Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Big Fat 2008 Turkey of the Year

The word "Thanksgiving" has many meanings. In historical context, the Pilgrims gave thanks for their new home, free of the religious persecution they escaped in Europe. In modern times, it means food. Lots of it. And family get-togethers. And football. And turkey. Lots of turkey.

Here,we're serving up the turkey as well, celebrating the second annual "2008 Turkey Of The Year," devoted to the year's masters of media buffoonery. And what a year it was! Of course, it was all about the election this year, and the zany exploits of many have been covered here throughout the year.

The Turkey nominating committee had a very difficult time narrowing it down this year, and keeping this entry from becoming too long. I was tempted to include various political figures this year, but that would make this thing ridiculously long. But there was so much hilarity on the political landscape that I may write an extra edition devoted to them, perhaps at year's end.

And unlike Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's embarrassing turkey pardon last week, there will be none here. The axe will still fall anyway.

Some of the usual suspects nominated last year make return visits, and there are many new turkeys to choose from. But there can be only one Turkey Of The Year.

And we begin this edition with an update on last year's top contenders...

Bill O'Reilly. Obnoxious. Egotistical. Self-righteous. Loudmouthed. Hypocritical. Yes indeed,no one could ever run out of adjectives to describe this FOX News blowhard.

And we found out this year that this isn't a new thing for the falafel king. Apparently, he's always been an asshole. From 1989 to 1995, O'Reilly hosted a syndicated tabloid news show for CBS called "Inside Edition." And long before he annoyed coworkers at FOX, he was doing it there. Somebody dug up an old outtake, showing O'Reilly blowing his lines and blaming it on the teleprompter guy in a vicious profanity-laced tirade. Fuckin' thing sucks, indeed.

O'Reilly's nasty temper is blatantly obvious to anyone watching. And he often uses his show to bully and wage personal vendettas against his so-called enemies. Chief rival Keith Olbermann on MSNBC had a lot of fun mocking the "Inside Edition" meltdown, and in quick retaliation, O'Reilly (who refuses to even utter the name of his nemesis, let alone challenge him directly) lashed out at Olbermann's boss, Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, parent of the NBC broadcast properties. O'Reilly called Immelt a "despicable human being" who, as the head of a major U.S. defense contractor, bears responsibility for the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq, since GE had done some low-level business in Iran.

Not being content with that, O'Reilly prodded his own bosses, News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch and FOX News chairman Roger Ailes, who leaned on NBC boss Jeff Zucker to tell Olbermann to cool it. Zucker told them to get lost. The News Corp-owned New York Post then began publishing hit pieces on Olbermann in their gossip columns. It was war!

Yes, it is true that O'Reilly uses others to do his dirty work. Like his hapless producer, Porter Berry, who attempted some ambush journalism. But pitting this sad sack against a journalistic heavyweight like Bill Moyers -- at a conference for independent journalists no less, is kinda like feeding him to the lions. O'Reilly was hoping at least to get some footage that could be edited in a way to cause Moyers some embarrassment. But Moyers is too smart to take the bait. Anyone who could work for LBJ and live to tell about it has got to have some inner toughness, right? Moyers was very polite and direct toward Berry as he proceeded to verbally turn him into a puddle of goo. Following the encounter, some of the folks at the conference who were taping the so-called 'ambush' then followed Berry all the way to the exit, pestering him about whatit was like to be publicly 'owned' and to work for such a crappy 'news' organization. But give Berry some credit. At least he's willing to engage in humiliating things that O'Reilly doesn't have the balls himself to do.

Though he is likely a coward outside of the safety and security of his studio, O'Reilly occasionally engages in some real world physical combat, to prove his 'toughness' to a rather skeptical public. Last January, O'Reilly got into a small skirmish as he tried to strong-arm Barack Obama's National Trip Director, the 6'8" Marvin Nicholson, in order to get to the candidate at a primary event. Nicholson probably could have folded him into something the size of a briefcase, but he didn't. Naturally, O'Reilly lied about what happened on his show afterward. And he proceeded to pick on another usual target, the
gang at MediaMatters.org
.

Sorry Bill-O, but you ain't Geraldo Rivera. And you may not be the 2008 Turkey of the Year, but you are definitely in the running for 2008 Pussy of the Year.

John Gibson. O'Reilly isn't the only FOX News goon worthy of Turkeydom. Whenever FOX needed a talking head to deliver cruel, offensive and bigoted rhetoric (or at the very least more cruel, offensive and bigoted than their other meat puppets could serve up) or to mock those that cannot defend themselves, Gibson could always deliver. Hell, anyone who writes a book claiming that liberals are trying to ban Christmas outright is obviously a few fries short of a happy meal, right?

In January, following the sudden tragic death of actor Heath Ledger, Gibson callously mocked the death of actor Heath Ledger, calling him a "weirdo" with a "serious drug problem" on his FOX-syndicated radio show. He went on to play clips from Ledger's film "Brokeback Mountain," spicing it up with some hostile gay-bating rhetoric. Gibson deservedly caught a bunch of flack for his loud mouth, even though I'm not really sure if he even has any kind of radio audience. He issued a half-hearted apology where he didn't even admit doing anything wrong.

And lending proof to the theory that karma truly does exist, Gibson's TV gig on FOX News Channel got the axe about a month later. And now he's toiling in relative obscurity in his syndicated radio exile, where his show only has a handful of affiliates on really low-rated and underpowered AM stations.

But that isn't all in the world of FOX...

Various FOX News idiots. Last year, I gave a blanket Turkey Of The Year award to the whole sordid cast and crew. Rather than repeat myself, I refrained from doing likewise this year, tempting as it was. However, their collective exploits do deserve some mention. Here are a few highlights:

'Fox and Friends' Brian Kilmeade, who, when referring excitedly to a monkey he adopted from the London Zoo last week, said, "I'm responsible. It's almost like... almost like what Madonna did with that Malawi child."

