The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

28 February 2006

Radio Industry Trade Publications, FOX News, Air America


How Broadcast Trade Publications Help Air America

Think getting a
fair shake from the mainstream media is difficult? Try getting broadcast and entertainment trades to fairly cover talk radio's scandals.

While they've never been particularly even-handed, with the rise of industry consolidation and radio mega-operators, some now dwell exclusively in the sewer.

Primarily dependent on ad revenues from shaky syndication firms, it's a dirty business.

Because it makes a greater attempt to balance coverage, we often reference All Access here at the Radio Equalizer.

Why does it matter what industry trades report? For these reasons:

--- A small but ever-shrinking number of industry professionals, primarily corporate suits, still believe their coverage to be accurate.

--- The Drudge factor:
while often featuring stories and links to broadcast trade sites, he remains notoriously anti-new media. Whether left or right, Drudge will generally not reference stories from blogs.

During the course of the Air America scandal, Drudge sat it out, likely because it meant recognizing blogs. Where are his links to Instapundit, Powerline, Captain's Quarters, Daily Kos or the Huffington Post?

Even CBS News has accepted blogging, but not Matt Drudge.

--- For information on personalities and controversies, lazy reporters with dusty, grimy rolodexes continue to call radio trades. Newspapers then publish the often terribly inaccurate results.

Because Air America is a significant advertiser (and as some of their editors and owners are card-carrying liberals), it routinely gets favorable trade coverage. Scandals, flaps and controversies are ignored, while critics are readily condemned.

And that's exactly what happened today.

Presenting one-sided accounts of Air America's week-delayed response were two publications that hadn't previously mentioned our George Soros/Democracy Alliance Air America bailout story.

Without explaining the context of the allegations, especially our $8 million network rescue report, Billboard and Radio Ink were both quick to publish pro-Air America pieces. Bias doesn't get any worse than this.

From Billboard:

Air America Radio president Gary Krantz is firing back at comments made by conservative talkie Bill O’Reilly that the liberal talk radio network is in dire straits.

O’Reilly made the disparaging remarks on his cable TV show Feb. 22, in a segment called “How Is Air America Surviving?” He said, “What you have here is a radio network that is failing financially. This far left outfit comes in and is saying it will pay the bills. The goal is to get across a propaganda point of view under the guise of competing in the marketplace. We're going to ask the FCC to look into Air America."

Krantz responded that usually such comments are ignored, but “in this case we feel we need to set the record straight. Mr. O'Reilly has been bad mouthing Air America and saying it is failing for two years. It was not true before and it is not true now.”

Air America's ratings “went up substantially” in the Fall 2005 book and its affiliate base has grown from 36 affiliates in January 2005 to 90 across the country, including internationally on the Voice of America, Krantz said.

“Financially, Air America is significantly stronger than ever,” he added. “As of today, our booked and pending business for 2006 represents 83% of the entire revenue generated in 2005. We are also up to date on all of our financial obligations. Most importantly, we have a dedicated board and investors who support our business.

"There is no substance whatsoever to Mr. O'Reilly's absurd claims of gloom and doom,” Krantz said.

Even worse, Radio Ink printed only Air America's letter, without any additional information.

In addition, we've today heard from people who noticed a huge error in the Krantz letter: his claim that Air America is heard internationally on the Voice Of America. It's simply not true, they correctly point out.

Thanks for your continued and vital Radio Equalizer support, via Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately order!

Soros/Franken/Garofalo: Pete at IHillary for the Radio Equalizer, Boy: David A Lunde for the Radio Equalizer (by the way, Air America did eventually repay the money into an escrow account, but the Wise club is now defunct)

Air America, Gary Krantz, Bill O'Reilly, Radio Equalizer


A Week Later, Air America's Peculiar Response

Skirting the real issues almost entirely, a peculiar round of Air America Radio return fire was sent our way last night. Every bit as lethal as Dick Cheney's birdshot, it had us remembering to duck.

What took so long?

Instead of refuting our report that an $8 million corporate bailout from the George Soros-backed Democracy Alliance was on the way, the letter sent by Air America honcho Gary Krantz to Air America affiliates attacked Bill O'Reilly.

Since Karl Rove is the real culprit, please don't accuse the Radio Equalizer of adding the spelling errors seen below:

February 27, 2006

To: Air America Affiliates and Friends

From: Gary Krantz

Re: Recent allegations by Radio Equalizer and Bill O’Reilly

Last week on Bill O’Reilly’s cable TV show, there were allegations that were misleading regarding the state of Air America’s Business. It is not often that we respond to these things, but in this case we feel we need to set the record straight---

Mr. Reilly has been bad mouthing Air America and saying it is failing for two years.

It was not true before and it is not true now.

In interpreting the story, one should consider the source:

Air America's ratings went up substantially in the Fall 2005 book and it its affiliate base has grown from 36 affiliations in January of 05 to over 90 affiliations across the country, including internationally on the Voice of America

In the recent Fall 2005 Arbitron Survey for New York, Air America/WLIB Programming is outperforming Mr. O’Reilly in both the 12+ and A 25-54 Demo:

WLIB 2p - 4p
Hr 3 – Franken/ Hr 1 – Randi Rhodes (first box)

vs. Bill O'Reilly WOR AM (second box)

*Source: Arbitron NY Fall 2005

Financially, Air America is significantly stronger than ever. As of today, our have booked and pending business for 2006 represents 83% of the entire revenue generated in 2005. We are also up to date on all of our financial obligations. Most importantly, we have a dedicated board and investors who support our business.

There is no substance whatsoever to Mr. O'Reilly's absurd claims of “gloom and doom”.

We look forward to continuing, or beginning a successful relationship, as the Progressive Talk Format and Air America Radio grow together. Watch this space for more innovative programming from Air America.

Thanks for the support, and if you want the facts, you can call me directly at 212-817-8120

Gary Krantz
Air America Radio
641 Sixth Avenue, 4th Floor
New York, NY

Check out our brand new website and Premium Services at

Not wasting any time, entertainment industry trade publication All Access filed this report:

Air America Response To Funding Reports: We're "Stronger Than Ever"

AIR AMERICA RADIO has responded to last week's reports by the RADIO EQUALIZER blog, featured on BILL O'REILLY's FOX NEWS CHANNEL show, that the network is receiving up to $8 million in financing from the DEMOCRACY ALLIANCE to keep it on the air, with the network's President GARY KRANTZ issuing a statement asserting that "financially, AIR AMERICA is significantly stronger than ever. As of today, our have booked and pending business for 2006 represents 83% of the entire revenue generated in 2005. We are also up to date on all of our financial obligations. Most importantly, we have a dedicated board and investors who support our business."

