The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

28 February 2009

Left-Wing Unions Begin Anti-Rush TV Ads


Could Anti-Limbaugh Ads Have Unintended Consequences?

Could a new series of union-sponsored anti-Rush Limbaugh ads provide a further boost to the talk titan's already-considerable audience base? With a new campaign set to begin shortly, that's the unintended outcome that has even one prominent leftist worried.

Call it the El Rushbo Ratings Stimulus Act of 2009.

Funded by dues-paying members of AFSCME, the far-left public sector union, the new TV ad claims Republicans take orders directly from the talk titan himself. Though it's hard to tell what its backers hope to achieve from this, the spot faults the GOP for daring to oppose the Dem-sponsored, pork-laden "stimulus" legislation.

From CBS News:

The commercial begins with a shot of a foreclosure sign juxtaposed with a still of President Obama signing a bill (presumably the stimulus act).

"An economy in crisis, a president determined to act," the narrator intones. "But what did Republican leaders say to President Obama's jobs and recovery plan?"

The ad soon cuts to a series of Republican congressional leaders saying "no," before the narrator asks rhetorically, "So who are Republican leaders listening to?"

Footage of Limbaugh flashes across the screen.

"I want him to fail," he says.

The commercial closes with the narrator urging viewers, "Tell them America won't take no for an answer anymore."

Limbaugh has long been a source of liberal animus, but there has been something of a resurgence in disdain for the talk show host in progressive circles lately. This is not the first time he has appeared in television advertisements that accuse the GOP of standing in the way of economic recovery: The same two groups released radio commercials during the debate over the stimulus bill that urged Republican senators not to listen to Limbaugh and oppose the legislation.

Here's the ad:

On Friday's show, Limbaugh seemed positively giddy to once again be targeted by far-left special interest groups. Here's part of his reaction:

RUSH: Bush Derangement Syndrome is now Rush Derangement Syndrome, and they are deranged. They need demons. They need a demon to get everybody's attention focused away from what they are doing. Liberalism cannot flourish in the free market. Liberal talk shows demonstrate this. Liberalism cannot...

"Now, Rush what about television and...?" I wouldn't call it a free market. Those people can force-feed whatever they want, and if they have a monopoly, for example, on television -- which they don't, the monopoly is gone, but liberalism doesn't flourish in the free market.

Liberals do not even argue. Liberalism, as Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week, set up straw men. It's like Obama and his speech. (doing Obama impression) "And to those who say, we must do nothing..." Rove is saying, "Who says do nothing? There's nobody saying we should do nothing," and he used about ten or 12 of these straw dog arguments during the campaign. He claims to the brain-dead, IQ-less minions watching him that there are all these mean, rotten SOBs trying to stop him from making this utopia; and he characterizes them.

"These people who say we should do nothing. These people who say X..." There are no people saying what he's claiming are being said, but it doesn't matter because the people watching him think there are people saying so 'cause The Messiah just said there were.

According to Scott Whitlock at NewsBusters, former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown, an entrenched society liberal, believes the ad may backfire, serving only to promote Limbaugh's show:

Former Vanity Fair and New Yorker editor Tina Brown appeared on Friday's "Morning Joe" to lament that a new liberal ad featuring Rush Limbaugh would only elevate the status of the "blow-hard bullfrog" conservative host. The liberal group Americans United for Change has a spot running that slams Republicans as a party of no and features a clip of Limbaugh's now famous comment that he wants Obama's liberal policies to fail.

After "Morning Joe" co-host Willie Geist played the ad, Brown asserted of the commercial, "I adore the 'party of no.' I think it is wonderful." She then complained,

"The only thing I do regret though is that this giant, you know, blow-hard bullfrog, you know, Rush Limbaugh is being turned into this big icon."

In response, Limbaugh notes that he became a cultural icon years ago, a point that is probably not in dispute from either side of the political fence.

But Brown's certainly on to something: this ad campaign could well pique the curiosity of non-listeners, causing them to tune in to Rush's show to find out what all of the fuss is about.

