December 26, 2005

Wil Wheaton on the Power of Talk Radio

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 23, 2005 @ 1:05 pm
Filed under: General, Right Watch, Radio

Actor Wil Wheaton, who played Wesley on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” has an article at

He describes how his parents once were liberals. But after they already started moving to the right, right-wing talk-radio made his parents much more right-wing:

These are the same people who took me to nuclear-freeze rallies almost every weekend when I was in elementary school. These are the same people who introduced me to the teachings of the Buddha and Gandhi. The same people who smoked pot in front of me, introduced me to Pink Floyd and the Beatles, and taught me to throw a Frisbee when all my peers were learning how to throw a football. Thanks to my parents, I had Birkenstocks when all the other kids had slip-on Vans, and I thought it was cool.

I think the change began in 1980, when my parents both became Reagan Democrats. My mother took me with her into the booth when she voted for Walter Mondale in 1984 (she was still an antinuke activist then, after all), but when talk radio exploded in the late ’80s, it caught my parents and took them away. The people who drove me all over the American Southwest in their 1971 VW bus to visit our national parks were replaced with RNC talking-points pod people. As a result, I don’t just tune out [Bill] O’Reilly and the rest of the Republican screaming heads. No, I don’t just tune them out: I hate them. I hate them with the same passion and the same fury with which my dad exploded at me, because before those people got rich exploiting Karl Rove’s (er, excuse me, I mean George Bush’s) black-and-white, with-us-or-against-us fantasy world, my parents and I could discuss issues and amicably agree to disagree with each other.

His solution is to get his father an iPod, in the hopes he’ll listen to less right-wing talk-radio:

But I also think it’s worth identifying who is really waging the war on Christmas — and it’s not Target, for having the temerity to wish its shoppers “Happy Holidays.” And it’s not people like me, who use “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings” interchangeably, hoping that the recipient of my good wishes will understand that I’m really saying, “I’m not religious, but I hope you have joy and love in your life, good health and happiness.” The one waging the war is right-wing talk radio and its relentless drive to polarize and divide our country, and our holiday dinners, and make a nice profit while it does. Come to think of it, maybe I’ll get my dad an iPod and a stack of Surf CDs for Christmas. It’ll be a gift for both of us.

A solution I recommend on this issue: support liberal Air America Radio. Become an Air America Associate or buy a t-shirt.


The Week at SpeakSpeak

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 16, 2005 @ 8:07 pm
Filed under: SpeakSpeak, Right Watch, Free Speech, Cable/Satellite, Government, Media Watch, TV, Flag Burning, Religion, Radio

• Bill O’Reilly admits that “Happy Holidays” isn’t offensive after all. LINK

• Hillary Clinton proposes legislation that could be used to jail a protester who burns an American flag for a year. Senators should be thinking up ways to INCREASE our freedom, but no. LINK

• Departing FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy says indecency fines are “probably the hardest area for me as a commissioner. This is one where I could argue both sides very easily. I am a firm believer in the First Amendment and the right of free speech. And at the same time, I appreciate the need to protect children.” How about writing clear rules, if one could easily argue something is indecent or that it’s not indecent under the current rules? LINK

• Meanwhile, what is “indecent” in the general sense of the term? How about Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) wasting “$223 million of pork earmarked for the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ to be used by about 50 Alaskans”? LINK

Bill O’Reilly’s reporting about bans on red-and-green clothing (Christmas colors) is false. No surprise. Will O’Reilly have to resign like Dan Rather did (for a flawed story which was more ambiguous and better researched?) LINK

• New Hampshire’s liberal radio host Arnie Arnesen: She may get fired because she’s criticized SUVs. Car dealerships are threatening to pull advertising from her radio station. LINK

Ted Koppel says ABC News has fewer foreign correspondents today than it did 30 years ago. LINK

• “A la carte” cable would mean people get exposed to less diversity in programming, says AdAge columnist Simon Dumenco. LINK

• Gay groups and the American Family Association took opposite positions on whether Ford should advertise cars in gay magazines. Ford originally said it would pull its advertising from magazines with mostly gay content. Eventually, the gay groups won. LINK

• The US military is spying on civilians who oppose the Iraq War. This includes Quakers. LINK

• Conservative groups disagree on whether Congress should mandate “a la carte” programming. The Parents Television Council and Concerned Women for America argue that a la carte is the best solution to the “indecency” problem. Meanwhile, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and TBN’s Paul Crouch, Jr., fear (logically) that a la carte programming would vastly decrease viewership of religious channels. LINK

• A trend in entertainment is increased consumer options in how to view content. Therefore, I argue that Congress should be hands-off for the next few years regarding indecency and mandated a la carte. Let things develop. LINK