KRANTZ also takes shots at O'REILLY for "bad mouthing AIR AMERICA and saying it is failing for two years. It was not true before and it is not true now," adding that AL FRANKEN and RANDI RHODES beat O'REILLY in the NEW YORK ratings for adults 12+ and 25-54.

The statement does not include any specifics regarding revenue figures and does not specifically address the RADIO EQUALIZER report about DEMOCRACY ALLIANCE funding but says "there is no substance whatsoever to Mr. O'REILLY's absurd claims of 'gloom and doom.'"

What's wrong with Air America's letter? Beyond simply not addressing specifics, as the All Access report notes, quite a lot.

Let's pick some of it apart. Almost none of it addresses our reporting, keep in mind:

"Mr. Reilly has been bad mouthing Air America and saying it is failing for two years."

Until six months ago, when Michelle Malkin and yours truly came forward with information about Air America's Gloria Wise scandal, where $875,000 in taxpayer funds were diverted from a community center to the company, we're not aware of O'Reilly saying much of anything about Air America.

In fact, you could rightfully accuse him of avoiding the topic until then, if that's a crime.

"Air America's ratings went up substantially in the Fall 2005 book and it its affiliate base has grown from 36 affiliations in January of 05 to over 90 affiliations across the country, including internationally on the Voice of America"

With losses in many cities, there was very little upward movement anywhere in the Fall Arbitron ratings. As for stations, it's game-playing: Air America counts every outlet that carries even one of its shows as an "affiliate". Very few run all of them.

"In the recent Fall 2005 Arbitron Survey for New York, Air America/WLIB Programming is outperforming Mr. O’Reilly in both the 12+ and A 25-54 Demo"

Perhaps, but your own figures show O'Reilly has more overall listeners, by more than 57,000.

"Financially, Air America is significantly stronger than ever. As of today, our have booked and pending business for 2006 represents 83% of the entire revenue generated in 2005. We are also up to date on all of our financial obligations. Most importantly, we have a dedicated board and investors who support our business."

How do we know? You don't provide any dollar figures. And sure, you do have dedicated people like Rob Glaser, George Soros, Rob Reiner and others ready to bail you out of trouble.

That was the very point of O'Reilly's segment.

Welcome Anchoress readers!

Thanks for your continued and vital Radio Equalizer support, via Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately order!

Money Pit, Frankenpersian, Janeane's Magic Kingdom: Pete at IHillary for the Radio Equalizer

27 February 2006

George Soros, Democracy Alliance, Air America Radio, FOX News


Curious Lack Of Response To Air America Bailout Report

With a rundown of the
opposition's response, it's always fun to follow up after one of our investigative reports. Will they fire back, or pretend it doesn't exist, hoping the story goes away?

With one botched exception, the left mostly kept its collective mouth shut this time regarding our piece on the impending George Soros/Democracy Alliance $8 million election year bailout of Air America Radio.

With a well-established track record of corporate silence regarding the investigative series undertaken last year by Michelle Malkin and myself, perhaps leftists have wisely learned to steer clear of playing defense for Air America.

Tracking every word that emerges from FOX News Channel host Bill O'Reilly's mouth, Media Matters never gives up an opportunity to take a shot.

Discussed on the O'Reilly Factor last Wednesday, if our report was in any way inaccurate, one could readily expect to hear about it at David Brock's anti-FOX site.

And yet, nothing.

At the partisan, widely-read DailyKos site, where they also never fail to attack an opponent, same thing: nada.

Among the larger leftist media criticism sites, only the rabidly FOX-hating News Hounds tackled the story, but confused the billionaire Soros-backed Democracy Alliance with the decidedly low-rent, Massachusetts-based Alliance For Democracy. Later issuing a retraction, the site's attempt to accuse O'Reilly of sloppiness clearly backfired.

Repeating an increasingly common leftist tactic, NewsHounds chose personal insults over a well-reasoned response:

During a four minute waste of good airtime O'Reilly, who hates Al Franken with a passion, rehashed a story that has been thrown onto the conservative dung heap by a blogger named Brian Maloney, a Boston O'Reilly wannabe who spends his time trying (unsuccessfully) to bring down Air America Radio in the hopes that someone, anyone will pay attention to him.

Even if the attacks were true, what does it have to do with Soro's political contributions? Either there's information that refutes our reporting, or you have nothing. "Dung heap" does nothing to advance one's argument.

Meanwhile, Tom Blumer at Bizzyblog and Newsbusters expands upon our previous reasoning:

At the very end of this post on January 27, I asked this question about Air America Radio (AAR), which at the time was surviving by the good graces of one rich guy's wallet:

Are Al Franken’s ridiculously outsized earnings (including a LOT of money up-front) from a network that is funded by one guy a “clever” way of circumventing campaign-finance law and underwriting a possible Franken run for the US Senate in Minnesota?

My question only concerned Franken. But now that The Democracy Alliance (no working web site; an April 2005 article about the organization's plans is here), a far-left liberal group that includes billionaire George Soros, Peter "the Progressive" (Insurance) Lewis, and Rob "Meathead" Reiner as prominent members, has, according to Radio Equalizer Brian Maloney, promised to underwrite up to $8 million of Air America Radio's future losses, the scope of the question has expanded, and others are asking it, including Bill O'Reilly at Fox News.

In an interview on O'Reilly's TV show (transcript here), Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who specializes in campaign finance law, called AAR's financial maneuvers "money laundering."

By the way
, Meathead's in big trouble, here's the story from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Director Rob Reiner has taken a leave as chairman of a state children's commission amid concerns that it may have improperly spent public funds to promote the universal preschool campaign he is heading.

In a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Friday, Reiner said he would step down from the First 5 California Children and Families Commission until after the June election on Proposition 82 "to avoid any political distractions."

At issue is $23 million that First 5 spent on television and other ads promoting the value of preschool and parent education between November and January, when the initiative qualified for the ballot. The proposition would tax the state's wealthiest wage earners to provide a free year of preschool to all California 4-year-olds.

Thanks for your continued Radio Equalizer support, via Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately order! In the spotlight: Robert Ferrigno's exciting new thriller Prayers for the Assassin: A Novel. Read the transcript of Hugh Hewitt's interview with Ferrigno here.

Franken/Soros images: Pete at IHillary for the Radio Equalizer

26 February 2006

Phil Donohue Petition, Keith Olbermann, MSNBC, Media Matters


MSNBC Host Signs O'Reilly's Petition

Apparently still believing he could "win" the on-air war kicked off last year against Bill O'Reilly, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has personally signed the petition calling for Phil Donohue's network reinstatement.

Begun by the FOX News Channel host as a gag, this online effort to bring back the veteran television talker would mean Olbermann's cancellation, since he succeeded Donohue three years ago in the 8pm timeslot.

O'Reilly, pointing out that Donohue's ratings were actually higher than Olbermann's, thinks Phil got a raw deal.