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26 February 2009

Libtalker Laughs As Wife Slurs Bobby Jindal


Caught On Tape: Libtalk's Racist Anti-Jindal 'Humor'


Continuing an alarming recent pattern of utilizing racism and overt bigotry to neutralize political opponents, two syndicated liberal radio personalities have been caught on tape disparaging Governor Bobby Jindal.

This time, the culprits are libtalker Mike Malloy and producer / wife Kathy Bay Malloy. During Wednesday's show, Kathy used a mocking impersonation of an East Indian to ridicule the Louisiana governor.

First, the transcript, followed by our exclusive, caught-on-tape clip of the incident:

KATHY BAY MALLOY (50:34) in mocking East Indian voice: Hello, my name is Bobby, how may I give you excellent customer service today, I hear you are having problems with hard drive. I am so very sorry this is happening to you, ma'am (Mike Malloy laughs throughout)

MIKE MALLOY (50:49) (Laughing): You're getting a bit racist in your middle years, aren't you?

And here's our clip:

Were this an isolated incident, it would still be disturbing, but combined with a peculiar pattern of liberal and Democratic Party racism aimed at East Asians, it calls into question their supposed "tolerance" of others.

In the past, Democrats Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton have also ridiculed Asian immigrants, particularly those from India.

In fact, in recent days, other liberals have been caught using racism to disparage the GOP's rising star. Early Wednesday, for example, longtime liberal stalwart Helen Thomas of the White House Press Corps made an unfortunate "Slumdog Millionaire" reference.

MSNBC wacko Chris Matthews also carelessly used the word "outsourcing" to describe Jindal's selection to deliver the Republican response, an obvious reference to the use of Indian labor by American corporations.

In addition, Washington Post columnist Amy Argetsinger was caught comparing Jindal's eyes to that of Charles Manson, which if not racist is certainly a slimy personal attack.

Now that they've elected Barack Obama, white liberals apparently believe they've been immunized against future criticism, even when they resort to racism to attack opponents. But the very people who routinely make the same charges against conservatives are mistaken if they believe we won't hold them accountable for their bigoted and hypocritical antics.

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25 February 2009

Talk Radio, Blogs Assess Governor Jindal's Performance


Conservatives Assess Louisiana Governor's Prospects


A gifted young Republican governor touted by Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk hosts made his debut on the national stage Tuesday evening, giving many viewers their first chance to assess his future political potential.

Delivering the Republican Response to Barack Obama's speech, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, 37, introduced himself and his reconfigured party to Americans for the first time. In many ways, it was the more important performance of the two, given the unbearable overexposure of the former and relative obscurity of the latter.

So far, conservative websites have given Jindal mixed reviews, but focus group participants interviewed by Fox News were far more positive, as were commenters at Jindal's Facebook page. True to form, many Obama-supporting cable and network news pundits were harshly critical.

At her site, Michelle Malkin called Jindal's task a "can't win" situation.

Much of the news coverage so far mentions Limbaugh's ongoing support. In today's Washington Post, for example, Michael Gerson describes Jindal's standing this way:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal -- who delivered the Republicans' Fat Tuesday response to President Obama -- might be voted the man least likely to let the good times roll. Slight, earnest, deeply religious and supremely wonkish, Jindal resembles neither his flamboyant predecessors as governor nor his reveling, 30-something contemporaries on Bourbon Street. Somehow the hall-monitoring, library-inhabiting, science-fair-winning class president has seized control of the Big Easy. And his coup has been an inspiration to policy geeks everywhere.

At a recent meeting of conservative activists, Jindal had little to say about his traditional social views or compelling personal story. Instead, he uncorked a fluent, substantive rush of policy proposals and achievements, covering workforce development, biodiesel refineries, quality assurance centers, digital media, Medicare parts C and D, and state waivers to the CMS (whatever that is).

Some have compared Jindal to Obama, but the new president has always been more attracted to platitudes than to policy. Rush Limbaugh has anointed Jindal "the next Ronald Reagan." But Reagan enjoyed painting on a large ideological canvas. In person, Jindal's manner more closely resembles another recent president: Bill Clinton. Like Clinton (a fellow Rhodes scholar), Jindal has the ability to overwhelm any topic with facts and thoughtful arguments -- displaying a mastery of detail that encourages confidence. Both speak of complex policy issues with the world-changing intensity of a late-night dorm room discussion.