My own personal favorite incident was back in June, when anchor E.D. Hill reported on the friendly 'fist jab' that Michelle and Barack performed just before his victory speech in St. Paul, Minn. "A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? The gesture everyone seems to interpret differently." Hill later issued a semi-apology and explanation for her loose lips.

A few days later, FOX News struck again, this time in an on-screen chryon during a segment featuring Michelle Malkin: "OUTRAGED LIBERALS: STOP PICKING ON OBAMA'S BABY MAMA!" As one Daily Kos blogger pointed out, it was one step away from calling Michalle Obama a 'ho.' Another apology issued soon after.

And wouldn't you know it? As soon as Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska started his trial, he got "the 'D' treatment."

Finally, FOX News hired a new pundit this year, former Bush political henchman Karl Rove. You've probably heard of him. Rove must be slipping, though, as he forgot his own GOP talking points as shown by him describing Barack Obama as "the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by." Yeah, kinda like his old boss.

Hey, I'd like to name the whole gang at FOX "Turkeys of the Year" for yet another year, but turkey donations are down across the country, so I'm going to have to limit it to only one person this time around. Read on...

Really bad Republican pundits. They were all over the cable news shows this year, like flies on feces. You often see them chanting canned talking points like zombies. Many of these people are so beholden to the talking points that they really don't know what they're all about, making it quite difficult when a host actually behaves like a real journalist and calls them on it. You may remember L.A. Radio conservojock Kevin James, who had his ass handed to him on "Hardball." Then there was another guy, an actual Republican congressman named Jack Kingston. While appearing on "Live with Dan Abrams" on MSNBC, he chastised Barack Obama for not wearing his flag pin often enough, playing the oh-so-popular patriotism card made popular by scummy political schemers like Lee Atwater way back when. And boy oh boy, was he making a big deal of it! Only one problem – Abrams noticed Kingston wasn't wearin a flag pin on his lapel either, and he made sure to call him out on it. Even a McCain campaign spokesman, Michael Goldfarb, couldn't dig himself out of bogus talking points. Tsk, tsk. For this year's Thanksgiving, they get a processed canned ham with lots of preservatives.

WHNT-TV. Don Siegelman, Alabama's former Democratic governor, got a raw deal when was wrongly convicted of corruption last year. His plight was documented in many liberal blogs and in the mainstream media, which raised the possibility that he was a victim of political persecution, and the whole ordeal had GOP dirty trickster Karl Rove's greasy fingerprints all over it. The CBS show "60 Minutes" ran a report in February on the Siegelman case. Unfortunately, if you live in northern Alabama, you probably missed it. The local CBS affiliate, WHNT, suddenly experienced mysterious "technical difficulties" that blacked out the entire segment. WHNT issued a half-assed apology, and blamed it on a technical problem with CBS out of New York.

Scott Horton of Harper's magazine, who had written in the past about Siegelman, called CBS News in New York and was told that "There were no transmission difficulties. The problems were peculiar to Channel 19, which had the signal and had functioning transmitters."

To their credit, CBS19 was kind enough to show a replay of the segment on their 10PM news. Too bad it was on opposite the final hour of the Oscars on ABC, when nobody would be watching anyway. We'd offer CBS19 some turkey this year, but due to technical difficulties, we are unable to do so.

Pat Robertson. The conversation earlier this year involving the televangelist probably went a little something like this:

"Hey, guess who I was just talking to."

"Who?"

"The Almighty Himself. And you know what he told me?

"What?"

"He told me who would win the presidential election this November."

"Haven't we heard that before?"

"But I'm telling you. This time is different."

Okay, I'll bite. Who's gonna win?"

"Uhh... I can't tell you. It's kinda between me and the big guy. Besides, that crabby old man on '60 Minutes' might make fun of me."

"Mike Wallace?"

"No, that other crabby old man."

"Oh, Andy Rooney." Okay, so tell me, who are you supporting in the primaries?"

"Why, Rudy Giuliani, of course."

Ann Coulter. What would a turkey awards celebration be without mention of this vicious pundit? But in a year when things were looking pretty gloomy for Republicans, she morphed from Annthrax Annie into Baghdad Barbie in a June column:

"The man responsible for keeping Americans safe from another terrorist attack on American soil for nearly seven years now will go down in history as one of America's greatest presidents."

"It is unquestionable that Bush has made this country safe by keeping Islamic lunatics pinned down fighting our troops in Iraq."

"With Iraqi deaths at an all-time low, Iraq is safer than Detroit."

And, in the final paragraph:

The sheer repetition of lies about Bush is wearing people down. There is not a liberal in this country worthy of kissing Bush's rear end, but the weakest members of the herd run from Bush. Compared to the lickspittles denying and attacking him, Bush is a moral giant -- if that's not damning with faint praise. John McCain should be so lucky as to be running for Bush's third term. Then he might have a chance.

And in a very recent development, the New York Post reported yesterday that Annthax broke her jaw and it is currently wired shut. Normally, I'd be sympathetic, but considering she's long made her living being 'as nasty as she wanna be,' I'm really not.

No turkey, though, for her this year, just a cold, heaping serving of reality. In liquefied form.

Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos. Over the course of a year, the Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination went through a grueling series of debates, 21 to be exact. The final one, a Philadelphia showdown between the final two candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, was presented by ABC. One would think the two moderators, Gibson and Stephanopoulos, would take this opportunity to grill the candidates on the important issues Americans really care about. But this debate was less PBS and more TMZ.

The tabloidy first question set the tone, asking if they would join together on a 'dream' ticket. Then it all went downhill from there. The debate devolved into an hour and a half of 'gotcha' bullet points. It was less about the economy, health care, energy, the war in Iraq and terrorism and more about "bitter," Rev. Jeremiah Wright, flag pins, William Ayers, and whatever other stupid non-news distractions swirled around. Granted, moderators are supposed to ask tough questions, and at least CBS' Bob Scheiffer got it right in the final presidential debate the following October. But the performance of Gibson and Stephanopoulos at the ABC debate was roundly criticized. Especially after bloggers and the media found out where Stephanopoulos got some of the questions - from Sean Hannity, who begged him to bring up Wright, Ayers, etc.

