The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

09 September 2008

Liberals Try To Sue Conservative Talk Radio Off The Air


When All Else Fails, Use The Courts To Silence Talk Radio

Having failed to shut down conservative talk radio through every means possible, including well- funded attack sites, smear strategies and so much more, the left has opened up a new front on its war against viewpoints they oppose. The new approach: simply sue your political foes right out of business.

In what appears to be a test case for what could become a future trend nationwide, a suit has been filed in Los Angeles against conservative talk station KRLA, which is owned by Salem Broadcasting.

In the suit, David Birke and attorney Johnny Birke argue that KRLA uses public airwaves to push Republican Party causes, an old lefty chestnut. Named in the suit are Salem, CEO Ed Atsinger and seven talk show hosts, according to the Glendale News-Press:

Radio hosts Laura Ingraham, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Miller, Mike Gallagher and Kevin James are named as defendants in the suit.

“My client saw a need to address something that has gone unquestioned for so many years,” Johnny Birke said. “He lost his interest in the public radio airwaves.”

David Birke is a longtime registered Democrat, according to the complaint.

“He’s not doing this for publicity,” Johnny Birke said. “My client’s case can be proven.”

Salem Communications’ attorney did not return calls seeking comment.

According to the complaint, “Salem Entities and Atsinger had no intention of serving the public interest, convenience and necessity. Instead, these defendants always intended to use the public airwaves to serve the interests exclusively of the GOP at the state and national level.”

The radio station, its media company and the company’s Political Action Committee have helped fund the Republican Party by raising money for its party-affiliated candidates and officials, according to the complaint.

“They [the radio station and media company] will try to portray this as an attack on free speech,” Johnny Birke said.

He said the lawsuit doesn’t go after the defendants’ right to speak freely, but questions their use of public airwaves to push the political beliefs of one party and demote another.

The complaint alleges that the radio station has never allowed a Democrat to host a show; uses call screening to “suppress” calls from Democratic supporters; and violates “campaign finance laws by providing free media for advertising, attacks on Democrats, fundraising, and promotion exclusively to GOP officials and candidates.”

Oddly enough, KRLA has in the past featured a show on the subject of lawsuit abuse.

So who are these people? There's very little information on Johnny Birke or David Birke, unless the latter is this person, who works in Hollywood. According to the story, David Birke does admit to being a Democrat.

They've refused to disclose whether they are related, for one thing, but it seems likely given the distinctive shared surname.

The obvious question: if conservative talk radio goes too far in promoting Republicans, what exactly is libtalk doing?

Have the Birkes ever heard of Air America? There's a full time affiliate in Los Angeles. What do they think it runs 24/7?

While one might be tempted to pass this off as a hopeless case, look at it this way: this form of judicial harrassment will drain resources at a time when KRLA owner Salem is already financially troubled. Its shares currently trade for less than $2 and the company seems to have wildly overpaid for a number of stations purchased in recent years.

And as much of Salem's syndicated lineup isn't terribly well-performing, a suit like this only serves to provide much-needed free publicity.

But even if they aren't successful, don't believe for a moment this isn't a test case for a wave of potential lawsuits designed to shut down conservative talk radio once and for all.

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  • i for one find the idea of suing in such a fashion spurious and ridiculous.

    you don't like the political bent of one station, don't tune into it.

    you don't like a lack of representation of your viewpoints, buy your own friggin' station.

    otherwise, shut up already.

    Hopefully the radio station/broadcaster doesn't settle this, or that will lend the lawsuit too much credibility.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 09 September, 2008 17:59  

  • What goes around comes around. If they are successful in getting this into court, then what's to stop conservative lawyers from doing the same thing to our demonstrably leftist MSM outlets?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 09 September, 2008 18:53  

  • Don't get a lawyer yet! Just tell em' that you'll see them at the deposition and file a counter-suit against them for their frivolous suit against you. Once you get a lawyer and start paying for representation then they have leverage on you to settle for just less than what your legal fees would cost you to go to court and defeat them. Without a lawyer they're much more likely to just fold up and move on. This is all an example of why we need tort reform to force a 'loser pays ALL costs'; they wouldn't DARE even try with such a law in place - a jury would never agree with them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 09 September, 2008 18:56  

  • I hope they shut these liars down.
    Slander is a crime and if proven in court, can be punished. To knowingly spread false and malicious lies about Obama is wrong. They will be shut down.
    All they have to do is tell the truth.

