The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

31 May 2009

Former Air America Radio Executive / Network Co-Founder Sentenced


Montvel-Cohen Must Cough Up Ca$h To Avoid Jail

For Air America Radio,
Evan Montvel-Cohen is the story that just won't go away. As co-founder of the liberal talk radio network, his tenure was marked by the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club Scandal, where $875,000 in taxpayer funds were diverted from the Bronx-based children's charity in order to pay the salaries of Al Franken and others inside the fledgling firm.

Though there's no indication Franken took part in the scheme, he clearly benefitted from it, but expressed no remorse, much less any desire to repay the money.

Instead, the possible US Senator from Minnesota laughingly blamed it on a Republican conspiracy, all because Montvel-Cohen had briefly worked for Guam's GOP governor (despite being an outspoken leftist).

For his part
, Montvel-Cohen never could quite seem to stay out of trouble. Long after departing the "progressive" radio network, he was still making headlines, despite somehow escaping prosecution in the Gloria Wise Scandal, partly through a disappearing act.

In May, 2008, Evan's luck ran out, thanks to an arrest on unrelated charges including money laundering, theft and forgery. Extradited from Guam, he was taken to Hawaii to face the allegations.

From the New York Post in 2008:

It was Montvel-Cohen who, as development director for Gloria Wise, convinced other club officials in 2003 and 2004 to give $875,000 of taxpayer money to the radio network where he was a top executive and co-founder.

He also received loans from the club of more than $45,000 that were never repaid.

Montvel-Cohen, 43, was never charged here, but two other directors at Gloria Wise pleaded guilty to misappropriating $1.2 million, some of which was used for personal expenses for club officials, including cars and home renovations.

The $875,000 was repaid by Air America only after DOI launched a wide-ranging probe into the transfer of city and state funds meant to help children and the elderly in the northeast Bronx.

But DOI was never able to speak with Montvel-Cohen, who invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself, Hearn said.

"As DOI's 2006 report into fraud at the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club showed, he was indeed someone of interest to us because of his pivotal role in the transfer of hundreds of thousands of dollars of Gloria Wise funds to a start-up commercial radio station," she said.

DOI has no immediate plans to pursue Montvel-Cohen.

Jim Fulton, a spokesman for the Honolulu city prosecutor, said Montvel-Cohen ripped off the landscaping company by using the firm's credit cards to pay for $30,000 of hotel and travel expenses.

He's also charged with stealing another $30,000 - money he claimed he used to pay the company's state excise taxes, but pocketed instead.

Cohen, who returned to his native Guam after bolting from Hawaii, was returning from the Philippines when the outstanding warrant was discovered.

Fulton said Montvel-Cohen has returned to the broadcast business, working for Sorensen Media Group, owned by his pal Rex Sorensen, one of the original Air America founders.

Sorensen and Montvel-Cohen operate several TV and radio outlets in the Pacific Islands.

Now, we've learned that Montvel-Cohen has chosen to plead no contest to the charges in exchange for a lighter sentence, according to the Honolulu Advertiser:

The money must be paid before Montvel-Cohen is sentenced July 28 by Circuit Judge Randal Lee. If the money isn't repaid by sentencing, Van Marter said his office can ask for a jail sentence of up to 18 months.

Montvel-Cohen may ask Lee for a deferred acceptance of the no contest plea, a legal mechanism that would result in no criminal record if he stays trouble-free for a specified period of court supervision.

"It's a reasonable resolution to the case," said defense lawyer Todd Eddins.

Montvel-Cohen had been accused of stealing more than $62,000 from a Waimanalo landscaping firm, Ultimate Innovations, where he worked as a business manager in 2005.

Air America, which featured comedian and now-politician Al Franken as its best-known host, was launched in 2004, with financing that included more than $800,000 from a nonprofit boys and girls club in New York where Montvel-Cohen was employed as development director.

That investment, as well as loans that Montvel-Cohen received from the club, were the subject of a criminal investigation by New York City officials, but he was never charged with an offense.

At home in Guam, KAUM-TV warns that Montvel-Cohen has a short window of opportunity to avoid jail time and that his plea is likely designed to avoid losing a potential civil suit:

"As part of the agreement, it's a two-pronged agreement: one, if the money is if the full restitution is not paid by July 28 then we will go in and ask for jail; if it is, then probation it is, he will be under court supervision on probation for five years," explained Fulton.

Should Montvel-Cohen fail to pay the restitution, prosecutors will go in and ask the judge for up to 18 months in jail.

What's interesting is that if Montvel-Cohen is able to come up with $30,000 in two months, one might question why he hasn't been able to pay on a loan with Citizens Security Bank that GEDA Guaranteed for $300,000. As KUAM News reported previously, Montvel-Cohen, who ran a business with Governor Felix Camacho's former deputy chief of staff John Dela Rosa, defaulted on the loan guaranty. According to GEDA administrator Tony Blaz, the loan is currently in collections. The two now run a media company called Marianas Media.

As for the victim in Hawaii, Fulton says he wants to ensure that Montvel-Cohen's felony will be on his record. "He wants to be certain that this is entered as a conviction," Fulton confirmed.