Yep, that's our liberal media hard at work.

And while we're talking about insane 'gotcha' politics, we should give ample recognition to...

The 'mock outraged.' You know these people well. They're the modern-day version of the 'politically correct' types from the early 90s that they love to sneer at more than a decade later. Essentially, they're crabby right-wingers who like to feign shock and outrage at stuff the rest of civilized society considers rather meaningless. And they were out in full force this year during the campaign season. OMIGOD!!!

Obama had a crazy preacher!!! Oh yeah? So do you.

OH NO!!! Obama had an acquaintance who was a radical domestic terrorist in the 1960s!!! Oh yeah? Ronald Reagan armed terrorists in the 1980s. And the Bush family has long been friends with the Bin Laden family and the Saudi monarchy – people who actually know the people behind the 9/11 attacks.

All year long, we saw a long line of idiot pundits try to scare us all over the most ridiculous shit that came down the line. All it showed is that Obama is not much different than anyone else in power, and that they sweat over really stupid shit. And they think they can protect us from the real-life threats. Please. No turkey served here. Just a chill pill.

Brian Maloney. One of the biggest 'mock outragers' of all. This guy is such a tool that the turkey award itself should be named after him. As a matter of fact, I think I will. The turkey will from hence forth be known as "Maloney the Turkey." In the four years that the failed radio talker began blogging, he has gone from anti-Air America attack dog to avid Al Franken hater. Then big-time radio talkers like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity discovered him, and as a result, he transformed into a sickening ass-kisser. Radio Equalizer is now basically a shrine to these talk titans who already have over-inflated egos. As a blogger who became an officially-sanctioned propaganda organ for snooty millionaire talk show hosts, he lost what was left of his soul along the way.

But by chance, I happened on his blog once again, after virtually forgetting his very existence. Still the same old nonsense. But with conservatives out of favor in Washington and virtually everywhere else, Maloney has transformed yet again into a pisser and moaner of the highest degree, constantly feigning mock outrage at even the most minuscule of mishaps and any slight thing semi-offensive remark uttered by even the most obscure of liberal media personalities, as if to say, 'ah ha! Gotcha!.' He lets loose on mean-spirited and unhinged rants claiming that all liberals themselves are mean-spirited and 'unhinged.' Uh huh.

Maloney's increasingly ridiculous blog typifies why normal rank-and-file Americans have grown tired of the crybaby conservative movement. Right-wing age has become this year's political correctness, a meme that people are just plain sick and tired of. If the conservative movement has any future, it would be best served moving away from these sniveling wimps as quickly as possible. After all, Ronald Reagan was never a wussy. But alas, no turkey for Maloney this year. Just sour grapes and whine. And whatever he eats for Thanksgiving, let's hope, for his safety and ours, it's with a plastic spork in a rubber room.

Air America Media. People like Maloney have gotten a lot of mileage ripping Air America. Sure, most of it is nonsense, but the fledgling liberal talk media juggernaut is not without their share of unnecessary drama. With 2008, the network saw yet another ownership change. And the new boss, Charlie Kirecker, got off to a really bad start when he decided to play hardball with the network's biggest talent, Randi Rhodes. It started with a live, raunchy promotional appearance by Rhodes for her San Francisco affiliate, KKGN at a local comedy club. When the outspoken host lashed out onstage at Hillary Clinton ("She's a whore") and former vice presidential candidate and FOX News pundit Geraldine Ferraro ("She's a fucking whore"), pro-Hillary and right-wing bloggers went nuts. A video clip was leaked on YouTube . A day or so later, Air America made a big deal of 'suspending' Rhodes. The following week, Rhodes 'left' Air America and quickly landed at rival Nova M Radio.

So, what the heck happened? Turns out there was no suspension. On her first day back on the air, Rhodes accused Air America management of spreading the 'whore' meme in an attempt to gauge the level of her popularity as they were busy hashing out a new contract for the talk show host. A major sticking point between the two parties was the 'opt-out' clause, which would allow for Rhodes to leave at any time and prohibited management from outright firing her. They wanted it removed. In return, they would offer more money. Rhodes was adamant about keeping control of her show, and would not budge. Turns out, the start of the 'suspension' coincided with the final day of her contract.

With Rhodes' departure, Air America had two major holes in their schedule to fill. The morning slot had been vacant since The Young Turks left in January, and now they needed to fill one of their highest profile slots. Over the course of the next month or two, it was a revolving door of guest hosts, some good, some not-so-good, until they finally settled on former WABC talker Ron Kuby.

Now Kuby is a capable air talent, though without Rhodes' fanatical following. And his show was picked up by only a few affiliates, as many progressive talk stations opted to stick with Rhodes. As of now, they still haven't hired anyone for morning drive. And other shows on the Air America schedule (Lionel, "Clout," etc.) are still quite obscure compared to their rivals on other networks. The only bright spots are Thom Hartmann in middays and of course Rachel Maddow, who's had a phenomenal year, not necessarily with her Air America show, but rather as MSNBC's popular new host. Here's hoping Air America's current management, the most secure team they've ever had in almost five years in business, is smart enough not to let either of them go.

The HD Radio Alliance. HD Radio initially came from noble intentions. But the big problem here is the entities behind it just can't seem to figure out what to do with it. It is stagnant. Sure, we hear the ads on radio about this new technology, but the main problem they have is the same one they've always had. Namely, there's hardly any decent products out there on which to hear it. Sure, we'd all love to hear commercial-free eclectic programming on the side channels, and we'd love to hear static-free CD quality music from FM, but until they roll out something besides crappy tabletop radios and a scant few car audio systems and cumbersome converters, it will continue to remain a big tease – something that may sound kinda cool but also something we cannot have. They have quietly been signing up a few automakers to put HD Radio units in cars (as an option), but until it becomes more widespread, easy to use and more portable, HD Radio is looking more and more like a modern day version of the whole AM stereo thing from the 1980s.

