Friday, May 30, 2008

Yellin and McClellan and more: A look inside the so-called 'liberal media'

Here's something I've been working on the past few days, a collection of ideas and links, and some rather telling truths. I thought I'd throw it out there and see what you all think.

To say that former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's new tell-all book has created a virtual shitstorm in the Bush White House, the blogosphere and in the media itself is quite the understatement.

In the new book, What Happened, due out next week, McClellan, a former member of President Bush's inner circle, is very candid about the goings-on in the White House over the past several years, covering events such as the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina and the Valarie Plame scandal. McClellan claimed that the Bush Administration "veered terribly off course." Needless to say, right-wingers are pretty pissed off at 'Scotty the Snitch.'

McClellan's baring of his soul may also lead to another consequence, namely the complicity of the news media in all of this. Since details of the book hit the public, we are actually starting to find out more about how American media works. Yes, the same American media that right-wingers claim is 'liberally-biased.'

On Wednesday night, CNN's Jessica Yellin talked to Anderson Cooper about McClellan's memoir and agreed with the former press secretary that White House reporters "dropped the ball" during the run-up to war.

But Yellin went much further, revealing that news executives--presumably at ABC News, where she'd worked from July 2003 to August 2007--actively pushed her not do hard-hitting pieces on the Bush administration.

"The press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war presented in way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president's high approval ratings," Yellin said.

"And my own experience at the White House was that the higher the president's approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives--and I was not at this network at the time--but the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the president, I think over time...."

But then a shocked Cooper jumped in, asking, "You had pressure from news executives to put on positive stories about the president?"

"Not in that exact.... They wouldn't say it in that way, but they would edit my pieces," Yellin said. "They would push me in different directions. They would turn down stories that were more critical, and try to put on pieces that were more positive. Yes, that was my experience."

COOPER: Jessica, McClellan took press to task for not upholding their reputation. He writes: “The national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq. The ‘liberal media’ — in quotes — didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.” Dan Bartlett, former Bush adviser, called the allegation “total crap.”What is your take? Did the press corps drop the ball?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I wouldn’t go that far. I think the press corps dropped the ball at the beginning. When the lead-up to the war began, the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president’s high approval ratings. And my own experience at the White House was that, the higher the president’s approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives — and I was not at this network at the time — but the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the president. I think, over time…

COOPER: You had pressure from news executives to put on positive stories about the president?

YELLIN: Not in that exact — they wouldn’t say it in that way, but they would edit my pieces. They would push me in different directions. They would turn down stories that were more critical and try to put on pieces that were more positive, yes. That was my experience.

From Glenn Greenwald at

Network executives obviously know that these revelations are quite threatening to their brand. Yesterday, they wheeled out their full stable of multi-millionaire corporate stars who play the role of authoritative journalists on the TV to join with their White House allies in mocking and deriding McClellan's claims. One media star after the next -- Tom Brokaw, David Gregory, Charlie Gibson and Brian Williams, Tim Russert, Wolf Blitzer -- materialized in sync to insist that nothing could be more absurd than the suggestion that they are "deferential, complicit enablers" in government propaganda.

I have little doubt that they would be telling the truth if they denied what Yellin reported last night. People like Williams, Gibson and Gregory don't need to be told to refrain from reporting critically about the war and the White House because challenging Government claims isn't what they do. And amazingly, they admitted that explicitly yesterday. Gibson and Gregory both invoked the cliched excuse of the low-level bureaucrat using almost identical language: exposing government lies "is not our job."

Brian Williams, Charlie Gibson and company are paid to play the role of TV reporters but, in reality, are mere television emcees -- far more akin to circus ringleaders than journalists. It's just as simple as that. David Halberstam pointed that out some time ago. Unlike Yellin, Donahue and Banfield, nobody needed to pressure the likes of Williams, Gibson and Russert to serve as propaganda handmaidens for the White House. It's what they do quite eagerly on their own, which is precisely why they're in the corporate positions they're in. They are smooth, undisruptive personalities who don't create problems for their executives. Watching them finally describe how they perceive of "their role" leaves no doubt about any of that.

Alas, a mere day or two later, the so-called 'liberal media' is moving on, and they are, as of this writing, trying to manufacture outrage and build up yet another (albeit weak) Rev. Jeremiah Wright-type 'scandal.' Or how about arguably the most ridiculous one yet, desperately cobbled together by right-wing nutcase Michelle Malkin - painting TV domestic goddess Rachael Ray as a Palestinian terrorist that eats donuts and drinks iced coffee? Which leads one to ask, is the media reporting the news, creating it or just plain being lazy?

Considering the entities that own our so-called 'liberal media,' the answers could be quite interesting. As the saying goes, the media is only as liberal as the major corporations that own it.

WWRC/DC may be sold to Daniel Snyder

The Washington Post is reporting that broadcast and dot-com mogul Daniel Snyder is getting closer to an agreement to buy three AM stations from Clear Channel Communications in a bid to expand his fledgling but problem-plagued radio operations, people familiar with the discussions said yesterday.

Included in a possible deal would be sports-formatted WTEM (980AM), conservotalker WTNT (570AM) and progressive talker WWRC (1260AM).

Snyder, who's Red Zebra Broadcasting programs a sports format via three low-power rimshot signals, in addition to several sports stations in Virginia, has been actively seeking other stations to expand his coverage of the Washington, DC market. The trimulcast acts as the flagship outlet for the NFL's Washington Redskins, which Snyder also owns. The acquisition of WTEM, the most desirable signal in this bunch, gives Snyder the full-power centrally-located sports station he has long desired, allows Red Zebra to dominate the local sports radio market and puts his football team on a better local signal.

As for WWRC and WTNT, there is no word yet on the fate of their formats, or the fate of the three sports signals Snyder currently owns. Snyder could elect to keep the present formats on the two talk stations, to provide some diverrsity to Red Zebra's broadcast offerings. Hard to imagine that many sports formats tripping over each other. Both WTNT and WWRC currently do lousy in the ratings, due in part to their mediocre signals and a very crowded and competitive talk radio market overall in the DC area.

The sale, if it goes through, could be announced by next week, with Red Zebra taking over operations of the three stations rather quickly via a lease agreement. The sale itself will likely be in limbo until Clear Channel sorts out their own sale to a pair of private equity firms.

Local media news site has perhaps the best coverage of this deal.

Meanwhile, up the coast in Atlantic City, Access.1 communications has sold all their station in the market, including progressive talker WTAA (1490AM) to a local group, Atlantic Broadcasting. In addition to WTAA, other stations include WOND, WMGM-FM and WJSE-FM. Access.1 still owns WWRL in New York, which acts as the 'flagship' of the Air America Radio network.

