The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

17 December 2007

Liberal Blogs Falsely Claim Romney Takeover Of Clear Channel


"Progressives": Romney Set To Install "Neo-Con" Talkers

*** NEW: Rush Takes Heat Over Hillary Photo ***

For nearly a week, a baffling series of posts by so- called "progressive" bloggers have claimed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is set to purchase Clear Channel Communications and install his own "neo-con" regime inside its talk radio and television stations.

In fact, it is Romney's former firm, Bain Capital LLC, that is leading a leveraged buyout of Clear Channel, teamed with Thomas H Lee Partners LP. The deal has been delayed for a number of reasons, including the need to obtain regulatory approval.

At first, the headline seemed so silly, your Radio Equalizer mistook it for a spoof or prank. Days later, however, this 'Net myth has spread so far and wide across the left side of the blogosphere that it seems clear many liberals have been duped.

Worse, some may intentionally be spreading misinformation: even when commenters point out that Mitt Romney left Bain Capital before taking over the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, most "progressive" blogs have failed to retract the bogus story. Even if he remains a retired shareholder, Romney is most certainly not calling the shots at Bain.

From the beginning, it has been set in stone that Clear Channel's current management team would remain in place after the deal is finalized. Because that has never been in dispute, there is simply no way Mitt Romney could take over the company's programming, even if he did remain in an active role with Bain Capital.

So far, only the Huffington Post has run a clarification, but it merely added to the inaccuracies:

Romney's Bain Capital Buys Clear Channel Communications

What would it cost to buy the support of just about every nationally-syndicated neocon talk show host in America? About $19.5 Billion, which is what Mitt Romney's private equity firm, Bain Capital, and Thomas H. Lee Partners have agreed to pay in a leveraged buyout agreement with Clear Channel Communications, the largest radio station owner in the country.

Ed. Note -- The original story we posted on this topic inferred that Bain Capital had recently purchased Clear Channel Communications. That is not true. The transaction took place in November of 2006. The facts remain that Bain earns a share of Clear Channel's profits and that Mitt Romney, while a retired partner, still earns money from the private equity firm.

Huh? The deal was only announced in 2006, it has not yet been finalized. That makes the rest of this "editor's note" inaccurate as well. How about retracting the "Romney's Clear Channel" headline?

A trip through other dark corners of the "progressive" blogosphere reveals even less interest in coming clean with their readers. Here's a sampling:

(Firedoglake) Mitt Romney founded Bain & Co. in 1984, and today its spinoff -- Bain Capital -- is the third largest private equity firm in the country. Today they bought ClearChannel, a company that owns over 1100 radio stations and 30 TV stations.


This is why media consolidation issues are so important. One rich guy who wants to be president can buy a media empire overnight. Now of course, Romney will argue that he didn’t buy Clear Channel, his private equity company Bain Capital did. And of course, there is no conflict of interest because Romney doesn’t tell Bain Capital what to do as he’s no longer officially with the company.

Still, seeing as how Clear Channel hosts Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity and controls over 1,000 TV and radio stations nationwide, does anyone here really think Romney won’t use this newfound pedestal to promote his candidacy, however subtly?

Sounds kind of like Romney's relationship to Bain is like Dick Cheney's to Halliburton. There certainly was never any problem there.

(Blatherwatch) Romney buys clear channel

In another blow to the much-maligned, mythical liberal media- and just in time for the 2008 elections- slimy Republican billionaire Mitt Romney, who just happens to be running for president has bought himself a media empire.

Romney's VC firm, Bain Capital has bought Clear Channel, the largest U.S. radio station owner with over 1,100 full-power AM, FM, and shortwave radio stations, twelve radio channels on XM Satellite Radio, and more than 30 television stations in the United States, among other media outlets in other countries. It is also heavily invested in outdoor advertising.

A Mormon Murdoch? the very idea makes us shiver. Of course Giuliani has Fox News and Bloomberg- but we guess Romney's buying a passel of broadcasting outlets is just keeping up with the Joneses, billionaire politician style.

(My DD) Mitt Romney Buys Clear Channel

by Chris Bowers, Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 01:44:50 PM EST

Rochester Turning finds this disturbing nugget on the 2008 Presidential race:
Clearchannel just recently went up for auction. Mitt Romney's Bain Capital bought it along with Thomas H Lee Partners, but I'm not sure who owns them. The rumor on the Street was that there might be regulatory problems because the firms own positions in other media companies, but I'm not sure which ones. Article is here and Wikipedia for Bain Capital is here.