Clear Channel San Diego. Last December, after weeks of hemming and hawing, and various protests from listeners, the company blew up the successful, profitable and well-rated liberal talk format on KLSD, flipping it to a sports talk format, the third such one in the market. With the flip came much more overhead, as the station went from one full-time local host (Stacy Taylor) to a handful, creating a mostly live and local daytime lineup. The format flip resulted in the station virtually disappearing from the local ratings chart. But when life deals you lemons, you make lemonade, right? The station did show a slight rise in ratings this summer (albeit still a small fraction of what liberal talk got on the frequency at its peak). Then we discovered how the ratings surge happened. Turns out several Arbitron diaries were sent from the home of the station's morning host. When this was discovered, Clear Channel San Diego wound up with egg on their faces, and said morning host was fired on the spot. A pretty embarrassing beginning for XTRA Sports 1360.

Some of this year's Turkey contenders won't be at this year's awards banquet, instead spending the holiday behind bars...

Evan Montvel Cohen. A reviled character in the early days of Air America, he's the guy who misled his other fellow investors, claiming he had more money than he really did. Actually, he didn't have jack shit, and created a rather ugly controversy by hitting up Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx for a rather sizable amount of change. When this was all uncovered, Cohen was sent back to Guam with his tail between his legs. But Cohen's sleazy tactics didn't end there. In May, he was arrested at Guam's airport on a Hawaii warrant for charges including theft, credit card fraud, forgery, and money laundering. Montvel Cohen is currently facing ten years in prison.

Bernie Ward. Ward was the longtime liberal late night radio host at San Francisco powerhouse KGO. Until it was discovered that he had a rather disturbing hobby – namely collecting child pornography on his computer. He used the Pete Townshend defense, claiming that it was all for a book he was doing on hypocrisy. That obviously didn't wash in court, and as a result, his radio career is over and he's doing seven-plus years in the joint.

Richard Senninger. Known on-air as Rick Wright, Senninger was a budding conservative talk radio host based out of St. Augustine, FL. He also ran an upstart syndication venture, and bought time on various tiny AM stations across the country for his late night weekday show.

He often boasted to affiliates and contractors how profitable his show was, and how he could turn his thirty years in radio and television into self-made radio success. It all sounded too good to be true. It was. Especially when he couldn't pay his bills. After attempting to pass bad checks and other peoples' credit cards to pay his bills, skepticism abounded. In May, Senninger's house of cards came tumbling down when he was arrested in Florida and extradited to Michigan to face larceny charges and bench warrants for unpaid child support. For this con man on Thanksgiving, mock turkey would seem quite adequate.

Elsewhere on the police blotter this year...

Daniel Dean Thompson. This Utah video store owner has been carving out a rather controversial business over the last few years. Basically, he takes Hollywood movies and edits out the naughty bits, removing excessive violence, cuss words, naked titties, etc., and markets them as "clean" videos. Basically, another self-appointed self-righteous moral arbiter defacing art. Gee, can't wait to see that 28 minute purified version of "A Clockwork Orange."

But that will have to wait. Evidently, all that time in the editing room must have driven him crazy. Actually, I believe he was crazy before that. Earlier this year, he and a buddy were arrested for engaging in sexual activity with two 14-year-old girls. No turkey for this scumbag, but he will likely get "three hots n' a cot."

If anyone ever wondered why right-wingers typically crash and burn in the movie business, perhaps Thompson exemplifies the reason. Which leads us to...

Hollywood Republicans. Right-wingers have long bitched and moaned about not being represented adequately in Hollywood. Witness their bitching about the most recent Pixar movie. "Wall-E," which received a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but which various wingnuts described as "leftist propaganda," "a 90-minute lecture on the dangers of over consumption," and "liberal nonsense." Thing is, instead of whining, they should do something about it. Sad thing is, the talent just isn't there. While we on the left can proudly claim the likes of Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Tim Robbins, Robert Redford and countless, countless others, they're stuck with washed-up people like Chuck Norris and Kelsey Grammar. Arnold Schwarzenegger is in politics now and Sylvester Stallone ain't crankin' out the hits like he used to. Bruce Willis and Clint Eastwood (an old-school moderate Eisenhower Republican) don't really talk politics much anymore. Even reliable Republican Dennis Hopper jumped ship this year, proudly boasting to the press that he was voting for Obama. If right-wingers want to succeed in an artistic medium such as the entertainment industry, they need to at least make a credible effort. As you'll see from the following examples, they just have no case to whine.

Raphael Shore. Earlier this fall, Shore, a Israeli-Canadian documentarian and right-wing think-tank member, used his so-called organization' to blanket Sunday newspapers across the country with a DVD called 'Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against The West." The film is a scathing attack on Islam, as told by a mediocre filmmaker with an obvious agenda. And one obvious intent was to try to influence the U.S. presidential election. His website at one time even included an endorsement of John McCain. Okay, you say. But what about Michael Moore, Robert Greenwald and countless others do the same thing on the other side? Well, what Shore came up with was quite offensive, very violent, extremely racist and above all, unintentionally hilarious. Instead of the intended effect, scaring people with threats of Islamofacsists who hate America, people across the country were left snickering at silly Anti-American Iranian rap music videos.

David Zucker. This former member of the comedy filmmaking trio known as Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker, which made such hits as Airplane!," "Top Secret!" and the "Naked Gun" trilogy has finally made a film devoted to the beliefs he holds as a so-called "9/11 Republican." This year, he attempted to make a honest-to-goodness conservative comedy. Unfortunately, "An American Carol" held the appeal of stale garbage, with the main target being Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," a film issued more than four years earlier. "Carol" has the look and feel of a film that had been sitting in either development hell or on a studio shelf for a long, long time, and when it came out, it had all the humor, excitement and appeal of a five-year-old copy of "The National Review." The result? This low-budget yarn garnered horrible reviews and came and went from theaters very quickly. Somewhere, there is a sharp, witty and funny conservative comedy waiting for someone to write it and film it. I believe it is possible. If it were really good, I would actually want to see it. However, this film is not "An American Carol." Close, but no turkey. He gets stale leftovers.