With no jail time resulting from this mess nor even an attempt at prosecution in the Gloria Wise / Air America scandal, Montvel-Cohen shares something in common with Franken, his onetime employee: a pattern of being rewarded for bad behavior.

One key difference: having manipulated others all the way into the US Senate, Stuart Smalley is the undisputed master of this dubious craft. As his understudy, Evan could only dream of this kind of success.

Air America / Cohen scandal graphic: NY Post

Classic AAR Scandal Image: Pete at IHillary

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29 May 2009

Chicago Radio Host's Waterboarding Stunt Backfires


Desperate Mancow Had Good Reason To Fake Waterboarding

*** Olbermann's Desperate Spin Effort ***
*** Olbermann Sinking Faster Than Mancow Over Fake Stunt ***

Question: when is a waterboarding not a waterboarding?

Answer: when it is shoddily administered by a novice who has no idea how to carry out the procedure.

That, in a nutshell, is why former FM shock jock turned "conservative" WLS / Chicago talk host Erich "Mancow" Muller is in so much hot water today. With his latest fiasco, the struggling radio stuntmeister may be gearing up for more career suffering than a real waterboarding session could ever hope to provide. Don't be surprised if this cow is quickly turned into hamburger.

Doing the hard digging that has blown Mancow's already-sagging credibility to bits is Gawker, a news and gossip site generally considered leftist in nature. Their motivation appears intended to undo the egg on their faces for having praised Mancow's "torture" and subsequent "conversion":

Now, we're obviously no experts on the art of waterboarding, but we've done a bit of research on it and also went back and watched the video of Christopher Hitchens' waterboarding in 2008 to compare and contrast his waterboarding against Mancow's, and we couldn't help but notice some rather striking differences.

In the Hitchens video, everything is carried out pretty much according to universal waterboarding protocol as we've come to understand it. His limbs and torso are tightly bound by restraints. The platform on which he lays appears to be tilted slightly downward so that his head is positioned below his heart. His head is also completely covered and the water used looks as though it's poured directly into his breathing passages.

In contrast, Mancow isn't bound by restraints at all, he doesn't appear to have his body positioned at a decline, only a portion of his face from the nose up is covered, and the water is being poured on him inappropriately.

In short, when we watched the Mancow video for the first time it struck us in a "well that doesn't look TOO awful" sort of way. For a brief moment it even made us want to call some friends over so we could all waterboard each other and see what all the fuss is about. On the other hand, the Hitchens video is somewhat nightmarish, making us want to never have anything to do with a waterboarding, ever.

And from Gawker's previous post, where Mancow was praised before the hoax was revealed:

We suppose it'd be easy to mock and ridicule "Mancow" here, as he does seem to be an extraordinarily massive tool, not even taking into consideration that he was one of the main guys spreading the "Obama is a closet Muslim" rumors during the election, but there's something truly admirable in a) being sufficiently curious and willing to undergo the procedure personally to truly see what it was like to be on the receiving end of a waterboarding, and b) appearing on the air with arguably the most unabashedly liberal host on television to profess how horribly wrong he'd been previously.

So yeah, despite being a tool, "Mancow" deserves a tip of the cap, as does Olbermann for donating $10,000 to a support group for veterans in return for Muller going through with the waterboarding and then appearing on his show to discuss it.

Motivation for the
staged event appears to have originated with Keith Olbermann's attempts to subject rival Sean Hannity to a round of the technique used to break terrorists during interrogations.

Desperate for cable appearances since losing a coveted regular morning guest spot on FNC's Fox & Friends, Mancow happily chose to participate and was rewarded with generous airtime on left-wing Fox rival MSNBC.

Olbermann was especially pleased to hear of his subsequent "conversion" away from the use of such techniques to gain information on future terrorist attacks as a result of the "torture" and as Michelle Malkin notes, left-wing blogs made Mancow the toast of the town:

Now, there’s a paper trail that suggests the glaringly obvious — that it was all an elaborate hoax, reportedly orchestrated with the help of Jerry Springer’s publicist.

Time for B.S. detector tune-ups, people. Next time, libs, don’t be so eager to hype a veteran radio entertainer crying “torture.”

You’re the ones who end up all wet.

In fact, "veteran radio entertainer" is a rather kind way of describing Mancow. "Publicity whore" may be far more accurate. Muller has a long history of doing whatever it takes to get himself in the news, even if it threatens his station with financial ruin.

In 1993, for example, Mancow's infamous Golden Gate Bridge stunt (in which vans blocked rush hour traffic) created a white-hot firestorm of negative publicity in the Bay Area and the incident has really never been forgotten there. It eventually cost KSOL-FM $1.5m as the result of a civil suit, while Muller himself was convicted of a felony.

More recently, jumping into the headlines has proven more difficult, as the days of FM morning shock jocks faded away for good. Reinventing himself as a supposedly "conservative" AM radio talker, Mancow managed to use his previous notoriety to secure a syndication deal and midmorning slot on Chicago's WLS-AM.

In 2007, we wrote about his attempt to use the death of a young woman during a station-sponsored water drinking contest in Sacramento to promote "responsible broadcasting". At the time, we noted how his rants were supplying the left with a great deal of fodder, particularly when he appeared to call for the death of all Palestinians.

Now, after failing to gain credibility with the right, Muller is undergoing a new conversion, this time to the left. The phony "waterboarding" and subsequent epiphany was obviously meant to provide a basis for his latest reinvention.