The partners in Atlantic Broadcasting are local businessman Brett DeNafo, radio engineer Michael Ferriola, former WAYV-FM program director and on-air host Paul Kelly and on-air personality Joseph Borsello. The group will run the stations according to a lease-management arrangement until the Federal Communications Commission approves the sale.

There have been rumors that the new owner may not keep WTAA's format, though they maintain that there will be no immediate changes at the stations.

Atlantic Broadcasting can be reached via snail mail at 1601 New Road, Linwood, NJ.

Bender returns, replaces "Seder on Sunday"

According to a network press release, David Bender’s Politically Direct will return to Air America Radio, beginning Sunday, June 8. The show will broadcast on Sundays 4-7P ET, and will replace Sam Seder's departing Seder on Sunday.

The program previously aired weeknights on the network from 2005-2007 in a one hour format. Bender left the network during a large-scale scheduling shakeup and planned to write a book. He continued to appear on various Air America shows as both a contributor and fill-in host. The new version of Politically Direct will be a weekly three hour affair.

From the press release:

Continuing the tradition started by Seder on Sundays, Politically Direct with David Bender will offer callers the opportunity to react live and immediately to the Sunday network news programs, as well as to other late-breaking news and political events. Bender will also provide updates from the blogosphere, as well as other new media sources such as

David Bender has been the senior political correspondent at Air America , and recently has been appearing daily as the "Political Guru" on The Rachel Maddow Show, as well as regularly with Mike Papantonio and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr." on Ring of Fire.

"In this important political year, we’re thrilled to be bringing back David Bender’s Politically Direct," said Mark Green, President of Air America Radio. “The program will once again provide Sunday listeners with commentary on the networks and the netroots and with David’s unique combination of savvy and humor."

Added Bender: "I'm tremendously excited that we're going to combine the two things I love the most about talk radio, long-form interviews with guests who shouldn't be reduced to sound bites and caller-driven segments from quick, funny listeners. Only on Air America , folks!"

No word thus far on his soon-to-be predecessor Seder's future plans at the network. Seder, who's on-air contract lapsed a few weeks ago, is still the chief editor of Air America's website, and also hosts online-only shows via his website. His last Sunday show will be this weekend, with the first two hours being prerecorded and final hour live.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Progressive talk goes full-time in Dallas

Nancy Cunningham of the Dallas Air America grassroots group dropped an email claiming that progressive talk programming has found a new full-time home in the Metroplex, via KMNY (1360AM).

The station, which airs a business news/talk format during the day, currently leases out time to a group called Rational Radio in the evening hours, where they air several local shows and Mike Malloy's syndicated radio show.

The business format will move to another frequency on July 1, the same day that Rational Radio starts around-the-clock programming on KMNY.

The schedule has not been finalized, but it looks like some of the additional hosts that will be on the station will include Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann and Randi Rhodes.

KMNY has a strong daytime signal (50,000 watts) that covers a large area. The station powers down to 890 watts after sunset.

This will mark a return of liberal talk to the Dallas-Ft. Worth airwaves. KXEB dropped the format in September 2006, when the station was sold to a religious broadcaster.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Former Air America exec Evan Montvel Cohen arrested

Former Air America Radio chairman Evan Montvel Cohen, a controversial figure from the network's early days, has been arrested on theft and fraud charges, KUAM-TV reports.

The media executive was returning from Manila when he was arrested at Guam's airport. He was picked up on a warrant from Hawaii for charges including theft, credit card fraud, forgery, and money laundering. He was placed under house arrest after posting a $75,000 bond. An extradition hearing is set for June 27th.

Many people remember Cohen as one of the primary figures behind the start-up of Air America. Only problem was, his ambitions were bigger than his financial backing. Cohen and his partner, fellow Guam media mogul Rex Sorenson, formed a company called Progress Media and purchased the soon-to-launch network from Sheldon and Anita Drobny. They also brought in other investors to complete Progress Media's board.

Cohen and Sorenson misled the network's other investors into believing that they had more money than they really did, and checks started bouncing and debts began escalating. By May, both Cohen and Sorenson were forced out of Air America by Progress Media's other investors.

The remaining executives reorganized the company as Piquant, LLC, and set out to pick up the pieces and get the struggling debt-ridden network back on track. But Cohen's legacy returned to haunt them a few months later. Turns out that, in the capacity of his executive position at the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx, Cohen acquired loans from the nonprofit in order to help fulfil his share of the investment. His former partners in Air America were livid. The network's marquee host, Al Franken, even blasted Cohen on the air.

Of course, right-wing bloggers with an axe to grind against the network went ballistic when news of this scandal emerged (in perhaps the only instance of them even giving a rip about an inner city community center). More recently, they have even tried to tarnish former host and current Senate candidate Al Franken with the scandal, though as merely an on-air personality, he was kept out of the loop, and was unaware of the whole controversy until it hit the news media.

Piquant, assuming responsibility for the loan, agreed to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to repay the Gloria Wise center, an amount estimated to be about $875,000. After making some repayments and putting much of the rest in escrow, in compliance with city officials and New York's Attorney General, the entire loan was repayed by September 2006.

There have been no further details released regarding the extent of Cohen's current charges, and it appears that they are not connected with Air America. If convicted, Cohen faces up to 10 years in prison.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Maron, Sparks tapped for "Afternoon"

For those keeping track at home, the American Afternoon host wheel keeps spinning, as Air America has tapped former morning host Marc Maron and actor, comedian, musician and television personality Hal Sparks to hold down the fort for the next couple weeks.

Maron, no stranger to Air America listeners, will host the 3-6P ET afternoon shift next week. Sparks will hold down the fort the following week.

Sparks is best known as a pundit for various VH1 shows, as well as former host of Talk Soup on the E! network. Acting roles include "Dude, Where's My Car?" and the Showtime series Queer As Folk. He also plays guitar for rock band Zero1. He will host the week of June 2.

Monday, May 19, 2008

O'Reilly prefers cheese with his whine

If you ever desired more proof that right-wingers are perhaps the most thin-skinned people on the planet, then read further...

Anyone who even casually follows the ongoing soap opera that is cable news knows that MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and FOX News Channel's Bill O'Reilly can't stand each other. Olbermann constantly blasts O'Reilly on his weeknight show, Countdown, which airs opposite The O'Reilly Factor.

The mere mention of Olbermann's name gets O'Reilly hot. Absolutely livid. Who could forget the time on his radio show when he went on a rather nasty and ridiculous on-air outburst and threatened to sic 'FOX Security' on a prank caller at the very moment he said, "I think Keith Olbermann's show..."?

