The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

30 November 2005

Seattle, Boston Changes Drive Internet Searches


Seattle, Boston Listeners Have Questions

For weeks, the Radio Equalizer has been flooded with readers wondering why former WTKK-FM/Boston host and MSNBC panelist Jay Severin (real name: Jimmy Severino) has vanished from local airwaves.

Google searches have been directed toward some very old Equalizer posts on the subject, so it's time to update the situation.

Severin signed a deal with Infinity Broadcasting, which competes with Boston's WTKK, to host a new show that will be heard in several cities.

So far, however, there's no known Hub outlet for his program.

In St. Louis, KMOX has announced they'll run the Severin's show in the evenings.

From the Post-Dispatch:

No more Mr. Nice Guy. Longtime ratings leader KMOX-AM (1120) has signed hothead Jay Severin to host a new syndicated show called "Jay Severin Has Issues." The program will air from 8-10 p.m. weeknights starting Jan. 3.

Severin's style - controversial and occasionally coarse - will contrast with genial tone of most KMOX personalities. Severin caused distress among his Boston listeners when he reportedly remarked that the best way to deal with Muslims in the United States is to kill them.

"He will be controversial," says KMOX general manager Dave Ervin. "He is a radical independent who does not represent Republicans or Democrats. You never know where he is going to stand on an issue."

KMOX listeners got a taste of Severin last week when he filled in for morning personality Charlie Brennan. Severin told listeners, "I'm not a Rush Limbaugh clone. I'm an environmentalist, I'm reluctantly pro-choice and I'm certainly against staying in Iraq."

Severin also said, "I don't believe George Bush lied about WMDs. I do believe George Bush needs someone to help him tie his shoes in the morning."

Severin recently hosted a popular afternoon show on FM talker WTKK in Boston and briefly appeared on "The Situation with Tucker Carlson" on MSNBC. Two months ago, the Boston Globe called Severin out on his claim that he won a Pulitzer Prize for excellence in online journalism. The award does not exist.

Severin's show will originate from his home in Sag Harbor, N.Y., and air in St. Louis, Washington, Philadelphia and Dallas.

While management might consider Severin's positions "unpredictable", it might more reasonable to call the sum total of his stances an ideological mess. Perhaps they think it's an easier sell to advertisers if there isn't a "conservative" or "liberal" label attached to him.

And, it's correct to say there have been serious integrity issues that he seemingly brought upon himself.

In addition to the Pulitzer flap, he gave listeners the impression he lived in Boston, when he actually resides in Sag Harbor, New York. As a result, it's a surprise Infinity was interested, especially after a tremendous amount of Beantown bad press that proved to be accurate.

Boston radio insiders discuss the issue here. In addition, STLMedia is another great resource on midwestern radio.

In Seattle, major changes hit today, as ratings-challenged "hot talk" station KQBZ 100.7 "The Buzz" was "blown up" to make way for a second area country station. One Buzz program, hosted by Boston native BJ Shea, will move to sister station KISW and take over mornings upon Howard Stern's upcoming departure.

By this evening, hundreds of curious Google searchers had arrived here looking for information.

It's not yet clear what will happen to some of the other Buzz shows, including syndicated host Tom Leykis, who at one point nearly dominated Seattle talk radio. In addition, there's as yet no word on the Robin and Maynard morning show's fate.

Longtime country leader KMPS-FM, which often ranks number one in area ratings, will face a new threat that could prove damaging.

Look here for the latest from Radio & Records and here for a discussion.

UPDATE: Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Bill Virgin with the full story. Leykis is also headed to KISW-FM for a tape-delayed 10pm-2am slot.

UPDATE: Scratch that? Leykis is telling fans this:

Talk about a BUZZ KILL!!! Our Seattle home has been BLOWN UP!!! Be sure to check back frequently for news. We thank you for over a decade of support and encourage you to voice your opinion to Entercom Seattle at (206) 285-7625.

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Pro-Franken Piece Now At CBS Site


Essay Gets Top Billing

While there may have been just one especially outspoken supporter of Al Franken's embarrassing attempt at confronting US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia last week, mainstream media liberals sure know how to make it count.

Late Tuesday, gave John Nichols of The Nation top billing for his "Al Franken V. Antonin Scalia" piece. While the site's opinion section does also feature conservative commentaries, they sure seemed happy to highlight this Op-Ed with a major headline and prominent real estate.

Addressed previously here at the Radio Equalizer, this essay resembles a slowly-spreading virus, destined to undermine the truth in a manner appropriate for CBS News.

And, there are additional reasons to revisit Nichols' "ethics" points, it now turns out.

First, a refresher from his Op-Ed:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is, supposedly, a very smart man. Indeed, he is frequently referred to as the intellectual giant on the current high court.

Yet, when Scalia was confronted by comedian and social commentator Al Franken with a basic question of legal ethics, it was the funny man, not the "serious" jurist, who proved to be the most knowledgeable.

The confrontation took place last week in New York City, where Scalia was the guest of Conversations on the Circle, a prestigious series of one-on-one interviews with Norman Pearlstine, the outgoing Time Inc. editor-in-chief.

After Pearlstine tossed a predictable set of softball questions to the justice, the session was opened to questions from the audience. Up popped Franken, the best-selling author and host of Air America's The Al Franken Show.

According to a scathing article that appeared in the Scalia-friendly New York Post, "Franken stood up in the back row and started talking about ‘judicial demeanor' and asking ‘hypothetically' about whether a judge should recuse himself if he had gone duck-hunting or flown in a private jet with a party in a case before his court."

Franken's reference was to Scalia's refusal to recuse himself from deliberations involving a lawsuit brought by public-interest groups that said Vice President Dick Cheney engaged in improper contacts with energy-industry executives and lobbyists while heading the Bush administration task force on energy policy. A federal court ordered Cheney to release documents related to his work with the task force, at which point the Bush administration appealed to the Supreme Court.

Here, we discussed how Nichols failed to mention anything about Franken's own ethical considerations:

Why didn't more lefties race to Franken's rescue when this first broke? Did even they see the irony in pressing Scalia over ethics issues, given Air America Radio's sleazy corporate behavior and Franken's awareness of it (previously proven by Michelle Malkin and myself), despite his dishonest denials?

In keeping with typical leftist intellectual dishonesty, The Nation's John Nichols omits any mention of the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club scandal, where $875,000 in taxpayer grants were diverted to the liberal radio network.

How does that really compare to Scalia's hunting trip, or his dinner with Cheney?
While it's convenient to pin it all on the New York Post, until The Nation is ready to come clean on the Gloria Wise scandal, they haven't a leg to stand on here. "Ethics" and "Al Franken" really don't belong in the same sentence.

That confronting Scalia resulted in the one time Al didn't get his legendary "Frankenfluff" treatment, probably wasn't coincidental.

If Nichols is in the mood, he might address another potential ethical consideration: Air America Radio's ties to The Nation.

Whether substantial, or informal, there's no denying a cozy relationship exists between the liberal radio network and this supposedly "progressive" magazine.

How does that affect the outcome of a piece like this?