And al-Reuters reporter Thomas Ferraro delivered this assessment:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a rising star of the Republican party, on Tuesday said the answer to America's problems lay in its citizens and not in big government.

Jindal, often cited as a possible Republican presidential hopeful in 2012, gave the party's rebuttal to a speech by President Barack Obama to a joint session of Congress and accused the Democrat of spreading doom, gloom and big-spending policies that will fuel recessionary fires.

"Our troubles are real, to be sure. But don't let anyone tell you that we cannot recover -- or that America's best days are behind her," Jindal said.

"The strength of America is not found in our government. It is found in the compassionate hearts and enterprising spirits of our citizens," he said.

"The way to lead is by empowering you - the American people. Because we believe that Americans can do anything."

Jindal, 37, often draws comparisons to the 47-year old Obama. The son of Indian immigrants, Jindal is viewed as young, bright and charismatic -- someone who could reinvigorate the Republican party and make it more attractive to minorities, who voted overwhelmingly Democratic in last year's election.

Conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, one of the most influential Republicans, has likened Jindal to former president Ronald Reagan, a party hero who exhorted Americans to "believe in ourselves."

At NewsBusters, Noel Sheppard notes MSNBC host Keith Olbermann's inappropriate outburst as Jindal took to the microphone. Here's the clip:

Your Radio Equalizer believes Jindal did just fine once he became a bit more comfortable with the camera. While this was his first real national exposure, Barack Obama has had plenty of time to polish his stage act. No one should have expected their oratory skills to match up.

But what America needs is real policy-based leadership, not just a guy who can deliver a great speech. Jindal's "wonkish" strength on the issues (as opposed to Obama's vague, mindless platitudes) makes him a prime contender for 2012. That gives him plenty of time to upgrade his campaigning skills.

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24 February 2009

'Morning Joe' Claims He's Still Conservative


MSNBC's Scarborough Believes He Hasn't Sold Out

To the long
list of talents associated with "Morning Joe" Scarborough, add "comedian". That's because his latest assertion, that he hasn't shifted away from conservatism, has us in stitches here at EQ HQ.

As it's no secret that the price of admission at MSNBC is one's eternal soul, does Joe really believe we're that foolish? Using the Huffington Post and Florida-based media to make his case, Scarborough wants to convince us his views have actually remained remarkably consistent over the years.

This July 2008 Radio Equalizer post, however, links to many of the ideological flaps and oddities of the past several years that have had many scratching their heads. Where does he truly stand?

Among his greatest hits: being duped by Howard Stern's Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonator in 2005.

From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:

Scarborough said his goal is still to be the conservative voice he has always been, but he works hard not to be mean about it like some other conservative radio personalities. He said he can disagree with Democrats or Republicans, but it doesn’t mean he’s not respecting the otherside.

“There is no reason to be nasty,” Scarborough said. “We can have civil conversation.”

He admits the criticisms he gets from the right and the left probably bother him too much. He recently poured out his thoughts in a blog on, a site Scarborough is routinely blasted on. He said he knows conservatives like Sean Hannity have taken shots at him. He said he’s learning that if it’s coming from both ends, maybe he’s doing his job.

Would Joe care to be specific regarding those "mean" conservative personalities? How about naming names? Here's a wild guess: they are the successful right-leaning hosts with an audience Scarborough could only dream of attaining.

Funny enough, the paper's concern seems to be that he may be drifting back to the right. They might care to take a look at our November 2008 coverage of his new radio gig, where industry insiders wondered how Joe would balance MSNBC's liberal environment with WABC's conservative audience within the course of a single day.

And in December, we also reported on negative early reaction to the radio program, which hasn't changed much since then.

Using the left-wing
Huffington Post to make his case, Scarborough ends up muddling the issue even more, especially when throwing this seemingly irrelevant incident into the mix:

And then last week, my co-host held our producer's baby on her lap. Mika did it for a very complicated reason. She loves babies and when she saw little Andrew in the studio, she grabbed him. Our floor manager counted her in and the camera light turned on before she could return the baby to his father. Because we are very relaxed on set, Mika rolled with it and interviewed Senator Jim Webb with the baby on her lap. It was great TV and that relaxed atmosphere is what many believe makes our show work.

