply is not true.

So did the San Juan County prosecutor who brought the original lawsuit against I-912 over Carlson and Wilbur's on-air promotions of it.

"On their part, I think it is an overstatement," Fisher vice president and general manager Rob Dunlop said Friday, referring to public statements that the talk-show hosts have made.

"We are not moving to modify their speech in any way. I shared that personally with John yesterday afternoon, and this morning when I had a chance to talk to Kirby.

"...They are free to talk about this initiative, any other initiative or any other matter facing the community we serve."

Carlson and Wilbur could not be reached, but Brett Bader, spokesman for I-912, said his campaign must report the on-air activities in order to follow Thurston County judge Chris Wickham's earlier ruling.

Because those activities likely will exceed $5,000 in value, the radio station and talk show hosts, as well as the campaign, are at risk of fines.

If you were in their shoes, would you continue to discuss the initiative, risking thousands in potential fines?

Despite the August sackings of its key participants, one of sports talk's most peculiar and maddening incidents still hasn't been resolved. It's now heading to a California courtroom.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Fired KNBR sports talk jock Larry Krueger and ex-morning show producer Tony Rhein have filed a pair of blistering lawsuits against their former employer -- saying they were fired after the infamous "brain-dead Caribbean hitters" flap, simply so the station could keep its deal to broadcast Giants games.

Had the Giants canceled their KNBR contract, they allege, the station's value might have plummeted -- in turn, putting at risk owner Susquehanna Radio's pending $1.5 billion sale of the team's flagship station and 33 other stations.

"After discussion with executives at Susquehanna, KNBR realized it would need to appease the Giants to sell the San Francisco radio station,'' lawyers for Krueger and Rhein claim in their lawsuits, filed late Friday in San Francisco Superior Court.

The suits are the latest salvo in the battle that broke out in August when Krueger, host of a nightly sports talk show, lit into the Giants for their poor play -- complaining about "brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop" and opining that Giants manager Felipe Alou's brain had turned to Cream of Wheat.

It seemed senseless to fire so many people over garden-variety sports trash-talk. Therefore, it's no surprise the hosts would take this to court.

Especially stupid: the idea you could offend a "Caribbean hitter", since there's no particular ethnic or national identity associated with the term.

Would "Pacific" or "Atlantic hitter" be offensive? The word Caribbean defines a sea and geographic region, made up of many countries, peoples, languages and cultures.

Some of these San Francisco liberals need to get out a little more often.

A Cincinnati Enquirer story about local ratings mentions Air America moving up to 16th place. Apparently that's reason to celebrate, even though conservative WLW-AM turned in a first-ranked, mammoth 10.5 audience share.
Springer on the Radio
One would think Jerry Springer could dominate his hometown, where he was once mayor.

Other Air America Summer 2005 market ratings so far are emerging generally flat, or down, with rare exceptions.

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23 October 2005

Franken Book Tour Off To Poor Start


Franken On 'Execution' of Bush, Gloria Wise Question

Yes, your ears were properly functioning during Friday evening's David Letterman show.

Did Al Franken really kid about executing the President of the United States? Sure enough, it was loose cannon time for the alleged truth-teller.

Not exactly a solid start to Franken's The Truth (With Jokes) book tour. How nice to plug the release on the Late Show With David Letterman, isn't it?

Is it that hard to keep from bombing in such a friendly setting, however?

On-air implosion is a better way to describe Franken's unfunny, inappropriate 'performance'. Has an angry man overtaken the comedian, in an epic internal struggle for Al's mind?

Adding to the pain: his visit was stretched to a second segment.

Letterman provided the biggest surprise, asking Franken about the Air America/Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club scandal, almost right off the bat. While Al gave an evasive answer, it was stunning to think a late night comedian was willing to raise the issue, when many newspapers haven't.

While there weren't any follow-up questions, it's more than one could expect, given the forum.

The Political Teen has the video of this portion here, meanwhile, Siobhan supplies us with this transcript:

Letterman: "Correct me if I'm wrong but it looks like you have a new set there. Is that what it looks like?"

Franken: "Yes, this year we have a new set."

Letterman: "So things must be going well for you."

Franken: (sarcasm) "Oh........ yes!

"No, Air America is doing great. We've got 70 affiliates, cover about 65% of the country."

Letterman: "What was all that talk about money, somebody had money, didn't have money, loaned money, stole money, wouldn't give it back. Any of that true?"