Evidence that Mancow has struggled as a conservative talk host is found partly in the move by WLS to subsequently pair him with a co-host, longtime Chicago newsman Pat Cassidy.

In the end, the most annoying element of Mancow's career story is his ability to be taken seriously by some elements of the media, despite his credibility-destroying history.

Particularly irritating: the talk radio execs who foolishly believed they needed Muller on their AM stations because he brought a "young and hip" demographic to the medium. Clearly, that never materialized.

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28 May 2009

Talk Radio At Forefront Of Debate Over Sotomayor's Extreme Views


Sotomayor's Positions Fit Fringe Academia, Not America

As could be expected, talk radio has taken center stage in the debate over controversial US Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Given her history of divisive, if not overtly racist comments, doesn't the medium owe that to its listeners?

Committed Obamists, on the other hand, are determined to make conservative hosts themselves the issue. That represents their best shot at deflecting attention away from her shaky legal record and extreme statements.

Unfortunately for them, this approach may yet fail, as their own support seems more about protecting Obama than real enthusiasm for Sotomayor. In addition, her views on race are decidedly outside of the American mainstream, sounding more like a campus radical than potential US Supreme Court justice:

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life," she said October 26, 2001.

While this kind of language might play well at UC-Santa Cruz or another radical left-wing campus, to most Americans, it comes across as overtly racist. That increases the need for an offensive against conservative talk radio.

Writing in today's Boston Herald, for example, WTKK-FM talk host Margery Eagan contributes to the smear effort with this emotional outburst:

It’s been such fun watching the right-wing white boys sputtering over the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, a Hispanic woman nominated by a black man!

“Our world domination’s slip, slip, slipping away,” you can almost hear them whimper. “What to do?”

Well, you can’t dump on the woman thing. That’s more than half the country. Can’t dump on the Hispanic angle. They’ll be more than half the country soon.

What’s left?

But Sotomayor's divisive language and isn't just a concern to right-leaning talkers, it's also an issue for moderates such as Senator John McCain. From yesterday's Hannity:

HANNITY: All right. Let's start with this — the folding record of Judge Sotomayor and what she said. You just heard the quote about Latina women and — versus white males, and her idea that, you know what, we decide policy.

What are your thoughts?

MCCAIN: I think that her record deserves examination. She deserves her days of hearings. I would point out that for Justices Alito and Roberts, there was a very long period of examination, 70 some days and 93 days. And I think that we will examine her record carefully.

I would point out that Jon Kyl and I both voted against her in her nomination for the Court of Appeals. Then-senator, now-President Obama tried to filibuster Justice Alito. If he had 40 colleagues who would have joined him, Justice Alito would not be a member of the Supreme Court today.

But we want to give her every opportunity to make her case and — but we will exercise the Senate's responsibility of advice and consent.

HANNITY: Newt Gingrich made a lot of news today when he said and he put out a Twitter, tweeting, whatever they're called. He said, imagine a judicial nominee who said the following, and he said, "My experience as a white man makes me better than a Latino woman."

He says the new racism is no better than the old racism. And then he said — he went on to say that a white male racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. A Latina woman racist should also withdraw.

MCCAIN: I think that we should be color blind in every way on this issue. The people should be judged on their merits, on their qualifications. The president, because elections have consequences, is exercising his constitutional authority in nominating. We in the Senate will be exercising our obligations for advice and consent.

Another problem for the Obamists is that critical essays are beginning to run in unlikely places, such as the Christian Science Monitor.

Further, there are signs that her position on abortion may be closer to pro-life than their own view. If that turns out to be the case, what then for the left? Will they go to the mat for someone who could potentially overturn Roe vs Wade?

McCain is right: any nominee should expect to face months of scrutiny. No one, not even a pick made by their Dear Leader, can expect a free ride. That's why bashing talk radio hosts isn't a sustainable strategy for a successful Sonia Sotomayor confirmation.

In fact, it has emerged late today that some close to Obama recognize the problem and feel the need to address it. From the Politico:

Some Democrats and political analysts are urging the White House to shift course and concede that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor made an error when she suggested in 2001 that Hispanic women would make better judges than white men.

“She misspoke,” said Lanny Davis, a White House lawyer and spokesman for President Bill Clinton. “Every day that goes by that they don’t say she misspoke and she used the wrong words ... they just feed it and give it life and give Rush [Limbaugh] and [Sean] Hannity more airtime unnecessarily.”

Said Democratic strategist Chris Lehane: “In this day and age, six or seven or eight weeks is a long time to go without addressing an issue that can potentially take on a life of its own and evolve and grow.”

Lehane said the GOP attacks were “probably continuing the long-term self-destruction of the Republican Party.” However, he said allowing talk show hosts, blogs and cable shows to continue to fulminate about Sotomayor’s Berkeley comments was risky.