But that harmless little segment was greeted with more vitriolic emails bashing Mika, the baby and me. For some reason, that rage was unfocused and uncontrollable.

I wish I could say I was surprised. But I told Mika and the child's parents that it was par for the course.

And then, yesterday, I was emailed Bob Cesca's post that compared me to infamous red-baiter Joseph McCarthy, a man described by Time magazine as one of the most evil of the 20th Century.

In other words, mean people are picking on poor lil' Joe and it just isn't fair, is it? What Scarborough clearly hasn't learned is that jumping all over the ideological spectrum confusingly from one minute to the next with no real rhyme or reason is a recipe for alienating absolutely everybody.

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20 February 2009

Video Clip Doctored To Smear Talker John Gibson


HuffPo Hits Fox's Gibson With Edited Clip


In what may be the sleaziest attempt to smear a conservative since "phony solidiers", the liberal Huffington Post website is in hot water today after posting a clip of Fox's John Gibson later found to have been doctored.

Though it has since retracted the story, our HuffPo friends have tried to blame another site, TVNewser, for the mess rather than take direct responsibility. Faced with the fakery, some deranged commenters have decided to take cheap shots at FOX nonetheless, according to The Jawa Report.

From the original, inaccurate HuffPo story:

At the end of a long and pointless conversation between two Fox News reporters covering a zoo escape, John Gibson compared Attorney General Eric Holder to a monkey.

A monkey escaped from the Woodland park Zoo in Seattle and despite the fact that authorities are "taking this very seriously," Julie Banderas and Harris Faulkner were not, cracking jokes about the monkeys' bright blue scrotum.

At 2:48, they toss to John Gibson who complains that he can't get away with saying "bright blue scrotum" on the radio then follows that up by saying, "We were talking about Eric Holder today on the radio and his bright blue scrotum."

According to Kerry Picket at NewsBusters, here is what was really said:

JULIE BANDERAS: Alright, I'm going to go up to Trace standing by with John Gibson. Take it away Trace.

GALLAGHER: She just gave it to us. Julie, We were just talking about about the bright blue scrotum that we heard twice up here, and even the radio..John's like saying, 'I can't even say that on the radio for crying out loud'...bright blue scrotum...a monkey on the loose.

GIBSON: We're talking about talking about Eric Holder today on the radio and his comment that this is a...

AUDIO DROP: Nation of cowards.

GIBSON: Nation of cowards.

Posting his findings hours before other sites, it appears cable news blogger Johnny Dollar was the first to uncover the deception. In an update posted at his site, Dollar points out that some left-wing smear sites, DailyKos included, have yet to post a retraction.

Here's Johnny's unadulterated video of the actual broadcast:

In fact, as of 13:28,
Kos is still running this version:

FOX News/John Gibson suggests Eric Holder is a monkey (really!)

by David J
Thu Feb 19, 2009 at 04:33:39 PM PST

Well, here we go. Apparently we're going to need federal legislation to prohibit conservatives from even discussing monkeys, using the word "monkey" or any such thing because for the 2nd day in a row we have a conservative, this times the horrible John Gibson of FOX News, putting his foot into his mouth and down his throat with a comment suggesting that a notable African American is a monkey.

Essentially, here's what happens. The anchor/reporter are talking about a monkey that has escaped from a zoo in Seattle. The anchor then shows viewers her desktop "screensaver" (actually desktop background) that has a monkey, which, when angry, has a "bright blue scrotum." (Attention, "bright blue scrotum," please pick up the white courtesy phone marked "next internet meme.") She says "bright blue scrotum" a bunch of times, and this is funny.

She then throws it to John Gibson, who says, and this is a quote, "We were talking about Eric Holder today on the radio, and his bright blue scrotum."


Please tell me there's an alternate explanation that my overly sensitive liberal brain is not grasping. Please.

