The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

22 December 2005

Webb Update, WABC, Ratings News


Webb Blames World, NY Station's Bold Move, More

As predictably as claustrophobia-inducing Wal-Mart aisles just before Christmas, a liberal talk show host has refused to take responsibility for his own allegedly criminal actions.

After insurance fraud charges were filed against Mike Webb, the extremist Seattle radio host has cooked up a variety of conspiracy theories to explain away the allegations.

Were space aliens working in cahoots with the CIA and Scooter Libby to bring him down? What roles do the Teamsters and Freemasons play?

He's also the same talker who last year called for President Bush's "execution" on-air.

In addition, a liberal talk radio blogger is getting a first-hand lesson in the kind of difficulties conservatives face every day with the mainstream media. Why did one of Seattle's daily newspapers, the more leftist of the two, fail to report the story?

Welcome to our world.

Two days after Blatherwatch first broke news of the charges filed against Webb, the Seattle Times printed its version, with rival paper the Seattle Post-Intelligencer so far entirely missing in action. Sure enough, Webb keeps us all entertained with a variety of kooky conspiracy theories:

Webb, who pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the charge of filing a fraudulent claim, denied he had forged the document.

He said he believes the charge is a mistake that may have originated from a clerical or electronic error on the insurance company's part.

He also said that he and his lawyer, Bradley Marshall, are considering the possibility that somebody who "hates" his talk show may have hacked into his computer records. "We are looking into hacking. Some people will do anything to damage you," said Webb, 50.

In addition, Webb said, he's suspicious of the timing of the charge because he's involved in a dispute with Seattle police.

Webb claims he was assaulted by an officer while he and the officer both were waiting in line at a Seattle fast-food restaurant in 2004. He said police made a settlement offer to him the day before the insurance-fraud charge was filed. Seattle police spokesman Rich Pruitt declined to comment because the case hasn't been resolved.

Previously, we've written about the supposed "assault" by a Seattle police officer at Dick's Drive-In. Where in the world are the living, breathing witnesses? At the time of Webb's 2004 allegation, it held so little water that the dailies ignored it, leaving it to the credibility-challenged Seattle Weekly.

Thursday's Times piece, written by Christine Clarridge, does a good job of detailing the sequence of events and the "progressively" deeper hole Webb may be digging for himself:

According to charging papers, Webb was not at fault when he was involved in a traffic accident June 28 in Seattle. The other driver did not have insurance.

After the accident, Webb showed police a proof-of-insurance card from National Merit, a company that police say hasn't insured Webb since 2001. Webb now says he mistakenly grabbed the old card.

Court documents say Geico's records indicate Webb purchased a six-month policy online June 29, and on June 30 attempted to file a claim on the accident that left nearly $6,000 damage to his 2000 Lexus.

Geico denied the claim. But Webb insists he bought the policy at the end of May and was due coverage, court documents say.

In an interview with a Geico insurance investigator that took place in Marshall's office, Webb produced a policy-confirmation receipt that was dated May 29 and bank statements that purported to show debit payments to Geico beginning in May.

Seattle police, who investigated the incident at Geico's request, said that bank statements they received from Washington Mutual under warrant support Geico's contention that the policy was initiated at the end of June.

The first debit payment from Webb to Geico was made on June 30, court documents assert.

"I was shocked by this," Webb said. "It would take an absolute idiot to try to defraud someone like that."

That could prove to be the most accurate self-assessment anyone has made in a long time.

Also in radio today, New York's conservative talker WABC has stunned the industry with a decision to go commercial-free daily from 5-7am during the "Curtis and Kuby" show.

Saying the station had an opportunity to steal Howard Stern's now up-for-grabs audience, WABC will continue part of its morning drive program sans advertising for at least several months.

Today, morning hosts across the country collectively salivated at the notion their own stations might follow suit. Meanwhile, WABC is enjoying especially good press over the highly unexpected move.

In ratings news
, conservative Seattle talkers KVI and KTTH rebounded sharply, while CBS Radio's Air America outlet KPTK-AM stalled.

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WABC billboard: Jim Hawkins


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