Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle), Talk Radio, George Galloway MP
Seattle Talker Moves Left Of Air America
***NEW: will McDermott denounce Michael Moore over his dishonest practices? We need your help today and Friday. See the Sgt Peter Damon- McDermott- Moore connection below***
While Americans spent Monday reflecting upon fallen soldiers who have sacrificed everything in the name of freedom, in addition to the many troops currently serving in Iraq and elsewhere, a Seattle radio station instead chose to promote a sleazy, Saddam- supporting politician.
Giving the microphone to Congressman- For- Life "Baghdad" Jim McDermott (D-Seattle) was area radio station KIRO-AM, a CBS News affiliate, which hired the fringe extremist to fill in for a local talk show host this week.
By assuming the audience is seeking programming to the left of Air America, it's an abject lesson in how not to run a talk radio station. After much negative publicity last year resulting from the arrest of fellow hyper-radical host Mike Webb, one would imagine the station would seek to mainstream its image, at least a bit.
This kind of radio, however, is best suited for the shortwave band, not a major network affiliate.
Given your Radio Equalizer's previous history with KIRO-AM, which included a three- year stint as host, we would rather not write at all about the station. Sometimes, however, its head- scratching lineup selections and other antics leave us with little choice.
Aside from the obvious conflict of interest in handing 15 hours of free airtime to a public official seeking re-election (which is not being granted to opponents or other Puget Sound- Area candidates), it was a particularly nasty slap in the face to so many in the area who have friends and family in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thanks to corrupt, one- party rule in Seattle, McDermott never faces anything stronger than token re-election opposition, regardless of his behavior.
Because he did serve his country many years ago, McDermott's Saddam- supporting actions have been all the more shameful, as someone we believe should frankly know better.
But he doesn't.
With his kooky rhetoric, McDermott is often compared to Respect Party MP George Galloway, who recently made headlines for asserting that Prime Minister Tony Blair's execution would be morally justified.
Predictably, the dying, ultra- leftist Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper attempted to dismiss criticism of McDermott's on-air gig as merely originating with angry Republicans.
But that leaves out the inconvenient fact that many of McDermott's loudest critics are also found on the moderate and more mainstream- liberal parts of the spectrum, including P-I columnist Joel Connelly.
In this 2002 column (excerpted here), Connelly, a lifelong liberal Democrat, slammed McDermott's pro-Saddam propaganda visit to Baghdad:
No better example comes to mind than Seattle Rep. Jim McDermott. The occasion: Remarks McD made Sunday on ABC's "This Week" as he stood in the capital city of the world's most bloodthirsty rulers.
First, McD called for trust of Iraq's offer to throw open its doors to United Nations weapons inspectors.
"The Iraqis say they would allow us to go anywhere," McD intoned. "And you have to take the Iraqis at face value."
At face value? Where has this man been, a Hussein asylum? Iraq spent much of the past decade impeding and harassing United Nations weapons inspection teams.
Our man in Baghdad then proceeded to depict President Bush as a deceiver bent on war.
"I think the president would mislead the American people," McDermott told a global audience.
If McDermott has evidence to back his allegation of a duplicitous commander-in-chief, he has a floor debate coming up in Congress at which to present it.
But, as Sen. John McCain put the matter Monday night on CNN, "Don't go to Baghdad to do it."
McCain was, of course, a beaten-but-defiant POW in the Hanoi Hilton when Jane Fonda paid her famous visit to a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft battery.
Just as Fonda delivered a propaganda coup to the North Vietnamese, McDermott did a service to Saddam by dumping on America's leaders.
By his words in Baghdad, McD -- in McCain's words -- was "helping sell" Saddam's policies to his own people.
President Bush was roundly -- and justifiably -- blasted last week after using a GOP rally in New Jersey to question whether Senate Democrats were serious about fighting the war on terrorism. Even Fox had to carry the outraged responses by Sens. Tom Daschle and Ted Kennedy.