For Olbermann, was it funny, or just plain stupid to "endorse" O'Reilly's effort?

From TVNewser:

The chyron said "Fire Away, Falafel Boy" as tape of O'Reilly's petition explanation rolled. Then Olbermann read the petition -- "we, the undersigned, are becoming increasingly concerned about the well-being of MSNBC," etc, etc -- interrupting occassionally for comments like this:

"The median age of viewers of this program is 58.7. The median age of viewers of Mr. O'Reilly's program is 68.6. So if you want to be concerned about 'well-being,' Bill, be concerned about the odds of your viewers living into next week."

Isn't that a pretty nasty slam on elderly people, Keith? Doesn't sound very politically correct for a liberal, does it?

To rattle Olbermann's cage, it's obviously quite easy. Prodding him into name-calling doesn't take much, either.

While this battle wins low marks for substance, in terms of entertainment value, it's good fun.

Meanwhile, leave it to David Brock's Media Matters (another recipient of millions in George $oro$ aid) to twist O'Reilly's argument on the Olbermann/Donohue issue:

O'Reilly called for MSNBC to boost ratings by reinstating Donahue in Olbermann's timeslot, overlooking MSNBC's lower rated conservative programming

Summary: Bill O'Reilly called on MSNBC to reinstate Phil Donahue as a network host, asserting: "His successor [Keith Olbermann], after three long years on the air, actually has fewer viewers now than Donahue did when he left."

However, O'Reilly has yet to express concern for the lower ratings generated by MSNBC programs hosted by two conservatives: former Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL) and Tucker Carlson.

That misses O'Reilly's point: it's about who's been performing better at 8pm, not 11.

Isn't Media Matters as aware as anyone that Carlson and Scarborough are there to serve as wishy-washy, ineffective quasi-conservatives? Brock's gang can't be that stupid, can it?

Speaking of Media Matters, get a load of their pavlovian response whenever Olbermann names O'Reilly "the worst person in the world":

Olbermann crowned O'Reilly "Worst Person in the World," two nights in a row, for Iraq withdrawal flip-flop and Gabler "rabid dog" comments

Summary: Keith Olbermann crowned Bill O'Reilly the "Worst Person in the World" on both the February 22 and 23 editions of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, based on comments first noted by Media Matters for America. Olbermann also recognized Rush Limbaugh on February 23 for his assertion that Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter is "a girl."

Perhaps Soros should ask for his money back.

Your Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately purchase, bring vital support to the Radio Equalizer's efforts. Thanks again!

MSNBS: David A Lunde

25 February 2006

Janeane Garofalo, Hollywood, Air America, Walk Of Fame


Walk Of Fame Petition Hurting For Signatures

While we're signing dueling petitions for and against FOX News Channel and MSNBC hosts, why not instead devote our energy toward something that can really do the world some good?

What shall we do, rescue Darfur refugees? Bring down Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe? Cure cancer?

Forget those petty causes, they can wait. To help her obtain a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, let's help poor Janeane Garofalo!

So far, falling quite a bit short is a fan-initiated online effort to do just that. Just how bad is the situation?

To date, just 71 signatures have been collected. From a fan site:

Sign our petition to get Janeane Garofalo a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We have 71 signatures so far. That’s pathetic, people.

A check of the petition site confirms Garofalo's current total. Here's their pitch:

To: Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and Walk of Fame Committee

Janeane Garofalo has acted in over 40 films. Demonstrating a wide range, she has starred in cult classics like the drama, “Sweethearts” and the comedy, “Wet Hot American Summer.” While one of Hollywood's queens of romantic comedy - “The Truth About Cats and Dogs” and “The Matchmaker” - she has also appeared in edgier films such as “Reality Bites” and “The Cable Guy.”

She has made her mark in independent films such as “The Search for John Gissing” and “The Independent” and film noir titles like “The Minus Man” and “Clay Pigeons.” She has also produced and directed.

Her accomplishments in the world of movies are many and she's long overdue for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We would like to see her get the recognition she deserves for her many contributions to the movies.

Since these were all blockbusters, this should be a cinch, right?

Not so fast. To reach the level of those already on the Walk (such as Ryan Seacrest and David Hasselhoff) one must meet these exceptionally high standards, in addition to the willingness to part with a $15,000 "fee":

To receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, candidates must meet three criteria:

* Professional achievement
* Longevity of five years in the field of entertainment
* Contributions to the community

Honorees generally receive stars for achievements in one of five categories: motion picture, live theater, radio, television, or music. Only one person has stars in all five categories -- the singing cowboy himself, Gene Autry.

To help a clearly underappreciated star, here's your chance, sign the petition!

Gene Autry? Compared to the head of I Hate Myself Productions (we didn't make that up) he was nothing.

Your Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately purchase, bring vital support to the Radio Equalizer's efforts. Thanks again!

Garofalo images by Pete at IHillary for the Radio Equalizer

24 February 2006

Keith Olbermann, Phil Donohue, MSNBC, FOXNews, O'Reilly Factor


FNC Host's Response To Olbermann's Attacks

Update: Leftist Response below

After enduring months of public attacks from an angry rival, what's the most clever and effective way to fight back?

For the FOX News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, waiting for MSNBC's Keith Olbermann to slowly hang himself may have been the best strategy. While Olbermann has never missed a chance to take a shot, the O'Reilly Factor host has ignored it all, until now.

Call it the art of war.

With Olbermann frequently calling O'Reilly "the worst person in the world", "Countdown" sometimes resembles an on-air anger venting session for Bill's enemies.

Now, just as Olbermann had likely written off the possibility of a two-way battle, the MSNBC host has suddenly received what he's always wanted: a response.

Be careful what you wish for.

Instead of attacking Olbermann personally, O'Reilly simply dug out his predecessor's ratings, revealing higher figures than the "Countdown" host has since been able to achieve.

Before Olbermann, do you remember who occupied MSNBC's 8pm timeslot?

Phil Donohue!

That's right, the ill-fated Donohue talk show had better numbers than his much-hyped successor has been able to achieve.

Kicking his return fire up a notch, O'Reilly has begun an online petition drive, calling for his longtime nemesis Donohue's MSNBC return. Collected signatures will be submitted to NBC programming suit Robert Wright.

From Thursday's Factor "Most Ridiculous Item" segment:

Time now for the most ridiculous item of the day.... bring back Phil!

Bring back Phil Donahue. It was three years ago this month that MSNBC fired Mr. Donahue for low ratings.

We felt bad for Phil. They didn't give him much of a chance. Phil actually said his firing was a mistake and he was right.

His successor, after three long years on the air, actually has fewer viewers now than Phil did when he left. Not good.

Bring back Phil!

So in the interest of fairness, we have a petition on Bill O' to bring Phil Donahue back, Marlo too if she wants. Kind of like the Maury-Connie show.