Ben Stein. I long ago came to the conclusion that if right-wingers so desperately want a monopoly on AM radio, they have every right to fight for it. After all, we've got Hollywood, and the conservative movement has had an even rougher time establishing a foothold there than liberals have in talk radio. Take, for instance "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," created by media pundit, former Nixon staffer, television personality and occasional actor Ben Stein (of "Bueller... Bueller... Bueller..." fame). Now, this hardcore fiscal conservative has solidified his partisan cred by putting out a so-called 'documentary' blasting schools for teaching, of all things, science. Why don't they teach that Jesus rode a dinosaur, fer cryin' out loud! Is our children learning?

Well okay – conservatives suck at the movie business. How about music? Read on...

Mike Meehan. The McCain campaign had a pretty tough time rounding up rally music this year. They were shut out of most of the typical top-tier rock anthems when artists such as Van Halen, Heart, John Mellencamp, Jackson Browne and the Foo Fighters demanded that the McCain camp refrain from playing their music at their rallies. The best ones were solidly in the Obama camp. With the lack of A-list rock n' roll talent, McCain took his "Country First" slogan to heart and was reduced to trolling Nashville for the predictable retreads. One-hit wonder John Rich (remember 'Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy?") did write a song specifically for him. Okay, not exactly Bruce Springsteen, but you gotta take what you can get, right?

Perhaps they should have called Meehan, a struggling musician from St. Cloud, Florida who erected three identical billboards earlier in the year that showed an image of the World Trade Center attacks, a message begging people not to vote for Democrats and the address of his website, therepublicansong.com. In essence, Meehan became an even more shameless exploiter of 9/11 than Rudy Giuliani, and basically the creator of what could best be
described as "Free Republic: The Musical."

The music itself? Well, perhaps there's a reason Meehan is still pretty obscure.

So, what's his beef with Democrats anyway? As he told CNN, "I believe 9/11 could have been prevented if we'd had a Republican president at the time." Forget the turkey, let's buy Meehan a clue.

Lee Greenwood. Speaking of bad jingoistic music, if it's an election year and there's a Republican running for president, it's time for this schmaltzy countrified lounge singer to climb out of his Branson hidey-hole. Which he did, as he went on the road for John McCain. And next year, he's doing "Hannityfest" with Charlie Daniels and other cheesy country and Christian pop stars. Though, if President Obama follows through on his pledge to outlaw torture, the so-called 'Freedom Concert' might not happen.

appointed this one-hit wonder to a six year term on the National Council of the Arts. The Council's job is to advise the National Endowment for the Arts on how to spend its money. No turkey for him this year. Just cheese. Lots of it.

So, I guess that leaves talk radio, right? Here we go...

Melanie Morgan. What a year it's been for the San Francisco shrieker. Or what a year it hasn't, I should say. For years, she used and abused the airwaves of Disney-owned talk station KSFO to forward her ridiculous hate-filled rants for the past decade or so. Corporate cutbacks resulted in Morgan getting the axe. In essence, the very corporate system that gave her a microphone to spout her nasty rhetoric jumped back and bit her bony ass. In other words, those that live by the sword shall die by it.

This Thanksgiving, she gets two fake turkey breasts and a helping of instant karma.

Chris Baker and KTLF-FM Minneapolis. KTLK-FM couldn't be any different than the similarly-named progressive talk AM station in Los Angeles. Sure, they're both owned by Clear Channel, but that's where the similarities end. Earlier this year, the struggling 98,000 watt FM station (which at times had even been beaten by tiny 1,000 watt AM progressive talker KTNF in the ratings) shook up its airstaff and cut some overhead. They fired their faithful morning guy, legendary Twin Cities personality John Hines, one of the nicest guys in radio, for the crimes of (a) making too much money and (b) not being a mouth-foaming reactionary nutcase. In his place, Clear Channel brought in Baker, a cheap morning guy and right-wing goofball to boot. In keeping with the old adage of 'you get what you pay for,' what they got was just another obnoxious conservative asshole. Witness this exchange with his co-host, from the week of the Republican Convention in St. Paul:

"So we've been talking about police protection during the upcoming convention when all those stinky protesters are coming. There seems to be a big debate over whether or not police officers will be able to wear helmets, carry shields, use pepper spray and Tasers on this crowd. You know, I'll tell you what works on a crowd like this -- a machine gun, that always works very well." Baker's co-host, "Jordan," agreed: "Mow 'em down, baby!" he added.

At other times, he and his co-host claimed that NBA legend Magic Johnson "faked AIDS," called Obama "a little bitch" and ogled Sarah Palin's cleavage and panty lines.

Where on earth do they find these people?

Bill Cunningham. Back in April, the Cincinnati radio host was tapped by the GOP to warm up the massive crowd of 300 people (gasp!) at a local campaign rally, serving up enough red meat to choke a PETA convention. Big, big mistake. Onstage, Cunningham lashed out at the media, at Hillary Clinton, and called former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as an "ugly old woman," all while the media cameras were rolling. And he called attention to the fact that Barack Obama's middle name is Hussein. Multiple times. A few in the room cheered on Cunningham, while others stood with jaws dropped.

So, let's see... Blame the media? Check. Misogyny? Check. Xenophobia? Check. Racism? Check. Fear-mongering? Check. The fact that the goofy-looking Cunningham best resembles a human dildo? Double check.

Coming on after Cunningham's insane rants, McCain proceeded to throw said dildo under the Straight Talk Express, even telling the crowd that he'd never even met the guy. Yeah right. In turn, Dildo Man went crying to the so-called 'librul media' about that mean old man who dissed him onstage, and vowed he would support Clinton in the election, claiming that McCain was "too liberal." He also made up a new nickname for the Arizona senator, "John Juan Pablo McCain," an apparent reference to McCain's sponsorship of immigration reform legislation. In case you were wondering what he really felt.