Consider that events featuring visits and/or speeches by Air America personalities have been sponsored by The Nation, among other connections. After a Google search, I found examples in several places, including these:

--- a July 2005 event on ethics, "torture and lies" featuring Randi Rhodes, sponsored by the publication

--- a 2004 election debate party the network and magazine sponsored jointly

--- Air America's Laura Flanders writing for The Nation, here (at this page, she's listed as a regular contributor)

--- and more here regarding Flanders and the periodical

In addition, if anyone at either The Nation or Air America Radio would really like to open up, perhaps they could confirm ongoing talks over potential program sponsorships, specifically regarding the weekend show hosted by Ms. Flanders?

That would be mighty helpful, but we won't hold our breath waiting for an answer.

Whether The Nation's ties to Air America could rightly be called cozy, or informal, might they take a step back: in throwing the "ethics" word around, aren't there "ethical" questions that fairly apply to them, as well?

--- Shouldn't The Nation disclose any ties to Air America and its personalities when covering them?

--- Since they've chosen to ignore Air America's sleazy corporate behavior, especially the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club funds transfer scandal, can they outline how it is they believe they should have credibility when writing about Franken and company?

While we hate to nitpick, these questions are certainly every bit as important as whether Cheney and Scalia were seen dining together.

After all, why shouldn't the left be held to the same standards they expect of us? Otherwise, they're living in glass houses and throwing boulders.

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Franken/Scalia: CBS

Fluff and Fluffy (the dangers of too much puff piece press coverage): by Pete at IHillary for the Radio Equalizer. Visit Pete's site to see his entire collection of gags!

29 November 2005

Interview Excerpts


Highlights From All Access Interview

Is talk radio in good shape? And what does the future hold?

After an interview with entertainment industry trade publication All Access this past week, I thought I'd share an excerpt here, since there isn't a public link to the piece:

All Access: You and Michelle Malkin have been pretty relentless on the trail of Air America Radio. Whether it's that network or other syndicated or local product, can liberal talk work? If not, why not, and if so, what will they need to do to make it work?

Brian Maloney: Michelle and I were perfect to tackle the Air America investigation, because we both have strong Seattle ties. Its worst-kept secret is that decisions are made there by Rob Glaser and Eileen Quigley, both longtime Puget Sound Area political activists (Ed. Note: Real Networks' Glazer serves as AAR Chairman and Quigley as Chief of Staff to the Chairman of the AAR Board). Malkin and I are determined to see issues through- I observed this during her Seattle Times tenure and I'd like to think I had the same habit at KVI and KIRO.

I have nothing against liberals doing talk radio; at KIRO, I was the token conservative. I only dealt with one host in Seattle that was over the line. Since 1993, I've worked with a number of leftists, all the way back to KSCO. Through its own corporate behavior, Air America brought this upon itself. It's a journalistic goldmine, which is why we've frequently been battling New York City newspapers over who can get stories out first.

Liberal talk's worked just fine at KGO and a few other local stations. If I were running Air America, my first call would have been to KGO management to find out how they'd done it. Barring further cash infusions that seem increasingly unlikely, I don't think Air America will be able to stick around much longer. It's too late to fix it.

However, I see no reason why liberal programming from Jones can't remain on the air for some time. In fact, I could see Jones with more "progressive" talkers if Jones and Air America sever ties. At least at Jones you have radio people making the calls. Anyone expecting significant ratings outside of Portland and a few other places, however, is going to be very disappointed. At Air America, it's been a bunch of record promoters and film producers running around the building. That really never made sense.

AA: Take politics out of the equation for a minute and tell us: what makes a good talk show? What do you listen for in a talk show?

BM: You need to grab them in the first two minutes. Right out of the gate you need energy, headline teases, relevance and gravitas. If you aren't focused in the first segment, listeners have no reason to invest in your show. Then, in each subsequent segment, you've got to remind them why they're still with you. The energy level must remain high and you need to know what you're talking about.

Let them know what's coming up. Refresh it all for the guy who tuned in halfway through. They're busy, you can't force them to listen. And, they have a million other choices now. You've got to develop the topic for the listener and make it happen. Reading the headlines doesn't do it.

It's stunning to hear how many talk novices have been thrown into syndicated radio shows and nobody's coaching them. The results are dreadful. You can't wing it and survive for long. Experience matters; some of them aren't prepping and it shows. I've recently done many radio interviews on the Air America story, and I've noticed some of the local hosts do this far better than the national guys.

AA: Talk radio slumped somewhat in the ratings in 2005, although it's showing some signs of rebounding. Still, it's down- do you think it's just a predictable drop coming off an election year or do you think there are symptoms of politics fatigue among radio listeners?

BM: For the most part, we've recently been turning out a shoddy product and Arbitron finally caught up. Election boosts are sometimes overstated. We're making K Cars, but there's no Lee Iacocca, or a federal talk radio bailout coming. Some still think they can force people to listen; the arrogance never went away. It's incredible.

Removing political topics is a mistake; to fix the situation, you need lively, interesting hosts with subject depth. Experienced talk programmers have been pushed aside in favor of cluster managers with sales backgrounds. They have no idea how to make talk radio succeed. Then they wonder why they're getting clobbered.

The 2006 midterm elections will do little for talk radio, because there are very few truly competitive races remaining, because of rampant gerrymandering. It will be very different in 2008, which should be a wild year, but it's too far down the road. So the time to get talk radio in shape is now.

Talk radio listeners have changed and are begging the industry to take notice. In order to invest in talk shows, they want activist hosts, heavily involved in issues. They don't want cheap, lame stunts, but a sense that a station is bringing about change in the community. KFI's John and Ken, KSFO's Lee and Melanie and KVI (at its peak some years back), provide the models for how it should be done.

Listening to John and Ken on California recall election night was incredible radio. Melanie Morgan's activism with Move America Forward has brought increased listener loyalty to KSFO.

The northeast and New England no longer lead the way in talk radio; it's fallen apart in just a few short years. Sad to see.

AA: Why do you think there just isn't a lot of critical analysis or reviewing of radio- not just talk radio, but any radio- in the other media? Newspapers all have TV critics- why do the same papers, with a few exceptions, ignore radio to the extent that they don't even have staffers assigned to the beat or use freelancers or wire copy to cover the medium?

BM: With daily newspapers, it varies by city. Radio journalism's still strong in Chicago, Philly, Denver and a few other places. It's vanishing in Dallas-Fort Worth and elsewhere. There's no longer an investigative zeal in Boston, so a lot of stories slide right past them.

I've noticed that, in some cities, the interns or cub reporters get the radio beat, which results in fluff coverage. We're controversial, but the papers avoid covering the noise we make. They're still worried about competition; they'd be better off writing about us when we do something interesting. Editors refuse to modernize and it's killing them.

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28 November 2005

Congressman vs. Canadian Government


Liberals Might Want To Look To Canada

While we're not sure how much liberal talk radio gloating has yet begun over Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's (R-CA) guilty plea on bribery charges and subsequent resignation today, they might want to first look north.

To Canada, that is, where the Liberal Party government has just fallen after losing a punishing, historic no-confidence vote in Ottawa's Parliament.

There, an entire collection of rogue characters often called the Librano$, led by Prime Minister Paul Martin, have finally been held accountable for their sleazy "Sponsorship" funding scandal.

From the CBC:

The opposition parties banded together Monday to defeat the Liberal minority government and set the stage for an election that is expected to culminate in a mid-January vote.

In a 171 to 133 vote, the House passed an historic no-confidence motion exactly one year and five months after Canadian voters elected the Liberals.