• Bush told the NSA to spy on US citizens. LINK

• $300 million of our tax dollars are being spent on propaganda — for example, covertly planting stories in the press of other nations. That includes allies’. Planting propaganda is legal abroad, but not in the US. LINK

• Clear Channel owns billboards, as well as radio stations and concert halls. The company refused to post a billboard which would say, “‘Wal*Mart: Killing Local Businesses…One Main Street at a Time.” They had no problem hosting a billboard that states “George W. Bush, Our Leader.” LINK

• NPR is soooo liberal. If you believe the hype. If you look at statistics, however, NPR favors conservatives. LINK

Howard Stern aired his last show on broadcast radio. He was driven out by the pressure of FCC indecency fines. Sad day for free speech. Howard Stern will start a show on Sirius Satellite Radio on January 9, 2006. LINK

• Time Warner describes its “family tier,” which may debut next spring. LINK

Howard Stern “Reborn, Rejuvenated”

Posted by Amanda Toering
December 16, 2005 @ 1:38 pm
Filed under: Cable/Satellite, Radio, Howard

Howard Stern is looking forward to his new digs at Sirius radio, a move he’ll make in early January.

From the New york Daily News (reprinted in the Arizona Daily Star):

“You get the old Howard back,” Stern said, sitting in his still-under-construction new studio. “For those who are aficionados of the show, they would say, ‘Howard, you stopped doing a lot of things you used to do.’ And they’re right. My personal standards have been reduced. . . . You get the same guy who comes on the radio and flashes you — he opens up his brain and lets you hear everything, the ugly stuff too, the horrible stuff, the real stuff, but you’ll get that now in a way that I haven’t been able to provide since 1987.

“I feel reborn, rejuvenated.”

Stern, 51, said he left over-the-air radio because escalating FCC fines forced everyone in broadcasting to pull out of edgy content. He no longer felt he could be creative.

“What happened was the total erosion of what it is that I do,” Stern said. “I used to wake up so excited. I’d plan out my show the night before, and I’d have four or five killer (obscenity) bits, but then I’d turn it off.”

Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl didn’t help. Soon afterward, Stern was told he couldn’t air tapes of past shows — even shows that didn’t generate any complaints — because management worried they would lead to new fines.


But there is no censorship on satellite radio. And Stern plans to revisit some old material.
“What I’m going to do is go back and find everything I’ve been fined for and to make sure to do it in the first week. It will be phenomenal. You’ll see it will be so lame, you’ll see, you’ll go, ‘Who cares . . .’ It’s so ridiculous with everything going on in the world.”


[O]ne of his main concerns is, well, audience shrinkage.

The minute he ends his broadcast show today, his potential audience drops by millions, and Stern is trying to deal with the fact that not all of his audience will make the shift to Sirius.

“I’m the guy who can’t stand to give up one person in the audience,” he said. “In a way, I have such a childish view of this. I want everyone to come with me, and if they don’t, my world is wrecked. . . .

“That’s an unrealistic view — not everyone is ready to pay for radio yet, just like they weren’t ready to pay for television or bottled water.”

Projections are that Sirius Satellite Radio will have 3 million subscribers paying $12.95 a month when Stern launches.

That’s about 7 million listeners short of his audience estimates now.


NPR’s Right-Wing Bias

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 16, 2005 @ 10:46 am
Filed under: Government, Media Watch, Radio

The radio network National Public Radio is funded with federal grants, corporate donations, and individual donations.

NPR broadcasts more remarks by people at right-wing think tanks than left-wing think tanks. Their ombudsman admits this, but doesn’t consider it a problem.

From NPR ombudsman Jeffrey A. Dvorkin:

NPR does not lean on the so-called conservative think tanks as many in the audience seem to think.

…The score to date: Right 239, Left 141.

In other words, in 2005, NPR got quotes from people at right-wing think tanks 239 times and from left-wing think tanks 141 times.

But critics of NPR’s right-wing bias are supposed to take comfort that they’re not leaning as much to the right as some people might think.

From the Daily Howler:

Dvorkin says that NPR “does not lean on the so-called conservative think tanks as many in the audience seem to think.” As evidence, he offers a numerical accounting which tilts almost two-to-one toward conservative think tanks! Only in our broken discourse could such “logic” obtain.

Some have complained that Brookings and CSIS aren’t really think tanks of the left. But for the sake of argument, let’s leave that point to the side. Where except in the mainstream press can we find public figures who reason so strangely?

By any rational standard, Dvorkin’s figures represent one thing. So he says that they stand for the opposite!


Bob Dylan, Disc Jockey

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 13, 2005 @ 5:12 pm
Filed under: Cable/Satellite, Media Watch, Radio

There are two satellite radio companies in the US.

Sirius has signed talk-show host Howard Stern, who starts on January 9, 2006.