If enough of you sign a petition, we'll send it over to NBC and hopefully Phil will get the chance he deserves.

Let's all go to bat for our pal Mr. Donahue.

To not do so, would be ridiculous.

And here's the petition language:

Dear Mr. Wright:

We, the undersigned, are becoming increasingly concerned about the well-being of MSNBC and, in particular, note the continuing ratings failure of the program currently airing weeknights at 8:00 EST.

It is now apparent to everyone that a grave injustice has been done to the previous host in that time slot, Phil Donohue, whose ratings, at the time of his show's cancellation three years ago, were demonstrably stronger than those of the current host.

Therefore, in an effort to rescue MSNBC from the ratings basement and to restore the honor and dignity of Mr. Donohue, who was ignobly removed as host three years ago, we ask that you immediately bring Phil Donohue's show back at 8:00 EST, before any more damage is done.

Is it a gimmick? Of course, but a funny one.

After Donohue's last Factor appearance, where physical restraints seemed necessary to keep him from attacking the host, who would expect O'Reilly to push for his return?

Good blog find: OlbermannWatch.

UPDATE: liberals at Daily Kos can't take a joke, it seems: they're circulating a petition of their own to get O'Reilly fired. Take a look at their first grade playground-level O'Reilly reader "poll":


Bill O'Reilly Smells Like:

-- Falafel
-- Feet
-- A Teenaged Boy's Bedroom
-- Cat Puke
-- Dog Turds
-- Sulfer
-- Spoiled Milk
-- Serious BO
-- Onions
-- Viagara

What in the world is "sulfer" or "Viagara"?

Your Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately purchase, bring vital support to the Radio Equalizer's efforts. Thanks again!

23 February 2006

Bill O'Reilly, FOX News, Air America, Democracy Alliance, George Soros


O'Reilly, Campaign Finance Expert Analyze Soros/Lewis Story

Is George Soros
accustomed to seeing his election-year political plans exposed in advance?

To the Blogospheric Age, let's welcome our billionaire currency-raiding friend! As liberals might say, it's "cosmic payback" for his nasty central bank-busting habit.

Whatever the ultimate impact, our report on the likely $8 million Air America Radio bailout demonstrates how the campaign activities of Soros, insurance magnate Peter Lewis, former Clinton Administration Press Secretary Mike McCurry and actor Rob Reiner will be carefully scrutinized this year.

Between blogs, cable news and talk radio, all the bases are covered.

Analyzing our Soros/ Lewis Democracy Alliance coverage last night was Bill O'Reilly, with special guest Cleta Mitchell, a campaign finance law expert based in Washington.

Taking an interesting approach to the Radio Equalizer's reporting, they explored whether overpaying Al Franken by a factor of 10 or 20 constitutes an illegal campaign contribution, since he's a likely 2008 US Senate candidate in Minnesota.

Mitchell went as far as to call it money laundering.

From blogger Fraters Libertas, the Radio Equalizer had previously heard this theory.

While Expose The Left has the O'Reilly Factor segment video clip here, we gave Johnny Dollar a lousy buck to cook up this full transcript (excerpted here):

In the Factor investigation segment tonight, we've been looking at the far-left Air America radio network, along with blogger Brian Maloney at Radio Equalizer.

The Factor's compiled information that Air America is losing so much money it can only survive by accepting donation. A source tells us that a man named Rob Glaser, the founder and CEO of RealNetworks, has been paying many of Air America's bills. And those bills are huge. This year alone Al Franken will make almost two-and-a-half million dollars. He and his staff account for more than 50% of Air America's entire payroll.

But apparently even Glaser can't afford to keep up with the bills. And now an outfit called Democracy Alliance, financed in part by left-wing billionaires George Soros and Peter Lewis, is reportedly going to funnel eight million bucks to Air America. That bailout will keep the network on the air through election day, and that's what could be the problem. Franken is set to run for the Senate in Minnesota, and if he uses money from his big salary in the race, some believe that might be a campaign violation. We're not sure because this is very complicated.

But joining us now from Washington, Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who specializes in campaign finance law. All right, let's deal with this Democracy Alliance first, Ms Mitchell. This is a bunch of guys--Soros, Lewis, Rob Reiner, Rob Stein, Andrew Rappaport, all rich far-left guys. Now they have, and we have the data, told Air America they're going to give them eight million dollars to keep them afloat until November, so they can hammer home liberal candidates. Is that a violation?

CLETA MITCHELL: Well it could be. Now what they're claiming, I'm sure, is that they're a media entity and therefore entitled to the media exemption. But don't you love the fact that these laws, like these campaign finance laws, liberals love to pass, then the liberals and their wealthy donors spend all their time figuring out how to circumvent them? But the original campaign finance laws passed in the early '70s are really an anachronism, because at the time they were passed there were three networks and no internet.

Meanwhile, Air America
ignored repeated requests for comment on our story by entertainment industry trade publication All Access. Here's how they ultimately covered it:

Report: Group To Provide Millions In Funding To Air America Radio

A report at the RADIO EQUALIZER blog says that AIR AMERICA RADIO is getting up to $8 million in funding from the DEMOCRACY ALLIANCE, a coalition of prominent Democratic Party activists and supporters including billionaire financier GEORGE SOROS, actor/director/activist ROB REINER, former CLINTON WHITE HOUSE Press Secretary MIKE MCCURRY, and the founders, former Chief of Staff to the Commerce Secretary ROB STEIN, investor ANDREW RAPPAPORT, and NEW DEMOCRATIC NETWORK founder SIMON ROSENBERG.

The organization was founded to help develop institutions for promoting liberal policies, including media. RADIO EQUALIZER BRIAN MALONEY characterizes the funding as an "emergency bailout" to keep the network operating as midterm elections draw closer; read the full report by clicking here.

MALONEY's report is scheduled to be discussed on AAR arch-rival BILL O'REILLY's FOX NEWS CHANNEL TV show WEDNESDAY night, and MALONEY is scheduled for appearances on the show next week with further developments.

Instead of researching this further
, which Air America story was the mainstream media covering (dozens of newspaper websites so far)? This Billboard/ Reuters report:

NEW YORK (Billboard) - R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, Bright Eyes, Rufus Wainwright, Fischerspooner, Public Enemy's Chuck D, Devendra Banhart and Peaches have signed on for "Bring 'Em Home Now," a March 20 concert at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom.

The event is tied to the third anniversary of the United States' invasion of Iraq and will feature a speech by antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan.

Proceeds will benefit Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace. Janeane Garofalo's Air America Radio show "The Majority Report" will broadcast live from the show and feature interviews with the performers.

Can't wait.

It's not clear why the comment section and links to individual posts aren't working today. An emailer wonders why this usually seems to happen just after our work is featured on the FOX News Channel.