O'Reilly hates Olbermann so much that he makes it a point to never mention his adversary specifically by name (though he has had surrogates do it). Rather, he attacks Olbermann's boss and NBC's owner, General Electric. Olbermann, on the other hand, often refers to O'Reilly by such nicknames as the Sisyphus of morons, the Big Giant Head, and Ted Baxter.

Now, the war of words has escalated. Olbermann had fun last week ripping on the old Inside Edition outtake that featured O'Reilly erupting into a profanity-laced tantrum. He even jokingly brought in a phony body language expert to dissect the now-infamous clip. In retaliation, O'Reilly, who rarely misses a chance to attack those he sees as his enemies, is calling GE's chief executive a "pinhead" and a "despicable human being" who bears responsibility for the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq.

Howard Kurtz, media columnist for The Washington Post, claims that the war is moving higher up the food chain. Allegedly, there have been back-channel discussions involving the likes of News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, NBC chief executive Jeff Zucker and General Electric's CEO, Jeffrey Immelt.

One day last summer, Ailes called Zucker on his cellphone, furious after Olbermann trashed him on his show. Ailes allegedly warned Zucker that if Olbermann didn't lay off the attacks on him or his network, he would sic his attack dog, O'Reilly, on NBC. He threatened to use the company's New York Post as well. Zucker evidently told Ailes to go pound sand. Perhaps Ailes should have used this guy.

Since then, Olbermann hasn't let up, leading O'Reilly to toss out ludicrous accusations toward GE, claiming that, because they do some limited business in Iran, that they are causing the deaths of American soldiers (though FOX News' constant cheerleading for the Iraq War hasn't). The kicker was when he claimed that "If my child were killed in Iraq, I would blame the likes of Jeffrey Immelt."

In addition, several years ago, O'Reilly's agent also allegedly contacted Zucker on a few occasions, demanding that Olbermann and other MSNBC personalities, such as Joe Scarborough lay off his client. So, in other words, O'Reilly, who has never been afraid to attack those he despises from the safe confines of his television studio bunker, has others fight his battles in the real world. Witness last year, when FOX News' Geraldo Rivera threatened to kick Olbermann's ass.

Of course, FOX News denies that Ailes has ever made such demands to NBC, claiming that he has no editorial control over the content of host-driven shows such as O'Reilly's or even the New York Post. GE and NBC executives have maintained otherwise. Ironically, the New York Post published a hit piece on Olbermann just this morning. Interesting.

Coincidentally, Ailes' friends in the White House today sent a nastygram to NBC regarding what they view as unfair coverage of the President. They obviously hate them for their freedom.

It is true that the "O'Reilly Factor" gets better overall ratings than "Countdown." One would think an established twelve year-old show up against a much younger counterpart would. But while O'Reilly does better overall when total viewers are taken into account, the playing field between the two shows is much more even in the much-desired 25-54 demographic. On occasion, Countdown even bests O'Reilly in this group. MSNBC’s research claims that the median age for O’Reilly’s audience is 71, while Olbermann’s is 59. Guess what age group advertisers would rather have?

Now, Olbermann must be doing something right. Right-wingers absolutely detest the man. And the hostility on their side gets even more heated whenever Olbermann gives one of his "Special Comments." The most recent one, about Bush claiming he gave up golf as a sacrifice in these hard times, must have ruffled a few feathers. Syndicated radio conservotalker Mark Levin demanded that NBC suspend Olbermann, and called him "Tokyo Rose in a suit," which smacks of irony because, like Olbermann, Levin is himself an opinionated media commentator.

Now, what does one make of all this bickering and whining? Ailes is an interesting person to talk about any of this, since he earned his bones in the cutthroat world of Republican politics, where he even co-wrote that infamous "Willie Horton" ad for George H.W. Bush's 1988 presidential bid. At the helm of FOX News since its inception, he has encouraged right wing pit bulls such as O'Reilly and Sean Hannity to be as nasty as they wanna be. To be on the opposite end and pretend to be the victim (typical of many right wing attack dogs) is the epitome of hypocrisy.

Many people are just plain fed up with all this dick swinging among the talking heads. I for one feel reminiscent for the time when cable news was about news, something that has been sorely missing since Ted Turner sold CNN to Time Warner and bolted to his Montana ranch. But since cable news these days is more about sizzle than steak, and opinionated, egocentric personalities have turned the genre into AM talk radio with pictures, we are constantly bombarded with self-righteous, mostly right-wing blowhards who's shit don't stink.

However, in this landscape of obnoxious helmet-haired empty suits who wrap themselves in the flag and tell us what to think, screaming head pundits who shout talking points at each other, ultra-moral finger-waggers who get outraged at everyone else's behavior and celebrity-obsessed dim bulbs, we have Keith Olbermann, who has carved out a niche as an iconoclast courting the equally-pissed off left. In addition to his occasional 'Special Comments,' which often rip into the Bush Administration in ways most media personalities are afraid to do, he also digs deeper into stories that other media outlets are either too scared or too lazy to. While he obviously despises celebrity gossip tales, he does the bare minimum glossing-over of them, though with a somewhat humorous snide undertone that screams "they're making me talk about this." And he speaks for many of us who often find ourselves giving the middle finger to pompous bastards like Bill O'Reilly. And he effectively uses humor, perhaps the sharpest of all verbal weapons, to accomplish this. He's also not above making fun of himself, something that can't be said about his more arrogant counterparts.

For that, and in this lousy cable news environment that we are limited to, that's good enough for me. I, for one, am glad Keith Olbermann is around to kick some O'Reilly ass, and expose him and his ilk for the frauds they are.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

WCPT shuffles the deck, adding Maddow, local Hartmann hour

Well, it looks like Air America Radio's American Afternoon has lost a big affiliate.

While the network is still trying to figure out its longterm afternoon thing, WCPT in Chicago is dropping the show as of Monday and returning Rachel Maddow to the daily lineup, where she will air live 5-8P CT. The station is also moving Thom Hartmann from evening delay to the earlier 2-5P timeslot.

"As a native of Lansing, MI, it’s great to get back to my Midwestern roots and be able to talk to the people in Chicago in my new time period," Hartmann said, while Maddow added, "I am thrilled to be back on WCPT. Chicago is a wonderful city and I look forward to helping WCPT listeners make sense of this very unique time in which we live."

Since Hartmann will continue to be heard on delay on WCPT, he will air an exclusive Chicago-only live hour at 4P Fridays. "Thom Hartmann's Third Hour Friday Live" starts May 23.

The station continued to air the network's post-Randi Rhodes offering in the afternoon shift, but hinted at future changes. Considering that the station is owned by Democratic activist Fred Eychaner, a well-known supporter of Hillary Clinton's presidential aspirations, and taking into account Rhodes' obvious vocal dislike for Clinton, the likelihood of returning Rhodes' Nova M Radio show to his station was a bit of a longshot.