XM has liberal talk network Air America Radio and has signed musician Bob Dylan, who will start in March.

Dylan is a singer-songwriter-guitarist. For one hour per week, he’ll be playing the music of other musicians.

Some of Dylan’s own songs are political, including this song about war and peace released in 1963:

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, ‘n’ how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, ‘n’ how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.


Talk Show Host’s Job in Jeopardy Over SUV Comments

Posted by Chris Zammarelli
December 13, 2005 @ 3:34 pm
Filed under: Free Press, Radio, AdWatch

Blogging of the President reports (and Hotline On Call confirms) that Arnie Arnesen may lose her radio show on New Hampshire station WTPL because local car dealers are leery of advertising on the program due to her criticism of SUVs. Here are the pertinent links to this story:


Don’t Let Facts Get In the Way of a Good Story

Posted by Chris Zammarelli
December 13, 2005 @ 1:55 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch, TV, Religion, Radio

Romenesko has posted a letter sent by Plano, TX school district officials to parents about the following claim by Bill O’Reilly:

“In Plano, Texas, a school told students they couldn’t wear red and green because they are Christmas colors.”

This is not even remotely true, Superintendent Doug Otto assured concerned parents. The letter goes on to say this:

“Dr. Otto said that our attorney requested of Mr. O’Reilly that, in the future, he ask his fact checkers to do a more thorough job of confirming the facts before he airs them.”

This reminds me of a piece Matt Taibbi wrote for Rolling Stone during the 2004 election entitled Bush Like Me:

“But here’s the twist. They [Republicans and fundamentalist Christians] are not looking for facts with which to defeat opponents. They are looking for facts that ensure them an ever-expanding roster of opponents. They can be correct facts, incorrect facts, irrelevant facts, it doesn’t matter. The point is not to win the argument, the point is to make sure the argument never stops. Permanent war isn’t a policy imposed from above; it’s an emotional imperative that rises from the bottom. In a way, it actually helps if the fact is dubious or untrue (like the Swift-boat business), because that guarantees an argument. You’re arguing the particulars, where you’re right, while they’re arguing the underlying generalities, where they are.”

ADDENDUM: Crooks and Liars reports that O’Reilly made the same claim about Saginaw, MI on his radio show.

Rachel Maddow Is Hosting “The Al Franken Show”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 13, 2005 @ 11:19 am
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch, Radio

The radio program “The Al Franken Show” airs each weekday on Air America Radio from noon to 3PM Eastern Time.

Host Al Franken is doing a USO tour of Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Iraq.

Therefore, starting today and through the rest of 2005, Rachel Maddow will guest-host. She usually has her own radio show on AAR. You may have seen Maddow on Tucker Carlson’s MSNBC cable TV show, “The Situation.” But since that TV show doesn’t get great ratings, you may not have.

Recently, conservative Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media wrote “I tuned in once last week [to Tucker Carlson’s cable TV show], only to discover that he was still wasting valuable airtime bantering with liberal lesbian Rachel Maddow.”

That is the entirety of what Kincaid writes about Rachel Maddow in that column. Was Kincaid fair to her?

Judge for yourself. You can listen to Air America Radio over the internet for free.

« Update of December 19, 2005 »

It turns out that while Maddow guest-hosted last week, this week they are playing “The Best of The Al Franken Show.”


“Now Is One of Your Last Chances to Hear Him Bleeped”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 11, 2005 @ 7:06 pm
Filed under: Action, FCC, Free Speech, Cable/Satellite, Government, TV, Indecency, Radio, Howard

This title is the slogan that cable channel Comedy Central is using to advertise Howard Stern’s interview with Jon Stewart on Tuesday’s “The Daily Show.”

Comedian Howard Stern is moving from broadcast radio, in which indecency is illegal, to satellite radio, where it’s legal to say almost anything.

Indecency is vaguely defined as “language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community broadcast standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.”

Please let your Congressperson and Senators know that you DON’T want indecency regulations applied to satellite radio (or satellite television or cable television). In other words, please ask Congress to maintain free speech on those systems.

You can find contact information for Congress at


Bill O’Reilly Flip-Flops On “Happy Holidays”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 10, 2005 @ 7:29 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch, TV, Religion, Radio

Bill O’Reilly thinks the greeting “Happy Holidays” is anti-Christian.

Or, Bill O’Reilly thinks the greeting “Happy Holidays” is common sense when addressing someone without knowing that person’s religion.

O’Reilly has taken both positions recently.

Talking to Neil Cavuto on Fox News’ “Your World” on November 30, 2005, O’Reilly said the following:

Then the business community says we don’t want to offend anybody, so we’re not going to say “Merry Christmas.” We’re going to say “Happy Holidays, all right? That offends millions of Christians, see? Eighty-five percent of the country calls itself Christian.

