The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

17 October 2007

Randi Rhodes Non-mugging Incident, Media Response


What's The Rest Of Randi's Story?

For three years, your Radio Equalizer has covered many bizarre twists and turns at the nation's most eccentric radio network, Air America. But the Randi Rhodes Bumpgate affair is by far the most peculiar.

For one thing, the way the story broke has implications that are broader than merely pondering the weak state of liberal talk radio. How did the tiny blog that relayed AAR talker Jon Elliot's on- air claims of a Rhodes mugging suddenly gain credibility? Why did so many mainstream media outlets fall into this journalistic trap without first checking for suspiciously- absent facts?

Thoughts, questions and updates on where this muddled mess now stands:

First and foremost, if Randi Rhodes does have a substance abuse problem, it's time to confront the issue head-on. Rush Limbaugh did and is a better person today for having done so. While many sites today have wondered aloud whether Rhodes is an alcoholic, rumors of a drug habit have persisted for years. If that's the case, it's time to get help.

Given that, was the mugging story a weak attempt to cover up the truth? How did Air America's Jon Elliot get the story so wrong? Was he trying to help a friend / colleague? Will he take the hit merely for passing along what he was probably told to say? Think about it: how could Elliot be so far off the mark otherwise? He's already been compelled to apologize.

Was this an abortive effort to smear the right that was quickly undone after it became clear the plan was much too half- baked? Since conservative Rhodes enemies were quickly named as the likely "attackers", was this an attempt to create a new Tawana Brawley- like opportunity out of a mere accident?

While conservatives could cut the left some slack on this question, they shouldn't. Consider the timing, coming just after recent dishonest attacks against Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. It fits perfectly: bring down Rush and Bill, prop up Randi as a martyr for the cause.

Why is her attorney making statements on her behalf if this is nothing more than a simple case of stumbling on a sidewalk or bumping into a tree? Doesn't that seem inherently defensive in nature?

Why did Air America compound its PR disaster through an initially vague and evasive approach to media inquiries? It was more reminiscent of the previous managerial regime than the current one.

Interestingly, Air America's prior owners and managers watched over Rhodes much more carefully, supplying a car and driver and other personal assistants. That seemed to go away with the network's bankruptcy and subsequent purchase by billionaire Manhattan landlord Stephen L Green.

The big question, one that is buzzing around the radio industry: was this all a big stunt? Think about it: it's the first time in ages that Air America Radio has generated real publicity. Sure, it was for all the wrong reasons, but ink is ink, right? When you're this desperate, perhaps you'll do what's necessary to remain alive. But the company's muddled, seemingly- disorganized response seems to discount this theory.

Funny enough, the blog that started it all refuses to retract its initial report, instead choosing to attack your Radio Equalizer in a subsequent post:

Oh yes, and then one final shout-out -- to conservative talk radio blogger Brian Maloney who for the first time mentioned Talking Radio in his "no-spin zone." Well, Maloney didn’t actually mention Talking Radio by name, but he did say that the Randi Rhodes mugging story was started by "a tiny blog whose author has been a frequent critic of [his] site."

Tiny! When’s the last time that your blog recorded over a thousand comments?

Hey buddy, here's the link you've always wanted, right here.

Finally, your Radio Equalizer took some flak for making Drudge the issue yesterday, rather than focusing on the real point: that liberals lie. Point taken.

Where does this bizarre mess go from here? It's clear there is much more to this story than a sidewalk accident, the cover-up and attempted smear campaign is the real, ongoing issue now. Something doesn't smell right.

FOR Boston- area talk radio updates, see our other site. New: status quo isn't working for Boston talkers.

IMAGES: classic Rhodes images from Pete at IHillary

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  • Maloney:than focusing on the real point: that liberals lie

    Hysterical, comming from the crowd that only last week lied about the Frost family. The GOP are all liars, all the time, stop projecting. What lie anyway? Elliot's wrong information? Was it intentional? That is your heresay

    Projection as usual, everything for the last 20 years out of the right has been lies, documented from their own fucking mouths. MMA lies right? Transcripts are lies? right??