Friday, May 16, 2008

How NOT to be a pundit

Give or take, there are roughly 4781 AM radio stations in the United States. Since music programming has, for the most part, departed for the higher-clarity FM band, that doesn't leave a whole lot for these stations to choose from. With so many AM stations lacking programming, sometimes they have to go the desperation route.

That's probably what happened in the case of KRLA in Los Angeles. The station, owned by Salem Communications, programs a typical Salem conservotalk format. Salem's talk roster is the low-hanging fruit of talk radio, with a lineup consisting of Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, Bill Bennett and other third or fourth tier talkers. And KRLA also employs a local guy - Kevin James. Judging from James' embarrassing appearance yesterday on MSNBC's Hardball, perhaps they should dig a little deeper to come up with hosts that actually know what they're talking about.

Yesterday, James was a guest pundit (one of those guys stuffed in a little digital box on the screen), along with Air America Radio's Mark Green. Coming off as a screaming, shouting and, dare I say, unhinged lunatic (think Sean Hannity after four cans of Red Bull), he looked utterly ridiculous. He went through the typical wingnut pundit cliches, shouting talking points, not letting anyone else get their say, ignoring questions from the host, Chris Matthews, and above all, making very little sense. Here's an account from a blogger at the Houston Chronicle:

In a very funny, yet sad exchange on Hardball yesterday, host Chris Matthews humiliated right wingnut radio jabber Kevin James over the "appeasement" uproar stupidly started by GWB in Israel yesterday. This guy looks about 16 years old and is like a giant Chatty Kathy - just pull the string and he repeats the same talking points in order ad infinitum. Chris couldn't control the conversation, or this guy's mouth, so he tried to quizz him on appeasement by Neville Chamberlain, prime minister of Britain in the '30s, and the Munich Agreement where Britain ceded part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler. This guy didn't even know who Chamberlain was, how he got tagged with the appeaser label, or what he did.

I'd put together a summary myself, but I've seen the video and still have no idea what James was talking about. Maybe I'm just tired. Suffice it to say, James got owned. Bad.

He got punked pretty thoroughly by Matthews, who, despite being a bit creepy and obnoxious himself, knows when to call 'bullshit.' Matthews shut him down with a question about a historical point, which James sidestepped by hammering the "Obama is linked to Hamas" nonsense. Mark Green, who was reduced to hardly saying anything without James screaming over him, nevertheless got in a rather humorous line, blurting out, "When you're in a hole, you stop digging."

Seemingly, James is typical of many right-wing media goons today. They follow the playbook written by former Senator Joe McCarthy back in the 1950s. McCarthy, as many historians know, wildly accused many of being covert Communists, particularly government officials. Now, it was mostly bullshit - he didn't have much proof of commies infiltrating the government, and made up for it via pure bluster. In other words, he just kept shouting as loud as he could, until his artificial world came crashing down live on television. And he fell pretty hard. Today's bloviators seem to be working from the same playbook. If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

Here's the video of James, his foot and his mouth:

As you can see, James obviously has been reading "Right-Wing Cable News Punditry for Dummies." He almost had down all the steps, though his execution was rather poor. Let's go through the how-to list:

1. Wear a slick, conservative suit. Dark blue is preferred. Don't forget the power tie. If you are a self-styled 'man of the people,' look like a gritty Santa Claus or are basically just a slob, an open-collar oxford shirt or favorite biker gear is acceptable. For the ladies, whatever works. Avoid powder blue pantsuits. Don't be a Hillary.

2. Memorize your talking points. Stick to the list. Don't deviate.

3. When the host introduces you and gives you the cue, come out swinging. Hard. Pretend it's 1990 and you're fighting Mike Tyson. You can take a breath later.

4. Talk loud, talk fast, talk forceful and don't let anyone else interrupt you. This is your moment to shine. Andy Warhol gave you this fifteen minutes, and dammit, you have every right to it.

5. If you're paired with a lefty counterpart, don't let him/her talk. Whatever they have to say is pointless. They're misinformed, out of touch and unhinged. Just keep screaming your talking points. Nothing else matters.

6. Key words: Terrorist, traitor, liberal, Muslim, radical, hippie, unhinged, wild-eyed, socialist. Use them, dare I say, liberally. Don't forget them - this is the glue that holds your ideas together.

7. You can call your opponents any name you want, or affix any label. But don't violate Godwin's Law. If you refer to your enemies as "Nazis," even the friendly FOX News hosts will call you on it. That stuff belongs with 14 year-olds on video game message boards. And with George W. Bush.

8. If, by chance, the host calls you out on your misinformed talking points and rambling thought processes, just keep talking. Repeat step #4. Talk louder, talk faster, talk even more forceful and don't let anyone else interrupt you. Drown out both the host and counterpart(s).

9. Don't forget to plug your show, website, political organization and/or think tank!

10. If things wind up going south on the show, you can still save face. The next day, on your radio show or blog, don't accept that you did anything wrong. You were flawless! You took 'em to school! Blame it all on the 'liberal media' that's been out to get you from the beginning. It won't matter - your listeners think you're a god.


Here's the Radio Tranquilizer at his whiniest finiest. He invoked rule #10! Brian the insult comic dog thinks Matthews owes James an apology. Boo hoo! Pass the tissues. And if James was unfairly beat up on because he's on a shitty radio station, then why did he agree to go on MSNBC in the first place? And what about Maloney's good friend Michelle Malkin, who got her own bony ass handed to her by Matthews in 2004? Yeah, she's a lightweight too. Brian Baloney lives in his own fantasy world, where conservatives are allowed to say the most vile things about people they don't like, yet cry like babies and demand apologies whenever they get dissed. Grow a set and stop being such a pussy! Sheesh!

Click here for MediaBistro's take. No, it's not the fat guy from King of Queens.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bill O'Reilly: Goons gone wild!

We all know Bill O'Reilly has anger issues. We all know he has a hot temper, as he's lost is during debates with the likes of Jeremy Glick and Al Franken.

And we also know that he's the first shouting head on television to point the finger at 'those evil leftists' who lose their shit on TV, as we saw last February when he went after Jane Fonda. In tribute to those he derided as foul-mouthed Hollywood liberals, he ranted, "If someone does that on my program? Believe me, they'd get scolded." He added, "They’d never dare do it here. You know why? Because they’d be called on it. And they’d be humiliated in front of millions of people."

O'Reilly himself has been liberal in one way - he's been extremely liberal at bearing his own false witness toward people he thought were too profane, i.e. Ludacris. The rapper responded via song, where he told O'Reilly to "blow it out ya ass." O'Reilly himself kept the raunchy talk where it belonged - by sexually harassing one of his employees, erotically stimulating her with talk about vibrators, threesomes and Middle Eastern delicacies.