…Acknowledge what it’s all about, the federal holiday of Christmas. If you don’t, then Christians start to say, “You don’t like us. You’re anti-Christian, you have an anti-Christian bias.

Yesterday a caller on Bill O’Reilly’s radio show said he didn’t tip a waitress because she wished him “Happy Holidays.”

At first O’Reilly said that he should have tipped her and that she had no way of knowing if he’s Jewish or Muslim or whatever.

Then the caller, “Kevin” in Los Angeles, said that it’s just like the stores that say “Happy Holidays” — which O’Reilly has railed against.

From Bill O’Reilly’s “The Radio Factor” on December 9, 2005:

Caller Kevin in Los Angeles: I had a very good meal, and the service was very good, etc. and then the waitress came up at the end and…gave me the check and she says “Happy Holidays” and I swear to God…I thought..”what kind of American is this?” and I gave her no tip…

O’Reilly: But why though? Why, I mean, whoa…hold on. The little waitress comes up to you and says “Happy Holidays.” She doesn’t know whether you’re Jewish, whether you’re a Muslim, whether you’re a Buddhist or anything. So why would you be, why would you be offended by that?

Kevin: …I wanted to punch her in the face..when you go into these stores, y’know, where they don’t say…they don’t know, either whether you’re Jewish or not or anything else.

O’Reilly then seemed to realize that the caller is probably a liberal who had successfully set him up to flip-flop. O’Reilly claimed that he’s not against the greeting “Happy Holidays,” just against stores that have banned the word “Christmas.”

O’Reilly didn’t name any such stores (because there are none).

Kevin in Los Angeles: Congratulations on your phone call.

Brad of BradBlog: Thanks for posting the audio.

« Second great phone call to Bill O’Reilly in a week »

By the way, this was the second clever phone call to Bill O’Reilly about the supposed “War on Christmas.” On December 6, 2005, blogger Scoobie Davis pointed out that Bill O’Reilly won’t condemn the real anti-Christian gesture by Reverend Sun Myung Moon, Washington Times owner, of paying people to pose throwing out the cross.


Anti-Christian Gesture

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 7, 2005 @ 4:35 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch, Free Press, Religion, Radio

There has been a lot of blather from Bill O’Reilly that cashiers saying “Happy Holidays” is “anti-Christian.”

O’Reilly is wrong. Here is a gesture that is really anti-Christian:

a man puts a large wooden cross into a dumpster as another man watches

“During the American Clergy Leadership Conference tour that the president hailed last week, pastor John Kingara of Massachusetts puts a cross out with the garbage, April 18, 2003 (Source: [Sun Myung] Moon’s Web site” - The Gadflyer

Reverend Sun Myung Moon is the owner of the conservative newspaper, The Washington Times.

Reverend Moon paying people to pose for photos throwing out crosses (apparently he believes this will help him become the Messiah) is really anti-Christian.

But does Bill O’Reilly object?

Blogger Scoobie Davis decided to call into O’Reilly’s radio show to find out. He phoned in as “Stanley”:

O’REILLY: Stanley, San Diego, California. What’s going on, Stanley?

SCOOBIE: Hello, Bill. I really think this whole, like, fight for Christmas has been overblown and I think it’s largely hypocritical. For one thing, the newspaper that’s championing this — this so-called fight to protect Christmas — is the Washington Times which is owned by Sun Myung Moon who paid black ministers to throw crosses into dumpsters. So when you talk about this Utah cross controversy, why don’t you denounce somebody like Sun Myung Moon?


O’REILLY: Because I don’t know anything about him, and I didn’t even know the Washington Times was involved with this, and I wouldn’t smear Sun Myung Moon anyway, the way you just did, Stanley. I mean, you’re taking it right out of the left-wing playbook — can’t win the debate, smear the person. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.


Reverend Moon owns the biggest right-wing newspaper in Washington, DC, and Bill O’Reilly didn’t have a negative word to say about him.

It’s possible that Bill O’Reilly is unfamiliar with this issue of Reverend Moon paying people to throw crosses into the trash. But if so, and O’Reilly wanted to learn the truth, he could have talked to Scoobie Davis instead of immediately disconnecting the call and dismissing the issue as a “smear.”


Producer of ‘Howard Stern On Demand’ Searches for Racy Material

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 7, 2005 @ 7:08 am
Filed under: Cable/Satellite, TV, Radio, Howard

Howard Stern is a controversial talk-radio host.

Videos of his radio show are now available to digital cable subscribers, via pay-per-view. Comcast is one of the companies selling these video viewings.