Have no idea, but after what happened to Michelle Malkin today, all bets are off.

Thanks for your continued Radio Equalizer support, via Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately order! In the spotlight: Robert Ferrigno's exciting new thriller Prayers for the Assassin: A Novel. Read the transcript of Hugh Hewitt's interview with Ferrigno here.

22 February 2006

Air America, George Soros, Mike McCurry, Peter Lewis, Democracy Alliance


Soros, Lewis In Air America Election-Year Rescue

Exclusive to The Radio Equalizer
(For updates, please see our main page)

By Brian Maloney

Could this be Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo's lucky day?

As crucial midterm congressional elections approach, can America's "progressive" leaders really afford to let an ailing liberal talk radio network die?

Apparently, the answer to the first question is yes, to the second, no, the Radio Equalizer has learned.

Through an emergency bailout plan, a coalition of wealthy liberal political activists are poised to at least temporarily save Air America Radio. On the way: as much as $8 million in sorely-needed cash to fund ongoing operations.

With particular support from San Francisco and Silicon Valley multimillionaires, the group has an unusual number of contributors from outside the Beltway.

According to Human Events, the organization's key members include:

Name Function Background
Rob Stein Founder/director Former chief of staff to Clinton Commerce Secretary Ron Brown
Andrew Rappaport Founder/investor Silicon Valley investor
Simon Rosenberg Founder President, New Democrat Network
Mike McCurry Spokesman Former White House press secretary
Steven Gluckstern Chairman Retired investment banker
Ann S. Bowers Board member Founding trustee of Noyce Foundation, widow of Intel founder
Albert Yates Board member Former President, Colorado State University
Marc and Susie T. Buell Board members Mrs. Buell is founder of Esprit de Corps
Anne Bartley Board member President, Rockefeller Family Fund
Alan Patricof Donor Co-founder, Apax Partners
Bren Simon Donor Wife of Simon Property Group co-chairman Mel Simon
Chris Gabrieli Donor Boston-based venture capitalist
Rob Reiner Donor Director/actor
George Soros Donor Financier
Peter Lewis Donor Chairman, Progressive Corp.

Since the publication of this list, Soros (top-right image) and Lewis (below-left) are said to have taken more prominent roles in the Democracy Alliance, reducing support for other groups thought to be ineffective.

According to reports,
instead of donating directly to candidates, the aim of the Democracy Alliance is to support a longterm "progressive" media and foundational infrastructure. That keeps it largely outside the Federal Election Committee's reach. Definitions of designations used by advocacy groups are found here.

As a result, determining the group's sources of cash and expenditures is exceptionally difficult.

In determining how to proceed, the DA has closely studied conservative organizations such as the Heritage Foundation as well as the FOX News Channel.

After some initial fanfare, liberals have recently begun to express frustration with what they've seen as the slow pace of DA's funding plans. Even last April, Soros was cautioning liberal Democrat activists to be patient, according to The Hill:

George Soros told a carefully vetted gathering of 70 likeminded millionaires and billionaires last weekend that they must be patient if they want to realize long-term political and ideological yields from an expected massive investment in “startup” progressive think tanks.

A conservative analysis of early reporting on the DA is found at the American Thinker.

In January, the National Journal's Hotline published a piece critical of the DA's slow pace and seeming lack of focus, considering the huge amount of cash raised:

The DA's prime mover was Rob Stein, a lawyer and ex-DNC chief of staff who spent years trying to unravel the strands of the conservative movement. Stein entered his conclusions into a Power Point presentation which demonstrated so acutely the organizational deficiencies of Democrats that many of the party's top fundraisers and operatives were stunned into giving Stein's ideas a hard look.

Stein brought the presentation to meeting rooms across the country and quickly convinced dozens of big-name Democratic donors that the way to revive American liberalism would be to copy the institutional structure that conservatives built.

Hence the DA, which quickly secured $80 million or so in seed money to be spread over five years.

But many DA donors grew frustrated with the pace of the project and last year, Stein agreed to relinquish day-to-day control; Democrats familiar with the Alliance say Stein was a poor manager, better at evangelizing than motivating employeers. To replace him as CEO, the DA hired Wade.

At the last DA meeting, held in Atlanta in October, the group moved forward on its plans to raise $250K each from 1,000 individuals over five years and wrote checks to groups like the Center for American Progress and to David Brock's Media Matters. ($6M went to America Votes.)

But CAP and Media Matters (and Air America Radio) get money from other, non-DA sources too. And labor unions remain the financial engine of the Democratic Party. And the parties themselves are raising more hard money than they use to. And in 2008, prospective presidential candidates will blow through state spending limits and could raise nearly a $1 billion between them.

A fairly upbeat assessment of DA's prospects is found at the Washington Post:

Financial commitments totaling at least $80 million over the next five years generated by the Democracy Alliance in recent months -- at a time when some liberal groups, such as the George Soros-backed America Coming Together, are floundering -- suggest that the group is becoming a player in the long-term effort to reinvigorate the left.

The group has a goal of raising $200 million -- a sum that would inevitably come in part at the expense of more traditional Democratic groups, although alliance officials say donors have committed to maintaining past contribution levels.

Alliance chairman Steven Gluckstern, a retired investment banker, said that President Bush's victory over Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) last year after millions of dollars had been poured into pro-Democratic "527" groups caused many contributors to think that a dramatically new approach is needed.

For Air America, it has finally come to this: secure a bailout or begin to wind down operations. As a business entity, the liberal network just isn't cutting it.

Profit? That's a theoretical concept.

While other political organizations such as People For The American Way and new private operator GreenStone Media (founded by MoveOn.Org-supporting former radio executive Edie Hilliard) are also suddenly kicking in support by purchasing air or satellite time, DA may be the only one with deep-enough pockets to save it outright.

Given Air America's infamous ability to burn through cash, however, would $8 million allow the network to reach November? While that alone is only enough to fund operations for three to four months, combined with other revenue sources, it may be enough.

Given their past support for the "progressive" cause, is it a surprise Soros, Lewis, Reiner and others would cover Air America's expenses?

Contrary to popular sentiment, the answer is actually yes. For at least two years, Soros and Lewis haven't touched Air America with a ten-foot-pole.

While they both own units in AAR parent company Piquant LLC, that's based on very early investments. To believe they would ever again see that money, they've probably never been crazy enough.

In the wake of Air America's scandal regarding the transfer of $875,000 in taxpayer funds from the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club into its own coffers, there has until now been no indication of further Soros/Lewis support.

Removing any remaining doubt Air America (which has never been willing to comment on our investigations) is a non-commercially-viable charity case, the network will likely need additional infusions to continue operating over the long haul.