Franken: "All of it, all of it. No, what happened was, we had a guy running the company at first who turned out to be (makes a face)..."

Letterman: "A goon? A thug?"

Franken: "Keep going..."

Letterman: "Idiot?"

Franken: "Worse than that. But he basically led us to believe..."

Letterman: (says something bleeped out)

Franken: "There you are. There you are. You see, I thought I couldn't say that. So anyway, he told us we had enough money to stay on the air for three years before we made a profit and it turned out to be three weeks."

Letterman: (laughing) "So, just a little bookkeeping error."

Franken: "So, we lost two of our stations right away and we had five at the time and they were Los Angeles and Chicago (laughing). So we had to wait a while until we got very good ratings and now we have 70 affiliates."

With much of one segment spent dragging out an unfunny, cobweb-filled rehash of Franken's ancient "the comedy team that weighs the same" routine, the viewer might have believed politics would be left out of the interview.

But sure enough, Al took the chance to shoot his mouth off, with ugly results.

Franken's ongoing Gloria Wise deceit is bad enough, but isn't joking about President Bush's execution way over the line?

The Media Research Center's Brent Baker created a transcript of this interview

Franken: "And so basically, what it looks like is going to happen is that Libby and Karl Rove are going to be executed” because “outing a CIA agent is treason. (to audience laughter)

"Yeah. And I don't know how I feel about it because I'm basically against the death penalty, but they are going to be executed it looks like."

Franken later suggested President Bush is at risk of receiving the same punishment, since Karl Rove likely told him what he did, but added a caveat:

“I think, by the way, that we should never ever, ever, ever execute a sitting President."

Letterman: “The feeling was that this report made the administration's decision to go to war look bad...”

Franken: “Right. So they wanted to smear the guy who came back with the report, and so they out his wife and said she sent him there. This is essentially, you know, George H.W. Bush, the President's father, was the head of the CIA and he has said that outing a CIA agent is treason.”

Letterman: “It is treason, yes.”

Franken: “And so basically, what it looks like is going to happen is that Libby and Karl Rove are going to be executed." [audience laughter over Letterman’s response]

Letterman (mock indignation): “What? What! Really?”

Franken: “Yeah. And I don't know how I feel about it because I'm basically against the death penalty, but they are going to be executed it looks like.

Letterman: “The real crime is that there's an adult man walking around in the current administration named Scooter. I mean, we can agree on that, right?” [Audience laughter]

Franken: “That, but sooner or later he'll be executed, so that, and you worry about because the President at some, he said right away when Novak outed the CIA agent, Plame, said 'I want to get to the bottom of this.'

Well now, Karl Rove is his right-hand man. Did he ask Karl? Did Karl lie to him? If so, we know he should have fired Karl by now so that, and did Karl tell the truth to him? In that case the President -- and I think, by the way, that we should never ever, ever, ever execute a sitting President.” [Audience laughter]

Letterman: “It makes us look bad around the world, I think.” Franken, in jest: “It would. It would be heartbreaking, I think, and I think that we should have a constitutional amendment.”

Letterman: “I see, yeah. Have we ever come close in the history to executing a seated President?”

Franken: “No, this will be the closest.”

Letterman: “This will be the closest, yeah.”

Franken: “Unless we get that amendment passed now.”

End of MRC Transcript

While we've long enjoyed Letterman's show, it's curious how he could allow himself to be so easily sucked into Franken's weirdness. Perhaps Dave hasn't recently spent much time around him?

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21 October 2005

A Soft Cotton Puffball


As Book Tour Kicks Off, Expect Little Else

As his The Truth (With Jokes) promotional tour gets underway, Al Franken must be feeling at least some unease.

Me TooAfter all, the book's timing isn't exactly red hot, coming just after revelations of questionable dealings and practices at Air America Radio. Since its inception, Franken has served as the liberal talk network's marquee talent.

Since our investigative report uncovered proof Franken knew about shady taxpayer-funded "loans" from the Bronx-based Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club to the liberal radio network, contrary to Al's public assertions, he's avoided the topic. That might be tougher out on the road.

So what's a multimillionaire corporate sleaze-excusing hypocrite book author to do?

Perhaps he should call on Fluffy, star of the CBC Kids series "Me Too":

In each show, the young child hero of the day explores and discovers the world with the help of supportive parents, peers and a special magical friend named Fluffy, the soft cotton puffball. And as the children on Me Too confront and creatively resolve typical childhood issues, child viewers learn important skills and strategies to use in their own lives.