Doug Goodstein has the job of combing through material that may have been censored (like pixilated breasts) on Howard Stern’s E! Show to present it uncensored for pay-per-view consumers. (E! is a “basic” cable channel, meaning that like CNN and MTV, it is part of a package that most cable TV subscribers receive. Legally, “basic cable” channels have as much right to show bare breasts as pay-per-view, but traditionally, bare breasts aren’t shown on “basic cable.” )

Goodstein is profiled in the Wall Street Journal, “Stern’s ‘Anti-Censor’ Combs for Controversy” by Joe Flint.


New Year, New Morning Shows at “Air America Radio”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 5, 2005 @ 10:17 pm
Filed under: Media Watch, Radio

Air America Radio is a liberal talk radio network.

AAR is available in a variety of formats, including over the internet.

They recently cancelled “Morning Sedition.”

I received an email tonight from AAR which says in part:

Beginning Monday, Jan. 2, the new morning format, “Air America Mornings,” will broadcast weekdays from 5-9am EST… Veteran radio talk show host and current co-host of “Morning Sedition,” Mark Riley, will lead off “Air America Mornings” with “The Mark Riley Show” from 5-7am EST. Leaning on his long-term expertise as a New York City metro host, Riley will highlight the top news stories of the day and will also interview various guests.

Rachel Maddow will take her highly-rated and acclaimed show, “The Rachel Maddow Show,” to the 7-9am EST slot. In addition to continuing to give listeners fast-paced news and witty soundbites, Maddow will also engage in an ensemble of diverse at-large correspondents.

What about “Morning Sedition” host Marc Maron? The email says:

Comedian and co-host of “Morning Sedition,” Marc Maron, is returning to Los Angeles and is currently in negotiations with Air America Radio to host his own syndicated show.

« Additional note about Air America »

Today, I saw about half of “The Al Franken Show” in Minneapolis (Franken is touring to promote his book). Watching a radio show performed has all the visual excitement of watching a man sit at a table near a microphone. The highlight of the portion of the show I watched was when Franken got up to sing an introduction to Christy Harvey of the Center for American Progress, who joined the show by phone.


FCC Source: Expect TV Complaint Rulings Soon, Radio Rulings Later

Posted by Amanda Toering
November 30, 2005 @ 2:46 pm
Filed under: FCC, TV, Indecency, Radio

Billboard Radio Monitor reports that the FCC will likely report on pending television indecency complaints by December 9th, the day that commissioner Kathleen Abernathy is scheduled to step down. (For the record, various sources have been promising that the rulings would take place “in upcoming weeks” for several months now.)

The rulings may make the agency’s nebulous criteria clearer.

From Billboard:

According the timetable of an FCC source, [television complaints] would need to be voted on by, or before, Friday, Dec. 9, Abernathy’s last day as a commissioner. This same source said a package of radio-related NALs won’t be released until early 2006.

The timing is such that it would also give FCC chairman Martin a chance to show progress on the indecency front by issuing a set of indecency decisions within calendar year 2005. After a record-setting number of fines issued in 2004, the FCC hasn’t written a single NAL for indecency this year.

Another source, a communications attorney and a former staffer at the FCC, suggested that both packages would make interesting reading “if they [the commissioners and staff] give any guidance.” This source suggested that the creation of these two packages, if they do include more than a few NALs, also would be a relatively unique set of items handed down by the FCC. The only other example of a set of NALs being handled by the FCC as one package was in January 2005, involving complaints lodged by the Parents Television Council.

“The easiest way to do a package like this,” said the source, “is to take, say, five NALs that are indecent and say ‘These are indecent and here’s why,’ and to take another five NALs that are not indecent and say so. The harder thing is to take five NALs that are at the margin and say ‘These are at the margin and here’s why they’re indecent,’ and then to take another five, that are also at the margin, but aren’t indecent and to explain why.”


Cheney Wanted the War for Halliburton Profits

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 29, 2005 @ 6:48 pm
Filed under: Government, Media Watch, Radio

Say so, and Bill O’Reilly is going to expose you!

Bill O’Reilly is the conservative host of a daily radio show and a nightly TV show.

Crooks and Liars has audio of Bill O’Reilly saying on his radio show that people mustn’t say that Bush and Cheney wanted to go to war in Iraq to get contracts for Halliburton — because there is no proof. Therefore, O’Reilly is going to name names on his TV and radio shows to expose people who make that allegation.

Mr. O’Reilly, start with me.

I don’t believe Bush wanted in the Iraq War for Halliburton. But Cheney, hell yes.

For proof, a few facts:

Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton from 1995-2000.

Cheney continues to receive deferred salary from Halliburton.

Cheney owns stock options in Halliburton.

Cheney got Halliburton a no-bid contract before the Iraq War, which only applied if there was a war.

Cheney went to the CIA building to speak with low-level CIA employees to express his interest in evidence for the existence of WMD in Iraq.

