The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

15 November 2006

Air America Radio, Keith Olbermann, Powder Scare, Chad Castagana


Progs Turn Nutcase's Arrest Into Anti-Right Fodder

White powder, it turns out, can be useful for many purposes. Placed into an envelope and sent to unsuspecting recipients, it can serve as a powerful terror tool.

At the same time, it can be used to unfairly smear conservatives, as we've learned today.

After the arrest of Chad Conrad Castagana, a Californian, on charges that he allegedly mailed a number of powdery letters to MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, as well as Jon Stewart, Sumner Redstone, Nancy Pelosi, David Letterman, Chuck Schumer and others, the left side of the blogosphere immediately went bonkers.

Attempting to tie the possibly deranged individual to mainstream conservatives, so- called "progressives" went all out, with seemingly few concerns about their credibility, no matter how far out on a limb they might have gone.

Almost immediately, for instance, liberal bloggers attempted to prove that Castagana was a participant of the Free Republic conservative online discussion forum, though the evidence was anecdotal at best.

Even if it was the case, so what? Anybody can join and post comments.

From The Raw Story, a liberal site:

The man arrested on Saturday for sending more than a dozen envelopes containing "fake anthrax" to anti-war celebrities, journalists, and politicians may have ties to the conservative supersite Free Republic, RAW STORY has found.

Chad Castagana, a 39 year old Californian named as the FBI's prime suspect in the case, is due in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles today, where procecutors are expected to file criminal complaint against him for sending threatening letters through the U.S. mail. Castagana has an extensive online history, often writing about science fiction and conservative politics, and many bloggers are convinced that he is also a contributor at the conservative activist Free Republic website under the name Marc Costanzo, whose online profile, once available here was suspended after this story first ran this morning.

Earlier today, users at the liberal websites Democratic Underground and Daily Kos brought to light the similarities between Castagana's Internet footprint and Costanzo's writings at Free Republic, and RAW STORY has found a series of eyebrow-raising connections between the two men.

Next, the Huffington Post's Steve Young attempted to pin the threats on Bill O'Reilly, even if indirectly, but also without a shred of evidence:

Words have consequences.

The commodity successful talk radio hosts produce is talk. Usually, the consequences of their talk come in the form of lucrative syndication deals and big time book sales. Or soft ball interviews with the President.

Sometimes manufacturers are held accountable when their product kills.. Like cigarettes. Okay, bad example. Let's try the Pinto.


So, would we be able to hold Bill O'Reilly, in any way, culpable in the case of the Woodland Hills, California man, Chad Conrad Castagana, who was arrested for mailing threatening letters laced with white powder to Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Charles Schumer and "Late Show" host David Letterman, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and other high-profile political and entertainment figures.

At first glance, this would seem the case of just a far right kook who wanted to scare the Secular Progressiveness™ out of a bunch of left wing moonbats™. If blame for placing the Traditionalist™ bull-eye on these liberal elites was due, than you'd have to bring in the entire AM talk radio dial for an interrogation, which wouldn't be so bad.

But at closer look, there is more than a hint that Chad had gotten his marching orders from one Lord of Loud in particular. While Pelosi and Schumer might have shared the wrath from any number of right wing talkers, only one has added David Letterman as embodiment of the Hate America First™ SPs™ and had laid blame at Stewart's doorstep for the potential killing of Christmas...The Culture Warrior™ himself... BILL O'REILLY.

And when you add O'Reilly's chief nemesis since Franken had the last legal laugh, Keith Olbermann, to the stack, it's not hard to imagine that Bill might have penned the hit list himself.

Dollars to donuts, Chad is a Factor Folk.

And topping them all, as if this were some sort of contest to see who could make the sloppiest allegations, is Keith Olbermann, who used the arrest to smear Michelle Malkin, Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter during his MSNBC show:

Over the weekend, authorities arrested 39-year-old Chad Castagana on suspicion of sending threatening letters to media outlets and the homes of several public figures including "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann.

On Tuesday, Olbermann spoke to Radar Online senior writer John Cook who has been covering the story. Cook said Castagana appeared to be admirers of conservative pundits Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin and Laura Ingraham.

"Ann Coulter and Malkin...sort of present a kind of rhetorical world view where they have their troops out there," Cook said, "and I think he thought of himself as one of their troops and wanted to live up to their standards."

You can read the full transcript of Olbermann's conversation with Cook below.

OLBERMANN: Federal authorities still expect the preliminary hearing for Chad Conrad Castagana to continue day after tomorrow. He was arrested over the weekend, accused of mailing at least 13 threatening letters, maybe 17, filled with white powder to the likes of Senator Chuck Schumer, Speaker presumptive Nancy Pelosi, Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone, David Letterman, Jon Stewart and me.