But we all know O'Reilly's full of shit. Of course he's a hypocrite. And now, it's time for him to "be called on it." Over the weekend, the latest viral video du jour was one dug up from someone's archives. It was from O'Reilly's pre-FOX News days, on Inside Edition, which he hosted, anchorman hair helmet and all, from 1989-1995. Now, this was off-camera, as he was taping a lead-out for the show (though he evidently does not know what a 'lead-out' is, as seen in the clip. Either the teleprompter started acting up, or he just completely lost it. What followed was a vicious tirade directed at an on-set assistant. This one, on par with classic meltdowns from Casey Kasem and ESPN's Chris Berman, has it all - screaming, swearing, hand gestures, insults and even him angrily getting up from his desk not once, but twice. He was so flustered that he was blowing his lines and finally just erupted toward the poor saps who's thankless and difficult job is to make him look like less of a buffoon on camera.

The video was pulled from YouTube when Inside Edition's distributor, CBS, cried copyright infringement. Luckily, nothing completely disappears on the web these days, and various other sites have posted it. So there it is, Bill O'Reilly doing what Bill O'Reilly does best - totally lose his shit.

(Edit: I removed the video link here, because even Daily Motion yanked it! Grrr...)

You can also see it in the original German here.

And Gawker has a video montage of the on-air meltdown hall of fame. Enjoy it. Mothers!

The fate of Sam Seder


That's the number of live installments of Seder on Sunday that have aired so far on Air America Radio. And it may be the total number as well, since Sam Seder's 52 week contract for the show has now expired. The next two weeks will consist of previously recorded shows, but after that, it's anyone's guess. Seder has become the second on-air talent at Air America in the past six weeks to leave the air due to an expired contract, following Randi Rhodes, who jumped to Nova M Radio in April.

Will Sam re-up for more Sunday/fill-in shows? Will he still be the web guru for Air America's website? Will he bolt for Nova M Radio or another venture? So far, there is no real concrete word, even from the oft-candid Seder.

Via his independent show blog, Seder says that his most recent Air America contract called for 52 live shows. That contract expired yesterday, but he has two previously recorded episodes in the can to last the next two weeks. He still plans on doing his webcam-exclusive shows, including ones with Marc Maron.

He will also still serve as online editor for Air America's website.

And he's still hoping to snag the vacant 3-6P shift vacated last month by Rhodes:

I may end up as Air America's 3-6 pm host. I really have no sense as to the chances of that happening. If not, there may be other opportunities at AAR or at other liberal talk networks. Don't know that those opportunities would happen soon or months from now, but I love doing liberal talk radio and one way or another I'll make it back on air.

The afternoon shift is still being occupied by a revolving door of guest hosts. Ron Reagan takes over the shift today and will fill in this week, followed by former WABC host Ron Kuby next week. Air America management has still not ironed out any permanent plans for a full-time replacement. It could be a possibility that Seder could take over another slot, since the 6-9A ET morning slot has been vacant since the beginning of this year, and the network could possibly move another host, such as Rachel Maddow, into afternoon drive.

As for Seder's on-air future with the network, that's anyone's guess. But seeing as Seder has always been direct with fans on his dealings with the network, I'm sure we'll find out soon.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Scandal: Florida conservojock busted on larceny charges

As I discovered this story that I'm about to share with all of you, I asked myself, is this art imitating life?

Okay, that was a cheap shot. But my counterparts on the other side seemingly have no shame, so neither do I. Embattled former KGO radio host Bernie Ward accepted a plea deal, and admitted to possessing and distributing child pornography. I find it rather disturbing that right-wing goons are beaming with glee over this, particularly since there are exploited children involved. To consider something like that 'entertainment,' well, that's pretty disgusting. And that especially goes for Brian Maloney, a.k.a. the Radio Tranquilizer, who's head is buried so far up Rush Limbaugh's fat ass that all he sees is pigshit.

I haven't written as much about Ward as others have, and when I have, I limited it to repeating a few paragraphs from news sources. It's not because of Ward's ideology, but rather the fact that I find child exploitation to be very disturbing. I don't get offended by much, but we all have out breaking point. Like the 'sex dungeon' guy in Austria, which made me shout out loud at my TV. And to exploit this tragedy for other sleazy means, or for self-serving means, is just as disturbing. Ward is a disturbed man, and should have realized the consequences of his actions. His 'research' argument was flimsy at best. Even when it comes to people on the left, particularly Eliot Spitzer, I do have a problem with hypocrisy in general. And I'll leave it at that.

Nonetheless, here's the story I want to share with all of you. Meet Richard Lester Senninger. He's a budding syndicated talk radio host based out of WFOY in St. Augustine, FL who goes by the on-air name Rick Wright (not to be confused with the Pink Floyd keyboardist by the same name). He owns an alleged company called Intel Radio Network, which syndicated (read: buys time on tiny AM stations) and leased satellite time to distribute his show, "Outside the Wire" to several stations across the country during the 9P-midnight weekday time slot.

The 51 year old Senninger is in hot water now, as he was arrested at his home Wednesday afternoon and booked in the St. Johns County jail in Palencia, FL. Senninger is currently facing charges that he is a fugitive from justice in Michigan for larceny and theft. He is being held without bond pending an appearance before a judge, and is currently waiting extradition to Iosco County, Michigan. Gary Rapp, Iosco County prosecutor, said the larceny by conversion charge was for "more than $1,000 and under $20,000." According to a Florida state attorney fraud investigator, Senninger also has bench warrants issued in Michigan for non payment of child support.

The house of cards came a tumblin' down pretty quick for this so-called conservative political commentator, as WFOY's owner, Kristine Phillips was getting ready to drop Senninger's show due to nonpayment of bills. Following the arrest, he was quickly replaced by Westwood One's Jim Bohannon in the evening slot.

On her weekday talk show yesterday morning and in the local media, Phillips took time to set the record straight, claiming that she is a “victim” of Senninger as well. "He came to me two months ago with an impressive radio background. He was syndicated before and had sold that. He wanted to syndicate again, and he wondered if it could originate from WFOY," Phillips said. She claims that she was selling Senninger local radio air time and the use of her studio to produce his program as well as satellite time for syndication. Senninger boasted of affiliates across the country. Of course, he turned out to be rather undependable. Phillips claims that Senninger has been lagging far behind in payments. Phillips pressed Senninger on his past due amounts on Monday and became suspicious when he offered her payment the following day — using someone else’s credit card. And, she "started getting calls from former colleagues who told me about not getting paid and his passing bad checks. So things had sort of come to a head with us." He owed her what she describes as a "pretty substantial amount." Needless to say, Rick Wright was on his way out the door.

