Yep, as we are one week away from the mayhem that is the general election season, it's time to put on the pundit hat once again.
The 2008 Democratic Convention is now in the history books, and the Broncos and Nuggets get their sports facilities back. It was a helluva shindig, with some rather monumental moments, including memorable unifying speeches by both Bill and Hillary Clinton; direct, fiery diatribes by 2004 nominee John Kerry and current VP nominee Joe Biden and of course, a phenomenal game plan rolled out last night in an explosive nomination speech by Barack Obama, followed appropriately by fireworks in place of the traditional balloons.
And now, it's off to St. Paul for the Republican Convention next week. Needless to say, the RNC gig, never known for exciting moments, will have a tough act to follow. It is highly unlikely that their party's nominee, John McCain, will eclipse his counterpart in excitement level. Even with his eye-opening pick for the running mate slot, announced today.
Like many of you reading this, I hoped he'd select some loser like Mitt Romney or Joe Lieberman. Forbidding that, I would have even been amused if he picked Tim Pawlenty, the Minnesota governor with a bland personality and a bit of a bridge problem. Evidently, the Republicans didn't have much to choose from.
There were even slimmer pickings if McCain opted for the adventure pick. The token 'man of color,' Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is barely old enough to be eligible for a national ticket, and could probably scare away the white southern fundie base that indirectly controls the party. Romney's Mormon faith scares the fundies even more that Catholicism. Same with Lieberman's Judaism. How 'bout an alleged closeted gay VP? We all knew Florida Governor Charlie Crist was a no-go.
There aren't enough women to choose from in the party. At least women with much-needed credibility and name recognition. Loyal Bush administration stalwart Condoleeza Rice could have been justified, but I'm sure McCain wanted distance from the current president, to help forget the 95% of the time he sided with Bush during his last eight years in the Senate. He could have gone for youth, to at least help the party generate future leaders. Needless to say, the 'Party of No Ideas' has long been lacking in new blood, a dilemma that will hurt them for years to come. They are starting to resemble the Democrats of the 70s and 80s. Some fresh meat, like conservative think tank darling Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, currently half the age of the party's nominee, would have made McCain seem even older than he already is by comparison.
The most experienced person on the eventual VP short list, Tom Ridge, is the Bill Richardson of his party. He is the former governor of a battleground state (Pennsylvania) and first head of the Department of Homeland Security. He's got the stuff. But Ridge was likely done in once again by the evangelical crowd, who could likely never forgive his pro-choice stance on abortion. It was the same thing that likely did him in as Bush's running mate in 2000. So what did that leave? McCain could have bit the bullet and gone with Romney, who was the runner-up in the primaries or Lieberman, who the GOP cynically believe would actually attract Democrats and bolstered McCain's overly-hyped and nonexistent 'maverick' reputation. So that left a bunch of boring and rather inoffensive white guys like Pawlenty. The safest pick, one that nobody would have quarreled with, would have been Mike Huckabee, but he probably wouldn't have added much 'oomph' to the ticket.
So, what's a guy to do? Looks like he went the adventure route. In a rather cynical ploy, and ironically following months of blasting his opponent over perceived inexperience, McCain let his rivals pick his ticket. In his first notable decision as his party's nominee, he selected 44-year-old Sarah Palin, the little-known governor of Alaska, the second-least populated state in the country, to be his running mate.
Umm... Sarah Palin
Yes, Sarah Palin.
I honestly think McCain has given up in his campaign bid.
Before Palin's one and a half years as governor, she was a small town mayor. Did I mention she also headed the local PTA? Oh, and she was runner-up for Miss Alaska. If they thought Obama was supposedly lacking in his resume, Palin looks like an absolute neophyte by comparison. She has even less experience than the previously obscure Geraldine Ferraro, who in 1984 became the first woman ever nominated by a major party on a national ticket.