    Pure projection, the right are infamous liars.

    Randi had a drug problem and talked about it on the air. Her policy on drug addicts is NOT "lock them up on an island", like the south American young boy lover Limbaugh's policy. Has Rush ever addressed his stance on addicts, after his drug problem? Did he change? Or like the fucking coward, that he is, did he dodge the issue? I bettcha he dodged it.

    everything is specualtion at this point, however if it was drinking , nobody will cosider her a hypocrite, as she shows compassion not hate. Limbaugh showed hate for substance abusers, Rhodes, compassion.

    If it is a publicicity stunt, Im done with AAR, seriously. Stooping as low as the right and Morton Downey Jr, is pathetic. Remember that one? Let's see

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 17 October, 2007 15:15  

  • First Brian wrote:

    "Finally, your Radio Equalizer took some flak for making Drudge the issue yesterday, rather than focusing on the real point: that liberals lie. Point taken."

    Then he wrote:

    "Rush Limbaugh did and is a better person today for having done so."

    Yeah...and OJ's feeling MUCH better now....


    I think I just wet myself!!!

    "Has Rush ever addressed his stance on addicts, after his drug problem? Did he change? Or like the fucking coward, that he is, did he dodge the issue? I bettcha he dodged it."

    I'm very skeptical that Limbaugh, after building a career off a lifetime of cons, ducks, weaves, and manipulations, will ever and could ever come to terms with his functional addiction and illicit personal skeletons in the closet.

    I do know, however that Brian, his crude lackeys here, and a worrisome number of Limbaugh's fans themselves have not.

    "Randi had a drug problem and talked about it on the air."

    Clearly, Brian and his shadowy benefactors have never actually listened to her program, and I would not be astonished to discover any of them had ever bothered to actually listen to any of Air America's programming at all.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 17 October, 2007 15:44  

  • T-shirt:
    Even On Drugs
    Rush Is Right

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 17 October, 2007 16:51  

  • I love how you liberals will claim it's not Elliot's fault because he was given the wrong information and be the first ones to call out Bush for Iraq based on intel that was "wrong". If you want to say the right is full of liars, let's not forget Mr. "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" who, I believe purjured himself and proved himself to be a liar in front of an entire country. The simple fact is, BOTH sides lie, neither is better than the other. If you're so incensed that you have to post on a website about how the "right" or "left" is so much better or worse than the other, then you're probably on the wrong site for your political views. Maybe try one day thinking for yourself, instead of being a sheep and letting a political party fill your brain with lies and brainwash you into believing the other party is out to get you.

    By Blogger Dave P., at 17 October, 2007 18:50  

  • Brian,

    Che Hashhole has been banned from another site. He has to come back here to spread his pollution and ignorance.

    By Blogger PCD, at 17 October, 2007 21:17  

  • Dave P
    then you're probably on the wrong site for your political views


    This a politically slanted to the far right website, we are here for balance and fact checking. Dave are you smoking something good? This is a non political blog??? Can you please pass it on over here, I want a toke

    don't you have a toddler on S-chip to pick on or something?

    By Blogger Unknown, at 17 October, 2007 22:42  

  • Hypocrisy runs rampant with both right wing and left wing radio. This is what happens when gifted communicators and the companies they work for sell out to become house organs for political parties.

    This has always been true with those on the right wing of the spectrum. Even the so-called "Libertarians" like Neal Boortz tend to reflect Republican principles and beat the drum for party causes with rare exceptions.

    There is no doubt that AAR was established from the get go to be a flack for the Democratic Party. The problem is few Democrats own radio stations or are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and major national advertisers so they had a difficult time accessing stations and advertising dollars. And the moneyed Democrats did little to help in building and sustaining AAR 1.0 as Shelly Drobny points out in his book "Road To Air America".