For his part, Rush Limbaugh said today he won't be cowed into submission:

RUSH: As I was saying Robert Gibbs at the White House yesterday warned people like me to be very careful about what we say about Sonia Sotomayor. So, ladies and gentlemen, I want you to turn your radio up because I'm going to have to whisper this so that they don't hear this at the White House. In fact, those of you who can if you're in your cars, roll up your windows. Those of you who are at home, take your radios to the bathroom, close the doors. Make sure that no one else hears what I'm about to tell you about Sonia Sotomayor. Are you ready? Got the windows up? There we go, three, two, one. In the year 2004, Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor ruled that ownership of a gun is not a constitutional right. That case is at present being appealed before the US Supreme Court, as are a couple other of her cases. In 2004 Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor said owning a gun not a constitutional right. She ruled in this fashion as a judge.

President Obama could have chosen a different Hispanic or a different female, but he chose Sonia Sotomayor because she reflects his own racial attitudes. Let's be honest about this. He's got anger about race in this country; so does she. It cannot be denied. Can I give you a Thomas Jefferson quote? Thomas Jefferson quote in a letter he wrote to Charles Hammond August 18th, 1821. It's 188 years later. "It has long, however, been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression... that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal Judiciary;... working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped."

Our Founding Fathers were fortunetellers; they were prophets; they were wise beyond measure. It never fails to amaze me when I go back and read their warnings of the future after they had crafted the US Constitution. I'm very much like these people, my friends, in my ability to prognosticate and prophet the future. Thomas Jefferson warned 188 years ago that the federal government and the germ of its dissolution was in the way the federal judiciary was constituted. Ergo, 188 years later, he's right. We have Sonia Sotomayor who thinks that the court is where policy is made. Okay, you can lower the windows now, come out of the bathrooms. I'm through.

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27 May 2009

Rush Limbaugh Predicted Sotomayor's Rise In 1997


Crystal Ball Saw Sotomayor's Nomination 12 Years Early

Is Rush Limbaugh psychic?

As his prognostications eerily come to pass days, weeks, or months later, we've asked this very question in the past. During the election season, for example, he saw the GOP's nomination of John McCain coming at a time when the Arizona senator's presidential campaign seemed to be sputtering.

This time, Rush's crystal ball has astonished nearly everyone with a newly-unearthed New York Times piece from 1998 which detailed his prediction that Sonia Sotomayor would be headed to the US Supreme Court. In fact, he characterized it as a "rocket ship" ascension, according to the paper.

From the June 13 1998 story

It also remains unclear how some Senate Republicans came to believe that Judge Sotomayor was being considered as a candidate for the Supreme Court. Hispanic bar groups have for years pressed the Clinton Administration to name the first Hispanic justice, but White House officials said they are not committed to doing so. The Hispanic National Bar Association has submitted a list of six candidates for the Supreme Court to the White House. But Martin R. Castro, a Chicago lawyer and official of the group, said Judge Sotomayor's name is not on the list.

On Sept. 30, the day of her confirmation hearing, Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio talk show host, warned the Senate that Judge Sotomayor was an ultraliberal who was on a ''rocket ship'' to the Supreme Court. That day, Judge Sotomayor was questioned closely by Republicans.

Credit for uncovering
this long-buried gem goes to The Hill, which reported their discovery earlier today:

In 1997, when President Bill Clinton nominated Sotomayor to become a U.S. Circuit Court judge, Limbaugh urged Senate Republicans to block her confirmation.

The conservative radio host said, on the day of Sotomayor's confirmation hearing, Sept. 30, 1997, that she was extremely liberal and was on a "rocket ship" to the high court, according to a 1998 New York Times story on GOP efforts to stop her confirmation.

The Times suggested that Limbaugh's Supreme Court warning was a key reason why GOP senators delayed a floor vote on her nomination for months even after several Republicans on the Judiciary Committee supported her.

During today's show, Limbaugh himself said that he'd forgotten all about his prediction and apparently, the NYT story itself. What isn't clear is what led him to that conclusion at a much earlier stage of Sotomayor's judicial career.

At the same time, El Rushbo is using her nomination and the GOP's tepid response as an excuse to attack the party for what he sees as its "compliant" nature:

Barack Obama thinks of himself as a member of an oppressed minority, but he's not taking it, he's fighting back. He's going to go so far as to desecrate the Constitution to address his grievances. The Republican Party, they've mastered it, they've got it down pat. Washington, DC, may as well be -- (interruption) what, Snerdley? Washington, DC, is the old south for Republicans, if you want to draw the analogy. They have gotten comfortable being an oppressed minority and they play the game; they don't speak out; they shut up. And when they do get gutsy and try to shut up or speak up, they do so in a way that won't offend anybody.

The Wall Street Journal, November 15th, 2003, Review and Outlook: "'Why The Democrats Borked Estrada, In Their Own Words.' -- Now that the Senate has concluded its 30-hour talkathon on judicial filibusters, we thought readers might like to peer inside the filibustering Democratic mind, such as it is. This plunge into the murky deep comes from staff strategy memos we've obtained from the days when Democrats ran the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2001-02. Or, rather, appeared to run the committee. Their real bosses are the liberal interest groups that more or less tell the Senators when to sit, speak and roll over -- and which Bush judges to confirm or not. Here are some excerpts."