Now, I have always thought that the whole 'experience' thing is highly overrated. Either a candidate has or doesn't have the ability to lead. Experience doesn't account for that. James Buchanan in 1856 was probably the most experienced person to be elected president. His administration turned out to be a disaster that literally ripped the country apart. Meanwhile, his successor brought with him an underwhelming two years in the House as his only real government experience. His name was Abraham Lincoln, and to this day his name is exploited by the Republican Party he helped found. Lincoln's previous lack of experience is something, however, we hear little about by the modern-day GOP. Especially considering what they've been throwing at Obama as of late. One would assume those 'not ready to lead' ads will quietly hit the dustbin now that Palin's on the ticket, but we are talking about the GOP, which has absolutely no shame or sense of irony whatsoever. And if the Democratic Party doesn't mercilessly lash out at McCain for the blatant hypocrisy of putting someone like Palin a heartbeat from the presidency behind a 72-year-old man, then Obama should change his last name to Kerry, roll over and play dead.
We all know the Palin selection was a half-assed grab of recreating the Barack/Hillary scuffles of earlier this year, disregarding that much of Hillary's appeal was her notoriety. But it is likely the most effective way they envision of muzzling the sharp-tongued Democratic VP nominee, Joe Biden, who scares them shitless. The choice of Biden for Democratic running mate directly influenced the selection of Palin. In a debate and on the campaign trail, Biden would have eaten Romney, Pawlenty, et al alive. Now, he has to tread more carefully, lest he be seen as a beast for clawing up the young, perky Palin. In addition, like Biden, she has a son involved directly in the Iraq conflict. And while Biden plays well with blue collar voters, Palin's husband is himself a blue collar worker, as well as member of the United Steelworkers Union. As if the GOP ever really gave two shits about labor unions.
All in all, the selection of Palin smacks of one thing - desperation. They were obviously hungry for youth, particularly since the guy at the top of the ticket just turned
85 72 today. And they made a crass play to the PUMA crowd, a rather cranky group long angry that Hillary Clinton didn't get the nod for the Democrats, no matter how much they spun and massaged the numbers. Never mind that quite a few of the PUMAs likely weren't Democrats to begin with. And the fact that Sen. Clinton directly pleaded with her die-hards to fall in line and support the current Democratic ticket. Yes, these delusional Republicans are going all-out for what remains of the disenfranchised unforgiving Hillary voters, most of whom have already moved on.
Yes indeed, the McCain crowd thinks women across the land will vote for him because of the estrogen level on the other side of the ticket. Doesn't matter that the 2008 platform of the so-called 'party of small government' specifically states that they want to take control of women's uteruses, and have done a great deal over the decades to play up the 1950s ideal of being 'barefoot and pregnant.' Or that the grumpy old man leading the way dumped his faithful first wife for being 'too fat' (she wasn't) and opted for the skinner, blonder and richer trophy mistress. McCain hopes women will forget that he typically addresses said-trophy wife as a 'cunt,' reportedly slapped her around and recently toyed at offering her up at the annual Sturgis, SD biker rally to compete in a bawdy onstage competition for something called "Miss Buffalo Chip." If John McSame thinks women will support him because Palin is on the ticket, he likely thinks they'll vote for Ike Turner as well.
Meanwhile, Biden was aggressive in introducing domestic violence legislation in the Senate, long grieved his loved first wife after her death, raised his children as a working single father and has been very happily married to his current wife Jill for almost 30 years. The Obamas have also been married for many years and enjoy a terrific relationship. Even past all the smoke and mirrors, who's really looking out for women's interests?
The entire McCain campaign (and overall GOP effort this year) is in panic mode, being reactive rather than proactive in their moves. How else can one justify or defend a time of economic turmoil and the unpopular Bush administration with a straight face? Living in a so-called battleground state, I have seen just about every national political ad conceived this year. The GOP ones were truly ridiculous. Very little policy was presented. Rather, it was a barrage of pseudo-patiotic jingoism, personal attacks, character assassinations and cheap shots. They derided Obama as a celebrity for drawing tens of thousands of people to events. They claimed he's willing to lose in Iraq if it would put him in the White House, even though McCain himself thinks he's entitled to the office because he did five years in a Vietnamese brig. To pile on, they played the worn-out 'raise your taxes' card, even though Obama has been very specific about lowering them for most of the population. Missing in all this anti-Obama propaganda is anything resembling a McCain agenda. What exactly does he stand for, anyway?