Prime Minister Paul Martin will now have to go see Governor General Michaëlle Jean Tuesday morning and ask her to dissolve Parliament.

As the vote was conducted, parliamentarians stood up to applaud MPs who will not be running in the next election.

The Liberal defeat marks the first time a government has fallen on a straight motion of no-confidence in Parliament.

Other minority governments have been forced into elections after losing budget votes or censure motions interpreted as loss of confidence.

At least Congressman Cunningham had the courage to admit to his crimes and resign:

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges and tearfully resigned from office, admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to conspirators.

Cunningham, 63, entered pleas in U.S. District Court to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud, and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004.

Cunningham answered "yes, Your Honor" when asked by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted bribes from someone in exchange for his performance of official duties.

Later, at a news conference, he wiped away tears as he announced his resignation.

"I can't undo what I have done but I can atone," he said.

Cunningham, an eight-term Republican congressman, had already announced in July that he would not seek re-election next year.

Faced with similar circumstances, Canada's Liberals did everything they could to cover up their corruption.

Now, they've fallen in an undignified manner, with a dissolved parliament and January elections that could bring the rival Conservative Party to power.

Even after losing the parliamentary vote tonight, Martin is as defiant as ever, avoiding any honest admissions about their disgusting behavior:

A corruption scandal forced a vote of no-confidence Monday and Prime Minister Paul Martin's government was expected to fall, triggering an election campaign during the Christmas holidays.

Canada's three opposition party parties, which control a majority of seats in Parliament, have said they will vote against Martin, claiming his Liberal Party no longer has the moral authority to lead the nation.

A loss for the prime minister would trigger an election for all 308 seats of Parliament that would likely be held Jan. 23. Martin and his Cabinet would continue to govern until the election is held.

Opposition leaders last week called for the no-confidence vote after Martin rejected their demands to dissolve Parliament in January and hold early elections in February. Monday's vote follows a flurry of spending announcements in Ottawa last week, with the government trying to advance its agenda ahead of its likely demise.

Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper said his party would join with the New Democratic and Bloc Quebecois parties to bring down the government prompting the first Christmas campaign in mostly Christian Canada in 26 years.

Expect a buzzing blogosphere tonight:

--- Captain Ed has served as America's Blogospheric Ambassador to Canada, reporting on Liberal Party sleaze all year, becoming a major resource for Canadians looking to bypass their own notoriously leftist media.

--- Brent Colbert is a Tory political activist from Ontario and a great source of information.

--- Small Dead Animals is a major Canadian blog with a focus on breaking political events.

--- CIVITATENSIS is an Alberta-based political site with excellent commentary.

--- The Western Standard magazine is Canada's answer to National Review, a real treasure that should be a regular read.

While I don't expect the Air America Radio crowd to come clean on Canadian sleaze, since they won't even confess to their own corporate hijinks, I can't wait to watch Canada's Conservative Party mount the campaign of a lifetime.

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Photo of Prime Minister Paul Martin: CP
Lib$Monopoly: Stephen Taylor

Franken Defender Finally Emerges


Hey, Somebody Had To Fix Franken's Scalia Mess

Whether the left was busy overdosing on Tofurkey, or protesting at shopping malls (we're certain they weren't with Cindy Sheehan in Crawford, nobody was), the Radio Equalizer isn't sure. They were very, very late to the Franken-Scalia party, however.

After widespread New York City media criticism (previously covered here), along comes The Nation a week later, claiming Al Franken was actually right to confront US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Yes, we can read Al's mind: "Hey, where the #!%#&?! were you guys last week?"

Why didn't more lefties race to Franken's rescue when this first broke? Did even they see the irony in pressing Scalia over ethics issues, given Air America Radio's sleazy corporate behavior and Franken's awareness of it (previously proven by Michelle Malkin and myself), despite his dishonest denials?

In keeping with typical leftist intellectual dishonesty, The Nation's John Nichols omits any mention of the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club scandal, where $875,000 in taxpayer grants were diverted to the liberal radio network.

How does that really compare to Scalia's hunting trip, or his dinner with Cheney?

An excerpt:

According to a scathing article that appeared in the Scalia-friendly New York Post, "Franken stood up in the back row and started talking about ‘judicial demeanor' and asking ‘hypothetically' about whether a judge should recuse himself if he had gone duck-hunting or flown in a private jet with a party in a case before his court."

Franken's reference was to Scalia's refusal to recuse himself from deliberations involving a lawsuit brought by public-interest groups that said Vice President Dick Cheney engaged in improper contacts with energy-industry executives and lobbyists while heading the Bush administration task force on energy policy. A federal court ordered Cheney to release documents related to his work with the task force, at which point the Bush administration appealed to the Supreme Court.

After the administration filed its appeal but before the court took the case, Cheney and Scalia were seen dining together in November, 2003, at an out-of-the-way restaurant on Maryland's eastern shore.

After the court agreed to take the case, Cheney and Scalia spent several days in January, 2004, hunting ducks at a remote camp in Louisiana.

Watchdog groups called for Scalia to recuse himself -- Charles Lewis, director of the Center for Public Integrity, argued that fraternization involving a justice and a litigant with a case before the court "gives the appearance of a tainted process where decisions are not made on the merits" -- but the justice responded by announcing that, "I do not think my impartiality could reasonably be questioned."

Several months later, Scalia and the other justices remanded the case back to the appellate court for further consideration -- a decision that effectively made the issue go away during the 2004 presidential contest.

Scalia, a friend of Cheney's since the days when they worked together in the administration of former President Gerald Ford, had participated in a decision that was of tremendous benefit to the vice president in an election year.

Yet, when Franken raised the issue at the Conversation on the Circle event, according to the Post, Scalia "chided Franken as if he were a delinquent schoolboy." And Time Warner chairman Dick Parsons said of author: "Al was not quite ready for prime time."

In fact, it was Scalia, not Franken, who was caught with his ethics down.

Scalia took issue with the comic's use of the word demeanor. "Demeanor is the wrong word. You mean ethics," the justice claimed, before adding that, "Ethics is governed by tradition. It has never been the case where you recuse because of friendship."

Actually, Scalia was wrong on all accounts. Because U.S. Supreme Court justices decide when to recuse themselves for ethical reasons, they operate under looser standards and softer scrutiny than other jurists. Thus, the term "demeanor" was precisely correct. Legal dictionaries define "demeanor" as one's "outward manner" and "way of conducting oneself." By any measure, with his refusal to recuse himself from a case involving his friend Cheney, Scalia chose to conduct himself in an unethical manner.

While it's convenient to pin it all on the New York Post, until The Nation is ready to come clean on the Gloria Wise scandal, they haven't a leg to stand on here. "Ethics" and "Al Franken" really don't belong in the same sentence.

That confronting Scalia resulted in the one time Al didn't get his legendary "Frankenfluff" treatment, probably wasn't coincidental.

Oddly, Al Franken also jumped into Washington state politics today, in a widely distributed AP story. The issue: embattled Spokane Mayor Jim West, who faces an upcoming recall vote after a barrage of recent allegations about his personal life.

From the story (excerpted here):

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Six months after a newspaper outed Mayor Jim West as a closeted homosexual and accused him of offering city jobs and perks to young men in exchange for sex, residents are nearing the end of a cringe-inducing saga.

