The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

30 October 2004

Overlooked States May Be The Real Factor

Are you as tired as I am of hearing about Ohio, Pennsylvania and the other "must win" states for Tuesday? I'd like to hear a lot more about states the media is ignoring but are clearly in play.

New Jersey is a prime example. Everyone expects it to go to Kerry on Tuesday, yet polls have shown the race there to be close for many weeks. Who says Bush can't win it?

And how about Hawaii? Two polls in a week showing Bush ahead in the nation's most reliably Democratic state! A Bush win in Hawaii would be earth-shattering politically. I was thrilled to hear that Cheney would be visiting the state on Sunday. Very important.

I think Oregon and amazingly, Washington State, are still in play too. Polls have tightened up in both over the last couple of weeks. Bush is only 4-5 points behind in the two states. A visit and some last minute ad spending could tip the balance. But we are running out of time and many in Oregon have already voted at this point.

I never thought Kerry had a prayer in Nevada, I've lived there and it's no liberal stronghold. In Las Vegas there are traditionally a lot of Union supporters, but Kerry isn't their type of candidate. As for the newcomers, many people moving to Nevada are trying to get the hell away from California liberalism and overtaxation.

The time Bush spent in New Mexico should pay off on Tuesday. That was a state worth fighting for that could have gone either way. As for New Hampshire, if Kerry wins it will be because the Boston-area expats who fled to NH for lower taxes will have put him over the top.

Massachusetts Politics: Where The GOP Can Only Improve

While it certainly looks as though Massachusetts will return an all-Demo group to Congress once again this year, the state's GOP may be moving things in the right direction for the future. There was a concerted effort to get more credible state legislature candidates running this year, with funds and support, which should pay off on Tuesday.

One issue benefiting the Mass GOP candidates is gay marriage. Despite the high profile liberals in the state pushing the issue along with the state Supreme Court, gay marriage remains exceptionally unpopular amongst the constituencies. Demo legislators on record supporting it are hearing from angry groups of voters. It could decide some races Tuesday.

Some politicians who are facing just token opposition this year, Rep. Barney Frank as an example, are running expensive ad campaigns touting their records. Frank's are particularly shameless.

Why? If Kerry wins on Tuesday, there will be a Demo free-for-all for an open Senate seat. Watch Mass. Democrats kill each other trying to grab it if the unthinkable happens on Tuesday.

Washington State Elections: What May Go Wrong For The GOP

If George Nethercutt fails to beat Sen. Patty Murray on Tuesday, and polls show him well behind the Osama Mama, blame it on an ill-advised campaign strategy by the GOP that kept Nethercutt from going sufficiently negative against what should have been a vulnerable incumbent.

It's the same thing that may keep the R's from winning their first gubernatorial election in two decades. Dino Rossi took a soft, warm approach during the campaign that looked appealing but may end up missing the mark on Tuesday.

My guess is that some strategists in the party took too seriously some focus group, polling data or personal feeling that male candidates couldn't be seen attacking female ones. It was incorrect- Gregoire is tough as nails and Murray is an entrenched incumbent. The smart move would be to go after them.

If Gregoire loses on Tuesday it will be because she comes across as overbearing to the point of being scary. In the debates she looked like a power hungry lunatic. Rossi came across as human and likable but a little too mellow. Again, a bad GOP strategy.

Polls have Gregoire slightly ahead but I think this is the one truly close race in WA State.

As for the contest to replace GOP Rep. Jennifer Dunn on the Eastside, the latest KING 5 poll shows Sheriff Dave Reichert ahead of Democrat talk show host Dave Ross. I never believed the polls that showed Ross doing well here, he comes across as too much of a Seattle elitist, that's the last thing you want to look like outside of city limits. Reichert is popular but ran a lackluster campaign and fared poorly in some of the debates, nevertheless he should win easily on Tuesday.

Polls also show the anti-Monorail measure losing in Seattle, but I find that hard to believe. As sticker shock set in at tab renewal time and the Monorail Authority looked more and more like a bunch of flakes, recall signatures flew onto pages in front of grocery stores. People are fed up paying $500 or more to renew an annual vehicle registration for just one vehicle.

21 October 2004

New Op-Ed Piece

Think the Elitist Liberal Media Will Change? Guess Again.

By Brian Maloney

I can't help but wonder what goes through the minds of television viewers now as they channel-surf in the early evening hours. What do they think as they glimpse Dan Rather still anchoring CBS's Evening News, weeks after he and CBS producer Mary Mapes, saw their phony Bush National Guard documents story fall apart? Disbelief he is still there? Anger, frustration or outrage at the sight of Rather?

It's just one more piece of evidence, this one especially blatant, that no matter how much some of us want it to, the elitist media environment isn't about to undergo significant reform anytime soon. No matter how much public pressure, ratings losses and resultant revenue shortfalls, newsroom leftists will remain in command of day-to-day decision making. To them, personal ideology is king, and these considerations are ignored.

Sure CBS will be issuing the report of a two-person panel investigating the story and Rather himself might retire at some point in the near future. But his head most certainly wasn't immediately on a platter as a result of public outrage.

Were conservative alternatives in talk radio, magazines, Internet sites and blogs created in the belief that they could change the mainstream media, to force a greater level of fairness, or simply provide an alternative voice? If it was the former, this a hard lesson for the new media dissidents.