Meanwhile, the internal impact will be substantial: a whole new series of every-man-for-himself attempts to greedily secure fat pay hikes and perks. Intact will remain Air America's unbelievable inability to control expenses.

Al, it truly is your lucky day.

Welcome, National Review, GOPinion, BillO', AceOfSpades and TheAnchoress readers! Bill O'Reilly discussed this story on Wednesday's show.

Welcome Michelle Malkin readers! Please see our main page for updates.

Democratic Underground "progressives" provide their take.

UPDATE: Air America has ignored repeated requests for comment on this story made today by an entertainment industry trade publication, the Radio Equalizer has learned.

Thanks for your continued Radio Equalizer support, via Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately order! In the spotlight: Robert Ferrigno's exciting new thriller Prayers for the Assassin: A Novel. Read the transcript of Hugh Hewitt's interview with Ferrigno here.

Garofalo image: Pete at IHillary for the Radio Equalizer

21 February 2006

Ed Schultz, Fargo, Seattle, Denver, Grand Forks


Liberal Host Ed Schultz Lashes Out In AP Story

What's it take to keep a liberal talk show host happy?

For syndicated talker Ed Schultz, it might mean a move out of the town that got his career off the ground: Fargo, North Dakota.

In an AP story published in the Grand Forks Herald, "Big Eddie" comes off sounding like a real sorehead, lashing out at the local station that dared to cancel him:

Broadcasting from studios at KFGO and in Washington, D.C, he is heard on about 100 stations now, but KFGO dropped his program from its afternoon lineup last month.

"It was classless," Schultz said. "I don't deserve to be treated like that after making them millions of dollars."

Jeff Hoberg, market manager for KFGO and the rest of Clear Channel's Fargo stations, said Clear Channel has a policy of not commenting on personnel moves.

"It's 'he said' and 'she said,' and quite frankly, Ed knows all the reasons we chose to replace his national show," Hoberg said.

At the time Schultz's show was dropped, Hoberg said the political content of the show had nothing to do with the decision and that the station wanted to make a push for more local programming.

Which, by the way, is exactly what the station has done: move toward programming that discusses issues more relevant to people in Fargo-Moorhead.

Is there a political issue involved? Since Schultz began essentially as a local conservative host, it's possible his perfectly-timed (just as liberal syndication was being established) leftward move may have alienated North Dakota and Minnesota fans used to hearing a very different viewpoint.

He wasn't done whining, according to the AP:

Schultz said he is considering a move of his home base for another reason - better access to a satellite uplink.

"One of the things that has really hurt our growth in the last year is I've turned down about 50 appearances on Fox, on NBC, on all these talking-head shows because I can't get uplink capability in (Fargo)," he said.

"We've got offers from a number of markets to move the show," Schultz said. "Denver would like us. Miami would really like us. Seattle is very interested."

Schultz said it would cost about $250,000 to set up his own studio in Fargo, which is not feasible.

What Schultz isn't saying: Denver and Seattle house the studios and offices of JonesMediaAmerica. For his national syndication, it handles all of the business aspects. From either city, he could do his show for free.

How is Fargo to blame for this?

And did he really turn down 50 cable appearances? That's hard to verify. If it's that important, Jones should spring for the uplink facility.

Adding to the story's weirdness factor, some interesting personality insight:

"We may have outgrown Fargo, but I don't want to come off brash by saying that," Schultz said. "I know how that will look in print: 'Bigheaded Eddie.' That's not the case. The logistic issues of it, we may have outgrown Fargo."

So he realizes how it will look, but has the outburst anyway?

Why all the
anger, then?

Maybe Sore Eddie needs a reality check. Compared to his past life as a local host in Fargo, probably lucky to make $40,000 annually, look at him now:

--- Said to be clearing $350,000 a year, quite high considering his limited number of affiliates and audience reach, Schultz may also have Democrat Party backing (other liberal shows generally don't).

--- Eddie was lucky enough to steer clear of Air America and could very well survive its potential demise.

--- Among the glut of liberal radio talk shows, his is the closest to succeeding that "progressives" may ever see. Not a reason for bitterness.

For all of us, Big Eddie's outburst provides a lesson: rather than wasting energy on petty, unimportant gripes, sometimes it's best to step back and grasp the big picture.

Thanks for your continued Radio Equalizer support, via Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately order! In the spotlight: Robert Ferrigno's exciting new thriller Prayers for the Assassin: A Novel. Read the transcript of Hugh Hewitt's interview with Ferrigno here.

20 February 2006

Rush Limbaugh, Cincinnati, Sherrod Brown, Daryn Kagan


Media In Heaven Over Mistake

That liberals have so quickly pounced on Rush Limbaugh over a relatively minor on-air error, could it be a sign his accuracy rate is actually rather high?

Otherwise, would the mainstream media's obvious glee be quite so pronounced? After all, opponents are monitoring every broadcast, waiting in hope for moments like this.

So what was Limbaugh's Colossal Error Of The Century? He incorrectly believed Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) was black.

Stop the presses!

Dog bites man, nobody's perfect. Is this really a big story?

The end result: found to be without merit was his theory about the Democrat's US Senate electoral strategy in Ohio. A single error, is this a big deal for a guy paid to make assertions 15 hours a week?

According to the media, yes. Pouncing on this are newspapers that normally would never cover Limbaugh's political commentary. Wherever they can take a shot, in this case they're adding snide comments and irrelevant comparisons.

That Limbaugh has already admitted his mistake is noted, but doesn't seem to halt the nastiness.

Want examples? We have 'em, first from the Contra Costa (CA) Times:

RUSH MAKES ERROR OVER CANDIDATE: Brown is black in the eyes of Rush Limbaugh.

When Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett was forced out of the Democratic primary in the U.S. Senate race in Ohio, the conservative commentator criticized the New York Times for not saying that the Democrats' preferred candidate is black.

Limbaugh later found out from e-mails to his nationally syndicated radio show that the candidate, Rep. Sherrod Brown, is, in fact, white.

"Uh, Sherrod Brown's a white guy? Then I'm confusing him with somebody. OK, I'm sorry," Limbaugh said this week.

Brown is a seven-term congressman and former Ohio secretary of state who is running against GOP Sen. Mike DeWine.

"Rush Limbaugh obviously knows as much about me as the Republicans know about balancing the budget," Brown told the Chronicle-Telegram of Elyria, Ohio, for an article published Friday.

Later in his show, Limbaugh said he kept getting e-mails. "We have corrected this, and I, you know, I'm not gonna apologize because I don't think it's an insult to be black," he said.

In 2003, Limbaugh was pushed off ESPN's NFL preview show after he said quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed.

What, pray tell, does that last paragraph have to do with the price of bread? Other than as another instance of Rush talking about ethnicity, it seems irrelevant, doesn't it?