This is a memo to Dick Durbin. "You are scheduled to meet with leaders of several civil rights organizations to discuss their serious concerns with the judicial nomination process. The leaders will likely include: Ralph Neas (People For the American Way), Kate Michelman (NARAL), Nan Aron (Alliance for Justice), Wade Henderson (Leadership Conference on Civil Rights), Leslie Proll (NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund), Nancy Zirkin (American Association of University Women), Marcia Greenberger (National Women's Law Center), and Judy Lichtman (National Partnership). ... The primary focus will be on identifying the most controversial and/or vulnerable judicial nominees. The groups would like to postpone action on these nominees until next year, when (presumably) the public will be more tolerant of partisan dissent."

November 7th, 2001, memo to Senator Durbin. "The groups singled out three -- Jeffrey Sutton (6th Circuit); Priscilla Owen (5th Circuit); and Caroline [sic] Kuhl (9th Circuit) -- as a potential nominee for a contentious hearing early next year, with a [sic] eye to voting him or her down in Committee. They also identified Miguel Estrada (D.C. Circuit) as especially dangerous, because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment. They want to hold Estrada off as long as possible."

There are other memos in the story to Senator Kennedy telling him who to meet with and how to react and how to behave. But here's a memo to Dick Durbin from the special interest group saying that Miguel Estrada on the DC circuit must be opposed because he's Latino. Why? The Democrats get away with opposing people because they're Latino. We get punished if we oppose somebody because they're Latino. And we have to shut up because somebody's Latino.

We have gone out, we've had two people in our party literally, John McCain and George W. Bush, grant amnesty to how many millions of illegal Hispanics in the country. Did it get anybody anywhere, electorally? Estrada, nominated for a high court position, Alberto Gonzales, they were opposed because they're Latino, by the Democrats. Now, they didn't say so publicly. These are internal memos. But the Democrats can oppose Latinos left and right and they can oppose blacks left and right, and they never seem to pay a price for doing that. Why is that? Why does nobody get concerned if Democrats may be alienating voters from these various groups?

Why when they opposed Clarence Thomas did they not suffer one loss of a black vote? Why? And yet the Republicans have been made to believe, in their currently extinct status, that opposing Sonia Sotomayor simply because she's Latina will ruin their chances for the Hispanic vote, a vote they don't have anyway and a vote they're not going to get this way.

They're behaving like an oppressed minority. Whatever their masters tell them to say or do, not say or don't do, they say or don't say, they don't do. They are entirely compliant.

Will Republicans listen, or are they too afraid of the next Colin Powell Sunday morning TV appearance? If they don't, we won't need Limbaugh's crystal ball to know what's coming next: complete political oblivion.

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22 May 2009

Talk Radio Faces Potential Venezuela-Like Future


Obamists Have Talk Radio Crackdown Plan In Place

For a glimpse into the future of American broadcasting, one need look no further than the systematic eradication of dissenting voices by Venezuelan thug Hugo Chavez. Closer to home, is American talk radio next to go?

This week, his regime continued its campaign to destroy the country's last remaining opposition news outlet. From the AP earlier today:

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Police and soldiers on Thursday raided a property belonging to the head of Venezuela's only anti-government news network amid a growing confrontation between the station and President Hugo Chavez's government.

Judicial police chief Wilmer Flores Trossel said authorities found 24 Toyota vehicles on a property in eastern Venezuela belonging to Globovision president Guillermo Zuloaga. They raided the property after receiving an anonymous tip.


Broadcast regulators are investigating Globovision for inciting "panic and anxiety" by criticizing the government for its slow response to a moderate earthquake earlier this month. Globovision is Venezuela's only remaining anti-Chavez television station on the open airwaves.

Chavez warned private media last week that they're "playing with fire." He specifically targeted Globovision director Alberto Federico Ravell, calling him "a crazy man with a cannon."

Human Rights Watch on Thursday criticized Chavez's government for investigating the station. The organization's Americas director, Jose Miguel Vivanco, accused the government of using the probe to harass critics.

Though it hasn't yet escalated into violent attacks here in America, the Obamist regime has certainly begun to take the country down the same dangerous path.

Here's their blueprint:

It begins with refusing to call on reporters from unfriendly networks during White House press conferences and then to creating faux "news" agencies to cover the Dear Leader glowingly.

From there, dreaded license procedures are changed to force stations into a mere three-year renewal cycle, subject to the whims of Obama's installed agents at the FCC:

Speaking at the annual Free Speech Summit in Washington, today, acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps said, "Reform breezes are blowing through the corridors of power all over this city."

One of the reforms Copps would like to see at the FCC, he said, is to have the commission "get serious about defining broadcasters' public interest obligations and reinvigorating our license renewal process." He said, "It is time to say goodbye to postcard renewal every eight years and hello to license renewals every three years with some public interest teeth."

The NAB quickly responded to that idea; EVP Dennis Wharton said, "NAB would respectfully oppose attempts to shorten license renewal terms. Congress wisely reformed license renewal terms to allow broadcasters to better compete against our pay platform competitors. Reducing a broadcaster's term of license would actually harm localism by injecting greater uncertainty into a business model facing the worst advertising downturn in decades."

Continuing their campaign of destruction, the new electronic ratings system that provides an accurate assessment of conservative talk radio's huge ratings is dismantled.

Next, once the licenses of talk outlets have been cancelled, making their stations nearly worthless as a result, pro-Obamist firms are cleared to purchase them with taxpayer funds through targeted "bailouts":

The congressmen suggest the Treasury Department could provide access to capital to minority-owned broadcasters, which they say represent less than 7 percent of full-power radio stations and a “negligible” ownership of television stations.