Ballots are already in the mail for a special Dec. 6 election that will decide if West remains in office or is recalled. Officials are investigating whether he abused his office.

"I think Spokane has been suffering from a low-grade depression," said Tom Keefe, a local attorney who is spearheading the effort to recall West.

And why not? Consider some of the details that have greeted residents on television or in The Spokesman-Review newspaper:

One young man accused West, 55, of offering him $300 to swim naked with him.

An investigator said West offered an $80,000 a year job as city human resources director to a young gay man, identified as Witness No. 2, with no qualifications for the work, saying "it's totally my choice."

The Spokesman-Review on May 5 began a series of stories that contended West offered young men city jobs in exchange for sex. Several young gay men told the newspaper they were offered perks, trips, jobs and appointments by West.

The recall election is based on a single count alleging West misused his office by offering to help an 18-year-old man he met at get a City Hall internship. The person the mayor thought was a young man was really a middle-aged computer expert hired by the newspaper.

For the national media, the West story was interesting primarily because he was a longtime conservative Republican state legislator who often voted against gay-friendly bills.

Liberal comedian and author Al Franken calls West "the anti-gay gay mayor."

"Not every anti-gay Republican is a repressed homosexual," Franken joked during an appearance in Spokane, "I just want to make that clear."

West also went on the "Today" show early in the scandal to explain that he voted against gay marriage and similar bills because it was the will of his constituents.

West has declined to identity himself as gay, or "psychoanalyze" himself or talk about when he knew he was attracted to men. He is not in therapy, he told The Associated Press, even though his private laundry has been hanging for months on the national clothesline.

"I'm asexual more than anything else," West said, describing his life as work, TV, pizza and beer.

Predictably, liberal gay groups have pounced on West, for the sole reason that he's a Republican. Were he a Democrat, they'd be marching in the streets to support him.

Franken's rhetoric follows their talking points with precision.

Since it seems likely West will be recalled, it's hard to understand why Franken felt the need to kick a guy on his way out of Dodge, except to take an easy shot at somebody.

Someday Al will get all of the anger out his system, once and for all.

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Frankenspeech by Agent Tim Online, Frankencharity by IMAO

27 November 2005

Overconfidence At Issue?


Pitfalls Of Endless Fawning Coverage, Cut Bush Slack?

Isn't nonstop fawning press coverage wonderful?

Other than entrenched, well-connected liberals like Al Franken, of course, who exactly would have an idea of how that feels?

For the Radio Equalizer, the toughest task is weeding through it, otherwise we'd cover nothing but Frankenfluff (a term we coined to describe the particular level of positive press Al routinely enjoys).

Even this mainstream media lovefest can have pitfalls for unsuspecting recipients, however.

Why? Because it eventually leads to carelessness and overconfidence.

Particularly during recent television interviews, we've already seen that in Franken, who can't seem to understand why anyone wouldn't find the idea of Bush Administration executions funny. While a bit more subtle, he also tends to undermine himself in newspaper interviews, as well.

In these excerpted interviews (click links to read the entire stories), take a look at his responses. Franken may need some media training, in short order.

First, an excerpt from the Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times:

Q: What have you learned by being on the road?

A: The message you pick up is that when Washington is controlled by one party, the Republican party, that a lot of stuff is happening locally, in states and communities, that can’t be done in Washington. One of the reasons we came on the road is to find those kind of things that are happening.

Q: The Air American network had a rocky start. Were you optimistic that a (liberal talk-radio network) could work?

A: I was very optimistic. But I was caught by surprise when we hit that enormous barrier (in the early days of Air America) of not having any capital. Almost all of us at the network were blindsided by that. It was almost catastrophic. We almost fell apart. (Now) we are already a success. We have millions of listeners. It takes a few years for a start-up company like this to make money.

Q: How would you describe what you do?

A: I make nutritional candy. The nutritious part is the part that people need to know, should know, the good-for-you-to-know. The candy is the entertainment part. People need the candy to absorb the information.

Q: Is radio easier to do than TV?

A: It’s different than TV. It’s easier in certain respects. You don’t need makeup and props and set, so it’s a lot easier in that regard. There is a lot of prep. I need to read about the guests. And if they have books, I read the books, or part of the books. There is keeping up with what is in the news, trying to read as many papers as I can. Every day I get the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, the (New York) Post and (the New York) Daily News.

Q: What’s been your darkest day so far?

A: The toughest day was Nov. 3 (after President Bush was re-elected). It was like thank God I had to do the show, or I wouldn’t have done the show. (Kerry) conceded while we were on the air. It was horrible. It was … the most important election in a generation and we lost it. I had paced myself to make it to Nov. 2, without thinking about Nov. 3, 4, 5, days on which we also had shows. I was pretty tired. I felt my job was to put this in perspective and to talk about some of the good things that happened and to sort of entertain, rallying of the troops.

Q: Growing up, did you listen to radio? Is there a radio personality you admire?

A: I think there’s a thing or two (in the show) from Garrison Keillor. I am so not like other radio people. I’m not like Rush (Limbaugh) or Paul Harvey or Hannity or Arthur Godfrey. Bob and Ray and Jack Benny are huge influences.

Q: How much longer will you do the show?

A: I don’t know how much longer I can do the show. I am not allowed to talk about the terms (of his contract). But I will be here for a while.

Sure, on the road, a person gets tired and sometimes things are said that ought not be revealed. But should Franken have given the interviewer such a cryptic response to that last question?

Probably not, since it suggests he might soon leave the network. Overall, a confusing answer.

If things are going so well at Air America, then why isn't he sure how much longer he'll stick around? That Minnesota senate race he's toyed with is still rather far down the road.

Second, here's Franken in the Toronto Star:

WASHINGTON — He's the self-described "hardest-working guy in show-biz politics."

He's a comic and satirist, a best-selling author and the guy who established a beachhead for liberal talk radio in this country.

So why does Al Franken want to chuck all that to run for the U.S. Senate? Before the question is fully asked, Franken is posing it himself.

"Could I do more on the radio?" he asks. "That's part of the calculus. But I'm going to do the things I need to do, if I make the decision.

"Let's just say I'm seriously considering it."

Franken, 54, is grappling with the same choice facing many American entertainers who have emerged as major voices for the U.S. left — remain inside or outside the political process?

Many however, believe Franken, the long-time Saturday Night Live writer and occasional performer, an Emmy and Grammy winner, trumps them all because of his use of the written word. His latest book, The Truth (with jokes), is the type of acerbic anti-George W. Bush rant and debunking of right-wing media that delights American liberals and immediately puts it on best-seller lists.

Such incursions by "liberal Hollywood" were thought by some to give Bush an unintended boost during the 2004 presidential campaign.

Franken's response? With Bush sitting at 34 per cent approval in some polls, he doesn't see the risk.

"His credibility is not very high right now," he says. "He's an oil guy, and I think people are starting to figure it out. And those 34 per cent are not the kind of people you're going to be convincing about anything anyway."

Franken will answer questions with a candour that indicates he has not fully crossed the politician's threshold.

He admits he doesn't know what should be done in Iraq, even though he knows he doesn't back the immediate withdrawal of troops.

"I really don't know what to do," he says. "We've really been put in an impossible position by this administration.