From the Cincinnati Enquirer, note the snide end comment:


Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh criticized the New York Times for its story last week that the Democratic Party pushed Paul Hackett out of the race to take on Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio. Limbaugh chided the Times for not saying the Dems dumped Hackett because they preferred a black candidate.

Actually party leaders preferred Brown to Hackett, as in Sherrod Brown, a veteran congressman from Northern Ohio. Brown also happens to be white.

Limbaugh corrected himself after his show received several e-mails from people who know a lot more about Ohio politics than he does.

Hey, Jerry Springer knows a great deal about Ohio politics, does that mean we want to listen to him?

Here's the AP story, without the anti-Rush editorial. The Kansas City Star, as well as a number of other papers, ran the version with the McNabb paragraph.

Note the Washington Post's tone:

Rushed Judgment

Color commentary just might not be Rush Limbaugh's forte. When Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett was forced out of the Democratic primary in the Senate race in Ohio last week, Limbaugh criticized the New York Times for not saying that the party's preferred candidate is black.

Limbaugh later discovered through listener e-mails to his radio show that the candidate, Rep. Sherrod Brown , is, oops, actually Caucasian.

"Uh, Sherrod Brown's a white guy? Then I'm confusing him with somebody. Okay, I'm sorry," Limbaugh admitted later.

When looking for reasons to pound Limbaugh, if this is the best they can do, I'd say he's still in good shape.

For good measure, the New York Daily News throws in a bit of Limbaugh/Kagan gossip:

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS First the bad news: I hear that right-wing radio guy Rush Limbaugh and CNN daytime anchor Daryn Kagan — who've been dating for nearly two years — are finally kaput. The good news, of course, is that the fabulous Kagan is back on the market.

With this development, perhaps Kagan will now have an easier time functioning at CNN.

Thanks for your continued Radio Equalizer support, via Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately order! In the spotlight: Robert Ferrigno's exciting new thriller Prayers for the Assassin: A Novel. Read the transcript of Hugh Hewitt's interview with Ferrigno here.

First Limbaugh picture: AP, Springer: Dave Abel, Ottawa Sun

19 February 2006

Al Franken, Dick Cheney, Eugene, New York City, Katherine Lanpher


Mean-Spirited 'Humor' Has Eugene Lefties Yukking It Up

While making cracks at Vice President Dick Cheney's expense may be routine for liberals, what about hunting accident victim Harry Whittington? As he emerges from the hospital, should mean-spirited jokes be completely off-limits?

For alleged comedian Al Franken, it seems to depend on the venue.

In Eugene, Oregon, a longtime haven for violent anarchists and other fringe extremists, his audience apparently thought this joke was hilarious, according to the Eugene Register-Guard:

What's the difference between a University of Oregon basketball player and Dick Cheney pal Harry Whittington?

One's a Duck and one forgot to.

Was this actually funny? Giving her account of Franken's live radio show performance from Lane Community College (gee Al, maybe someday you'll work your way up to a U of O venue), even the reporter felt obligated to put it in "context":

You had to be there. When liberal talk show host Al Franken took the Lane Community College stage on Friday for his three-hour live radio broadcast from Eugene, his humor had as much to do with his physical presence and the appreciative audience as it did with sheer comedic mastery.

Were Al Franken to be hit on the streets of New York City with a stray bullet and we made light of it, would it be funny? And in their coverage, could we count on anyone in the mainstream media to explain our "context", or be slammed for insensitivity?

Also from the story:

Johnny Worthen, who owns The Daily Bagel, brought his 10-year-old son Caius to the show, his son's first political event, he said. Worthen said he enjoyed Franken's skill at bringing both attention and humor to national problems and issues that often feel emotionally crushing.

Wonder if Mr. Worthen's aware of the emotionally crushing problems and issues created by Mr. Franken and his sleazy outfit? Should his son hear about that?

From hearing the truth about Air America's sleazy corporate practices, no doubt the intellectually fragile "progressive" people of Eugene must be protected.

From KVAL-13 news:

"He's the only one who's stood up to Rush Limbaugh and all those folks on the right," agrees audience member Tom Halferty of Eugene. "And with all the lies and stuff, it's good that somebody is calling it like it is."

Yes, but who will stand up to Franken and Company and call it like it is?

Speaking of Franken's show, a sympathetic piece on former co-host Katherine Lanpher has run in today's New York Times, as interesting for the omissions as what is included.

In a fairly lengthy profile, how Air America's turmoil may have led to her departure is mentioned:

But about the time she started to feel as if she might just become a real New Yorker, she faced a new quandary: Air America was floundering and Mr. Franken decided to move the show to Minnesota. Having faced down her Manhattan crisis, she wasn't quite ready to face midlife back in the Midwest. Emboldened by her book contract, and facing a looming deadline, she quit her job at Air America and started hitting the keyboard.

At the time of her departure, Air America's corporate spin indicated it was all about the book deadline. Here, however, we get a bit of the rest of the story, even if the Times didn't care to elaborate.

The Radio Equalizer has a bad feeling Lanpher, who certainly sounds like a nice person, was chewed up and spit out by a sleazy outfit.

UPDATE: Drudge reveals mainstream media outlets believe they can milk Cheney story for another week! Michelle Malkin calls it Cheney Derangement Syndrome. And Captain's Quarters puts it all into perspective.

Thanks for your continued Radio Equalizer support, via Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately order! In the spotlight: Robert Ferrigno's exciting new thriller Prayers for the Assassin: A Novel. Read the transcript of Hugh Hewitt's interview with Ferrigno here.

Franken graphic: David A Lunde for the Radio Equalizer, Franken photo: Brian Davies for the Eugene Register-Guard, Lanpher: Michael Nagle for the New York Times

17 February 2006

Liberal and Conservative Talk Radio Campaign Ties


In Several Congressional Races, Air America At Issue

UPDATED with new Minnesota coverage

To reach elective office, is talk radio really an effective stepping stone?

With a number of others diving head-first into Congressional campaigns this year, probable 2008 Minnesota US Senate candidate Al Franken apparently isn't the only one with ties to the medium. In addition, several have at least indirect connections with liberal radio network Air America.

And at the center of their fledgling 2006 candidacies, some are fighting off talk radio-related controversies.

While relatively little attention has so far been paid to these hopefuls, that should change as political silly season soon kicks off.

A scorecard:

--- In Georgia, the brother of former Air America and Clear Channel executive Jon Sinton has quietly thrown his hat into the ring for the state's Sixth Congressional District. From Clint Williams at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

U.S. Rep. Tom Price, a Republican from Roswell, has more competition for Georgia's 6th Congressional District seat.

Steve Sinton, a Democrat who lives in east Cobb County, announced late last month he is running for the office.

"We can do better," Sinton said. "Even the Republicans I talk to are not happy with Washington."

