Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Air America Radio officially offers to host Republican debates

Only a week into the job, Mark Green is keeping quite busy as the new president of Air America Radio. And he's still maintaining a good sense of humor.

In an obvious jab at the FOX News Channel over the recent Nevada debate debacle, Green sent a personal letter to the chairmen of four state Republican parties, offering to sponsor and host the state parties' upcoming presidential debate.

Green, in a serious letter to the Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina Republican chairmen, claimed that an Air America-sponsored Republican debate "would allow Republicans to differentiate themselves from Democrats."

Last week, the Nevada State Democratic Party dropped plans for Fox to broadcast an August debate after furious pressure from online activists and Roger Ailes' 'foot-in-mouth' disease. Green turned down an invitation from FOX to be the token liberal at the Nevada debate, but did offer to partner with FOX or another conservative outlet for a potential Air America-sponsored one.

According to Green, writing at Huffington Post, "After Nevada Democrats dropped Fox as a host of its Democratic presidential debate - and after Fox denounced the move as anti-free speech and "Stalinist" - I thought...damn right! How dare the progressive party in America not allow the conservative Fox to air its presidential debate. So I today contacted key Republican party chairs in the four early primary and caucus states to ask that Air America host their Republican presidential debates. A blow for speech and against Stalin in one swoop."

Here's a text of the letter:

Dear Republican Chairman Ray Hoffmann of Iowa, Republican Chairman Paul Willis of Nevada, Republican Chairman Katon Dawson of South Carolina and Republican Chairman Fergus Cullen of New Hampshire,

As the new president of Air America, I'd like to offer to host or co-host one of your upcoming presidential debates.

Why us? First, this would allow your debate to reach many voters. Combining our 2 million radio audience, along with our satellite, internet and web audiences, means that some 2.5 million Americans would hear or read about the debate..

Second, it would allow Republicans to differentiate themselves from Democrats – embracing a debate hosted by a progressive media outlet after Nevada Democrats canceled a debate scheduled to be hosted by the conservative Fox Cable News Channel. The MoveOn organization spurred 265,000 people to complain about the original plan, calling Fox a “mouthpiece for the Republican Party.” In reply, Fox’s Mort Kondracke called the Nevada Democratic Party's rejection of Fox a “Stalinist” violation of “free speech and free debate.” So should you accept Air America's offer, Republicans would both embrace free debate and stick it to Stalin at the same time.

Third, our offer permits you to include any other national media company as a co-host -- like Fox. For example, a panel with Fox representing the conservative viewpoint and Air America the progressive viewpoint would make for a very "fair and balanced" debate -- not to mention that Fox's viewers per evening are coincidentally comparable to our 2.5 million listeners, meaning that several million unique people would hear your debate (assuming next to no overlap between our two disparate audiences).

We would be honored not only to co-host such an event; but also to broadcast it live without commercial interruption on the day that you choose.

I look forward to your response and to working with you on this important event.


Mark Green
President, Air America Radio

Further reading: Here's a new Village Voice article about Mark Green taking the reigns at Air America. The article shows how the Greens' deal to buy the network came together, how keeping CEO Scott Elberg was a no-brainer, the whole debate thing, and a little tiff with the opinion page editor of the New York Post. Definitely worth a read.


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