Our third story in the COUNTDOWN, more details tonight, some from an FBI affidavit obtained by “Radar Online” magazine about the suspect. According to that affidavit, on the same day Castagana was picking up the envelopes and stamps at the post office for some of his terroristic threats, he purchased a
$15 money order and had it made out to Friends of Katherine Harris. The money order, in fact, may have provided some of the trail that agents needed to trace the threatening letters back to Castagana.

The affidavit also describes him as a 39-year-old white man who lives with his parents in Woodland Hills in Southern California. It includes details of some of the notes Castagana sent with the white powder. One message, intended for Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, but sent to the wrong Jon Stewart read, quote, “Do you know Alan Berg? You should. Death to demagogues.”

That reference is unmistakable, as the FBI affidavit notes. Alan Berg was the talk radio host murdered by white supremacists in 1984.

There are also references to poison and demagogues. Quote, “all of you are poisoning the well.” One to David Letterman that read, quote, “Your kind are the real poison.” The messages intended to Viacom Chair Redstone and Congresswoman Pelosi cannot be repeated on this broadcast.

Castagana has also been identified as a gushing online admirer of Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin and Laura Ingraham. And the Web site RawStory reports that many bloggers believe he is also a contributor, under a different name, to the conservative Web site FreeRepublic. In fact, the name used is supposed to be Marc Costanzo.

Say, if the devil expressed admiration for your work, does that make you demonic? What a cheap way to attack one's political opponents.

At NewsBusters, Brad Wilmouth has more:

On Tuesday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann devoted an entire segment (video available on Countdown Web site) to discussing links between a man arrested for domestic terrorism and "far right-wing blogs," describing the man as a "gushing online admirer" of conservative commentators Michelle Malkin, Laura Ingraham, and Ann Coulter, as the Countdown host suggested conservatives had inspired the man to commit terrorism.

Olbermann also compared past actions by Malkin (see Malkin's blog for details) to "the King Henry thing about Thomas Becket." Olbermann: "There were the students at the University of California in Santa Cruz who protested military recruiters on their campus, Malkin posted their addresses and other personal information on her blog, and then when people harassed the students at their homes, Malkin did the King Henry thing about Thomas Becket, 'Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?' 'I never told anybody to do anything to them.' This is the problem, right? I mean, you can come out, you can directly encourage people to act violently, Ann Coulter has done that, or you can do it in this sort of thinly disguised way the way Malkin has."

Olbermann, who recently linked President Bush to domestic terrorism against Bush critics, as the MSNBC host had referred to King Henry's plea for someone to "rid me of this meddlesome priest," Bishop Thomas Becket, made a similar attack on Malkin. The Countdown host repeated his criticism of Malkin dating back to April 2006 when she posted on her blog the personal contact information of UC Santa Cruz student protesters who had blocked military recruiters from campus, a confrontation that had led to some recruiters being assaulted.

Olbermann, who in April had called Malkin "crazier and dumber than we all thought," not only did not inform viewers that recruiters had been assaulted in the incident, but also did not mention that the student organizers had originally solicited responses by providing their contact information on a press release, which is from where Malkin transferred the information. At some point after the student protesters received threats, Malkin posted on her blog: "I do not condone death threats or foul language."

Olbermann's interest in going after conservatives contrasts with how little interest he showed in recent revelations of Democratic Congressman Murtha's involvement in a bribery scandal. While the NBC Nightly News had earlier run a story by correspondent Lisa Myers describing Murtha's involvement in the ABSCAM scandal, even showing a secretly recorded video of Murtha speaking with an undercover FBI informant about potential bribery, Olbermann only vaguely referred to a Washington Post article citing "Democratic concerns over Murtha's alleged ethics issues," as the Countdown host provided no details on the scandal. But Olbermann spent almost seven minutes discussing conservative bloggers and domestic terrorism.

Wilmouth is right: this is exactly the kind of "scandal" the left is looking to cook up in order to deflect attention from Nancy Pelosi's insane push to install Murtha as Majority Leader.

In the meantime, Malkin, Ingraham and Coulter are owed a collective apology for this wildly unfair white powder smear.

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  • Open Letter to Olbermann: We Will Not Be Intimidated

    As the leading Olbermann blog, we at can't help but feel a bit put out by Keith's absurd attempt to link the nutcase arrested in California with right-wing bloggers. I have replied in full on our site but I want to add one graph from that post here.