The district, redrawn last year, includes all of Cherokee County and portions of Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties. The county had been divided between the 6th Congressional District and the 7th Congressional District.

Sinton, 55, has worked in radio, appearing on the air as Steve Sutton on 96Rock and WGST. He worked with his brother, Jon Sinton, in establishing the liberal talk radio network Air America.

While running for Congress, Sinton said he is concerned about the most local of issues — traffic congestion. Many of the region's key roads are federal highways, he said, citing Ga. 400.

"We all moved here for the quality of life, and that quality of life is under assault on the Northside," Sinton said.

While Jon Sinton remains with Air America as an in-house consultant, it's unclear what role his candidate brother ever had with the network. Were it significant, would this really be a bragging point?

Interesting nepotism question not explored in the article: did Steve Sinton/Sutton's on-air Clear Channel tenure overlap with that of brother Jon?

If Steve Sinton really wants to list Air America on his resume, one hopes Democrat and Republican opponents will have a field day delving into any possible role he may have had in some of the company's sleaziest corporate actions.

--- In Michigan's Ninth Congressional District, former Chicago and Detroit-area Air America Host Nancy Skinner is not only ready for battle, but apparently unapologetic about her ties to the liberal radio outfit.

Skinner intends to bring Franken himself to Michigan for campaigning, according to Perry Simon entertainment trade publication All Access:

Former WLS-A/CHICAGO and WDTW-A/DETROIT host NANCY SKINNER tells the DETROIT NEWS that she'll be running for the Democratic nomination for the 9th Congressional District in MICHIGAN for the right to battle incumbent Republican Rep. JOE KNOLLENBERG.

SKINNER, who ran against now-Senator BARACK OBAMA for the Democratic nomination for Senator in ILLINOIS, tells the NEWS she'll bring in AIR AMERICA RADIO's AL FRANKEN and other friends to campaign for her.

--- In San Diego, Democrat Francine Busby's warm embrace of Air America for campaign purposes continues to generate controversy. Today, KSFO/San Francisco morning host Melanie Morgan (above photo) took Busby strongly to task in a WorldNetDaily Op-Ed:

Democratic candidates are flocking to the liberal radio network, despite the apparent ethical wrongdoing by Air America. What does that say about these Democrat candidates' commitments to ethical reform?

Francine Busby is a Democrat candidate to fill the vacant congressional seat that had been held by Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Cunningham was forced to resign after admitting his guilt to a number of corruption and bribery charges.

Yet despite the focus on ethics in the race, Democrat Busby has now appeared on Air America programs several times, including on Al Franken's nationally syndicated show. Busby's campaign events are also promoted on the website of Air America's San Diego radio affiliate.

With Air America's help, Busby has raised approximately $520,000 – more than any other Republican or Democrat candidate for the seat.

Which is why they stooped to the level of using taxpayer funds from charities to keep the lights on – to benefit Democrat candidates like Francine Busby.

--- On the Republican side, what seemed like a futile effort to recruit a viable candidate to take on Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) has suddenly paid dividends.

Former Massachusetts GOP Congressman and WRKO-AM talk show host Peter Blute appears poised to take on the decrepit Bay State Senator this year.

Although Kennedy has amassed a great deal of money to take on any Republican challenger, Democrats are looking surprisingly weak this year, in a state finding its electorate increasingly turning independent and non-partisan.

Over the last several years, Democrat Party voter registration has seen a significant slide. And major missteps by a once-leading Democrat gubernatorial candidate may have substantially damaged the party's image in 2006.

While Blute, who recently departed WRKO's morning show, has a minor scandal in his past, he feels it can be overcome. From the Boston Herald:

“I think people will take that for what it is. I think people realize that that was a mistake. It was a one-day mistake and I took responsibility for it,” Blute told the Herald yesterday.

The Shrewsbury Republican, who was forced out of the top Massport job just a day after his picture was taken aboard the Nauticus with a breast-baring partyer, plans to make up his mind soon about running for Senate or another post.

Blute said his record of winning five out of six elections makes him an attractive candidate.

Kennedy has vowed an aggressive campaign against any challengers, a threat he backs up with a nearly $8 million war chest.

But even a losing run would help raise Blute’s profile and Kennedy’s scandalous past from Chappaquiddick may help mute criticism of Blute’s boozy boating. In 1969, Kennedy companion, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned after Kennedy drove his car off a bridge in Chappaquiddick.

Blute wouldn’t address Kennedy’s past directly but said of his own ousting, “In the scheme of Massachusetts political issues, it doesn’t seem to be a big one.”

Why might Blute have a shot this November? For one thing, by those looking for a chance to finally take down Teddy, it's highly likely big money could be raised from around the country. In addition, younger voters just don't have the fierce Democrat loyalty that in the past made Massachusetts a one-party state.

If millions can be raised, this may finally be the year for Teddy's retirement celebration.

As the election year progresses, expect the Radio Equalizer to closely follow all of these races.

UPDATE: a new piece from Congressional Quarterly. While the state GOP believes it's a great campaign issue, a Minnesota Democrat running in the First Congressional District is also happy to have Franken's support:

Minnesota Democrat Tim Walz, who is running in the state’s 1st District, is a high school teacher and Army National Guard veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Walz this weekend will kick off his campaign against Republican Rep. Gil Gutknecht, who has usually won re-election by solid if not lopsided margins.

Walz said he expects to collect some campaign cash at a fundraiser next week with Al Franken, the outspokenly liberal comedian and radio show host who is considering a Senate bid in 2008. Walz received a $1,000 contribution from Franken’s new political action committee, Midwest Values PAC.

Mark Drake, the communications director for the Republican Party of Minnesota, said he expected Gutknecht would win re-election. He said Walz’s connection to Franken would be a “real liability” for his campaign.

Drake said Walz is becoming “the darling of the, hard-left blogger crowd and I don’t think that kind of approach is going to play real well.”

Other updates: in light of Google's recent anti-freedom actions overseas, we've for the time being removed Google AdSense from the right-hand sidebar. AdBrite is the replacement. In the switchover, some readers may have been sent to a full-page ad when attempting to visit this site. Our apologies for the glitch.

--- Fight Canadian bookstore censorship: support our friends at the Western Standard.

--- Thanks to an appearance on the Hugh Hewitt Show and a relatively poor New York Times review, Robert Ferrigno's Prayers For The Assassin rocketed up Amazon's charts yesterday, now ranked among the top 100 books. Oddly, it was well-received by the liberal Seattle Times. Friday, it reached #47. Congrats, Robert!

Thanks for your continued Radio Equalizer support, via Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately order! In the spotlight: Robert Ferrigno's exciting new thriller Prayers for the Assassin: A Novel.

Skinner photo: All Access, Blute: Boston Herald library picture, Patrick Whittemore

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