At TVNewser, Gibson himself has spoken out regarding the smear campaign:

The Huffington Post, in its zeal to slime me, went over the line and posted a phony, fabricated quote, attributed it to me, and which actually constitutes a lie, and a slander. The Huffington Post plays fast and loose on a regular basis, but this time it was caught in an out and out fabricated falsehood.

How many left-wing smear sites will "forget" to apologize for their participation in this deception? Let's hold them accountable.

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19 February 2009

Obama Appears To Circumvent Rush Limbaugh's Op-Ed


Obamists Launch Preemptive Strike Against Limbaugh Essay


Clearly hoping to take the wind out of his sails, Barack Obama has launched an apparent preemptive strike against an upcoming Wall Street Journal Fairness Doctrine Op-Ed written by Rush Limbaugh.

Just ahead of its publication, expected Friday, Obama has made his first and only direct, emphatic denial of any desire to push for government regulation over talk radio's content.

Though we'd like to believe his administration values free speech in broadcasting, it's far more likely to represent the same mind games we've encountered from Democrats for over a year on the subject. Just as there is more than one way to skin a cat, the Obamists are certain to find a less direct, back-door approach to the suppression of dissent that avoids inflaming his critics.

First, from Fox News:

President Obama opposes any move to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine, a spokesman told Wednesday.

The statement is the first definitive stance the administration has taken since an aide told an industry publication last summer that Obama opposes the doctrine -- a long-abolished policy that would require broadcasters to provide opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.

"As the president stated during the campaign, he does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated," White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said.

That was after both senior adviser David Axelrod and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs left open the door on whether Obama would support reinstating the doctrine.

"I'm going to leave that issue to Julius Genachowski, our new head of the FCC ... and the president to discuss. So I don't have an answer for you now," Axelrod told FOX News Sunday over the weekend.

The debate over the so-called Fairness Doctrine has heated up in recent days as prominent Democratic senators have called for the policies to be reinstated. Conservative talk show hosts, who see the doctrine as an attempt to impose liberal viewpoints on their shows, largely oppose any move to bring it back.

After an extended period of silence on the subject, Obama's sudden willingness to address the issue directly didn't escape Limbaugh's attention. From Wednesday's show:

RUSH: I wouldn't read anything into this. Of course they're not going to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. They're going to call it something else. They're going to use a series of contrivances. They will use ownership restriction, ownership rules. They will use local content rules. The Wall Street Journal, two days ago, asked me for an op-ed on this. I submitted the op-ed this morning. It is an open letter to President Obama asking for clarity and definitive answer on -- on censorship of the media. Now, I'm wondering. I am just wondering if somebody along the line did not leak my op-ed and the White House heard of it coming and they want to preempt its publication." I'm going to...

At the next break, I'm going to fire off a note to the people at the Journal, because there is an expiration date on every Obama statement. He can say today he doesn't believe in it but then something of an emergency will come up in another day or two, in a week, and force him to change his mind. Now, the FCC, he's got a lot of people working on this. ACORN is gearing up to enforce the same type of restrictions on broadcasting that the Fairness Doctrine would require. They're not going to call it that. They are going to go for it.

As I've told you, I'm reluctant to talk about this, because I don't want to sound like a victim. I don't want to sound like, "They're coming after me! They're coming after me! (crying)" but they're going after any area there is dissent. They're even going after the Internet. The Obama administration people are talking about the unfairness and the imbalance and the lack of a "filter" on the Internet.

It's not just talk radio. They're not going after cable TV; they're not going after NPR; they're not going after broadcast TV; they're not going after newspapers or magazines. They are focusing on talk radio. The very idea that he says he opposes the Fairness Doctrine? But he doesn't oppose the results of the Fairness Doctrine. He is in full-fledged support of what would happen if the Fairness Doctrine were ever re-implemented. But I just have to ask myself -- and I spent a lot of time on this op-ed and the publication date scheduled for tomorrow.

And outta nowhere, out of nowhere, on Fox, some spokesman says Obama's not even considering it? Why now? I mean that didn't come up at the housing meeting today. It didn't come up in Denver yesterday. It hasn't come up on Air Force One.

Where did it come up from? I didn't tell anyone. I mean, I told, you know, a couple friends that I was going to write this thing. It's fascinating stuff going out there.