WFOY is basically a run-of-the-mill conservotalk station, featuring the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Laura Ingraham and others. As is typical in Florida AM circles, the station sells airshifts to any budding talk radio star willing to pony up the cash. No shame in that. Radio is a tough nut to crack, and if it takes an initial investment to do so, then so be it. Just make sure you know how to manage your affairs. Right, Air America?

The station's owner is no stranger to controversy or criminals herself. Phillips and her husband, Kevin Leslie Geddings, a radio announcer also known on air as “Kevin Leslie,” bought WFOY and a sister station, ESPN Radio affiliate WAOC in May 2006. Geddings was sentenced in May of last year to four years in prison and fined $25,000 in North Carolina after he was found guilty by a jury of committing five counts of mail fraud in relation to his former stint as Florida lottery commissioner, where his public relations firm accepted kickbacks from a lottery contractor. Not trying to open old wounds, as Phillips obviously got burned in the whole Rick Wright scandal. But I'm just reporting the facts.

Senninger's website, which as of today has been taken down allegedly due to nonpayment to his host, made many claims about his experience. Over the past thirty years he's been a talk show host, TV executive producer, co-owner of several radio stations, founder of an advertising agency in central Florida and "a sought after public speaker and prolific author." He also boasted that his show was "profitable."

He told Phillips that he had affiliates on the West Coast, but his site, before it was scrubbed, listed only a few meager affiliates. Whether any of these stations have actually been running Wright's show is unknown, but it's interesting to note a few things. Senninger sent a press release to Radio Online a few weeks back, announcing the addition of new affiliates in Chicago, Tampa and Pensacola, starting April 28. First, he claimed two Chicago affiliates. This, of course, is a stretch, since both of these stations serve everywhere but Chicago. WKKD is a tiny 200 watt station that serves the Aurora area, far west of Chicago. Little 500 watt daytimer (a mere 18 watts at night) WMCW is far northwest of the city, and probably covers more of Wisconsin than even the most remote suburbs of it's intended market. interestingly enough, earlier this week, the owner both stations took WMCW off the air for good, in hopes of moving it farther north into Wisconsin. WKKD is looking to move farther west toward the Quad Cities. other affiliates included WTAN in Tampa and WVNJ in Oakland, NJ. All stations listed offer leased-time programming.

The web-wiping of Senninger has been rather swift. Yesterday, his website went offline, along with all graphics files. His friends have run as fast as possible away from him as well. After being exposed as a deadbeat dad, one blogger, who appeared on a show about paternity issues, scrubbed and entry about his appearance on Senninger's show. Another blog, from frequent guest Glenn Sacks, also wiped all mention of Wright.

And his top collaborator, Bob Parks, turned on him as well. In several entries, Parks called Senninger a liar and claimed he and other contributors were getting stiffed on their paychecks. He also accused him of defrauding friends and advertisers:

There were numerous phantom electronic funds transfers never sent, special delivery checks never sent, and according to some, checks that did arrive, bounced. Mortgage payments were missed, utilities were shut off and on, and to add insult to injury, we were being strung along by someone who it turns out was living large in the “Land of Good Living.”


Last Saturday, I began contacting his advertisers and Monday, Florida law enforcement authorities. When they told me of just whom my boss was, I felt like one of those astonished housewives in a bad Lifetime movie, where the husband’s double life was revealed.

Parks also claimed that Senninger was also defrauding military veterans, all while playing the mock patriotism card.

Suffice it to say, Senninger is a world-class scumbag, a guy who created a world of radio shuck 'n jive phoniness in order to fatten his own wallet. He deserves what's coming to him. Granted, this is not as lurid and disturbing as the Bernie Ward situation, but if holier-than-thou wingnut goons want to point the accusatory finger at the left, hinting that they all must obviously be just like Ward, then I've got my own finger to point in your direction:

Right back at'cha!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Midweek roundup part deux: All the news that didn't fit

Here's a continuation of some of the stuff I didn't cover yesterday, with two items involving progressive talk stations, and two concerning the digital television transition.

WWRC: Is it live, or is it Lionel?

Thanks to reader NYLefty, who dropped an email this morning. NYLefty fired off an email to Bill Hess, operations manager of WWRC (1260AM) in Washington, DC, wondering why the station was running day-old programs from Lionel in the 9-noon slot. Ironically, Air America feeds Lionel's show live to affiliates during that time slot. Talk about a head scratcher.

Hess responded right away, claiming that technical limitations would not allow for that, since the station records the show to air on delay later in the evening (7-10P) and in overnights (3-6A). He didn't say it, but the likely culprit would be the station's automation software, which records and replays syndicated shows. Many Clear Channel stations have had this same problem. The studio is currently undergoing a redesign, which will correct the problem.

In the meantime, the email prompted Hess to begin airing Lionel's show live, and to seek another show to record (or air live) for the evening broadcast. Everything should be working normally by Monday.

Wilmington, NC makes the DTV switch early

Last week, I wrote a bit about the television industry's transition from analog to digital broadcasting, a move that will conclude for full-power stations on February 17, 2009.

As of late, the FCC has been looking for test markets where the stations are willing to shut down their analog signals early, in order to prepare themselves for the digital era. One market has finally stepped forward. On September 8, 2008, Wilmington, NC will become the first market to switch to all-digital broadcasting, Mayor Bill Saffo said on Wednesday.

“We'll be the first in the country,” Saffo said, adding that he was “honored” to have his city take the lead.

The NBC, ABC and FOX full-power affiliates in the Wilmington area, as well as the Class A low-power CBS station are all prepared to pull the plug early. No word yet on the local PBS station (which does have a digital transmitter), or the other two low-power stations (one is a MyNetworkTV affiliate, the other is a translator for a religious network), both of which currently do not have digital facilities. Low-power television stations and translators are not required to shut down their analog signals next February.

In addition to Wilmington, stations in Orlando, FL will simulate the shut-off of their analog signals at various times during this summer. KVBC in Las Vegas conducted a similar test last week.

NBC Plans 24-Hour News for New York, other areas

Last week, via a comment on the DTV entry, I posed a question of sorts about digital subchannel programming. There are quite a few services catering to subchannel affiliation, such as ones dedicated to weather coverage and classic TV shows. What I was wondering was, why isn't anyone making a 24/7 news operation available? A few stations, such as KSTP in the Twin Cities, rerun the main channel's newscasts around the clock. But no national network has stepped up to the subchannel plate.