But demagoguery is demagoguery, whatever quarter it comes from -- and particularly where it is uttered.
McDermott clearly hit Bush below the belt, comparing him to Lyndon Johnson on the Gulf of Tonkin, and making the facetious suggestion that Bush and Sen. Trent Lott should "make a trip over here and have a look and see if they really, honestly are allowing inspections."
Saddam Hussein has defied something like 16 United Nations resolutions providing for the inspection and dismantling of his chemical arsenal and nuclear program. Yet, on Sunday, McDermott declared: "Iraq did not drive the inspectors out. We took them out."
McDermott was sensibly urging such a course of action just a week ago. He should have used the Iraq trip to warn Saddam's satraps hosts that the jig is up.
Sure enough, McDermott- supporters, such as liberal talk radio blogger Blatherwatch, are busy eating up this exercise in political kookdom:
Wow, an innovative programming decision by KIRO! We hope this is the beginning of the renaissance of the big Seattle talker.
The $250-$350 per shift for the KIRO talk-job could be a factor in the Congressman's decision to do the on-air week. His Queen Anne Hill home is in financial jeopardy from legal defense costs from the civil suit filed by Ohio Majority Leader John Boehner over whether McDermott's dissemination of an intercepted cellphone conversation of public officials should be considered free speech.
Though we can't say for sure, our past experiences with the station in question lead us to believe that McDermott's pay could be closer to $1000 per three-hour show.
While $5000 isn't going to save "Baghdad" Jim from financial ruin, by indirectly contributing to this partisan candidate's election, is it possible KIRO has taken another cue from Air America?
If he says anything stupid on the air, please let us know, as we're pleased to be safely tucked away, far from McDermottville.
RELATED: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty gives up his weekly guest spot on WCCO-AM in the Twin Cities to avoid re-election conflicts, reports the AP.
UPDATE: liberal blogger Blatherwatch reports that McDermott's show has so far been "a snore-fest". In addition, all of the callers have apparently been supporters of the Congressman- For- Life. Are conservatives being screened out?
ALSO: liberal talk radio fan tells Vashon Island newspaper that Air America in Seattle has taken many "progressive" listeners away from KIRO.
THE BIGGIE: if somebody really wants to ask McD a great question, please phone him at KIRO (9am - noon PDT) and ask Baghdad Jim how he feels about his connection to Sgt. Peter Damon, the Middleboro- based Iraq war vet who is suing Michael Moore for $85 million.
During Wednesday's show, Rush Limbaugh addressed the suit at length. It's now the lead DrudgeReport story, as well.
In addition, during their local coverage Wednesday evening, Boston's FOX 25 made a particular point of the McDermott connection, featuring a clip of the congressman from Moore's film and showing how the editing resulted in a highly deceptive and distorted representation of Damon's views.
In a well- presented and balanced story, Damon told FOX 25 that the misleading McDermott tie-in was a key element of his complaint. In addition, he said that most of any proceeds from the suit would benefit local groups serving veterans.
From the AP:
Damon is shown shortly after U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., is speaking about the Bush administration and says, "You know, they say they're not leaving any veterans behind, but they're leaving all kinds of veterans behind."
Damon contends that Moore's positioning of the clip just after the congressman's comments makes him appear as if he feels like he was "left behind" by the Bush administration and the military.
In his lawsuit, Damon says he "agrees with and supports the President and the United States' war effort, and he was not left behind."
He said that, while at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center recovering from his wounds, he had surgery and physical therapy, learned to use prosthetics and live independently. He also said that Homes For Our Troops, a not-for-profit group, built him a house with handicapped accessibility.
Over his obviously deceptive practices, will McDermott denounce Moore? If you reach him on the air and are able to grill him on the issue, please e-mail me (email@example.com) so that I can include the information in an update.
Boston media critic Dan Kennedy, a lefty, doesn't believe the suit has merit.
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McD card: NewsMax, Moore: AP via Regina Leader-Post