Fast-forward to October. As the McCain juggernaut was looking dead in the water, Cunningham changed his tune, and offered to go out and stump for the beleaguered candidate. No response came from the campaign. The GOP may not be that bright, but obviously they can spot a turkey all the way in Cincinnati.

Sean Hannity. Earlier, I mentioned the 'mock outragers' that currently hold sway over the modern-day conservative movement. And the one person that perhaps best exemplifies this group is none other than Sean Hannity. Hannity is basically a GOP robot, barking the daily talking points with lots of bluster and little humor.

His two shows, one on the radio and one on FOX News, are chock full of the usual lies. And following the election, he has been in rare form. Never mind that Barack Obama has yet to take office – he's already responsible for our current recession. And never mind the whole Brooks Brothers Riot that accompanied the vote recount in Florida in 2000, Al Franken is trying to steal the Senate election in Minnesota by (gasp!) demanding every eligible vote be counted! Pot, meet kettle.

And if Hannity were held to the same standards of lesser employees at FOX, he would be out on the street. A few months back, a production assistant was fired when she told John McCain "I voted for you in the primary, you're going to win." Not too soon after that, Hannity all but admitted to being a surrogate for John McCain. Go figure.

The usually dour Hannity did inadvertently provide some comic relief back in January, when he was involved in one of the funniest episodes of the early primary season, as a horde of angry Ron Paul supporters chased him through the streets of Manchester, NH chanting "FOX News Sucks."

Glenn Beck. Beck almost deserves the Turkey outright for a really strange episode from early this year. As the Iowa Caucuses, the first major event of the primary season, were going on, Beck was gone from his show. Turns out he had been recovering from what he called "a botched surgery." In a bizarre attempt at garnering sympathy, the right-wing radio and TV host publicly released a rambling video from his sickbed, unshaven, drugged up and looking like complete shit, lashing out at the hospital that treated him, which he compared to rat-infested Walter Reed, and how the mistreatment and lack of compassion from hospital staff made him almost "full-fledged suicidal." Let's just say this appearance was downright creepy, and when I initially wrote about it, I was reminded of Vincent D'Onofrio's psychotic Marine grunt in "Full Metal Jacket." Beck never did disclose what exactly the surgery was for, though I'm not sure I really want to know.

But the rest of the year wasn't so bad for Beck. FOX News signed him away from CNN Headline News for tons o' money for his own show on that network. Now if only we could find a way to get rid of his former Headline News colleague Nancy Grace.

Michael Savage. Zillions of electrons could be used to keep track of all the nonsense that comes spewing out of Michael Weiner's mouth. I'd include them all, but I don't want to crash the computer systems of this blog's readers. Here are just a few tidbits:

March 31: "I would round up every member of the ACLU and of the National Lawyers Guild and I'd put them in a prison in Guantánamo and I'd throw the key away"

May 20: Savage aired the Dead Kennedys song "California Über Alles" while discussing Kennedy's diagnosis with a malignant brain tumor.

July 16: Savage claimed that autism is "(a) fraud, a racket." He also said, "I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is.

September 16: Muslim immigrants "are no doubt terrorists, and some of whom are gonna produce children who will become terrorists"

October 10: Accused Obama of running a "corrupt campaign," suggested that white liberals "hate white people," repeated the discredited charge that Obama "won't produce his birth certificate," and asserted "Kenya is going to move to America" if Obama wins the election.

But, alas -- no turkey for this clown. Turkey weiners, maybe.

And so, we have come to the big turkey enchilada. The biggest, fattest turkey of them all. Now, narrowing it all down to one single entity was a tough job in this activity-filled year. And I didn't even cover the political non-media end of the spectrum.

This would have to be one turkey that rose far, far above the others.

The sweeping tide of Democrats in 2008, culminated by the election of President-elect Barack Obama, drives the biggest nail into modern-day neoconservatism. It is very clear that the movement has run its course, and it's time for a new direction.

What began as a movement led by the highly confident and optimistic Ronald Reagan has fizzled out into insecurity, pessimism, name-calling,incompetency and overall immature behavior. And that's just on radio and television.

Turn on AM radio in just about any town and you'll likely run across any of hundreds of right-wing mouthpieces, endlessly chanting the mantra of the white conservative agenda. In addition, they're not too casual about pointing fingers, and are quite quick to chastise liberals as traitors, lunatics, dreamers and just plain evil. Yes, this is what passes for political discourse in America.

In the months and years ahead, perhaps these goofballs will be left in the dust as their audiences age and few of them show little reason to change their ways.

Therefore, the 2008 Turkey of the Year should commemorate this changing tide, and the rapid rise and slow death of wingnut talk radio. And in celebrating it, perhaps its best to go right to the head of the line. The year 2008 marked the 20th anniversary of a significant syndicated talk radio show. But it's not all about the past twenty years. This year has been a noteworthy one for Rush Limbaugh.

Anyone listening to Limbaugh can come to expect to hear a lot of nonsense, right-wing fantasy, racism, misogyny, xenophobia and hypocrisy, all broadcast from a studio in a near-empty office building near his mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, One would assume he rarely leaves his home, aside from going to work or scoring drugs from the parking lot of the local Denny's. And with the signing of a new multi-million dollar contract, it's safe to say he's tucked away safely, far removed from that cold, harsh liberal world that exists beyond the subdivision gates. This chubby former disc jockey has essentially become Howard Hughes with a microphone.

Much can be written about the drivel spewed by Limbaugh daily, several for each of the 200 or so days he's been on the air this year. But as I said before, this entry is getting way too long. And in covering his descendants and clones earlier, it would be kind of redundant. We'll at least single out his most noteworthy episode of the year, this one called "Operation Chaos."