So, what's going to happen in the next ten weeks? Will McSame actually tell us what it is he stands for, or will he continue to obsess over his more popular opponent? Will he actually be about substance, rather than the fact he thinks he deserves the office because he was a POW? Will the selection of Sarah Palin show he actually gives a rip about women, or is it all just smoke and mirrors? And will Palin be entered in next year's Miss Buffalo Chip competition in Sturgis? Time will tell, but I think all of us can agree that this will not be a boring election season.
And in all honesty, I am wrestling with pro and con opinions over Palin selection, mostly con. On one hand, it is kind of a shrewd attempt to bring women voters into the otherwise unwelcoming GOP fold. On the other, is she really just an empty shell in way over her head? Is she the GOP's next big thing, or is she Dan Quayle in a dress?
Hey, at least she's better than Dick Cheney. Then again, who isn't?
Friday, August 29, 2008
Yep, as we are one week away from the mayhem that is the general election season, it's time to put on the pundit hat once again.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
No, not that Reagan. It's Ron Reagan.
From the press release:
MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL – Air America Media will be reporting live from the Republican National Convention, taking place September 1-4 in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Talk show host and political pundit Ron Reagan will join Lionel, Thom Hartmann, Rachel Maddow and David Bender, reporting on all programs originating from Minneapolis-St. Paul and co-anchoring the evening coverage with Bender. Programming will feature interviews and analysis with conservative and liberal opinion makers, newsmakers and members of the media/blogosphere.
Programming plans include:
• "The Lionel Show" (weekdays 9-12P ET), "The Thom Hartmann Program" (weekdays 12-3P ET) and "The Rachel Maddow Show" (weekdays 6-9P ET) will be broadcasting live from Minneapolis-St. Paul.
• "Convention: Special Team Coverage" airs all four nights of the convention beginning at 8P ET, featuring Reagan, Bender and special guests discussing the daily happenings on and off the convention floor.
Former KGO/San Francisco radio host Bernie Ward has been sentenced to 87 months in prison for distribution of child pornography.
The sentence is close to the prosection's request for a nine-year prison term. Ward's attorney, Doron Weinberg, had asked the court for a five year sentence.
At the sentencing hearing earlier today, Ward cited abuse as a youngster for his actions and said "I regret my actions, the harm the caused my family, my friends and this community... I take full responsibility." Judge Vaughn Walker accepted the prosecution's argument that Ward's use of a computer in trading pornographic images should be considered an enhancement warranting additional time for the sentence.
Ward has until noon Friday to surrender to federal marshals.
Monday, August 25, 2008
It sounds like an idea so obviously stupid-proof that it almost couldn't possibly have come from the executive office at Air America Media.
Exiled hosts Marc Maron and Sam Seder re-launched their video podcast program last Friday, and to celebrate, offered up a big announcement. The two will be posting a new show every day between now and the November 4 election, as well as from this week's Democratic National Convention in Denver. And both hosts also stated that they have also been offered a new show on Air America - working as a team.
According to Rebecca O'Malley at The Resilient Rabbit, Maron claimed that the new show, which will supposedly begin in September, will included a number of creative humor elements as well as straight political commentary. Maron may even bring back some of his classic team from his old Morning Sedition show.
So far, that is all that is known about Seder vs. Maron. No time slot has been disclosed, though the most obvious shift would be morning drive, 6-9A ET, which is currently airing previous day replays of other Air America programming.
Describing the case as "simple, yet disturbing," prosecutors are seeking a nine-year prison sentence in the child-pornography case against outspoken former KGO/San Francisco host Bernie Ward.
The sentencing memo submitted to the court says the request stems from the fact that "the defendant knowingly distributed images of child pornography," and "because many of these images depict very young children (three-year-olds) being subjected to abuse of the most serious kind (sadistic and masochistic abuse)." The request for the 108-month sentence is described as being "at the low-end of the applicable guidelines."
The document also says, "No evidence supports the defendant's contention that he engaged in his behavior to further a journalistic investigation," which was the defense Ward and his lawyer presented.
Ward was indicted last December after a long investigation into child pornography posession accusations.
A major shakeup occurred late last week at progressive talker WINZ in Miami, as morning host Nicole Sandler has left the station due to contractual issues.