"It's as if the president is saying, `Okay, I lied you into the war. We didn't send enough troops. We allowed the looting. We allowed incredible corruption so electricity and water didn't get back up. We allowed looting of weapons and explosives caches. We disbanded the Iraqi military and told 400,000 guys we're not going to pay you any more and take your weapons and get lost. We tortured people at Abu Ghraib.

"`I brought us this far, now you figure it out.'"

Having botched the war, Franken says, he doesn't trust the Bush administration to withdraw troops properly.

But Franken says it is an oversimplification of his position to say he opposes the war: "To say I oppose the war today could mean I am for an immediate withdrawal, and I'm not."

But Franken says Bush is not all bad and he does want to cut him some slack on environmental issues. The U.S. president didn't take the country to war over oil, Franken says before offering his report on a fictional address to the nation by Bush.

"He pointed out Iraq has 360 sunny days a year and the other five are partly sunny. It turns out we went there to secure their potential solar power.

"He's particularly excited about this region he has read about recently called the Sunny Triangle."

One would imagine Franken's large team of Harvard assistants catering to his every whim might take issue with his "hardest working" designation.

Beyond that, is it really wise to give conflicting information regarding future plans?

Are liberal radio listeners willing to invest in a daily commitment to his show if he has one foot out the door? To his fans, it's an unwise signal to send.

Worse, it makes the program appear simply as a vehicle to launch a political campaign. With Franken at the heart of the liberal network's lineup, that does tremendous damage to its potential listener loyalty.

It also seems unacceptable to criticize Bush, while admitting having no idea how to deal with the current Iraq situation.

Is that any way to launch a US Senate run? Franken opposes Bush, but supplies no alternatives?

Maybe he's simply a "Not-Ready-For-Primetime-Player".

Overall, the Toronto Star interview reveals a wishy-washy Al Franken, confused on key issues and in no position to provide leadership, in any venue.

Planning Christmas shopping today?

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Hello Kitty Tackles Frankenfluffy and Frankenbits by Pete at IHillary.

26 November 2005

Sleepy Libs Drift Off During Show


'Progressive' Host Helps Elderly Activist Snooze

(Scroll down or return to main page for O'Reilly Protest Updates)

In radio, there's perhaps no greater insult than to be told your program helps elderly listeners nod off at night. Talk shows are supposed to keep people awake, not serve as a sleep aid.

In addition, because advertisers demand audiences primarily between the ages of 25 and 54, stations usually try to aim in that direction, without completely chasing away listeners older than 55.

With that, I'm not sure if Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Gordy Holt meant to dig extremist KIRO/Seattle host Mike Webb, but the result was one of the most devastating verdicts ever levelled against a radio program:

Grace Stanchfield doesn't venture far these days, certainly not so far as Green Lake.

But in her assisted-living apartment at Heritage House in Pike Place Market, she continues to listen.

Today, on Stanchfield's 100th birthday, she will wake to the voices of National Public Radio. And tonight, when she hits her pillow, she'll drift off to the sound of KIRO's Mike Webb.

"But I don't care for Dori Monson," she said.

In short, she listens to liberal talk radio. Counts on it. It's what stokes her fire.

"I love it," she said, then inquired of a visitor: "Don't you think old Cheney and Bush are finally squirming a little? Don't you think maybe now the Democrats will get off their hind ends and do something for the rest of us?"

If it were any other host, liberal or conservative, I'd probably refrain from calling attention to this story, to save the person further embarrassment.

In Mike Webb's case, however, I'm merely one person in a long queue waiting to have fun with it. Why?

Let us count the ways:

--- In 2004, Webb called for President Bush's execution on-air, then denied it, even when confronted with a tape of the broadcast. He then threatened the conservative-leaning reporter who broke the story with a lawsuit.

Instead of terminating his employment, KIRO added an extra hour to the program.

--- Even some liberals don't like him, because he says one thing, then does another. He supports labor unions on the air, but pushed an AFTRA decertification effort at KIRO without disclosing it to his listeners.

--- Webb rails against Republicans for supposedly being rich, uncaring and greedy, yet drives a shiny black Lexus to work each evening.

--- While opposing Second Amendment rights on the radio, he carries a loaded gun with him nearly always, even sometimes at the station.

--- When times get especially tough, Mike resorts to threats and litigation. Some critics believe this is what keeps him employed, since his ratings are generally not strong.

--- He made an especially questionable allegation against a Seattle police officer in 2004. Read about it here.

--- In my own experience, he was a nightmare to work with. He regularly arrived at the station as his opening theme music was playing, or sometimes even late for the broadcast. Worse, he would then refuse to vacate the studio at the end of his program, keeping the next show from starting on time.

--- In terms of program content, there is only one issue: four hours of pure, nonstop anti-Bush vitriol, with gay discrimination "outrage" usually thrown into the mix.

It doesn't matter what's in the news, there is no other topic, ever. When even he can no longer stand it, he'll spin oldies discs for an hour or more.

Bullies have a way of avoiding consequences through intimidation and Webb's an expert in his field.

I do believe, however, that all people are eventually forced to account for their actions.

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ZZZzzz by Eric Norris at Tealpoint

San Francisco Supes Seek To Censor Bill O'Reilly


Supervisors Want Local Station Shut, Union Square Protest

Pleasing activist groups
bent on revenge, San Francisco's Board Of Supervisors is now lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to pull the license of Bill O'Reilly's San Francisco affiliate KNEW-AM, according to Bay Area radio columnist Brad Kava.

The move, in the form of an official city resolution, comes after the FOX News Channel host's recent controversial comments about San Francisco's increasingly extreme stances on issues such as military recruitment.

Last month, East Bay-based protestors from a group called the Youth Media Council picketed Clear Channel Radio's (KNEW's owner) San Francisco studios, demanding conservative shows be removed from the airwaves.

Sure enough, they had nothing to say about the corporate sleaze emanating from Air America Radio, heard on sister station KQKE.

Nor have San Francisco Supervisors expressed any concern about the sleazy taxpayer funds transfer from a Bronx-based Boys & Girls Club to the liberal radio network. It's a real case of selective outrage.

What kind of message does their anti-O'Reilly action send to young people, that differing viewpoints must be silenced?

The Radio Equalizer previously reported on the Youth Media Council's activities here.

From (San Jose [Calif.] Mercury columnist) Kava's report:

"[I]f Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off-limits to you, except San Francisco," said the Fox News and syndicated radio host, in response to a San Francisco ballot measure that banned military recruiting on public high schools and colleges.

The San Francisco Board fired back unanimously against the host and his station, which airs a lineup of neo-conservative talk hosts, many of whom step over some people's boundaries of taste and decency, to get a reaction.

The station has been picketed by organizations after host Bill Bennett said that if "black babies were aborted" the crime rate would go down.

Jen Soriano, of the Youth Media Council, was thrilled with the supervisors' action.

"I think it was something San Francisco had to do to be able to defend its public airwaves against this attack. Although somewhat juvenile, it's also threatening and adds to the climate of fear in the city. I think it's an important step in local government taking action to hold media corporations accountable to meeting local residents interests." she said.

The Youth Media Council is a training center for youth interested in learning media skills and helped organize protests against the staton, which is owned by Clear Channel Communications, of San Antonio, Texas.

In addition, there's a discussion on the subject here.

What they may not realize is that Bill Bennett is no longer heard on KNEW, having recently moved to another area station.