“They are looking for continued access to capital to continue their otherwise fundamentally sound operations,” the members write.

The letter suggests Treasury could set up a credit facility specific to the industry, similar to the government’s efforts to support auto suppliers, or possibly set up a program for bridge financing and government-backed loans until the economy improves.

For insight into what's next, your Radio Equalizer has interviewed longtime broadcast industry executive Brian Jennings, author of the new book Censorship: The Threat To Silence Talk Radio. From our discussion:

THE RADIO EQUALIZER: Do you see three-year license renewals as Obama's primary tool for removing conservative talk radio from the airwaves?

BRIAN JENNINGS: I see this is not only an assault on conservative talk, but all of radio. It's Big Brother, state control. It comes right out of John Podesta's playbook at the Center for American Progress, which authored the June 2007 report critical of talk radio in America.

Yes, it is a tool that puts conservative talk under the microscope and allows government to hyper-regulate content.

In addition to shortening license renewal, the FCC will re-define public interest obligations with the intent of homogenizing talk in America. If (Acting FCC Chairman Michael) Copps and his minions really believed in free speech, they would allow the free marketplace to determine what it wants to hear. This is about a listener's right to hear what they want and Copps doesn't like what the marketplace wants to hear, as our ratings verify.

TRE: If conservatives got their acts together, however, could this backfire if it results in tying up the licenses of other stations, a strategy of fighting fire with fire?

JENNINGS: Liberals better be careful of what they ask because we should be able to go back on them and put them under the same microscope. This is about government control of media and Copps should be embarrassed and taken to the woodshed.

TRE: Do you see Obama going as far as Hugo Chavez in directly targeting opposition outlets?

JENNINGS: Considering how Obama treated opposition media during his campaign (WGN), I have come to the conclusion he doesn't want opposition. The FCC can define "public interest obligations" pretty much anyway it wants and if we examine Obama's background, he wants his far left agenda to permeate America.

I have come to the conclusion that the far-left wants to destroy conservative values in America and they know the best way to do that is to destroy conservative talk in America. If they truly believed in free speech, they would let all alone. They would pass a Broadcaster Freedom Act through the House, but Pelosi won't allow that to happen.

They would not allow Senator Durbin to pass an amendment to "clarify public interest obligations". It would not have been in their 2008 platform unless they were serious about changing the media landscape to their benefit. The free marketplace of ideas should determine all this, but is is obvious they don't want listeners to determine that for themselves.

TRE: Is the FCC's PPM inquiry intended to hurt talk radio's strong performance under the new system?

JENNINGS: I think PPM is the future for measuring radio's audience. It measures real listening in real time. It holds programmers accountable for doing a good job. Any inquiry is just sour grapes.

Arbitron must make sure the sample base is representative and fair, but it seems to me that those who think PPM is unfair should take a look at their programming methods and step it up. I have no question this is part of an overall strategy to take talk radio down and redefine America.

While it may be too late for Venezuela, America can still be saved from oppressive government control of the media. What will you do to prevent Chavez-style tyranny here at home?

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20 May 2009

Limbaugh's MSNBC Challenge: Can You Stop Talking About Me?


Ratings Desperation Fueling MSNBC's Rush Obsession

By now, you've heard it from the left a thousand times: Rush Limbaugh is a "pill-popper" hooked on Oxycontin. But while he successfully sought treatment for the addiction years ago, there's no sign his mainstream media foes are willing to deal with their own unhealthy obsession with the talk titan himself.

Take MSNBC, for instance: across its entire programming schedule, it's hard to find a host or anchor going an entire hour without at least mentioning El Rushbo. Much of the time, it's far more frequent than that, with the leftist NBC cable network appearing to use Limbaugh to build its ratings.

In fact, according to TVNewser, "Rush Limbaugh" was mentioned at least 12 times on MSNBC Tuesday alone.

Don't think Rush himself hasn't noticed: during yesterday's program, he issued a challenge to Olbermann & Company: can you stop talking about me for 30 days?

From the transcript

RUSH: I have a little challenge I would like to issue here. I would like to issue a challenge to our good friends over at the cable news network MSNBC. As you know, Michael Steele made a speech today outlining the future of the Republican Party. And apparently he mentioned every conservative's name in the book except mine and Cheney's. This has caused many excited media people to point this out. "Hey! Steele, he mentioned Burke, he mentioned Reagan, he mentioned Buckley, but he didn't mention Cheney and he didn't mention Limbaugh." Now, throughout the busy broadcast day, MSNBC cannot go an hour without mentioning me or playing video of me or having me discussed.

I have the nation's most listened to radio program and talk show. It is clear to me that MSNBC is hoping to build its ratings on my back. It seems that the liberalism that is MSNBC isn't selling as well as they would like because they cannot -- from the Scarborough show in the morning, all the way to night, they cannot; they cannot -- go any appreciable length of time without showing video of me, the CPAC speech or excerpts from this radio show or having a bunch of hack guests on to discuss me. So my challenge is this, to MSNBC. Let's see if you can run your little TV network for 30 days... Let's see if you can do Rush withdrawal.