Yes, Fluffy could help Al come to terms with his overt intellectual dishonesty regarding Air America's activities, performance and prospects.

Unfortunately, the Radio Equalizer suspects this soft cotton fluffball is instead already being used for evil purposes, namely to insure interviewers ask only "Fluffy" questions of the onetime Saturday Night Live performer.

How else can this kink of softball piece (from national campus organization Hillel), typical of what we're seeing elsewhere, be explained:

(Q): So how's it been going in the past 18 months that you've been on the air?

(Franken): We had a shock right at the beginning when the guy who first ran Air America sort of led everyone to believe there was more financing than there was. He led us to believe that we had three years of capital to go through before we had to make a profit, which is what new businesses usually have to do. We didn't have three years, we had three weeks. So after three weeks we lost Los Angeles, we lost Chicago. It was very dicey there.

Basically, we barely hung on. Now it's much better, but it slowed things down. It was hard, obviously, to get affiliates to our network if they thought the network wasn't going to be around another day. But now we have 70 affiliates, about 63 percent of the country.

How does Franken still get away with this tired spin, without follow-up questions on Gloria Wise, or any of Air America's questionable actions, time and again?

Just thank Fluffy's "Me Too" media herd mentality. Nice to have a friend like that around when you need him, isn't it?

For Al, it's not that he'll ever face tough press questioning. Instead, book signings could attract people looking for answers. Some of his oversized entourage may be charged with the task of truth supression, making The Truth (With Jokes) an especially ironic volume.

With the book's release just days away, this is going to be fascinating to watch.

In other Franken-related news, Maine Governor John Baldacci is still facing heat for introducing him at Bowdoin College two weeks ago. Evan S Cohn of the Bowdoin Orient asked the guv about it:

Evan S Kohn: Bowdoin students saw you a few weeks ago introducing Al Franken at Bowdoin. How would you respond to criticism regarding your appearance with an arguably controversial figure like Al Franken.

Gov. John Baldacci: (Laughter) Well, you know...look, I don't defend Al Franken and Al Franken doesn't defend me. You know, I represent myself, and I just thought it was a great turnout there and I thought there was a lot of enthusiasm there. I think if there are those attempts to undercut that kind of support and say that people were being divisive...I don't think so. I think people appreciate free speech and recognize that people have fought and sacrificed their lives so we can say and do what we want to do. Those are our freedoms and liberties, so he has a right to his opinion and I have a right to mine.

And the Washington Post, so far avoiding the Gloria Wise scandal, has created a huge stir with this tidbit from Paul Farhi:

Air America, the liberal talk network carried on WWRC-AM (1260), went from bad to nonexistent. After WWRC recorded a mere fraction of a rating point in the spring with syndicated shows from the likes of lefty talkers Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo and Stephanie Miller, Arbitron couldn't detect a measurable listenership for the station this time around.

Coverage has been extensive, not just at conservative sites, but at media and trade publications as well. If only they knew the whole story.

North Korea's keeping tabs on American radio hosts working to train Iraqi counterparts. Not a joke.

From the Middletown Times Herald-Record:

From stand-up to book stands, two comedians turned authors will appear at the Union Square Barnes & Noble, 33 E. 17th St. in NYC, this week.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, left-field commentator Al Franken will read from "The Truth (With Jokes)," touching on the last election, Terri Schiavo, Tom DeLay and other politically charged issues. Here's a taste:

"From what I understand, if you cut out all the passages in the Bible where Jesus talks about the poor, about helping out the least among us, you'd have the perfect container to smuggle Rush Limbaugh's drugs in."

Less loathed, yet almost as aggressively opinionated, comedian Margaret Cho will appear at 7 p.m. Thursday, to read from her book "I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight."
Call 212-253-0810.

Cho's catching up to Franken pretty quickly on the loathsome scale, it seems. Ask Michelle Malkin about that one.

More squishy middle-of-the-road nonsense from AAR's Marc Maron. Who?

Here it is, maybe it makes sense to Marin County types:

"I'm not a wonky person and on my show I talk about nuances on politics," he says. "But when I perform, I talk about myself in relation to politics, more ruminations of politics. I like to try to figure things out."

Ann Coulter doesn't go anywhere quietly. Here's the latest.

Can liberals and conservatives at least agree on this? Ryan Seacrest subbing for Larry King is a sad joke.

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Fluffy graphic:, Franken/AAR scandal: Darleen Click. Softballs: David A Lunde

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