A new anti-O'Reilly protest hit Union Square yesterday, apparently led by a group called the "Ronald Reagan Home For The Criminally Insane", with at least one person dressed as "Osama bin O'Reilly".

The Oakland Tribune's Josh Richman has the details, including the fact that KNEW's license is set to expire on the 1st of December:

SAN FRANCISCO — Activists jabbed back at Bill O'Reilly on Friday, dressing one of their number in a turbaned and bearded "Osama bin O'Reilly" mask to decry the conservative talk-show host's "fatwa" against the city.

"Code red, terrorist alert," protest organizer Jeff Grubler cried as he handed out leaflets to Union Square shoppers and tourists who stopped to see the masked performer and listen to a boom box playing the now-infamous O'Reilly radio clip.

KNEW's license, which needs renewal every eight years, is set to expire Dec. 1.

Media Alliance and the Youth Media Council on Nov. 1 petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to deny the station's license renewal, claiming it fails to air programming meeting the region's needs and has permitted "hate speech" from on-air personalities such as Michael Savage and Jeffrey Katz.

The leaflets Grubler and his cohorts handed out Friday called upon people to contact Fox News; Westwood One; U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, to turn up the heat on O'Reilly. It also urged people to sign an online petition asking the FCC to deny KNEW's renewal application, and to contact the FCC with complaints about O'Reilly's on-air "obscenity."

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Osama/child photo: Brian Frank, ANG Newspapers/ Oakland Tribune

25 November 2005

Trees, Turkeys and Muslim Brotherly Love


Moonbats Had A Busy Day

There's something about Thanksgiving that truly brings out the hate in America's most miserable extremists. Some of the most notorious fresh examples:

From Bill Schechner at San Francisco's KPIX

Arab-Owned Liquor Stores Attacked In Oakland

OAKLAND Security tapes from the San Pablo Liquor Market on 23rd and San Pablo Ave. in Oakland show 11 men dressed in the manner of members of the Nation of Islam walking into the market at about 11:30 Wednesday night.

After confronting the clerk behind the counter they push him aside, topple some groceries, open the wine, soda and alcohol coolers and throw the goods on the floor. Working in the store at the time, the owner's son, 17-year-old Khalid Saleh, who said one of the men was armed.

“So I was standing there keeping my hands up watching them break all these windows, glass bottles and stuff,“ said Saleh. “They said ‘We're Muslims,’ and selling liquor to the community, that we ain't supposed to be doing that.”

About the same time, police said about 10 blocks away another Arab-owned store was hit by a second group of men similarly dressed uttering the same words. Workers at the store declined to comment. A third Arab-owned store in the area was not entered, it was closed for the night.

The crime is curious, given obvious security cameras and monitors that make images that police say they hope will help them identify suspects. In the neighborhood, talk included the need to assert power, tension between Arab shopkeepers and African-American residents, attempts to embarrass the Nation of Islam.

Oakland Police were unavailable to say whether they'd pursue a hate crime investigation as well as a burglary.

Is this the start of a larger, violent muslim movement in the increasingly dangerous East Bay?

Next example, still in the Moonbat-rich Bay Area:

Native Americans mourn loss of land with "Unthanksgiving" rite

ALCATRAZ ISLAND, United States (AFP) - A tribal chant rose from a thousands-strong prayer circle on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay as Native Americans held a sunrise "Unthanksgiving Day" ceremony.

"What we call it is Unthanksgiving," Bear Lincoln of the Wailikie Tribe told AFP as he waved burning sage to purify the area and ward off evil spirits.

"It was the saddest day for us. It was a big mistake for us to help the Pilgrims survive that first winter. They betrayed us once they got their strength."

An estimated 3,000 people packed onto ferries that set out from Fisherman's Wharf for Alcatraz in the pre-dawn darkness Thursday, according to organizers.

A bonfire blazed at the center of a prayer circle set up on a bluff beneath the Alcatraz lighthouse. And at the base of the rock wall leading up to the ruins of the former federal prison were a pair of Indian teepees.

"Ultimately, this is their land," said Irma Pinedo, a Mexico City native who was among the Aztec dancers taking part in the ceremony. "For us, no turkey today."

"I take my children to this every year because I want them to understand there is another side to the story," said 41-year-old Erin Alexander, who added that the event has grown significantly since she began attending 12 years ago.

Groups representing Palestinian, Aztec and African indigenous people joined Native Americans in dancing, chanting and prayers.

Yes, it really was a shame Palestinians, Aztecs and Africans helped the Pilgrims that winter in Plymouth, isn't it?

In Boston,
the Nova Scotia man who donated this year's Christmas tree is hopping mad, according to the Boston Herald:

The fuming Nova Scotia lumberjack who donated the spruce to be lighted on Boston Common has a message for the Hub: Feed that “holiday tree” to a woodchipper.

“My family donated a Christmas tree. If Boston wants to call it something else, maybe they should just send it back,” said Donnie Hatt, the logger who donated the 48-foot-tall white spruce that grew in his front yard for 36 years. “If I’d known there would be this much craziness, I would have ground it up myself.”

Hatt was referring to the flurry of media calls he’s received since yesterday’s Herald reported Christian fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell’s army of conservative lawyers was targeting Boston’s “holiday tree” in its campaign against cities and school districts that attempt to “secularize” Christmas.

Yesterday, Mayor Thomas M. Menino insisted the tree he’ll light at a 6:30 p.m. ceremonyon the Common Dec. 1 “is a Christmas tree, and is going to stay a Christmas tree as long as I’m mayor.”

Asked why the city’s Web site still referred to the event as “Boston’s Official Holiday Tree Lighting,” Menino said, “I didn’t write the Web site. If I had, it would have said Christmas tree.”

The mayor added, “If Jerry Falwell wants to do his thing, that’s up to him.”

Maybe it's also time to change the name of the Christmas Tree Shops chain to the Unoffensive Holiday Tree. Or maybe we'd better not give the bats any new ideas.

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Christmas tree photo by Patrick Whittemore, Boston Herald

24 November 2005

Talking Turkey


(Scroll down or go to main page for other new updates today)

While certainly a perplexing holiday to many outside America, Thanksgiving's meaning isn't always clear to those stateside, either.

I'll leave the history lessons to California Conservative, except to say it certainly is a major day around this neck of the woods.

Can it partly be seen, however, as a day to reflect on that uniquely American way of overcoming life's obstacles?

This week, I was interviewed for an entertainment industry trade publication, where I happened to mention two former coaches as influences. In the online article that appeared, there were links added to their own stories, that make this point clear.

Ed Burke, a three-time Olympian, overcame a huge setback in 1968 when a errant hammer throw hit his wife, who was sitting in their car while he practiced. From the Palo Alto Weekly:

Burke made the 1964 Olympic team and finished seventh. He made the 1968 USA squad that competed in the Mexico City Games. Then, after an accident where a throw got away from him and struck Shirley, Burke quit the sport for 12 years. At her urging, however, he came out of retirement in 1980.

While he failed to make the U.S. team that was boycotted from the Moscow Olympics, he did make the 1984 team at age 44. He was selected by the U.S. Olympic squad to carry the American flag in the opening ceremonies. He did so proudly, keeping the flag aloft with one hand throughout the march in front of thousands in the Coliseum and millions of TV watchers.

According to the story, he's again competing, this time at 65 years old.