In the middle part of the year, he was egging on the heated rivalry between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who he dubbed a "little black man-child," for the Democratic nomination. In August he was hoping for riots to break out at the party's convention in Denver. He dubbed his efforts "Operation Chaos." It got media attention, but on-air bluster is as far as it really got. And soon after claiming that he was "dreaming of riots in Denver and "a replay of Chicago 1968, with burning cars, protests, fires, literal riots, and all of that." Many were offended by Limbaugh's call for riots, including several Colorado politicians and even a few listeners. Limbaugh hurriedly retreated from his previous comments, claiming to one caller, "who wishes for riots?"

Rush Limbaugh, 2008 Turkey of the Year.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hannity, Colmes break up; Yoko not blamed

Politico.com is reporting this afternoon that Fox News has announced that Alan Colmes will be leaving that network's "Asshat & Doormat" "Hannity & Colmes" after 12 years. He will depart effective at the end of this year.

“I approached Bill Shine (FNC’s Senior Vice President of Programming) earlier this year about wanting to move on after 12 years to develop new and challenging ways to contribute to the growth of the network," Colmes said in a statement. "Besides, I'm sick of playing the bitch." Okay, I made that last part up.

Colmes continued, "Although it’s bittersweet to leave one of the longest marriages on cable news, I’m proud that both Sean (Hannity) and I remained unharmed after sitting side by side, night after night for so many years.”

Sean Hannity said Colmes was "a remarkable co-host," "great friend," and "skillful debate partner. He was fun to yell over. The only thing I really didn't like about him is that he made me look much shorter and much less intelligent than I really am.”

(NOTE TO READERS: Forgive me, artistic licence took over and posessed me to have a little fun with this).

Colmes will remain a Fox commentator, and continue hosting "The Alan Colmes Show" on Fox News Radio. Also, he's developing a weekend show. He's not going too far - he knows where Hannity buried the bodies.

Hannity, meanwhile, will likely continue on as host of the revamped show, to be titled "Hannity and Hannity," in which the obnoxious, uber-patriotic host will carry on long discussions with himself in a rather large, empty studio. Every few minutes will feature him patting himself on the shoulder and telling himself how great an American he really is.

Okay, I made that part up too. Please forgive me.

As the turkey thaws...

Okay, so we've been slacking a bit here...

Well, quite simply, news has been a bit slow post-election. Aside from that new progressive talk station in Boston, there really isn't much to talk about.

In addition, I've been preparing a rather juicy Thanksgiving feast for all of ya. Yes, it's the return of the "Turkey of the Year," 2008 edition. Kinda like last year, but there's enough turkey around to bring Zimbabwe out of famine. Well okay, it's pretty close. There are so many Turkey candidates this time around that much of the time has been spent cutting the article down to a manageable length. It's almost complete, and you can look for it here sometime Wednesday.

In the meantime, the news...

Mr. KGO?

Listeners of KTLK in Los Angeles may remember Marc Germain, a.k.a. Mr. KFI and Mr. KABC at previous gigs. He was cut loose at the end of last year, along with many other Clear Channel personalities across the country (or what they call "overhead").

But Germain is keeping busy, and this past weekend, he filled in for Dr. Bill Wattenburg at ABC/Citadel talk station KGO in San Francisco.

For those of you needing a further Germain fix, he is currently online, hosting a weekday evening show from 11P-1A ET (8-10P PT) at TalkRadioOne.com. Podcasts of his shows are also available.

Chinese Bureaucracy?

Okay, Guns n' Roses has virtually nothing to do with the typical fare discusses around these parts. But really, what does?

Besides, I have long been trying to find a way to incorporate the title of their new, long-awaited album "Chinese Democracy," into a blog entry, or even as a headline. And this is the best way I've been able to do it. Sorry.

But since this is a holiday week, why not some rather silly news. This one concerns The Axl Rose Band, er, Guns n' Roses, which finally released his their new album at Best Buy stores across the land yesterday, 16 years since GNR's last release, more than a decade since recording on it began and at least 2-3 years after everyone even remotely interested in it had already heard it illegally on the internet. Believe it or not, this 'lost album' has been released, and there is actually photographic proof of its existence. I'm still not convinced, but I'm just a natural skeptic, I guess.

And people can actually hear it legally online too, via the band's Myspace page.

The album, curiously, has been getting some decent reviews. However, the Chinese government is giving it a thumbs down. At least the title, anyway. A newspaper published by China's ruling Communist Party is blasting the new album as an attack on their country.

How dare they call it a democracy, dammit!

In an article headlined "American band releases album venomously attacking China," the Glocal Times said unidentified Chinese Internet users had described the album as part of a plot by some in the west to "grasp and control the world using democracy as a pawn."

The album "turns its spear point on CHINA," the article said.

The Global Times article referred only to the title of the album and not to specific song lyrics. The record's title track makes a reference to the Falun Gong meditation movement that was banned by China as an "evil cult" and warns "if your Great Wall rocks blame yourself," in an apparent message to the country's authoritarian government.

In a 1999(!!!) interview on the making of the album, Axl Rose gave his reason for the title. "Well, there's a lot of Chinese democracy movements, and it's something that there's a lot of talk about, and it's something that will be nice to see. It could also just be like an ironic statement. I don't know, I just like the sound of it."

Whatever that means.

And don't expect to hear or be able to buy "Chinese Democracy" in China, since national censors maintain tight control over films, music and publications. They also maintain an iron grip over the internet, so good luck there, Chinese readers. But it's likely Chinese street vendors have been selling bootleg copies for the past five years or so anyway, so there.

Another day, another Rachel

Finally, we've had a bit of a dry spell of these lately, but for all Rachel Maddow fanatics, there is a new article up, this one from NBC rival CBS. You can find it here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Back to Boston

Two years after the switch of Clear Channel combo WKOX and WXKS, it looks like progressive talk is slowly returning to the Boston dial.

WWZN (1510AM) is adding a local progressive talk morning show, to be hosted by Jeff Santos. Santos had previously hosted a daily hour-long afternoon show during the election season. In addition, the syndicated show from West Coast talker Peter B. Collins will air from 6-9P ET. Both shows launch on The Zone beginning December 1. Another syndicated progressive talk show will be added in January, according to the Save Progressive Talk Yahoo! group.