Cheney went on TV shows to promote the notion that Muhammed Atta (a 9/11 hijacker) met with an Iraqi official in Prague. (Phone and ATM records show Atta was in Florida at the time.)

Cheney declared before the war that there is “no doubt” that Iraq had a nuclear weapons program at that time. (They didn’t.)

Halliburton has overcharged the government, but the military has continued giving them no-bid contracts thanks to high-level interference.

Why did Cheney taint and distort the intelligence on WMD? I say greed.

Want to name my name Mr. O’Reilly? Go ahead.


Al Franken Dislikes How Bob Woodward Wrote About John Belushi

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 20, 2005 @ 7:59 pm
Filed under: Government, Media Watch, Radio

Audio Excerpt from the November 17, 2005 “Al Franken Show”

Al Franken is now a host on “Air America Radio.” He used to be a writer for the TV show “Saturday Night Live.”

John Belushi was one of the original actors on SNL.

Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward wrote “Wired” in 1985, a book about John Belushi’s drug use.

Woodward has been in the news recently for receiving leaks from the Bush Administration about Valerie Plame. Woodward publicly commented on the crime, describing it as “quite minimal” without revealing his own involvement.

Franken said on his November 17, 2005 radio show that Woodward isn’t his favorite reporter, not only because of the recent Valerie Plame revelations, but also because of the book “Wired.”

Franken quoted Tom Davis, his fellow SNL writer, as saying that:

Writing about John Belushi and focusing on the cocaine is like writing a college yearbook titled “Puked” and describing college as a series of puking incidents (”No one fell in love, no one studied math, no one read Dostoevsky for the first time, they just puked, and that’s how much justice he did to John.”)

“Stephanie Miller Show” Bits

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 19, 2005 @ 8:07 am
Filed under: Opinion, Media Watch, Radio

The Stephanie Miller Show” is a talk-radio show produced in California.

I’m in Minnesota. A few weeks ago, the show was added to “Air America Minnesota” (9AM-11AM Central Time.)

I’m a new listener of Stephanie Miller’s show and I like it.

You can hear bits of the show by clicking the phrases which scroll across the top-of-the-screen at:


Sinclair Uses the Public Airwaves to Promote the GOP

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 18, 2005 @ 1:01 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch, TV, Radio, Broadcasters

Sinclair is a large TV company.

“Sinclair’s television group includes 20 FOX, 19 WB, 6 UPN, 8 ABC, 3 CBS, 4 NBC affiliates and 2 independent stations and reaches approximately 24% of all U.S. television households.” -

They use their broadcast television stations to push a right-wing agenda.

From the Internet Movie Database:

Former and current news employees of Sinclair Broadcasting have described the owners’ campaign to court powerful conservative legislators who responded by clearing away legal obstacles and thereby allow Sinclair to become the largest owner of TV stations in America.

In interviews appearing in GQ magazine, the employees describe how they were subjected to political litmus tests before being hired, how they were ordered to report only “good news” about Iraq, how an interview with President Bush was delivered to stations with orders to replace the image of the interviewer with that of the local anchor, and how stations were required to run a nightly right-wing editorial delivered by Sinclair exec Mark Hyman that once accused the late Peter Jennings of “appearing to favor terrorists over America.” (One local producer said that when she used a graphic to identify Hyman’s commentary as an “editorial,” Sinclair officials ordered her to remove the offending word.)

Former Sinclair Reporter Jon Leiberman, who was fired for protesting against a planned anti-Kerry documentary last year (Leiberman says he voted for Bush in both presidential elections) said that Sinclair co-owner David Smith once told him his news reports ought “to look more like Mark’s editorials.” In addition to providing ideological aid, the GQ article alleges, Smith and his three brothers have reportedly contributed $2.3 million to the campaigns of key Republican Congressmen.

On broadcast radio, Rush Limbaugh promotes the Republicans and Al Franken promotes the Democrats.

There is a degree of symmetry in talk-radio, though Limbaugh has ten times the listeners of Franken (15 million to 1.5 million.)

But on broadcast television, there is no liberal equivalent to Mark Hyman’s conservative editorials, which are shown during local news broadcasts in many US cities (62 stations in 39 markets.)

The Fairness Act was struck down by courts in the 1980s, and vetoed by Ronald Reagan when Congress tried to restore it. There is no law directly requiring balance anymore, just a vague concept that broadcasters should use public airwaves for the public interest.

But when a conservative company is using its broadcast TV stations to editorialize for a right-wing agenda, and there is no equivalent on the left, something is wrong.


Radio Host Tom Joyner: Don’t Fine Station Owners for Vulgarity, Fine the Potty-mouths

Posted by Amanda Toering
November 15, 2005 @ 12:04 pm
Filed under: FCC, Indecency, Radio

Long-time radio host Tom Joyner has opined that the way to prevent dirty words from leaking onto the airwaves is to fine shock jocks — not their employers.