    "You have been highly critical of Rush Limabugh and President Bush. About the same time Castagana was sending his letter to you, Michael Lee Braun sent a fake anthrax letter to conservative talk show host Tom Sullivan, a regular guest host on the Rush Limbaugh show. Braun was arrested by the same Joint Terrorism Task Force who caught Castagana and has now been indicted for making threats against President Bush and mailing letters containing an unknown, white powder. By the logic which you now use to accuse Malkin and other right-wing bloggers, aren't you directly responsible for Braun's actions?"

    Robert Cox

    By Blogger Robert Cox, at 15 November, 2006 16:30  

  • cox,

    Anytime a psychopath gets caught in our society an attempt is made to understand the source of their hatred. This includes learning about who may have influenced their life and views. It has been documented that Michael Braun greatly admired Coulter and Malkin and it is quite reasonable for KO to report that fact, especially since KO was the target of this freeper.

    Smearing any of those three maggots at this point is an oxymoron since anyone who watches KO already loathes them anyway.

    Finally, your bringing up Michael Braun is nothing more than a lame attempt at moral equivalency. Radio host Mr. Tom Sullivan can and should discuss Michael Braun all he wants on his show.

    By Blogger Elmonica, at 15 November, 2006 21:34  

  • Even if it was the case, so what? Anybody can join and post comments.
    I actually agree with you on this one Brian, but wish you'd be consistent. O'Reilly consistently pulls the most outrageous post off of left-wing blogs, and then uses it to smear the entire endeavor. Where is your outrage over that?

    By Blogger Justin, at 16 November, 2006 08:04  

  • When will these whackjobs get tired of this and start attacking their own.

    I have predicted by Thanksgiving the Ds will fracture, so it will be about May when the like of Olbermann go after his own.

    By Blogger tradersmith, at 16 November, 2006 10:51  

  • I believe that what might be behind all the indignation over this is the underlying reality that Olbermann's fortunes are rising, whereas those of the other three are on a downward spiral.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 16 November, 2006 11:49  

  • It's ashame Keithy is getting press. Now maybe upwards of 20 people will be watching his the show.

    Newsflash: Olbermann ratings increase 20 percent. Biggest jump of any cable show this year.

    Amazing what two viewers will do for your "ratings".

    By Blogger Owen, at 16 November, 2006 13:40  

  • Dude! I am SO "what Justin said"!

    Unfortunately, Brian has proven consistenly he has no problem whatsoever being an hypocrite...

    By Blogger TJ, at 16 November, 2006 13:41  

  • Elmonica wrote "your bringing up Michael Braun is nothing more than a lame attempt at moral equivalency. Radio host Mr. Tom Sullivan can and should discuss Michael Braun all he wants on his show."

    Do you even know what "moral equivalancy" means?

    The Braun and Castagana cases are identical in many respects - both are from California, both mailed inert white powder to media personalities in an effort to terrorize their target, both were arrested by the same joint terrorism task force. The only significant difference is that Braun sent his fake anthrax to a guy on the right and Castagana sent his to people on the left.

    It seems to me that if you want to hold Malkin accountable for Castagana's actions because she has been critical of the liberal media then you are going to need to hold Olbermann accountable because he has been critical of Bush and Sullivan.

    That's not "moral equivalancy" but rather simple logic.

    By Blogger Robert Cox, at 16 November, 2006 14:10  

  • The difference is that Olbermann is reporting, and Malkin is inciting.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 16 November, 2006 14:58  

  • Cox said,

    Isn't KO responsible for Braun's action using the same logic?

    If you can document that Braun revered KO in postings on blogs or elsehwere then certainly that would make for an interesting post on your blog or something interesting for Limbaugh and gang to discuss on the radio. If you don't have that, then frankly I doubt anyone is interested.

    With your letter you were taking a defensive position rather than a principled one in my opinion. You were attempting to deflect criticism away from the fact Castanaga was a right-wing nut. This incident involved KO personally and can be reported on a standalone basis without mentioning a left-wing loon to balance the discussion. I certainly don't expect Tom Sullivan to mention the KO incident when discussing Braun.

    By the way, what is the term then that describes deflecting criticsm away from your group(political party) by citing the misdeeds that occurred in the other group? Kind of like when people criticize Clinton's blowjob as an excuse for Haggerts hypocrisy.

    By Blogger Elmonica, at 16 November, 2006 15:26  

  • Can anyone think of a gushing online admirer of Keith Olberman? I cant. No one watches him and no one cares enough to blog about the fool in gushing terms either. Should tell you something Keith, although I am confident that it will not.

    By Blogger Seriouslyunserious, at 16 November, 2006 17:11  

  • Ridiculous.

    Nobody recognizes the names Malkin or Ingraham.

    Coulter was barely news the last quarter, and that was only because her fabulous doorstops earned her mention.

    But EVERYONE knows who Keith Olbermann is now....

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 16 November, 2006 23:25  

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