Sandler has hosted the show solo since September 2007 and produced and co-hosted the show alongside Jim DeFede in 2006-07. She also served as Promotion Director at the station.
The departure is a bit surprising, as Sandler's ratings have been very good. In the most recent Arbitron ratings survey, WINZ's morning show topped conservative talk rival WIOD in the same time slot among the core talk radio demographic of men 25-54, and just a tenth of a point behind them 25-54 overall, 1.3-1.4.
Sandler is currently shopping for a new job. And judging from the emails sent to yours truly, her fans aren't too happy. WINZ has picked up ABC Radio Networks' Don Imus to replace Sandler.
Meanwhile, Sandler's predecessor DeFede has apparently left his most recent afternoon gig at WFTL in Ft. Lauderdale. "Unfortunately I never meshed with the rest of the station so rather than continue working there, I asked them to buy me out of the remaining 14 months of my contract," said DeFede. "We were able to reach a deal this week and my time at WFTL is now over."
Thursday, August 21, 2008
After months and months of speculation, Air America host Rachel Maddow has finally landed her own show on MSNBC, which will debut on September 8.
"The Rachel Maddow Show." will replace Dan Abrams’s "Verdict" in the 9P ET time slot.
An openly gay woman, unapologetic liberal and Rhodes scholar with a doctorate from Oxford University, Maddow has drawn a passionate following during her stint this year as an analyst for MSNBC.
Network executives are now trying to capitalize on her rising popularity, hoping that she will further their efforts to remake MSNBC as the destination for lively political news and analysis.
"Rachel is unbelievably talented and brilliant; her breadth and depth of knowledge of politics and news is astonishing and I'm so excited to give her a place to really showcase what she can do," said MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in a statement.
Abrams, who served as general manager of the channel for a period, will continue in his role as chief legal correspondent for NBC News, making additional contributions to “Dateline” and “Today,” and anchor on MSNBC during the day.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
A few tidbits worth mentioning...
Up around the Bend
Ed Schultz fans in Bend, Oregon will have something to celebrate come this weekend, as a pair of stations, KWLZ (Lazer 96.5) and new sign-on KBNW (1340AM) will simulcast a talk format, featuring Schultz, as well as Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and the usual gang of idiots. Phil Hendrie will also air on the station. Nothing so far is known about timeslots and whatnot.
Red Zebra makes programming move
Since purchasing three AM properties from Clear Channel a few months back, Washington, DC's Red Zebra Broadcasting, owned by Redskins owner Dan Snyder, has enacted its first format flip. Luckily, it isn't WWRC. In order to break up an overlap simulcast, the company is flipping WXTR (730AM) to Spanish-language sports, airing the ESPN Deportes feed. For anyone who cares, the flip will occur on September 1. Hey, cut me some slack - news has been slow lately.
Air America at the Convention
Shelly at Air America Media forwards the on-air lineup for next week's Democratic National Convention in Denver:
· "The Thom Hartmann Program" (weekdays 12-3P EDT) and "The Rachel Maddow Show" (weekdays 6-9pm EDT), will both be broadcasting live from Denver, as will Jon Elliott hosting “This is America” from 11P-1A EDT.
· "Convention: Special Team Coverage" airs all four nights of the convention beginning at 8P EDT, featuring Maddow, Hartmann, Green, Bender, Chuck D and Elliott interviewing special guests and discussing the daily happenings on and off the convention floor.
· Air America's Web site editor-in-chief Sam Seder is blogging live from Denver, posting text, audio and video updates throughout the conventions.
Plans for the Republican National Convention September 1-4 in Minneapolis-St. Paul, include AAR's outspoken liberal hosts reporting from the decidedly conservative convention:
· "The Lionel Show" (weekdays 9A-12P EDT), "The Thom Hartmann Program," "The Rachel Maddow Show" and David Bender will be broadcasting live from Minneapolis-St. Paul.
In addition, the network will feature other events, such as "Authors Turning the Page: Ideas on Election 2008," on Monday, August 25 from 3-6 pm MT in the Big Tent near the Convention Center. The three panels, introduced by Air America Radio host Rachel Maddow, will include various authors such as Ted Sorenson, Jonathan Alter, Paul Krugman, Arianna Huffington, John Podesta and others. All three panels will be webcast live on http://www.airamerica.com/, with highlights airing on Air America Radio during Convention week.