In the Rather case, bloggers and talk show hosts succeeded in getting the word out and it was a blog that made the initial assertion that Rather's documents were suspect.

But the CBS players in this story all remain in their positions. And it's likely to stay that way. In fact, to this point, I am only aware of one media casualty: myself, fired as a radio commentator from Seattle's KIRO-AM, a CBS affiliate, after I delivered a lengthy and severe tirade against the network and Rather for its handling of the story (the station later denied this was the reason for my termination).

The most ominous moment came when Rather's competitors backed him publicly and chastised the new era messengers. The unfortunate truth is that cracking the inner shell of the media structure is going to be much more difficult than the new media rebels have anticipated.

For leftists in journalism, newsrooms provide a sheltering, cocoon-like environment where there is safety in numbers. Despite all of the charges, often brought by these same liberals, that the corporate suits are in control of the content, in reality it's at the newsroom level where the day-to-day decisions are made.

Their concern is with pushing an agenda, not reporting facts, most certainly with defeating President Bush at all costs. It's a kamikaze mission and ratings, revenue and the public be damned. I first witnessed it as a UC-Santa Cruz student in the early nineties, where campus newspaper reporters openly professed in print, the need to use "advocacy journalism" on "moral" grounds. Then I watched as several of these students graduated and took reporting positions at various major publications around the country.

For conservatives, what simply doesn't compute is how this situation continues, even as viewership, circulation and listenership drop. Aren't the newsroom hacks concerned about their paper or station's future? The answer is partly that these people don't function with the same free-market mindset. And when things do get really bad, they try to deflect the blame somewhere else.

One big example is that of the ultra-leftist Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper. For several years, the paper's daily circulation has been in near freefall, from near the 200,000 level to today's 150,901. The more moderate Seattle Times actually gained slightly.

So how has the P-I, as it is known, responded? By remaining as defiantly liberal as ever, moving even further that way. Other leftists, in so-called "alternative" weekly papers, defended the P-I, and accused the Times of engaging in dirty tricks to hurt the paper. Still others blame the Times switch to morning publication, competing head-to-head with the P-I, but that can't account for more than a small percentage of the readership loss. Why is it so hard to admit that readers might not want to support a paper they don't find fair or balanced?

At KIRO radio, (once home to Mapes herself, working on the TV side, when the two stations were joined together), one especially liberal news editor admitted to me that he never looks at the station's ratings, even when copies are placed around the newsroom. When I asked him whether he realized that the station's move toward much more liberal news and talk programming in the last two years had severely hurt our once high ratings, it was like I was speaking a foreign language. Around the same time, I had a meeting with a lower-level manager, who wouldn't even admit to me that the station had gone in a leftward direction.

When bias does cloud a reporter's judgment, they rarely seem to face internal punishment. As The Wall Street Journal's John Fund noted recently, Mapes was involved in a highly questionable smear against the Seattle Police Department while at KIRO through a story featuring a fishy source. Fund can't find any record of Mapes having faced sanctions at the time for her actions. Who would pursue Mapes or her counterpart in any newsroom? The other liberals that work around her?

In the Rather case, his newscast viewership declined from 266,000 to 160,000 in New York City alone in the two weeks after the public became aware that the documents were fake, according to the New York Post. Nationally the story was similar. It helped to shatter an old myth: that any publicity is good in broadcasting, because it increases ratings.

Do viewers and listeners really credit programming they hate (and probably aren't watching either) in ratings diaries? They know they are essentially "voting" in a popularity contest, regardless of the instructions given to them by the ratings firms.

Beyond ratings, even significant stock price declines don't seem to get tied to political partisanship. Clear Channel, the largest American radio station owner, has seen its share price drop to near multiyear lows at the same time a number of their stations are being converted to Air America's still unproven "progressive" programming. In this case, it's a corporate-level decision, one celebrated by the newsroom hacks, who immediately stopped attacking Clear Channel as the Wal-Mart of the radio business.

While Franken alone has done well in two cities for two ratings periods, four quarters of strong Arbitron ratings are considered the industry standard for adequately gauging a radio program's success. Overall, the full Air America lineup is seeing flat ratings as compared to the previous Caribbean programming on New York City's WLIB, with all listeners aged 12 and over. Could the Air America decision be part of Clear Channel's problem as one wonders where revenues will emerge from this untested format change? Remember that while Rush Limbaugh proved his worth at the local level first, Franken & co. walked in off the street in the radio business.

The liberal media is going to do everything it can to fight reform at the newsroom level. They simply don't care about public complaints, ratings declines, revenue and share price drops, unless they are forced to change. There aren't any internal consequences for behaving the way they do. And now, for whatever reason, some corporate managers may be backing their ideology, rather than pushing for change. How proper reform would ever come about is Rather unclear.

19 October 2004


16 October 2004

Say Anything

Is there any doubt at this point that John Kerry's strategy is to make the most outlandish charges repeatedly, hoping that just enough voters will be fooled to win key states?

The scaremongering on the draft "issue" (one made up out of thin air by his campaign) reveals just how sleazy they are willing to go to win this.

Is there any chance this will backfire? Or will the trick work? Hard to tell right now.

15 October 2004

Here We Go!

Thanks to the radio listeners who suggested I start this blog to continue the work begun on my previous show. Watch for commentaries on local and national politics, the state of talk radio and more!

Brian Maloney Posted by Hello

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