The intrigue, ladies and gentlemen.

At Human Events, Connie Hair has details of ACORN's push for talk radio censorship:

ACORN’s own website proudly displays their intent:

II. Make the mainstream media accessible and accountable to low- and moderate-income people.

A. Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting, so that grass roots community groups have equal time to express their views.

B. Require cable TV companies to make good on their promises to allow community groups access to air time, or revoke their operating licenses.

Membership on the local board is a key to the ACORN’s plan: activists on state and local boards can give their national agenda support that can’t be obtained elsewhere. “Diversity” and “underserved communities” are their mantra. The plan is for the boards to control the content of stations with their ability to make licensing renewal recommendations to the FCC. We all know how intolerant the left is of any ideas other than their own -- just look how any conservative speaker is treated by the left when they speak at any college campus around the country today.

I asked House minority leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) about this open secret called “localism” yesterday. He told me, “‘Localism is quickly becoming code for the efforts of liberals to limit free speech and dissent. The American people do not believe the federal government should be in the business of dictating or restricting what’s on the public airwaves, and Republicans will fight any and every effort to stifle free speech.”

As we noted just over a week ago, Democrats are clearly trying to have it both ways on this issue:

At the same time, however, the left is engaged in a game of doublespeak, as they repeatedly attack conservatives for "making up" the controversy. It will never happen, they claim, so why are those on the right so worked up about it?

Though they claim Obama himself is against the forced elimination of conservative talk radio, we don't have him on the record saying that directly. Instead, a spokesperson made that claim on one occasion during last year's campaign. Since taking office, the question has been ducked during press conferences.

While Obama's "opposition" to talk radio censorship clearly isn't fooling anyone, it will be up to those who value a free press and vibrant public discourse to monitor the FCC's future proceedings. Like the fine print buried inside hundreds of pages of the Porkulus bill, the crackdown will likely be hidden inside otherwise-mundane agency business.

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17 February 2009

Libtalk Network NovaM To Shut Down


Report: Co-founder Sheldon Drobny Attempts Suicide




Libtalk network Nova M Radio has been shut down, according to the attorney for Randi Rhodes, Robert V Gaulin of New York. This also brings Mike Malloy's syndicated program to an abrupt end as well, at least for now (update below: Malloy's camp is denying this will affect his show, All Access reports a new firm may assume this role).

Moments ago, Gaulin sent this letter to your Radio Equalizer:

Randi Rhodes’ on-air home for less than a year will shut its doors. In an email message of February 17th from counsel for Nova M Radio, Inc. to Randi’s entertainment attorney, Robert V. Gaulin, the company is said to have been advised to file for bankruptcy protection next week. All payroll deposits were reversed on Tuesday, leaving Nova’s employees unpaid for the past two weeks.

On Sunday, Nova received a letter from Mr. Gaulin asserting that the contract with Ms. Rhodes was terminated due to material breaches and other reasons. Ms. Rhodes had not broadcast for over a week prior to this time, a situation which was diplomatically referred to as a “problem” that was solely within Nova’s control to solve. A few days earlier, Sheldon Drobny, founder of Nova M, and a co-founder of Air America Radio, attempted suicide and is hospitalized in Chicago.

Mr. Gaulin indicated on Randi’s behalf that “We saw this coming, but are most saddened by the tragic news regarding Sheldon Drobny. Randi is devastated by the impact of these events upon her fiercely loyal audience, affiliates and sponsors.
Discussions are already being conducted for Randi’s swift return to the air. Stay tuned…”

Thank you

Robert V. Gaulin

Beyond Nova M, Anita and Sheldon Drobny are well-known Democratic Party fundraisers inside Chicago's machine politics. Before this venture, they founded Air America Radio and had since hired away two of its former hosts, Rhodes and Malloy.

In 2006, they attempted to retake Air America Radio after it went bankrupt, but were thwarted by other bidders. From that point, they focused on building NovaM, embarking on a tour to generate funds to purchase stations in a number of cities. Sheldon then became a vocal critic of Air America.