Here’s what Joyner has to say in the Raleigh-Durham News & Observer:

U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska plans to reopen hearings later this month on obscenity in broadcasting. Congress persists in beating that dead horse and, unless it changes tactics, this will continue to be much ado about nothing.

I spent 42 years in radio and television broadcasting. I ran a morning show on radio for more than 15 years at a time when we had to find a way to be funny without being profane. Even “hell” and “damn” were banned. Board operators (DJs) were licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, and it was not worth losing our livelihood over potty-mouthed humor.

In time, the FCC dropped that requirement and the era of “shock jocks” dawned. The agency, with pressure from Congress, has been trying to get that genie back into the bottle ever since. Fines against the owners of media outlets have greatly increased, yet the problem remains. Apparently some in Congress feel that even greater fines against station owners will do the trick. They are wrong. Following my DJ days, I owned 44 radio stations in 13 states and so my perspective comes from both sides of the microphone.

Owners of radio and television stations do have a responsibility to police their airwaves as much as possible. They have to try to balance the shock jocks’ inclination to push the envelope against the need for increased ratings. Without those ratings the station loses advertisers and profitability. So what is the answer?

Continue to fine radio and television station licensees when the content of their broadcasts goes over the line — but reinstate the licensing of radio announcers, and impose fines or suspensions for announcers when their activity brings sanctions against their employer.

Shock jocks could care less when the FCC fines someone else, but when the money comes from their own pockets it will get their attention. Repeated violations should result in a revocation of the offending DJ’s license to broadcast. That would introduce them to a real world where saying “Would you like fries with that” would allow them to exercise their vocal chords.

Congress is wasting its time, and our money, ratcheting up fines against the owners of broadcast stations. Most, if not all, have already taken positive steps to curb the abuse — but when a legend in his own mind leans into the microphone and deliberately crosses the bounds of decency at 6:15 in the morning, the licensee is vulnerable.

Don’t just ratchet up the fines against the person who owns the house. If the arsonist pays a stiff penalty, we’ll be getting closer to the solution.

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Bill O’Reilly: OK For Terrorists to Blow Up a Building in San Francisco, CA

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 11, 2005 @ 6:17 am
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Media Watch, Radio

San Francisco is discouraging military recruiters from visiting high schools and colleges.

Personally, I never saw military recruiters at my high school when I was a student (though I got plenty of phone calls from them at home in those days). Therefore, I don’t see anything radical about San Francisco’s policy.

However, Bill O’Reilly said about San Francisco on the November 8 broadcast of his radio show, “If Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it. We’re going to say, look, every other place in America is off-limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.”

Some of the visitors to Coit Tower in San Francisco are tourists. The local visitors to Coit Tower include both people who agree and people who disagree with Iraq policy. None of them should be murdered.

Media Matters for America has the audio of Bill O’Reilly’s remarks.

Note that while San Francisco’s measure doesn’t ban recruiters from high school and college campuses (it’s advisory), Bill O’Reilly told his radio audience that the initiative would “ban military recruiting.”

MSNBC’s website says O’Reilly’s remarks about San Francisco and terrorism were edited out of the archive of the broadcast:

Adding to the buzz was the archived version of O’Reilly’s Tuesday show, which omitted the incendiary comments, according to Bay Area TV station KNTV.

It’s unclear if they mean the transcript or audio file or both. On MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” tonight, Olbermann said the transcript at O’Reilly’s website had O’Reilly’s controversial remarks removed.

« Update of November 14, 2005 »

Bill O’Reilly’s website is no longer trying to hide the remarks. A post at his official blog today asks people to listen to the remarks in context.

I don’t find the context redeeming.


Stephanie Miller Interviews Paul Hackett

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 10, 2005 @ 6:54 pm
Filed under: Free Speech, Government, Media Watch, Radio

Stephanie Miller hosts a liberal talk radio show from California.

This morning, she interviewed Paul Hackett by phone. Paul Hackett is a retired Marine major who served in the Iraq War. He is seeking the Democratic nomination for US Senator from Ohio.

Hackett said that Democrats stand for the our Freedoms of FDR — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from fear, freedom from want.

Hackett also said that Democrats stand for fiscal responsibility and limited government. Limited government includes keeping out of decisions between a woman and her doctor, keeping out of what neighbors are doing behind closed doors, etc.

Listen to the interview (11 minutes).

Bill O’Reilly Explains Why He Doesn’t Have Someone From “Media Matters” on His Show

Posted by Eric Jaffa
October 26, 2005 @ 9:36 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch, TV, Radio

Media Matters for America is an organization whose website corrects mistakes and lies in reporting.