If you want
a truly astounding tale of what America is all about, read the account of another coach of mine, Dr. Ladislav Pataki, who escaped from behind the Iron Curtain in 1985 with Burke's help. Here's an excerpt (but you simply must read it all, it's incredible):

I realized I could take very little of my work out of the country, so I had to pick and choose according to what might be most useful later on and what would attract the least attention to authorities should they examine our luggage. I took several volumes of my published research, a number of transparencies, and primarily ideas for work that I was planning for the future.

Considering what happened at the airport, I'm still amazed we got through.

Two days before our scheduled departure, I went shopping and bought two suitcases for our "vacation." Because I was very busy that day, I made the terrible mistake of bringing them to my office before going home.

My colleagues took one look at the size of these suitcases -- they were big ones -- and began joking about how, since I'd sold my car, had started studying English, and had bought two huge suitcases, I must be planning to stay in the West.

I laughed and smiled and joked with them, but inside I wasn't chuckling. Most of us instinctively understand that at the center of any joke there lies a kernel of belief. Further, in Czechoslovakia, when people suspect someone might be considering defection, they often write anonymous letters to the authorities. These letters frequently trigger investigations.

Transferring to the airport, I worried about all this. My wife and 15-year-old daughter and I were on our way, but I wasn't sure if it was to Sicily and Rome or to prison.

As we were attempting to clear customs, I thought our worst fears had been realized when we were singled out for "personal control". Instead of our passports being stamped as we were being waved through, they were taken away. We were told to step aside. The authorities began searching our luggage, item by item, inspecting everything.

It soon became clear they were looking for German marks or other free-world currency. This didn't bother me because we weren't carrying any, either on our persons or in our luggage.

What did bother me was the fear that at some stage, as a sharp customs agent went through the papers and documents I'd brought, he'd realize he wasn't examining light vacation reading or just a few ideas I wanted to play with over the holiday, but substantial, important portions of my life's work, a sure sign I intended to defect. The agent looked through the papers, however, and didn't ask any questions.

With the search concluded, we were sent upstairs to passport control -- without our passports. While most other members of our tour group were chatting and relaxing, or enjoying a drink at the bar, we and another family of three who'd also had their passports taken waited for what felt like the longest hour of our lives. Trying not to appear nervous, we watched events around us. The customs officials had a letter.

From a distance it appeared to be on official stationery. Was it from an office? I wondered. They showed it to the tour leader. The police were present, too. Something was terribly wrong.

Who was the letter about? we wondered. We hoped not us. The family across the way was probably thinking the same thing. It looked bad for all six of us.

We sat nervously at a very large wooden table and waited. Because of the size of the table, we were all three quite distant from each other. My daughter had no idea she was in the process of defecting. We had not told her. She expected to be returning to Czechoslovakia.

My wife was a great help to me in the crisis and really helped to sustain me emotionally. Calmly she urged, "Just pretend nothing serious is happening."

Across the room, the wife in the family of three that had also been detained was standing up, crying. At the bar, fifty or sixty feet away, the people who were supposed to be our fellow tour members were laughing and enjoying their drinks. They'd already started their vacation even though they hadn't yet left the airport. I felt very jealous and envious of them.

I also felt very much in limbo, caught as we were between the vacation revelers on one side of the room and the others who, like ourselves were quite possibly on their way to prison.

I also had a strange and terrible feeling. I'd been a model citizen all my life. I had achieved high status and had accomplished a great deal. I was, comparatively speaking, well off. Yet to the police a few dozen feet away I was a criminal.

They were ready to take me to prison. When you're used to being a decent citizen, to feel suddenly that to others you are a criminal makes you feel that you have become someone else.

Finally our name was called. I thought, "This is it. We're going to prison for the rest of our lives." But an official handed us our passports and said we'd been cleared to board the plane, which was an hour late. We couldn't show our relief and our joy, but what we felt was almost inexpressible.

The other family wasn't cleared to board. The letter must have been about them. I felt very bad because I knew we could just as easily have been in their shoes. I later learned they'd been detained because a large amount of free world currency had been hidden in their luggage. At best, they'd lose the money they'd paid for their vacation. At worst, if evidence were found that they'd planned to defect, they'd be imprisoned.

I have vivid memories of Dr. Pataki talking about portions of this story, it's great to see he's now put it all on paper.

What makes America's place in the world more clear than Pataki's life?

In addition, I think
the story of former KGO and WCBS news anchor Mary Ellen Geist (from today's New York Times) fits here, as well:

WASHINGTON, Mich. - Until last February, Mary Ellen Geist was the archetypal career woman, a radio news anchor with a six-figure salary and a suitcase always packed for the next adventure, whether a third-world coup, a weekend of wine tasting or a job in a bigger market.

But now, Ms. Geist, 49, has a life that would be unrecognizable to colleagues and friends in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City. She has returned to her family home near Detroit to care for her parents, one lost to dementia and the other to sorrow.

Ms. Geist sleeps in the dormered bedroom of her childhood and survives without urban amenities like white balsamic vinegar. She starts her days reminding her father, Woody, a sweet-tempered 78-year-old who once owned an auto parts company, how to spoon cereal from his bowl.

Then, in a Mercedes C230 that she calls the "last remnant of my other life," she takes him to adult day care, begging her mother to use her time alone to get a massage or take a painting class.

"Nobody asked me to do this, and it wasn't about guilt," Ms. Geist said. "I lived a very selfish life. I'd gotten plenty of recognition. But all I did was work, and it was getting old. I knew I could make a difference here. And it's expanded my heart and given me a chance to reclaim something I'd lost."

In another era, the task of caring for elderly parents often fell to the unmarried daughter who never left home and never worked for a living. But now, in a 21st-century twist on the 19th-century spinster, career women like Ms. Geist who have made their mark in the world are returning home to care for parents in old age.

No doubt there are many other stories we could add, with the sum total a real reflection of what this country means for its citizens and the entire world.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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MSNBC Host's Curious Guest Choice


Janeane Garofalo Emerges From Cave, Knows Nothing

On this glorious Thanksgiving day, the Radio Equalizer thanks Air America's Janeane Garofalo and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann for providing top-quality holiday entertainment.

Only Olbermann would have the nerve to choose the likes of Garofalo to provide alleged "insight" into columnist and former CNN commentator Robert Novak's recent troubles.

How about credibility, does this matter at MSNBC? What does this actress and would-be political activist know about Bob Novak?

In a seven-minute Countdown segment, Garofalo provided no insight, factual material, research or anything that even suggested she had particular expertise regarding Novak. It was pure hot air.

Top top it off, they actually had the nerve to wonder how he'd survived for so many years on television. Could it be Olbermann who is not long for television?

Somehow, Novak's insight gained from decades inside the Beltway counts for nothing, but Garofalo should be taken seriously?

With Janeane clearly having done absolutely no show prep (they're obviously used to being pampered by producers and writers at Air America), she filled the segment with repeated references to "partisan right-wing hacks" and a lengthy, irrelevant tirade against the FOX & Friends morning show.

Can anyone explain the relationship between FOX & Friends and Robert Novak? There isn't one, it was filler because Janeane didn't know what she was talking about.

Because there's so much leftist anti-Novak hatred out there, it's hard to find a decent biography on the man, with Wikipedia providing a typically biased example here. However, it does shoot down Garofalo's "partisan hack" allegations right away, pointing out he's always been a registered Democrat and disagrees with Bush Administration policies on a number of key issues.