In 2005, Michelle Malkin and your Radio Equalizer teamed up for a series of investigative pieces on Air America Radio and its financial scandal tied to funds illegally diverted from an inner-city charity.

In addition, we collaborated on special reports regarding the Drobnys and their post-AAR ventures.

It's not clear whether any of NovaM's programs will continue to broadcast. Rhodes has already been away for well over a week and her website has been completely shut down.

An as-yet unsuccessful attempt has been made to contact Anita Drobny for comment.

We wish Mr Drobny a speedy recovery.

UPDATE: Mike Malloy's producer - wife has issued a strong denial of indications it will affect his program:

"This also brings Mike Malloy's syndicated program to an abrupt end as well, at least for now."

Kathy Malloy here. Randi Rhodes' lawyers have no information about our broadcast status. Our program is most definitely NOT coming to an abrupt end, now or in the future. This is completely untrue. We have intact and continuing affiliate relationships that may be harmed by this lie on your website. I strongly suggest you remove it now.

Kathy Bay Malloy
Executive Producer
The Mike Malloy Show

But how will the show continue in Nova M's absence? We're awaiting an answer to this question.

UPDATE: Anita Drobny has responded to our email:

brian...shelly suffered a nervous breakdown...we tried as hard as we could to bring another voice to our nation...i guess we far as randi goes, we couldn't meet one of her contract issues....i wish her well and hope for all of us to overcome this horrible economy we are faced with....thanks anita

In a follow-up,
Drobny confirms that Malloy has found a way to continue broadcasting. Meanwhile, Rhodes flagship WJNO in West Palm Beach has temporarily substituted Sean Hannity's program in the afternoon slot due to the absence of her program.

Stand by for updates on this breaking news story.

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12 February 2009

Media Turmoil Hits Liberal Talk Radio Hard


How The 'Fairness Doctrine' Provides An Instant Bailout

*** NEW: Another Boston Talk Host Arrested ***

If you're wondering why so many Democrats have suddenly jumped aboard the Censorship Doctrine bandwagon, with Bill Clinton as the latest example, it might be tempting to believe it's merely a result of one-party rule in Washington.

There's a second, more pressing reason, however: the distressed state of liberal talk radio in 2009. These guys need a bailout, quickly, with the Fairness Doctrine providing an easy way to accomplish that through forced carriage on successful conservative stations.

For anyone in the media business these days, times are tough. With advertising revenues off by as much as 40% or more at some outlets, survival is the name of the game. Newspapers are dying, networks are forced into mass cost-cutting, and FM music formats face a desertion by younger, iPod-happy listeners.

But the news-talk format is in an entirely different position: while certainly not immune to radio's corporate financial difficulties, its fortunes are split between resurgent conservative talk (thanks to Obama) and its still-fledgling, deeply-troubled liberal offshoot.

Even before the economy melted down, libtalk struggled to attract a significant amount of advertising. Just imagine trying to convince sponsors to come aboard now!

Rumors of its financial shortcomings are certainly not new and Air America Radio previously declared bankruptcy, later emerging under new ownership and management. But the latest rumblings, all developing over the past few weeks, involve several players in the field and seem especially troubling for the format's future.

Some of libtalk's key concerns:

The sudden absence of syndicated talker Randi Rhodes, blamed on "technical difficulties", but more likely the result of a contract dispute. Her program continues for now with fill-in hosts in her place. Her own fans don't believe the network's official excuse.

Rumors that Rhodes may lose her national deal and be relegated to a local show covering only her home turf in West Palm Beach. She's been one of libtalk's highest-profile hosts for several years, so this would be significant.

Her current employer, NovaM Radio, an offshoot of Air America Radio, is caught up in a lawsuit filed by one of its former executives, John Manzo, who has longtime ties to Rhodes. Industry whisperers claim the company is having financial difficulties, which might shed light on these issues if proven to be the case.

Other NovaM hosts have resorted to extreme statements, including calling for the death of political opponents, in a desperate bid for publicity.

Rachel Maddow, the closest thing Air America Radio has to a "star" these days, has given up her radio show. The network now runs an audio-only rerun of her MSNBC cable show at 5am weekdays.