Also on Monday, from 1:30-3:00P MT, Thom Hartmann will participate in a live debate with conservative talk radio host Dennis Prager. This event will be webcast at http://www.starzgreenroom.com/.
On Tuesday, August 26 from 12:00-1:30 pm MT, Air America will be headlining "Air America: Insights from the Inside of Progressive Talk Radio," a panel exploring the opportunities for independent media voices. Moderated by Bill Hess, Air America’s senior vice president of programming, participants include Air America on-air hosts David Bender, Richard Greene and Mike Papantonio. The event will also be webcast at http://www.starzgreenroom.com/.
Who's on second?
Finally, this is likely the week when we'll find out who presumptive Democratic nominee for President Barack Obama will choose as his running mate (some say the announcement could come as soon as tomorrow). And the Obama campaign, as many know, will announce it first to their supporters in a rather unique way, by text message or email. If you want to be in the know, you can sign up now on the Obama website or you can text "VP" to #62262 from your mobile phone. Not to be outdone, Obama's rival John McCain will announce his running mate by next week, via Western Union telegraph. (rimshot!)
As for my prediction (and yes, for some reason, people have been asking me who I think it will be), I can safely say it won't be John Edwards. Okay, seriously, I've been saying to others for months that I think he'll enlist a foreign policy wonk with a huge resume, especially considering the current Russia-Georgia situation. And he'll want a guy who can be a real pitbull on the soapbox. Who else but Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE)? Virginia Governor Tom Kaine and Indiana Senator Evan Bayh have also been talked about, but I really think it will be Biden. And that would be a really good choice, IMHO. And no, I highly doubt Hillary Clinton will get the nod.
As for McCain, there ain't a whole lot out there that really seems impressive. Many of the possible choices are a bit of a bore, or have the taint of the Bush Administration on them. Some are saying Mitt Romney, but the guy completely lacks anything resembling substance. Tom Ridge is another, but wingnuts tend to get uptight about the whole abortion thing (both Ridge and Romney are pro-choice). Bobby Jindal? Not a chance. My prediction for months has been either Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty or Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan (current darling of the think tank set). Seeing as the Republicans actually think they have a chance of winning Minnesota (haw haw!), I think they'll go with Pawlenty and bore their way to the November election.
So there you have it: Biden and Pawlenty. Let's see if I actually get this right for once. If all goes well, I'll give you my NFL picks in the coming weeks.
Come September 1, Pittsburgh radio listeners will be without anything resembling liberal talk.
WPTT (1360AM), which carries a wide mix of talk programming, including local talker Lynn Cullen and syndicated offerings from liberal hosts such as Thom Hartmann and Alan Colmes, and conservatives Laura Ingraham and Mike Gallagher, will drop their present format and flip to business talk with the WMMY call letters.
Cullen, who has been with the station for a decade, will end her WPTT show on August 29, but she is open to picking up another local talk radio gig. She has already received feelers from other stations.
WPTT management cites the heavy competition from talkers KDKA and WPGB-FM. "It was slicing the talk pie pretty thin, and we just found that, quite honestly, it was like trying to push a boulder uphill," said Alan Serena, vice president and marketing manager for the station's owner, Renda Broadcasting. The format change has nothing to do with the content of any of WPTT's current programming.
Cullen, 60, had been told by management that she had the only program on WPTT that was bringing in significant ad revenue, much of it from such bedrock sponsors as Little's Shoes and Castle Windows. "The station is on for 24 hours, but my three hours were the only revenue-producing hours," she said.
Serena acknowledged her drawing power and said that when the station dropped talk-show host Doug Hoerth in December, it was partly because it hoped to cut costs enough to allow Cullen's program to survive.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
As of this morning, the short-lived Washington, DC talk trimulcast known as 3WT (107.7FM, 1500AM and 820AM) has started its eventual fade into the radio dustbin.