    Randi's a phenomenal talent, bright and highly entertaining. But she's also a Democratic Party loyalist. Rather than using her bully pulpit to get the Democratically dominated congress to do the job they were hired to do, she continues to enable, justify and spin for the failure of Pelosi and Reid to stand up to the President. This is even more so now that Green is at the helm.

    The money may finally be coming in as Wall Street is wisely currying favor with the Dems, reflected in Hillary's warchest. FEC reports show that, for the first time in decades, Wall Street campaign donations to Democrats exceed spending to Republicans by a 3 to 2 ratio. I'm sure AAR is getting a piece of that as well.

    I can't help but wonder, as the approval ratings for Congress and the President continue to plummet, if this isn't wearing on Randi? I'm sure there is much she wants to say but won't because she knows who butters the bread. Perhaps this was nothing more than an accident and the lawyers are running interference to distance their client and the party from unfounded accusations and, perhaps, to minimize intrusion into Ms. Rhodes personal issues.

    Regardless, the hysteria of radio on both sides of the issue makes me realize that this is not a left/right thing, its a Dem/Rep thing and its a meticulous balancing act to not piss off the advertisers and donors... ironically.. the same people dishing out dollars to both camps.

    God, how I miss independent voices in radio. But I guess this is the reality when no broadcasting company or network has the balls or intelligence to innovate non-traditional revenue sources in an effort to be a truly independent voice.

    By Blogger Dave Carroll, at 18 October, 2007 10:21  

  • well Dave, the FCC is looking at furthur easing radio ownership laws, beyond 8 stations in a market!! In essance if this passes Clear Channel, can own EVERY station in a market!!

    expect even more radical right wing gibberish on tyhe radio forever.

    you are correct on Randi, a great talent, makes me crack up, but definatly non-objective when it comes to the Dems, although a little more objective than most on the radical right.

    you future in radio

    12 stations in one market all broadcasting ESPN sports all the time, and the rest, RNC radio all the time.

    I can see Murdoch buying the entire AM spectrum in every market, you will have a 1984 situation, all propaganda, all the time.
    Happy now Brian? Your masters will control everything. Will you still shriek "lib media"????

    and local hosts, will no longer exist, if this passes.

    Within 2 years, Murdoch, Disney and Clear Channel will own EVERY RADIO PROPERTY, and to a lesser extent Infinity and Citadel. Murdoch is hungry for this to pass, he has been very vocal, expect FOX to own most radio stations in America.
    The future will be ESPN radio, and tons of RNC approved lies and for a little variety Radio Disney, pumped out on all the smaller frequencies, I can see all the little guys being swallowed, the rim shot stations all being swallowed too.

    How much longer will you allow this?

    Call the FCC NOW, and demand regulation on ownership, it is going to get even worse.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 18 October, 2007 10:42  

  • This radio ownership blather is humorous. Who put AAR on the most stations? All together, kids: Clear Channel, the biggest baddest broadcaster of them all. They took a chance on AAR because they wanted to try something different on their medium-sized AMs. It didn't work - no conspiracy, no politics. It was no ratings and no advertisers that sunk the AAR affiliates. Sports doesn't rate highly, but it attracts a young male demographic attractive to advertisers.

    So go easy on the conspiracy theory and look at the facts. Independent broadcasters for the most part would never take a chance on something as sketchy as AAR. Clear Channel did.

    Maybe you should go donate to Pacifica so they can adequately fund their webstream.

    By Blogger Sign Of The Times, at 18 October, 2007 12:26  

  • Sign: So go easy on the conspiracy theory and look at the facts. Independent broadcasters for the most part would never take a chance on something as sketchy as AAR. Clear Channel did.

    Maybe you should go donate to Pacifica so they can adequately fund their webstream.