Let's see if you can run your little TV network for 30 days without doing a single story on me, and then let's take a look at your ratings during those 30 days and see what happens. Because obviously MSNBC thinks they cannot get numbers without focusing on me. So I challenge you, MSNBC! Thirty days without anything mentioning me. No video of me, no guests commenting on me. See if you can do it.

You know, stand on your own two feet. Stand on liberalism. Stand on what you believe. Stop bleeding off me. I don't care about the ten extra listeners they might be bringing me. Ten extra listeners, I mean, that's irrelevant to me. They're not... I just want to see if they can survive on their own. I'm a self-reliant guy. I don't rely on them.

Unfortunately for MSNBC,
giving up Rush-bashing may represent a luxury it cannot afford. With ratings plunging to fresh lows, it needs to keep its tiny base fired up. The Obamist era has not been good to these guys, as the numbers demonstrate.

In particular, Chris Matthews has created cable's first No-Watch Zone, as average 25-54 viewership remains around 100,000. Newcomer Ed Schultz's dead-on-arrival effort has shown no survival prospects, while Keith Olbermann is usually lucky to generate half of rival Bill O'Reilly's ratings.

Election year wondergirl Rachel Maddow, pumped endlessly by the mainstream media during a period of Obama fever, is clearly seeking her own survival strategy as she begins to challenge the Dear Leader from the left. That may be why the liberal Huffington Post is suddenly running hit pieces on her struggling viewership.

But with that approach, she may emerge as the last MSNBC host standing as others continue to lose credibility. Overall, with their own people running Washington, they're quickly running out of targets. That's why you won't see them taking up Rush's challenge anytime soon.

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18 May 2009

Obamists Fight Electronic Radio Ratings System


Obamist FCC Announces Crackdown On 'Racist' Radio Ratings

In what appears to be the first stage of a broader, Chavez-style crackdown against talk radio and its audience success, Obama's FCC has taken an official step toward eliminating (or, at best, manipulating) an electronic ratings system his supporters consider "racist".

Using a pager-like device, Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) provides the first truly accurate system for measuring radio listening. Because it is passive, rather than requiring a diary to be manually maintained, opportunities for cheating have virtually been eliminated.

That means stations with small but particularly loyal followings, such as hip-hop outlets, no longer wrongly benefit from distorted record-keeping meant to reward certain FM personalities. In many cases, other formats (especially conservative talk radio) are now experiencing a more accurate reflection of their listenership, leading to improved results.

In addition, the Reverend Al Sharpton's liberal talk show has apparently been hurt by PPM's implementation.

While on the campaign trail, Obama officially condemned the electronic system, registering his opposition in the weeks before the election. Since taking power, he's made good on his promise to fight PPM's implementation, as his FCC orders an inquiry into the matter.

From All Access, an industry trade publication, earlier today:

Broadcasters, media organizations, and others have raised concerns about the use of the PPM and its potential impact on audience ratings of stations that air programming targeted to minority audiences, and consequently, on the financial viability of those stations.

"They claim that the current PPM methodology undercounts and misrepresents the number and loyalty of minority radio listeners.

"They assert that, because audience ratings affect advertising revenues, undercounting minority audiences could negatively affect the ability of these stations to compete for advertising revenues and to continue to offer local service to minority audiences.

"They express concern that such undercounting could particularly affect the ratings of local, urban-formatted radio stations that broadcast programming of interest to African-American and Hispanic audiences.

From the FCC's official Notice of Inquiry:

In this Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”), we seek comment on issues relating to the commercial use of a radio audience measurement device, developed by Arbitron, Inc. (“Arbitron”), known as the portable people meter, or “PPM.”#

Broadcasters, media organizations, and others have raised concerns about the use of the PPM and its potential impact on audience ratings of stations that air programming targeted to minority audiences, and consequently, on the financial viability of those stations.

They claim that the current PPM methodology undercounts and misrepresents the number and loyalty of minority radio listeners.# They assert that, because audience ratings affect advertising revenues, undercounting minority audiences could negatively affect the ability of these stations to compete for advertising revenues and to continue to offer local service to minority audiences.

They express concern that such undercounting could particularly affect the ratings of local, urban-formatted radio stations that broadcast programming of interest to African-American and Hispanic audiences.# This NOI investigates the impact of PPM methodology on the broadcast industry as well as whether the audience ratings data is sufficiently accurate and reliable to merit the Commission’s own reliance on it in its rules, policies and procedures.

According to its proponents, the PPM methodology represents a technological improvement in measuring radio listening. We have a strong interest in encouraging innovative advancements that lead to improved information and data. We seek information on whether and how the PPM technological changes adversely affect diversity on the airwaves as well as the integrity and reliability of the Commission’s processes that rely on Arbitron ratings data. If there is an adverse impact, we seek comment on further steps the Commission can and should take to address these issues.