Bonneville International, owner of the stations, is in the process of shifting a few of their local properties in a somewhat confusing chess game. As a result, all-news WTOP will has begun simulcasting via 107.7FM in morning drive (they already do via 103.5FM in the city and 103.9 FM in Frederick, MD), and WFED (Federal News Radio), an all-news format at low-powered 1050AM that is geared toward government employees, will eventually take over 820AM and 1500AM. The shifting of programming is expected to be gradual, as the station's syndication deals wind down. By September 15, the transformations should be completed.
With the shakeups, Dial Global's Stephanie Miller will soon lose her Washington, DC-area affiliates, and Nova M Radio's Randi Rhodes will no longer be on 820AM. Also soon to be gone from the DC airwaves are Bill O'Reilly, Neal Boortz, Glenn Beck and Phil Hendrie. Local hosts, including Tony Kornheiser, have already departed Bonneville (though Kornheiser had recently taken a leave of absence to co-host ESPN's Monday Night Football).
The 3WT trimulcast is also the radio home to several local sports franchises, including baseball's Washington Nationals, the NHL’s Washington Capitals, Naval Academy athletics, and George Washington University’s men’s basketball. They will remain on the former 3WT signals for the time being.
The talk radio shakeup in the market could generate a ripple effect, as Red Zebra had recently acquired three AM signals from Clear Channel - sports talker WTEM, conservative talker WTNT and liberal talker WWRC. Kornheiser and the sports franchises are probably most appealing to Red Zebra, which as of late has been aggressively building its local and regional sports talk properties. But the availability of some notable syndicated talk show programming could also be enticing for the company's two new talk properties.
As has been mentioned here before, talk radio is a tough nut to crack in the nation's capitol. There are far too many talk stations and not enough demand for them (particularly in a market where roughly half the population is African-American or non-white). 3WT was never a ratings powerhouse in it's one year on the air, though talk is a slow-grow format. Evidently, Bonneville didn't have the patience for the "left, right and whatever" format, and wanted to circle the wagons around its highly popular all-news format of WTOP and try to grow Federal News Radio.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
And here it is, once again, this week's catch-all entry, for all the stuff I haven't already mentioned.
First off, a venture off topic to do a little ranting. And I'll start with a question: Am I the only person in Wisconsin who isn't kissing Brett Favre's ass?
In case you've been living under a rock recently, the Packers finally parted ways with their primadonna pain-in-the-ass quarterback, dumping him on the hapless New York Jets late last night for a conditional draft pick. Of course, Packers fans in the Badger State are mixed, with way too many misguided souls actually condemning team management for cutting him loose. The way I see it, they had no other choice.
Here's the background: Last spring, amongst a heavy amount of hoopla, Favre finally announced his retirement after three previous seasons of hemming and hawing. At the time I thought it was an effective way to make a classy exit from the game, just as Troy Aikman, John Elway and Jerome Bettis had done in recent years. The Packers made plans to retire his number during the opening game of the season against their heated rival the Minnesota Vikings. And they moved on with Favre's understudy Aaron Rogers behind center, as had been their plan for the past three years. It was all supposed to be so seamless, and it appeared that way.
Then, about a month ago, the oft-indecisive Favre created a P.R. shitstorm when he changed his mind. He toyed with the idea of coming back. Now, of course, the Packers look like the bad guy when they don't coddle the guy, even though Favre should know by now that the team has to move on, and already had. If he didn't realize that this is what happens in the NFL (or any other team sport), then he's been sniffing too many fumes from his tractor. So what happens next? A long drawn-out ordeal where Favre issues an ultimatum: Either he gets his starting position back from the Packers, or he gets released or traded. To add insult to injury, the Vikings were reportedly at the top of his list. Finally, Packers GM Ted Thompson drew a line in the sand, saying that the team had moved on, and Favre was not part of the game plan. Hey, welcome to the NFL. Yesterday, they turned him back from training camp as soon as he arrived. And later that night, they struck a deal with the Jets.
What do I think? Thompson and company made the right decision. They had to. Sure, the suck-up media in Wisconsin will pillory them for having the audacity to trade The Messiah for a conditional draft pick, but Favre and his minions have to realize that the world does not revolve around him. The team will likely still be around long after he's dead. And the naïve souls who claim they will no longer support the team without Favre are delusional. Favre went back on his word.