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly frequently discusses “Media Matters” and calls the people who work there names. In the past, he has compared them to the Klan .

So why not give them a chance to respond on his TV show or his radio show?

“Media Matters” has posted O’Reilly’s explanation:

From the October 21 broadcast of Westwood One’s The Radio Factor with Bill O’Reilly:

CALLER: But the point that I want to make today is, you’ve been talking a lot about far-left smearing websites. I actually went to one of those websites a couple of days ago. They have your audio, they have your video. And I’m kind of surprised that you’re still challenging them on their material. So why don’t you invite them, like Media Matters, to your show and debate the issues?

O’REILLY: OK. Number one, [caller], you’re a dishonest person. Because you’re not a big fan of mine. You’re not anything, OK? What you are is one of these little Kool-Aid-drinking, left-wing idiots who calls up and under the guise of “Hey, you know, Bill, I like you, I listen to The Factor” — yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re a liar.

You want me to legitimize a website that is 100 percent dishonest, that takes things out of context, that feeds them to fanatical people like Macarena Hernandez, which is where she got her garbage.

You want me to put them on and legitimize them.

All right? Give them notoriety and all of that. See, look, I know your game. You’re a weasel, and you’re in with other weasels. You’re exactly where you should be. Those people will never, ever — I don’t deal with dishonest people. Don’t call here again.


Randi Rhodes Being Heard By More Minnesotans

Posted by Eric Jaffa
October 26, 2005 @ 2:56 pm
Filed under: Media Watch, Radio

I’m in Minnesota, in the Twin Cities area.

The local affiliate of the progressive radio network, “Air America Radio” is “Air America Minnesota.”

Until recently, radio host Randi Rhodes was only played on “Air America Minnesota” in the middle of the night.

Randi Rhodes with long straight hair
Randi Rhodes, Radio Host

But Air America Minnesota has a new schedule this week, with Randi Rhodes airing from 6PM-9PM:

Al Franken - 11AM
Ed Schultz - 2PM
Rachel Maddow - 5PM (rebroadcast)
Randi Rhodes - 6PM (rebroadcast)
Majority Report (with Sam Seder and Janeane Garafalo) - 9PM (rebroadcast)
Mike Malloy - midnight (rebroadcast)

The evening Rachel Maddow Show is a rebroadcast of the show she does early in the morning, which is also aired on Air America Minnesota.

The Randi Rhodes Show, The Majority Report and The Mike Malloy Show are rebroadcasts of shows done 3 or 4 hours earlier, but not played on Air America Minnesota.

People in Minnesota and elsewhere who want to listen to the latter shows live, can still do so via the Air America Radio website.


‘Air America Radio’ Gets Awful Ratings in DC

Posted by Eric Jaffa
October 20, 2005 @ 1:46 pm
Filed under: Media Watch, Radio

From the Washington Post:

Air America, the liberal talk network carried on WWRC-AM (1260), went from bad to nonexistent. After WWRC recorded a mere fraction of a rating point in the spring with syndicated shows from the likes of lefty talkers Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo and Stephanie Miller, Arbitron couldn’t detect a measurable listenership for the station this time around.

I was eager for AAR to get on the air in Washington, DC.

I figured it would give them a bigger place in the national debate, since a lot of national-media people work in DC.

But AM in DC isn’t working out. Maybe AAR should try FM in DC.

The New Howard Stern Show

Posted by Eric Jaffa
October 20, 2005 @ 9:13 am
Filed under: Free Speech, Government, Media Watch, Indecency, Radio, Howard

Talk radio host Howard Stern will soon have more freedom.

Stern’s radio show is moving from the broadcast band, where content is subject to FCC indecency fines, to satellite.

His radio show will be carried on Sirius:

Scott Greenstein, president of entertainment and sports for Sirius, said, “Howard has a history of knowing where the lines are, and we’re confident he’ll continue to retain that perspective at Sirius.”

Mr. Greenstein added, however, “We want to make sure he gets to do the show he wants.”

Which actually could pose a creative challenge for Mr. Stern. To many listeners, he was best when railing against Michael Powell - the former chairman of the F.C.C., which over the years has levied decency fines of more than $2 million on Infinity and the stations that carry his program - and his own squeamish bosses. Just this week, Mr. Stern was reprimanded on the air by Tom Chiusano, general manager of WXRK-FM, his home station, for going too far with a bit that involved the weighing of bodily waste.

Mr. Stern, who signs off WXRK in mid-December, promised an uncensored version on Sirius, which is not subject to FCC regulation. Asked if he was worried that he might lose his edge without having a foil in a position of authority, Mr. Stern said he was not.

“If you know me, there’s nothing that will make me completely happy,” he said. “I will find the thorn on the rose every time.

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