The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

23 December 2008

Air America Actually In Favor Of 'Fairness' Doctrine, Not Opposed


Liberal Network Actually Favors Radio Crackdown


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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  • " ...Programs like Rush's have made them rich, so the last thing they want is to mess with success..."

    I coundn't have said it better myself. The author should have left it at that, as this statement encompasses the issue in its entirety. Air America wasn't a good product because people didn't buy it. Plain and simple. Now go speculate the reasons for that, but it has nothing to do with the political viewpoints of the owners who just want to make a buck.

    By Blogger Jimmy the Dhimmi, at 23 December, 2008 13:48  

  • If the Dems do manage to reinstitute the FD, I'll be happy to call the local station that broadcasts Air Deadbeat programming to demand rebuttal time.

    Of course, since no one really listens to it anyhow, and the broadcast range stinks (I'm in Raleigh, and could barely get it from Chapel Hill when I worked in Durham), they probably won't mind.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 23 December, 2008 14:58  

  • The left would gladly give up Air America if they believed that they could censor right wing radio

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 23 December, 2008 15:44  

  • "Of course, since no one really listens to it anyhow, and the broadcast range stinks (I'm in Raleigh, and could barely get it from Chapel Hill when I worked in Durham), they probably won't mind."

    William, depending on where in the Communist Triangle you are in NC, I may have some kind of solution for you. One of Limbaugh's advertisers was(maybe still is) the CCRANE company. They sell radios, antennas, all kinds of stuff for radio geeks. And if you have reception troubles, an antenna may help you.

    I just got a Terk antenna to hook into my new HD radio, about $40. You can either hook it into the radio or through special circuitry, it can do it w/o wires. It also comes with a dial to sort of match the frequency of the station you might tune in--say WPTF. Kind of like an old school rotary dial we remember.

    I hook mine up, tune in any NYC or local (Stamford) station and the reception is good, to wonderful. And for the HD stations like WOR-HD, it's almost like listening to FM on AM.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 24 December, 2008 08:54  

  • " ...Programs like Rush's have made them rich, so the last thing they want is to mess with success..."

    But how is that revenue thing from Rush NOW, as opposed to the wild and crazy "Bill 'n' Monica" days?

    How is THAT working out for the corporation that actually broadcasts that program?

    If "Operation Chaos" ensured Barky's takeover of the White House, how well is Rush working out for the state of our nation today?

    The "Fairness Doctrine" cannot benefit so-called "progtalk", unless they were interested in three-minute "cross-talk" soundbites at three in the morning...if anything, it is a threat to the continuity on Christian radio, not aging hacks like Limbaugh or contrived screamers like Levin.

    "The left would gladly give up Air America if they believed that they could censor right wing radio..."

    Newsflash...the left already HAS given up AAR, and Nova M can't even pay their taxes on their own employees, so your dire predictions are about four years too late...

    With billings down around twenty-five percent, right-wing radio must change, or die.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 24 December, 2008 10:09  

  • since no one really listens to it anyhow

    wrong... in several markets Tom Hartman triples Limbaugh's audience. Cons, still living in 2001

    where AAR programming is mixed with non- AAR programming on a good signal liberal-based talk does well, and on XM-Sirius, more people listen to liberal-talk than nazi-con talk

    I listen to neither, I think for myself, and read books, conservatives should try that sometime

    Again, retards, Fairness doctrince deals with NEWS, not entertainment, talk radio is ENTERTAINMENT, NOT NEWS. How many times must this be pointed out, to the mentally handicapped idiot running this "blog"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 24 December, 2008 10:28  

  • the future of political talk is conspiracy based shows like Alex Jones or Coast-to-coast (who on overnight, has almost more listeners than the pig-man himself in many markets)

    shrieking "lib lib lib" or "Bush bush Bush"..... just will not cut it anymore

    the conspiracy shows are ENTERTAINING. Cable news shows are giving people their fill regarding lib -vs- con......

    Look at what's happening to WABC, a non-political morning show, followed by Morning Joe (not a cookie cutter "lib shrieker")

    This is the trend. Just like D.J.'s with the echo chamber (cousin Brucie) faded into the past, insanely partisan conservative talk radio and liberal talk radio (that is terrified to question the democratic party) will NO LONGER WORK

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 24 December, 2008 10:47  

  • Throw this monkey wrench into the libs' plans if the Fairness Doctrine gets passed: If some local Nova M affiliate has Randi "Kill Bush" Rhodes on in the afternoon, you contact that station and DEMAND that they put Laura Ingraham on in the morning to balance out their programming. Then watch the libs' mouths start to foam.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 25 December, 2008 00:27  

  • The idiot who tried to explain that the "Fairness Doctrine" deals with news and not entertainment illustrates the point perfectly. The libs want to censor Fox News, which is moderate-to-conservative in the entertainment (commentary programs) and straight-forward/no spin news (unlike the other 50 gazillion networks).

    As far as conservative "talk radio" is concerned, the new medium for it's evolution will be the FM Band. And it's already starting with many talk stations moving to the FM dial (such as KTLK-FM).

    Where I'm at, in the Portland market, Sports talk has moved to the FM dial already, and with CC buying up two lackluster channels, I am predicting that KEX (the 50,000 watt station) simulcasts on one of the new properties they're acquiring from CBS.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 December, 2008 00:38  

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