Granted, CNN, MSNBC and FOX News already have plum placement on cable and satellite systems, and don't want to jeopardize that. And starting up a news operation from scratch is an expensive and difficult undertaking. But ABC News Now, a full-time news operation which has crummy cable clearances on the few services that actually carry it, would be an obvious choice for the network's affiliates, just as Weather Plus fills a subchannel void for NBC stations. ABC once offered the news channel to affiliates for local digital carriage, but their current strategy seems to be web-based, via streaming. Needless to say, it only goes so far. Let's face it, they could use an edge. And cornering the 'rabbit ear' market via over-the-air digital means is a pretty good way of doing it.

Well, the over-the-air all-news channel idea is not a forgotten concept. Yesterday, word surfaced that NBC plans to roll out a dedicated 24/7 local news channel in New York. The upcoming news operations will be operated by flagship affiliate WNBC, and will originate from NBC's Rockefeller Center headquarters.

The news channel will get digital-tier cable coverage across the region, as well as the 4.4 digital subchannel. In addition, if the WNBC experiment succeeds, they may look at expanding the news channel idea to their other owned-and-operated stations in markets such as Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. The network also owns NBC affiliates in San Francisco/San Jose and Washington, DC, co-owns affiliates in San Diego and Dallas/Ft. Worth, and is currently looking to sell their affiliates in Miami and Hartford.

New Yorkers can look for a debut of the yet-unnamed service this fall or by early next year.

Rayburn talks to the Times

Finally, fans of WXXM (92.1FM)/Madison host Lee Rayburn should check out an interview he did with The Capital Times. You can find it here.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Midweek roundup: Elliott on the phone, Ward in court, Newsom not on the air and WZNZ gets religious

As a deadly cyclone ripped through Myanmar, the media ripped through Miley Cyrus for (gasp!) showing some of her bare upper back and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has virtually been ripped to shreds, it's time to rip through a few other headlines, LTR-style. Here goes:

The fastest three hours on your cell phone

Didn't stay up late enough to hear Jon Elliott last night? Well, you can let your fingers do the listening, as his show is now available via your phone. Cellecast, an audio content provider catering to mobile phone users, is putting Elliott's Air America Radio show in the palm of your hand.

"Now listeners all over America will be able to listen for free to This Is America with Jon Elliott any time they want over their cell phone just by dialing a phone number," said the host in All Access. "I was very impressed with the unique, proprietary technology developed by Cellecast and the potential for enormous growth. Cellecast presents us with a great new platform to expand and extend our listenership."

"We’re pleased to have Jon Elliott on board with Cellecast," said Cellecast founder and CEO Andrew Deal. "He speaks intelligently to a growing audience that deserves to have unlimited access to him, and to be able to interact and share the show easily with others. We look forward to seeing a wide range of programs from all corners of the political spectrum represented on the unlimited Cellecast dial." Cellecast also offers cranky radio shrink Dr. Laura Schlessinger, conservative Lars Larson and tech geek Dave Graveline.

Signup and listening is free for all, and commercial-free programming and other features are available for a monthly fee. While the service is geared toward cell phones, their website does offer online listening as well, for those that listen to shows the 'semi-old fashioned way.' But, the obvious question concerns all that airtime usage. Wouldn't a 2-3 hour show burn that up pretty quick? Cellecast is currently working with wireless providers on a way around this obvious obstacle.

WZNZ/Jacksonville sold

The days of the progressive talk format in Jacksonville, FL could be numbered. Nancy Epperson, owner of WZNZ (1460AM), is selling the station to Queen of Peace Radio for $1.6 million.

Queen of Peace currently owns local station WQOP (1600AM), which airs a Catholic-based religious format. That station has very limited signal reach, and powers down to a mere 89 watts after sunset. The move to 1460AM, which currently has a construction permit to boost power from 5,000 to 15,000 watts, will give them greater reach than WQOP's. It is highly likely that they'll change WZNZ's format, but nothing has been confirmed.

Epperson’s Chesapeake-Portsmouth Broadcasting has had a lease agreement with Florida Democratic politician Andy Johnson, who has been programming a progressive talk format consisting of shows by himself and other local hosts, in addition to syndicated talkers such as Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Jim Bohannon and Lou Dobbs.

Newsom a no-show for now

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, who was set to start his radio show this past weekend, wasn't able to make it for the debut, which was to be aired on KKGN (960AM).

Newsom's day job got in the way of his show. He was scheduled to make trips to Israel and New York. As a result, KKGN had to pull back on its ads promoting the show, instead running a bunch of "Whoops, we're sorry" spots.

"I guess it just wasn't the best time for him to start," said Green 960 program director John Scott. "Hopefully, we'll regroup in a couple of weeks."

Ward changes plea

Elsewhere in San Francisco, embattled former radio host Bernie Ward, who pleaded not guilty in December to distributing and receiving child pornography via the Internet, plans to change his plea Thursday, federal court records show.

Ward, 57, a former personality with KGO (810AM), is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco to change his plea. He is a month away from going on trial. The case against Ward began when he engaged in sex chats with an online dominatrix and allegedly sent her pictures of children engaged in sexual activity, according to a police report.

Ward pleaded not guilty to the charges in December and had insisted that he was innocent of any wrongdoing. Weinberg has said the conversations Ward had with the woman consisted only of role-playing as part of a book he was researching on hypocrisy.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Seder, Maron take over the "Afternoon" next week

While Air America Radio ponders how to fill space in the post-Randi Rhodes era, they have announced guest hosts for the coming weeks.

Marc Maron, who at one time vowed never to work for the network again, is back in the host's chair next week, as he fills in on Tuesday (5/6) and Thursday (5/8). The ever-faithful Sam Seder hosts next Monday (5/5) and Wednesday (5/7), and the two will team up for a joint show next Friday (5/9) and occasionally for an online-only "SammYCam" show.

The following week (5/12-16) will see Ron Reagan, son of the former president and onetime host at KIRO in Seattle in the shift. Ron Kuby, formerly of WABC, takes over for the week afterward (5/19).

Previous hosts of "American Afternoon" have included Richard Belzer, Joy Behar and this week, Roseanne Barr and Johnny Argent. The show has been heavy with guest appearances, including Cynthia McKinney, Phil Donahue, Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Sarah Silverman, Martin Short, “Sopranos” creator David Chase, Lewis Black, financial advisor Suze Orman, filmmaker Michael Moore, and former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers.

Meanwhile, confirming last week's rumors, Randi Rhodes' show on Nova M Radio will air on XM's "Air America" channel starting next Monday, displacing "American Afternoon."

Thanks to Shelley Kapitulik at Air America for the heads-up, as well as the pics of Belzer and Barr (as seen in the previous entry).

Rambling about Rush, Roseanne, radio, and riots

Quite often, while doing other things in the real world, I tend to ponder ideas for new entries for this blog. Something may have happened that caught my attention, or some new controversy arose. Perhaps yet another right-wing media blowhard erupted. Or perhaps there's some mock outrage simmering in the blogosphere.