The Political Teen has the full video segment, while Brad Wilmouth at NewsBusters provides a transcript, here is an excerpt:

Keith Olbermann: "Let's start with the scuffle, or, as they would call it in the circles of his favorite basketball team, 'no harm no foul.' Do you buy this story? Could this really just have been passenger rage or might there be something darker behind this? Could that have been Joe Wilson or Pat Fitzgerald or James Carville or Bob Woodward's source trying to start something with Robert Novak?"

Janeane Garofalo: "No, but there is definitely something darker behind this. Bob Novak, or I like to refer to him as Nosferatu because he, although he's less likeable than Nosferatu, but he, like a lot of partisan hacks for today's Republican party and today's conservative movement, which is neither republican nor conservative, they seem to be operating by a lot of dark forces or inner tensions or just cantankerousness that is evident in the way that they do business with politics. And everything with them is a zero sum game.

So I believe that Bob Novak, spiritually, like a lot of other right-wing partisan hacks, are always on the verge of punching somebody or always, they always behave as if they've just been cut off in traffic. That's spiritually where they are all the time, and they have an anger management problem that, that, then they just pretend is Republican or conservative politics."

Olbermann: "So that raises the, I mean, that brings us back to the broader point that I mentioned at the beginning of this segment. How in the world has all of this CIA leak story unfolded without Robert Novak getting indicted or reprimanded or fired or just mentioned?"

Garofalo: "Well, probably because Karl Rove is the one who leaked the information to him like Karl Rove used to leak information to him during the governor's race in Texas about the Bush campaign. And I would think that Karl Rove is protecting himself, and so Bob Novak is protecting him. Or Bob Novak is just so unpleasant that they would rather avoid dealing with him than follow the letter of the law."

Olbermann: "Let him go rather than drag him here and have him testify."

Garofalo: "Yeah, he's just so unpleasant. It would be like dealing with Ann Coulter. You know what I mean? I think that people would rather see justice miscarried than actually have to talk to Ann Coulter or something like that."

Olbermann: "Lord knows I would vouch safe for that latter point. It appears that the newspaper column that he does is going to continue, but his TV career is not. He had stormed off the set at CNN shouting 'BS,' only he didn't do the abbreviation, at James Carville in August.

And he's not been on the air since. And even the New York Post reported two weeks ago that he's not going to be on the air again. His contract apparently expires in the new year, and they're just going to let it fade out. So he did lose the TV gig. On the other hand, the gig he lost was at CNN, which is in kind of flux at the moment. So is losing a gig at CNN a punishment or is it a reward?"

Garofalo: "It's neither. Actually, a punishment would be if you're forced to go work at Fox and Friends morning show. That would be a cruel and unusual punishment, almost inhumane."

Olbermann: "Punishment is watching Fox and Friends."

Garofalo: "That is bad enough."

Olbermann: "There you go."

So why are we so thankful for her rants here at the Radio Equalizer?

Because Janeane's recently been hiding in her cave, emerging only for radio shows and one television guest stint, she hasn't been providing the fodder we've come to expect. A quiet Garofalo is boring.

Watch here for a substantial upcoming piece on the subject.

As for Novak, I don't believe conservatives have done enough to defend him from attacks that are increasingly vitriolic. What political novices such as Garofalo don't realize is that he's long been the go-to man for leaked information from both Republican and Democrat operatives.

Without his column and appearances, there is much we wouldn't have learned about the status of candidates, campaigns, administrations and policies. With Novak in low-key mode these days, political coverage is missing this type of old-fashioned hard work and effective insight, exactly how he's made his mark over the past 50 years.

Planning Christmas shopping today? Why not support the Radio Equalizer at the same time? Your Amazon orders that originate with clicks here, regardless of your final selections, help to support this work. Thanks!

Garofalo image from The Political Teen

23 November 2005

Scalia vs. Nobody


At NY Event, Al's Sobering Reality Check

So much for Al Franken's "A-List" celeb aspirations.

In confronting US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at a New York event Monday, Franken was exposed as insignificant. With this sobering reality check, perhaps Al will learn to stick to the Smalley routines.

Don't take the Radio Equalizer's word for it, New York City newspapers are having a pre-Thanksgiving journalistic feast, thanks to our friend Al.

According to the New York Daily News, Justice Scalia wasn't even familiar with Franken as the two sparred during outgoing Time honcho Norman Pearlstine's latest "Conversations On The Circle" event:

During the audience Q&A, Scalia fenced with comedian Al Franken - though Scalia had no idea who Franken was - over another "hypothetical" situation in which a jurist wouldn't recuse himself from a controversial case, even though he'd just gone hunting and flown on a private jet with the defendant. Just like when Scalia went hunting with Vice President Cheney and then sat in judgment of a lawsuit against the veep.

Scalia, who might have passionately defended his actions in the Cheney case, could have persisted in correcting Franken's word usage.

"I don't think I was any meaner than I had to be," Scalia told me at the post-off the record cocktail party, adding that he's planning to increase his visibility. "My kids have been working on me to get out and do more public appearances. ... They think it makes it harder to demonize you - and I agree."

The New York Post's Page Six also got into the action:

November 23, 2005 -- AL Franken, the former "Saturday Night Live" star, found out the hard way not to mess with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who chided Franken as if he were a delinquent schoolboy at Time Warner Center on Monday night.

Scalia, following in the footsteps of Karl Rove and Bill Clinton, was the guest at Conversations on the Circle, a series of one-on-one interviews with outgoing Time Inc. editor-in-chief Norman Pearlstine.

When Pearlstine opened the floor for Q&A, Franken stood up in the back row and started talking about "judicial demeanor" and asking "hypothetically" about whether a judge should recuse himself if he had gone duck-hunting or flown in a private jet with a party in a case before his court.

Franken was clumsily referring to the fact that Scalia had gone hunting and flying with Dick Cheney before the 2000 election.

First, Scalia lectured Franken, "Demeanor is the wrong word. You mean ethics." Then he explained, "Ethics is governed by tradition. It has never been the case where you recuse because of friendship."

Time Warner chairman Dick Parsons later told PAGE SIX: "Al was not quite ready for prime time." Franken was a "Not Ready for Prime Time Player" on "Saturday Night Live" long before he began hosting a radio show on Air America.

The confrontation with Scalia didn't seem to weaken Franken's interest in running for the U.S. Senate from Minnesota. Franken discussed his possible candidacy afterward at the cocktail reception overlooking Columbus Circle. "I think I got under his skin a little," Franken humbly told us.

Franken hasn't been pounded this badly since his room-clearing speech earlier this year, also in New York City.

And that brings up an interesting point: most of Franken's fluffiest press coverage comes from outside New York City, where less scrutiny is applied.

At home, however, the media (other than the New York Times) appears to see right through him.

Is that the real reason he's leaving the area?

One problem for Al: in Minnesota, phoniness is detected even faster.

The National Ledger is also on this today.

GOPinion links to this story (I highly recommend the site, by the way).

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The Radio Equalizer also recommends the (free) Mozilla Firefox web browser. Packed with features such as tabbed browsing, SessionSaver (makes computer crashes less painful) and dual Google/Yahoo (both at once!) search extensions, I can't imagine using anything else.

Frankensoftballs and Franken Lies by David A Lunde.

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