Requests that the Commission institute an inquiry have been made in several contexts. The FCC’s Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age (“Diversity Committee”) has passed a resolution requesting a Commission investigation of Arbitron’s PPM measurement system to determine whether the system is having or will have a detrimental and discriminatory effect upon stations targeting minority audiences.# Noting that Arbitron is the only company that currently provides quantitative audience data for radio stations, the Committee states that the financial success of a radio broadcast station often depends upon demonstrating to potential advertisers that the station has a substantial audience of desirable consumers.# According to the Diversity Committee, Arbitron’s use of an audience measurement service that may not accurately measure minority audiences could lead to “irreparable” financial harm to stations serving such audiences and, thus, lead to the loss of service that such stations provide to the public.#

In addition, the PPM Coalition (“PPMC”) has filed an Emergency Petition for a Section 403 Inquiry (“PPMC Petition”), requesting that the Commission immediately commence a fact-finding inquiry into the current PPM methodology.# PPMC and others that supported PPMC’s request for a Commission investigation express concern that the PPM methodology has had a detrimental effect on the ratings measurements for urban- and Hispanic-formatted stations and state that this is due to the under-representation of minorities in the sample panels and a failure to distribute PPM devices within minority groups.

PPMC alleges that the PPM sample is deficient because only five to six percent of the PPM sample is comprised of cell-phone-only households, while a significant and growing percentage of young adults and Hispanics and African-Americans live in cell-phone-only households.# PPMC asserts that 19.3 percent of Hispanic households and 18.3 percent of African-American households are cell-phone-only, whereas 12.9 percent of non-Hispanic white households are cell-phone-only.#

Among other things, PPMC also complains that: (1) PPM has a 66 percent smaller sample size than the diary, often making it impossible to target age or gender subsets of minority audiences because standard industry metrics require at least 30 respondents in a cell to run ratings data;# (2) PPM samples are not built using street addresses, and therefore fail to ensure statistically representative inclusion of cell-phone-only households;# (3) young minorities are reluctant to carry visible PPMs;# (4) Hispanic PPM recruitment methods skew toward English-dominant persons because potential panelists are identified by origin rather than by language;# (5) PPM response and compliance rates fall below industry norms;# (6) PPMs record exposure to radio signals, but they do not capture listener loyalty, which is high among minorities;# (7) PPM reports provide less granular data in terms of geography;# (8) PPM reports do not contain income data, country of origin data, or data that accounts sufficiently for language preferences;# and (9) PPM panelists may be corrupted more easily by radio personnel because the PPM device often visibly identifies them and their expected participation is two years instead of the usual one-week participation in the diary system.#

PPMC states that radio programmers are taking the preliminary PPM under-reporting of minority radio listening so seriously that programmers who can do so are already beginning to abandon formats that target minority audiences.# PPMC and others are concerned that the stability of the radio industry is at stake because radio broadcasters rely on the sale of commercial advertising for their only revenue stream, and Arbitron’s data has a direct impact on advertising sales.# While PPMC concedes that Arbitron has indicated its willingness to re-examine its sampling methods and make improvements by 2010, it contends that those improvements would be “far too little and far too late.”# According to PPMC, most advertisers are likely to accept Arbitron’s assertions that PPM results are more accurate than diary results, and will rely on flawed PPM data.#

So who exactly are these concerned "broadcasters, media organizations, and others"? They are defined only in the fine print and hardly seem like a broad-based segment of the population:

# PPMC Petition at i. The PPMC consists of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, Spanish Radio Association, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, American Hispanic Advertising Association, Border Media Partners, Entravision Communications Corporation, ICBC Broadcast Holdings, Inc., Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc., and Univision Communications Inc. The Media Bureau sought comment on the Emergency Petition. Comments were due September 24, 2008; replies were due October 6, 2008. See PPM Coalition Files Petition Seeking Commission Inquiry Pursuant to Section 403 of the Communications Act (47 U.S.C. § 403), MB Docket No. 08-187, Public Notice, 23 FCC Rcd 13302 (MB rel. Sept. 4, 2008).

Comments were received and reviewed. Under the inquiry sought by PPMC, the Commission would use subpoenas for document production, conduct witness testimony under oath, and fashion appropriate protective orders as necessary to avoid disclosure of confidential information. We note also that the New York City Council convened a hearing on September 10, 2008, regarding a proposed resolution seeking an FCC investigation of Arbitron’s PPM methodology and its potential effect on the diversity of radio (Proposed Res. No. 1583-A). Representatives from Arbitron, Inc., the National Hispanic Media Coalition and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, among others, testified at the hearing. The New York City Council passed the resolution by unanimous vote on Sept. 24, 2008. See Letter from Christine C. Quinn, Speaker, New York City Council, to Kevin J. Martin, Chairman, FCC (Sept. 24, 2008).

In their quest to restore inflated ad revenues based on phantom listenership, these special interest groups are relying on two arguments: first, that minority households lack landlines (meaning it is theoretically harder to be reached by Arbitron) and that young African-Americans and other ethnic minorities are less inclined to participate in the PPM surveys.

But aren't those issues, even if shown to be legitimate, also of concern with the old paper diary system? What's the difference? In addition to telephone calls, Arbitron contacts potential diarykeepers via mail and has sometimes oversampled minority groups to account for these concerns.

That's what this is really about: the Obama Administration forcing Arbitron, a private company, to disproportionately sample certain groups in order to "restore" past fraudulently-obtained ratings. If they can't do that, they'll push to eliminate this technology and return to paper diaries.

Either way, it's win-win for hip-hop and lose-lose for news / talk and many music formats. If Obama can take over banks and the auto industry, how does a radio ratings service have a prayer?

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

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