Thom Hartmann, the Oregon-based host who replaced Al Franken upon the latter's departure to run for a Minnesota Senate seat, is leaving Air America for another syndicator at the end of the month. This is a risky move that suggests he anticipates a need to depart his current employer for more stable surroundings elsewhere.

The expected bankruptcy of XM Sirius could have a tremendous impact on Air America if it affects the satellite radio provider's programming offerings. XM Sirius has provided a lifeline for the network as land-based affiliates drop its ratings-challenged shows.

So if you're wondering why a steady parade of elected Democrats, led by libtalker Bill Press and others, are suddenly pushing so hard for talk radio censorship, look no further than their own sorry state of affairs.

FOR New England regional talk radio updates, see our other site.

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10 February 2009

Dems Push, Yet Deny Radio Censorship Effort


Still Focused On Talk's Elimination, Dems Play Mind Games


Given his outspoken criticism of the medium and habit of citing its hosts by name, Obama has made it clear he's targeted conservative talk radio for extinction. With its long history of changing the political landscape, particularly during periods of Democratic Party rule in Washington, Barack fears its demonstrated track record of effectiveness.

That's why an increasing number of Senate an
d House Democrats (including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, seen below) have come out in favor of reenacting the former Fairness Doctrine, which would effectively censor the conservative talk format by forcing unpopular liberal programming into their schedules. The resulting ratings destabilization would also undercut revenues, bringing a likely overall end to the medium.

In supporting the Fairness Doctrine, elected Democrats are even joined by liberal talk show hosts and their syndicators, who feel its reimposition could result in major-market affiliate gains. Other left-wing activists have expressed similar support.

In addition, there are stealth techniques now being devised to achieve the same result with less potential public outcry. One method that has generated almost no publicity is Obama's opposition to a new, high-tech ratings system that has so far noted substantially higher ratings for conservative talk than achieved under the old, diary-based method. Because a larger audience means greater ad sales, fighting this approach weakens the medium at a difficult time for broadcasting overall.

At the same time, however, the left is engaged in a game of doublespeak, as they repeatedly attack conservatives for "making up" the controversy. It will never happen, they claim, so why are those on the right so worked up about it?

Though they claim Obama himself is against the forced elimination of conservative talk radio, we don't have him on the record saying that directly. Instead, a spokesperson made that claim on one occasion during last year's campaign. Since taking office, the question has been ducked during press conferences.

Despite this very real threat, the false premise that talk radio censorship exists only in the minds of paranoid conservatives has been accepted in far too many places. In today's Washington Post, for example, Marc Fisher falls for this even as he rightly criticizes libtalker Bill Press for his openly-conspiratorial Op-Ed piece that ran in Sunday's edition:

So, do Press and like-minded listeners really want a return to the Fairness Doctrine, or are they just jealous that Limbaugh and a couple of other conservative talkers continue to draw strong ratings even as most of the old media lose audience to newfangled communications streams?

Perhaps Press is merely frustrated by the low ratings numbers he and his colleagues draw. Nobody wants to go back to the days when the FCC mandated how and when "opposing voices" might get their moment on the air ("Yes, sir, we'd be glad to put that on the air; would you prefer 4 a.m. on Sunday, or 3 a.m. on Monday?") And nobody wants to return to the bland tripe that aired on most talk stations before the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine opened the airwaves to all voices.

But in the end, the main reason there will be no new Fairness Doctrine is that time and technology have left the old concept of talk radio in the dust. On the Internet, a cacophony of voices ring out, most of them reaching hardly anyone, and nearly all of them being heard only by like-minded people. The real information problem our society faces has nothing to do with one perspective being drowned out by another; rather, our deepening media problem is that we are cleaving into two societies, each with its own, separate version of the truth, each startlingly segregated from the other.

Unfortunately, this premise is fundamentally flawed: many people support the suppression of talk radio and have said so in public settings. They aren't trying to hide this view from anyone. So how can anyone say that "nobody" wants the Fairness Doctrine?

It just isn't true and the rest of us must call attention to this fallacy every time it is encountered.

FOR New England regional talk radio updates, see our other site.

CLASSIC Franken image: Pete at IHillary

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