Air America Actually In Favor Of 'Fairness' Doctrine, Not Opposed
Liberal Network Actually Favors Radio Crackdown
*** NEW: NYT TROUBLES TRIGGER MEDIA EARTHQUAKE IN NEW ENGLAND ***
*** A DOG IN THE FAIRNESS DOCTRINE FIGHT ***
Over the past 24 hours, we've seen the headlines all over the Internet: "Air America: Rush Is Right On Fairness Doctrine", "Limbaugh gets support from Air America" and hundreds of variations on the theme. Could the liberal talk radio network and its conservative counterparts really be standing together in opposition to an expected crackdown on free speech under the incoming regime?
If only that were the case!
All of these reactions to Monday's Wall Street Journal Op-Ed piece by Jon Sinton seem to have missed a key point: Sinton is a former Air America exec who officially departed the network quite early on and remained only in a vague consulting capacity until 2006.
He can no more speak for the network than Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, Jerry Springer or any of the others who left Air America long ago. Because the piece doesn't make it clear that Sinton is no longer part of the network's management team, the resulting confusion seems understandable:
As the founding president of Air America Radio, I believe that for the last eight years Rush Limbaugh and his ilk have been cheerleaders for everything wrong with our economic, foreign and domestic policies. But when it comes to the Fairness Doctrine, I couldn't agree with them more. The Fairness Doctrine is an anachronistic policy that, with the abundance of choices on radio today, is entirely unnecessary.
Unfortunately, Air America's official position on the Fairness Doctrine is quite the opposite of Sinton's, primarily because its re-imposition would mean that its programming could be forced upon conservative talk stations.
As we indicated on November 6, current Air America CEO Bennett Zier actually favors the Fairness Doctrine. That's based on an October interview with Radio Ink, a trade industry publication. Too bad many now wrongly believe the opposite to be true.
Despite the confusion, Sinton does make a number of great points until jumping the shark here:
So why didn't liberal talk radio flourish as well? There are several reasons, none of which has to do with a lack of talent. Bill Maher, Al Franken, Stephanie Miller, David Bender, Janeane Garofalo, Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow all have the chops.
First, boring hosts made the occasional, unsuccessful foray (sorry, Mario Cuomo). Second, some talented lefties like Mike Malloy were cast into the abyss of right-wing talk radio where they were completely out of place. (Radio is a mood servicing drug; format purity rules.)
Finally, most broadcast owners are conservative. Programs like Rush's have made them rich, so the last thing they want is to mess with success, particularly if it entails airing opinions they don't share. Trust me, it took us years to get them to play rock 'n' roll.
Where do we begin picking apart this mess? First, when did Maher and Stewart host liberal radio talk shows? We must have missed them. The others on Sinton's list were given excellent opportunities by Clear Channel to attract audiences in major cities across America, but failed.
Second, Malloy was part of those Air America broadcast lineups in dozens of cities, but blew it by calling for violence against Dana Perino, Matt Drudge and anyone else he didn't like. At that point, he was too extreme even for their tastes and moved to NovaM, a smaller network offshoot.
Finally, the ranks of broadcast industry executives are filled with far-left sympathizers, evidenced by their political contributions, which overwhelmingly favor Democrats.
Because it could lead to opponents letting down their guard at a key time, the idea that many now wrongly believe conservatives and liberals alike are united against broadcast censorship is dangerous and must quickly be corrected.
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