    Most affiliates of AAR are small broadcasters, not Clear Channel, even in NYC, they are on a tiny station owned by a tiny company. Yes, some Clear Channel. Same goes for most of their affiliates, tiny rim shot, non-clear channel stations. This is bad for radio in general. A whole dial of radio Disney, ESPN, and RNC talk? These formats have no ratings as it is, Disney has ZERO listeners, never scored a .1 in any market ,ESPN bombs all over the country, no body is listening. RNC radio, dominated by a few hosts, the rest have ZERO listeners, Gallagher, Medved, Parshel Prager, no listenrs. essentially you will have a dial of programming that nobody wants to hear. Free market, right!!

    Yes, I donate to pacifica once in a while, I like their programming, most of it.

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 18 October, 2007 13:54  

  • Boston's WKOX and WXKS aren't the
    only Air America stations to dump
    the format for Spanish-language
    music: KOKE in Austin, TX has also
    changed over (to "Mexican music")
    according to the LiberalTalkRadio blog. And another one gone, and
    another one gone. Another one bites the dust.

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 18 October, 2007 14:10  

  • I'm a bit diappointed, Raccoon and Sign. Who really wins when only one side of any argument is the only one you hear? How is that good for radio when every talker in a given market is just a lesser degree of Rush? Would it not be healthy for the entire medium to have as diverse a format as imaginable?

    I don't know about you but I arrive at every opinion and viewpoint by looking at the whole story from a variety of resources. I want to make sure my opinions are based on fact versus some ideological wishful thinking. I don't need my opinions buttressed by sitting in a choir of the similarly devout.

    10 years ago their were about half as many talk radio stations but probably five times more hosts. Now its a small roster of national talent churning out sound alike opinion programming, putting hundreds if not thousands of local talkers out of work. And you think that's a good thing?

    I have seldom agreed with Rush but have probably listened to more of his programming over the years than his most devoted listeners. It was my job and hobby to monitor Rush, Billo and Savage so I could find the holes in their arguments and fault in their logic. It made for a much more compelling two hours of daily radio for me and assured hot phones, particularly as the station's listeners were decidely to the right of my opinion. I would never, for a second have wished for any of these three to be off the air because it provided endless content particularly when it was so easy to deconstruct their argument and posii their opinions against publicly published facts (no, not Media Matters, usually some boring government commissioned report.) It made me look brilliant and them look like idiots. Why in God's name would I want them off the air? Their middle school capacity for reason was priceless!

    I never caught a moment of Maloney's show but, judging what I've picked up here and from people who had heard him, I would most likely have disagreed with most of what he had had to say. But I would have absolutely loved to have followed him. In fact, chances are I would have touched off a very public feud, writing and talking crap about him, detailing every wrong opinion he held or point he made and encouraging my lisetners to tune into "this moron before me" and burn up his phones. My hope is that he would take those calls, dismantle my arguments, talk and write trash back and encourage his faithful to burn up my phones.

    That's called great radio, gentlemen. That's four to six hours of compelling entertainment that keeps people glued to the radio. If our hatred for each other wasn't real (as I'm sure it wouldn't. Brian may be wrong headed but he seems like a fairly decent fellow) I would give the public impression that I despised the guy.

    Sometimes I really don't get you ideologues. You seem to miss the point that one-sided radio is bland and boring regardless of the opinion. If you have the same few topics being aired hour after hour with slight variations of the same opinion, it does little to grow the format. In truth, it destorys it.

    If you've looked at the revenue figures over the last few years, radio is on a steady decline. You can blame the high tech options if you wish but the sad truth is that radio is bland, predictable and cookie cutter. That is as true for the music formats as it is for talk. Even the big league national chatters aren't generating the station revenue they used to because, quite simply the disproportionately right tilt of talk is completely out of step with the voting public.

    You right wingers should be giving serious thought to not being so celebratory when iberal talk radio fails. Even if you have to hold your nose when you do so, you should be blowing up the phones in support of any talk radio option in your market even if it is diametrically opposed to your own point of view.

    Diversity will keep the format alive. Redundancy is death.

    By Blogger Dave Carroll, at 18 October, 2007 17:09  

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