    By Blogger Warrior, at 09 September, 2008 19:09  

  • Warrior, then you must be doubly upset about the lies the left spreads about Palin!


    By Blogger Mike Pittman, at 09 September, 2008 20:02  

  • Just damn.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 09 September, 2008 21:03  

  • You only mentioned Air America as a liberal alternative here in LA, but that's not accurate. We also have KPFK 90.7 fm which is the very liberal Pacifica outlet here. Pacifca is an extreme left wing national media outlet, but quite frankly I find them more rational than Air America.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 09 September, 2008 21:24  

  • "If they are successful in getting this into court, then what's to stop conservative lawyers from doing the same thing to our demonstrably leftist MSM outlets?" (ent)
    I'd think NOTHING.

    In FACT many MSM outlets are so partisan Left and Liberal-Democrat that they'd appear to be in an even more precarious position.

    By Blogger JMK, at 09 September, 2008 22:30  

  • The hosts mentioned make it a point to put folks who disagree with them on the air. How else to create compelling radio?

    This suit needs to be summarily dismissed once Salem and the hosts file a response. Now way can it overcome strict scrutiny under the First Amendment, nor is is factually sustainable.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10 September, 2008 01:38  

  • Why is it ok for you right wing lunatics to shut down a liberal network? You have tried but failed miserbly. Now you're crying foul cause a Lib wants to stop you? Funny Hypocracy on your part.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10 September, 2008 10:20  

  • In the lawsuit they claim, "...has never allowed a Democrat to host a show..." If I am not mistaken, George Putnam, a Democrat, was on that radio station here in Los Angeles for years.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10 September, 2008 11:27  

  • Deever Dave, drink some coffee and wake up from your state of liberal denial, who has ever shut down a liberal network? Name one liberal network that has been shut down?

    If you mean Air America, the only two people responsible for it's failure are its lousy commentators and its audience members who never tuned in to listen.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10 September, 2008 12:51  

  • you don't like the political bent of one station, don't tune into it.

    The problem with you suggestion is that there isn't enough choice. Rush Limbaugh gets a lot of advertising inpart because he openly admits to being a shill for big business:

    "I consider myself a defender of corporate America."

    Link to Limbaugh interview:

    By Blogger Steve J., at 10 September, 2008 19:37  

  • Maybe this is the John Birke they are refering to:

    A...Democrat, Northridge attorney John Birke, also confirmed that he plans to formally announce his candidacy next week. He ran against Wright in 1996 but lost 61% to 39%.

    Or maybe this guy, has a phone number as well:


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10 September, 2008 19:47  

  • Just another example of Liberals attempting to use the courts to further their idiocy which they know won't fly with normal everyday Americans. If they can't get America to drink their Kool-Aide they'll try to shut down ALL venues of alternative viewpoints. Any Liberal who believes Ingraham, Medved, Prager etc. are another arm of the Republican Party haven't REALLY listened to talk radio. Last year when the Immigration Reform bill was being pushed hard by Democrats & Republicans Ingraham, Gallagher, & Levin to name a few ripped Republicans as well as Democrats on a daily basis until the bill was shelved. The big difference between Conservative talk radio & Liberal talk radio is Liberal talk radio IS NOT critical of Democrats. So all you hypocritical Liberals screaming for the shutting down of views opposite yours' remember, what comes around goes around. One day you may find YOUR views shut down as well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10 September, 2008 20:03  

  • Disagreeing callers are usually front of the lin.e "Supressed"? As if.

    Medved for one seems to have some masochistic bent where he needs to feel berated and insulted at least once a day. Ranters get carried over across breaks.

    So Birke is just a fascist and a slef-righteous 'freedom for me but not for you' leftie. But I repeat myself.

    Let's hope the judge tosses the suit. It's an abuse of the judicial system and I hope Birke is disbarred.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11 September, 2008 19:05  

  • Here we see the hypocrisy and fascism of liberals.

    Free speech is only for them. They can spread hatred all they want, like Rhodes saying Palin was a pedophile.

    But try to get the truth out about them and their fascist attempts to take over all media, and they'll shut you down.

    Want more examples?
    Read Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism. Obama's in it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 14 September, 2008 17:09  

  • Di you know what would happen if Obama finally spoke the truth? Obama is a liar and a thief. He is stealing my hard earned money and giving it to the lazy asses of the world. Obama can suck me off. He isnt my president.

    By Blogger Michael Guttman, at 12 February, 2009 19:26  

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