Now, many of these ideas don't really come to fruition. Scattered about on my computer are many half-finished entries and a few jotted notes and news items. I often find that things that supposedly offend some people, such as the whole Rev. Jeremiah Wright non-scandal and ridiculous ways of proving fake patriotism, don't really phase me. I guess I'm too distracted by paying $4 a gallon for the same gas that I got for half that price only a few years ago. Do I really give a shit about who's wearing a 'made in China' flag pin and who isn't?

But this is a media blog, nonetheless, and the majority of what I write about centers around that. As I've often said in the past, I choose not to write about every little thing some pundit or self-appointed town crier screams into a microphone. I would have little time for anything else if that were the case, and there are many blogs that do it better than I could hope to. I do, however, make exceptions.

A few weeks ago, I followed the whole Randi Rhodes controversy, because I sensed that it would blow up into something. It did. And the most recent idea I had for an entry came about while driving last weekend. A few days earlier, Rush Limbaugh was basking in the glow of his so-called "Operation Chaos," wherer he encouraged his lemmings listeners to disrupt the presidential primary process through various misdeeds. He gives himself way too much credit, since I highly doubt "Operation Chaos" is really having as much of an effect as he or others might think (Hillary Clinton is doing a better job of it herself). There's really no way to prove it. Nonetheless, his latest decree, last Wednesday following the Pennsylvania Primary, was a call-to-arms directed at his listeners:

...The dream end... I mean, if people say what's your exit strategery (sic), the dream end of this is that this keeps up to the convention and that we have a replay of Chicago 1968, with burning cars, protests, fires, literal riots, and all of that. That's the objective here.

(Here's the Keith Olbermann report on it, via YouTube.)

Okay, typical asshole comment from Limbaugh. He's got a million of these, though this one actually condones the destruction of a major American city. Well, these guys do tend to be concerned about terrorism. They just don't realize that typically, they're the ones doing the terrorizing.

The comments were deplorable, and in very bad taste. Wishing for violent riots is pretty appalling. And aren't these guys supposed to be fighting terrorism? Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) even called on Clear Channel (which owns Limbaugh's Denver affiliate KOA) to reprimand Limbaugh. Some of his listeners even turned on him. Some even called for his arrest.

So, as typical in conservojerk circles, the usual gang of idiots had to figure out a way of playing tit-for-tat. They wound up appointing some loser with no life the task of listening to Air America, in the hopes that they could find some ammo to fight back with. They needed a finger-pointing "AH HA!" moment. The best they could come up with was an afternoon fill-in host, Roseanne Barr:

But you know what, I think I am old and I’m okay with being a baby boomer being older and everything like that. 'Cause I think one really good thing about it, we were just talking about it, is that I am over the BS. And I just want to identify solutions and then get 'em done. And I want to ah you know the people who are listening, I want to remind them or encourage them or wake them up to say you know what, you have so much more power then you think you have.

I mean I think somebody’s profiting by keeping us all divided and making us feel like oh my God we don’t even know what to believe what we’re reading what’s true. But you know, we have a lot of power and there is a Democratic Convention in Denver in just a short time and we should a bunch of us go there and repeat the Democratic Convention from Chicago. Like, let’s just cause a bunch of trouble. Let's wrest back our government from what, six or seven you know guys like McCain and Romney and Bush from the top. Let’s just go take it. It’s ours. Nobody gives it to you, you just go take it. Let’s meet in Denver and let’s do it...

...And then let’s get on a bus, whatever let’s meet up in Denver. I mean seriously, I’m willing to do it. I’ll even put some of my own money into it because I’m like committed. I see how it easy it is for ah the woman in particularly of my generation to go take it all. Take it all, it’s ours anyway.

As is typical, the mock outrage oozed from every pore of the wingnut blogosphere. Even Fatboy, who never had a sense of irony, and certainly no shame, got in on the act. Yet, as is typically the case, this anger and hostility seemed very phony. Ripping apart an inexperienced guest host? Oh please!

Well okay, she didn't call for burning cars and rioting. Her most blatant call for action was to "go take it." Which is in stark contrast to the hostile fatwa issued by an ivory tower shock jock who only leaves his house to golf with his elitist buddies, go whore-hopping to the Dominican Republic or score drugs. Hey, at least Barr offered to go to Denver herself. Limbaugh doesn't give a shit what happens to the world just so long as his money's safe and nobody walks across his lawn.

And that was the basis of the idea I initially had. Since Limbaugh was calling for a massive assault on Denver, I thought it would be cool to bring the party to his house. I call it "Operation Hog Roast." We'd descend on Palm Beach, FL, set up tents in his front yard, leave beer cans all over, piss in his bushes, fornicate in the flower beds, score pills behind the local Denny's and go four-wheeling on his favorite golf course. The kicker would be very appropriate - we'd cap it off a massive pig roast! At a fat pig's house! Now, that sounds pretty cool, huh? Of course, seeing as he's more shut off from the world in his mansion fortress than Howard Hughes ever was, he probably wouldn't even notice all the chaos on his front lawn. Still, sounds like a heck of a party!

So, back to the Roseanne thing. As Air America fans know, she's one of a long string of 'celebrity' hosts filling in while the network figures out how to replace Randi Rhodes. And since only about three stations of note actually carry the show, it's a safe bet that few people are actually listening to her. Plus, Roseanne's off the air at the end of this week. Can't say the same for Limbaugh, who's 500 or so affiliates will still carry him for the foreseeable future.

Keep in mind that the protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago were originally supposed to be peaceful. A bunch of hippies, live bands, plenty of pot and some good vibes capping a three month time span that had just witnessed the violent assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. The hippies and cops initially got along well, with a few minor altercations. Then the Yippies and a few other rabble-rousers descended on the city. Adding to that crowded, filthy conditions, similar to what ended the whole Haight-Ashbury thing a year earlier, and the mayhem commenced. Of course, Limbaugh and his frustrated wingnut acolytes are living in a fantasy world, where they see Democrats and liberals as dirty hippies, so it fits in well with their delusional wet dreams. If only it were that simple.

So, after raising so many points and asking so many questions, I offer a solution. If Limbaugh wants to burn Denver to the ground in August, instead of delegating his followers to go out and do his dirty work, he needs to get off his fat ass and out of his mansion and lead the charge himself. To order others to do the lawbreaking that he's not willing to do himself is a cowardly chickenshit move. He should know that he can't rely on his goons to get it done. Porta-johns typically outnumber protesters at right-wing rallies!

At least Abbie Hoffman and his gang got out on the streets of Chicago themselves and got down to business. Hell, even Roseanne, at one time one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, offered to go to Denver. Moral of the story: If you want to get it done, don't be passive - do it your own damn self!

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