For the past decade and a half, Favre has been living in a bubble. The Wisconsin sports press has constantly kissed his ass over that period of time. But Wisconsinites have long put Packers quarterbacks on a pedestal. Hey, wasn't Don Majkowski supposed to be the second coming? Now that Favre is headed for a rather vicious media market (then again, all of the media markets outside of Wisconsin are rather blunt toward professional athletes), perhaps he will finally experience a good healthy dose of reality. He's no longer living in a protective bubble.
Okay, now that that's all done and you have all indulged my little sports rant, it's time to get down to the business at hand. Let's start with another primadonna, this one named named Paris Hilton. Now, a few weeks ago, the increasingly desperate presidential campaign of John McCain went all-out in the name of pure insanity. Now, we all know that since Republicans typically don't have any good ideas, the only other alternatives are pseudo-patriotic jingoism and, if that doesn't work, childish name-calling matches. And that's about the best they can do against challenger Barack Obama. One of their most recent ads, approved by the McCain camp, tries to draw an association between Obama's popularity and that of overexposed media tarts like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Now, the ad is stupid even among typical GOP ads. Just moronic. So much that even the Obama campaign is laughing at them. Hilton's people even demanded depictions of her be removed from the ad, citing unauthorized use.
And on Tuesday, Paris bit back. Granted, most people could likely care less what the hell Paris Hilton thinks about anything (hopefully). But hey, she was dissed by a presidential candidate, so I guess she has every right to release her own YouTube rebuttal. Fair enough.
In the past day or so, over four million people saw this:
"Hey, America, I am Paris Hilton and I am a celebrity, too," says Hilton, dressed in an over-the-top, skimpy leopard-print swimsuit. "Only I am not from the olden days and I am not promising change like that other guy. I am just hot."
It begins with a narrator intoning that McCain is "like, super old. Old enough to remember when dancing was a sin and beer was served in a bucket." Images of Larry King, "Star Wars" Yoda and the "Golden Girls" flash on screen.
"But is he ready to lead?" asked the narrator, stealing a line from McCain's own hit on Obama.
Hilton, reclining poolside while reading a copy of Conde Nast traveler, then appears on screen and slams McCain "as that wrinkly white haired guy (who) used me in his campaign ad."
"Which I guess means I am running for president - so thanks for the endorsement, white-haired dude," chirps Paris. "And I want America to know that I am, like, totally ready to lead."
In case you're interested, she already has an energy policy, though space restrictions (and general disinterest) obviously keeps me from going into detail about it here. As much as I could care less about Paris Hilton (trust fund babies-turned amateur porn stars bore me), it was a pretty funny response, and one just deserved. The perfect response to the idiotic state of attack politics nowadays.
Megamedia paring down
Following the recent consummation of the Clear Channel sale to a pair of venture capital firms, the company's new owners are looking to trim a little fat. So far, 55 radio stations will be spun off into a transitional group called “Aloha Trust,” to satisfy federal regulations and to trim a little fat. So far, markets such as San Jose, Cleveland, Austin, Long Island and various small markets will bid 'aloha' and are on the selling block. There are no progressive talk stations on the list of stations (the KABQ in Albuquerque that is listed is the FM sister of the popular AM progressive talk station).
Meanwhile, CBS, the second biggest radio owner, is also looking to scale down. President/CEO Leslie Moonves announced last week that the company is looking at selling off roughly 50 stations in various mid-sized markets, in order to concentrate on their bigger market clusters and most reliable cash cows. There is no specific list of stations to be cast off, but markets such as Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and others could be affected. One company rumored to be a buyer is Saga Communications, who's CEO, Ed Christian is interested. "There is some tremendous inventory going on the market," he said. For those of you keeping score at home, Saga is a fairly loyal backer of the progressive talk format, and carries it on seven of their stations. Earlier this year, they flipped KBAI in Oregon to the format, and are satisfied with the format's performance on their other stations. However, not a whole lot should be read into any of this, as there are only rumors about Saga's possible interest in some of the stations, and CBS hasn't even released an official list.
Among the small struggling AM stations reported to soon be cast off include WJFK in Baltimore, WFNZ in Charlotte, KXNT in Las Vegas, KCMD in Portland, KHTK in Sacramento (a good market for progressive talk). Shockingly, there are some big signals that may make the list, such as KDKA in Pittsburgh and KMOX in St. Louis. Again, it's all speculation at this point, and a lot of grasping at straws, but it deserves to be put out there.