To prepare for their 2008 runs, most potential candidates stock up on staff, a Leadership PAC, and support from party leaders, advocacy organizations, and grassroots groups. Mitt Romney buys a media empire. I can't argue with what will probably be an effective strategy, but I can fear for American Democracy. Maybe Romney did this in order to match Giuliani's defacto news organization, Bloomberg. Maybe he did it to try and counter Rupert Murdoch's hold over the Bush administration via Tony Snow.

(Rochester Turning) Mitt Romney is running for president in 2008 (some consider him the frontrunner for the Republican nomination). I bet a fleet of t.v.and radio stations might come in handy. Remember — this is how Berlusconi got elected in Italy. Original post after the fold.

(the LRC Blog) Mitt Romney's VC Firm to Buy Clear Channel

Posted by Chris Brunner at December 14, 2007 10:25 AM

What would it cost to buy the support of just about every nationally syndicated neocon talk show host in America? About $19.5 billion, which is what Mitt Romney's private equity firm, Bain Capital, and Thomas H. Lee Partners have agreed to pay in a leveraged buyout agreement with Clear Channel Communications, the largest radio station owner in the country. This is part of a negotiation that has been pending for over a year.

(Money Morning) And what has the blogging community abuzz is the history behind one of the buyout partners, Bain Capital. Bain was founded by none other than GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. While Romney no longer holds a position on the board, it is believed by many sources that he still has close financial ties with the company. If the merger goes through as planned, Romney will find himself part-owner of the largest U.S. syndication network - a powerful tool for a campaigning politician.

Here, The Daily Swarm adds "Mitt Romney" to a Houston Chronicle headline that didn't contain his name:

Clear Channel and Mitt Romney's 'Bain Capital Partners' Extend $19.5B Acquisition Deadline

Clear Channel Communications Inc. and the private equity firms that plan to acquire the company extended the expiration date for their buyout agreement Wednesday as they await regulatory approval of the deal.

The $19.5 billion sale of the company to a group led by Thomas H. Lee Partners LP and Bain Capital Partners LLC has been extended until June 12. The deal had initially been expected to close by year’s end but got delayed as the buyers were forced to offer more money to win shareholder approval.

In addition, find many additional examples at the Randi Rhodes Show site, the DailyKos, Newsvine, Truthdig and Tailrank (with a tracker listing many other entries).

So how did the blogosphere's left side cook up this smear campaign? It has been difficult to determine who started it, but appears to have been triggered by the AP story about the deal's extension into 2008 as a result of regulatory delays. That gave somebody on the left the idea to insert Romney into the story and from there it spread like wildfire.

Don't hold your breath expecting a series of retractions: the tinfoil hat crowd has never met a conspiracy theory it didn't lovingly embrace.

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  • Liberals are just doing what liberals do, they lie...

    By Blogger Capitalist Infidel, at 17 December, 2007 12:35  

  • > Sounds kind of like Romney's
    > relationship to Bain is like Dick
    > Cheney's to Halliburton.


    OMG, conservative talk radio might actually be transformed into conservative talk radio, by conservatives listenting to talk radio.

    Stop the presses.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 17 December, 2007 13:36  

  • I've looked around the nutroots for retractions, funny I did not see any.

    By Blogger Real Debate, at 18 December, 2007 08:57  

  • First off, your reference to Randi's message board thread is SIX MONTHS OLD...

    Secondly, if Clear Channel has to sell off a cross-section of stations in various markets because of such a deal, wouldn't that be beneficial to radio in general? Couldn't that actually promote MORE divesting and LESS consolidation, in the final analysis?

    This whole brouhaha (and your spin on it, Brian) resemble nothing so much as yet another neocon-driven manufactured outrage...

    And THAT is exactly why Americans are wary of any more right-wing machinations and thievery.

    Progressives have shown Americans how to tune in to the finer differences.

    "I've looked around the nutroots for retractions, funny I did not see any."

    Too stupid for words.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 18 December, 2007 21:26  

  • You forgot to mention that the original story mentions Sean Hannity works for Clear Channel. I bet that comes as a surprise to his currrent employer - Citadel Communications.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 18 December, 2007 22:52  

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