As has been the case for awhile, there really isn't a whole lot of movement in local ratings for progressive talk stations. No dramatic ups-and-downs, and for some of the more recent converts, such as KMNY in Dallas, it's too soon to tell. One of the most notable results so far is in Columbus, where WVKO slightly topped the former progressive talker in the market, WYTS (formerly WTPG) by a mere tenth of a share. Considering that WVKO is a pretty small-time operation, while WYTS is part of the Clear Channel empire, it's still somewhat of an accomplishment.
And I received this from a reader, who also happens to work for WINZ in Miami:
...In the newly issued Miami ARB, Nicole's morning show has topped sister conservative talk WIOD's morning drive in the core talk demo of 25-54 men, and was just behind them 25-54-WINZ scored a 1.3 in that demo, while WIOD, which has traditionally been Miami's leading English language news-talker, scored a 1.4.
As one who contributes to the show, and who has filled in for Nicole when she's been away, I can assure you that this is an especially noteworthy achievement because Nicole does it all herself--hosts, produces, everything. She has a call screener for help and that's it. This ratings win also came with virtually no outside promotion. Meanwhile, WIOD has a heavily staffed morning show with a ton of news and services. Not bad. Congrats to Nicole, Jim and the rest of the gang at WINZ for what looks like a really good ratings book.
Air America mid-morning host Lionel has his first book being published this week: "Everyone's Crazy Except You and Me ... and I'm Not So Sure About You."
And how about closing with a football-related item? Liberal talker WLBY, located in Ann Arbor, hotbed of University of Michigan Wolverines, will carry football games from their heated rival, the Michigan state University Spartans. The station will carry all 12 games from the Spartan Radio Network.
Much like they did in 2004, Air America plans to make their presence known at both the Democratic and Republican conventions this year. Here's the press release:
NEW YORK -- Air America Media is traveling to both the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and, yes, the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. Air America hosts Rachel Maddow, Thom Hartmann, David Bender and Sam Seder will be reporting live from both venues, featuring interviews and analysis with top newsmakers, opinion makers and bloggers. Chuck D., Richard Greene, and Jon Elliott will also be reporting from Denver, and the irreverent Lionel from Minneapolis.
Plans for the Democratic National Convention, taking place August 25-28 in Denver, include:
Plans for the Republican National Convention, taking place September 1-4 in Minneapolis-St. Paul, include AAR's outspoken liberal hosts reporting from the decidedly conservative convention:
"In this historic political year, Air America will be bringing our unique brand of opinion radio to both conventions, keeping the Democrats on their toes and keeping the Conservative Far (F)right honest, or at least less dishonest," said Mark Green, president of Air America Radio. "Our goal is to be politically direct and incorrect and to cut through all the standard talking points and the on-the-one-hand and on-the-other hand coverage by the Mainstream Media. We'll be reaching out to all Air Americans and Progressive Patriots on our 60 affiliates and XM and to all those who want to stream us live."
A federal appeals court in Richmond, VA says a radio talk-show host's criticism of a U.S government contractor at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was protected by the First Amendment.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected CACI International's defamation lawsuit against the talk-radio network Air America and former host Randi Rhodes.
CACI sued for $11 million after Rhodes accused company employees of raping and murdering Iraqi civilians at Abu Ghraib. The company interrogated Iraqi detainees for the U.S. military at Abu Ghraib.
A federal judge in Alexandria dismissed the lawsuit. The appeals court upheld that decision yesterday, saying in CACI Premier Technology, Inc. v. Rhodes that the company failed to prove the statements were made with actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth.
The appeals court characterized statements such as Rhodes’ Aug. 26, 2005, comment: “Yeah, don’t call them contractors, call them what they are, they’re hired killers, they’re mercenaries” as hyperbole and exaggeration.
“In several statements Rhodes, with free use of hyperbole and exaggeration, criticized the extensive use of U.S. military contractors in Iraq, saying that their employees could kill without being held to account,” the appeals court wrote.
Rhodes left Air America in April of this year following a suspension and contract dispute.