The transition, whatever there is of it, will be a gradual one. The station, for now, is still holding on to some of its sports programming, including "Young Guns Radio," will move from mornings back to the afternoons. Eventually, the station may go full-time progressive talk.

Unlike WKOX and WXKS, WWZN has a 50,000 watt signal, which is centrally located in the Boston area and covers the entire city proper. The station is independently owned, by Blackstrap Broadcasting, which purchased the station earlier in the year and also owns a station in the New York City market.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Karel KO'ed from KGO

As I warned a few days ago, after MSNBC's Joe Scarborough inadvertantly dropped the F-bomb live on television, media personalities need to watch their tongues whenever there is a microphone in sight. Unfortunately, this is something that KGO/San Francisco weekend host Charles Bouley, a.k.a. Karel, did not do.

While doing his show from his home studio in Long Beach, he assumed he was off the air in a news break when he launched into a nasty tirade about McCain Campaign mascot Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher. "Joe the m-f-ing plumber," he said, and also claimed that he was sick of him and wanted him "dead."

Unfortunately, while he was saying all this, the KGO engineer who would normally keep an eye on this sort of thing, was in the bathroom. Uh oh! And the wireless microphone Karel was using did not have a cutoff switch.

"If it’s a microphone, treat it like it’s live, no matter what," said KGO programmer Jack Swanson, who subsequently fired both Karel and the engineer:


KGO Radio nighttime talk host Karel has been fired, after an obscenity-laden rant heard live on his show earlier this month.

KGO station management made the move after Karel cursed repeatedly upon hearing a story about "Joe the Plumber" during the ABC Network News at the top of the hour.

Karel thought his microphone was off at the time, but it had been left on accidentally. He immediately apologized to listeners.

The board operator on duty at the time has also been fired.

Karel’s website explanation is here. And he believes at least one complaint has been filed with the FCC.

A long time ago, when I worked behind the mic in radio, I had a longstanding personal rule. Namely, don't ever cuss in the studio. Granted, it is typically safe if the microphone is not live. But what if it isn't. Besides, keeping the street language out of the studio helps to ward off any bad habits creeping into the room.

Moral of the story: Don't cuss where you do your show.

The YouTube clip can be found here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Progressive talk finds new home in Jacksonville

It's pretty tough keeping up with all the moves this year in Jacksonville, so bear with me...

The progressive talk format has bounced around the Northeast Florida dial quite a bit over the past few months. Now, it looks like it has found a new home, this time on the FM dial, at least part-time Monday through Friday, on WSJF (105.5FM).

As it looks right now, Ed Schultz and Thom Hartmann can be found there, along with other shows, from 6A to 6P weekdays. The station retains its oldies format (by way of the satellite-fed True Oldies Channel) the rest of the day and night, and on weekends.

WSJF PD Jason Dixon told the Jacksonville Times-Union that the oldies format just wasn’t paying the bills during the day.

The station is located in St. Augustine Beach, FL, just south of Jacksonville, and puts a rimshot signal into the market.

Progressive talk has had a transient experience in the Jacksonville market. After WZNZ (1460AM) was sold earlier in the year and flipped to religious programming, host and GM Andy Johnson moved some of the local progressive talk programming from station to station, including WBOB (1320AM, now all-conservative), WHJX (105.7FM) and WFJO (92.5FM).

WSJF itself has also seen many changes. Just this year, the station has switched from smooth jazz to adult R&B, and finally to oldies in August.

If any readers are from the Jacksonville area, please drop me an email at ltradiomail@yahoo.com and let me know what the heck is going on at WSJF, as well as WHJX and WFJO.

Monday, November 10, 2008

...Sometimes you gotta break a few eggs

Just a quick Monday update for all of you...

Don't freep me, bro!

You may notice that the Top Talkers poll has been relaunched. I was hoping not to do it, but there were a few problems with it. For one, I forgot to put The Young Turks (a.k.a. Cenk Uygur) on there. That was a glaring omission on my part. Sorry 'bout that. It's on there now.

I saved the results of the first 1,000 votes, and they will be factored in somehow. If you've already voted, you may do so again.

Furthermore, even after I asked that readers abstain from stuffing the ballot box, it happened anyway. I guess this time I should be a bit more specific - please don't freep the poll. I would prefer if people didn't 'skew' the results or encourage mass attacks to tilt the results. I agree that some fans tend to get a bit overzealous about their favorites, but come on!

Just a humble request. Let's keep this all fair. Please don't phony the results. Thank you.

Sirius, XM begin programming merger

Rolling Stone reports that recently merged satellite providers Sirius and XM will begin merging their lineups this Wednesday, November 12. The programming changes were announced on several channels on each service.

The merge actually started in the weeks following the XM/Sirius deal, as Howard Stern was added to XM’s lineup. Neither Sirius nor XM has announced the realigned station breakdown as of yet, though Sirius’ oldies icon Cousin Brucie will reportedly become available on XM, meaning XM’s own oldies station is in danger of becoming dead air. Other genres across the board will also face similar showdowns between their cross-radio counterparts.

Obama 1260 rolls on

From DCRTV:

"Freedom 570" For WTNT - 11/7 - DCRTV hears that Red Zebra righty talker WTNT is dropping its "McCain 570" moniker with the loss of the Republican in the recent presidential election. It'll now be known as "Freedom 570." RZ will continue to brand lefty talker WWRC as "Obama 1260." (No, it won't become "Socialist 1260," as some GOPers would probably prefer.) Says Greg Tantum, program director of both stations: "The election served as a huge focus group and we heard the overwhelming message the audience wants a choice in what they hear on the radio. We have a series of special events planned between now and the inauguration for both stations to keep the spirit of free and fair speech alive".....

Morning @#!$&!% You!!!

Finally, here's a lesson to be learned. Don't cuss in the studio. Ever. I'm guessing that MSNBC's Joe Scarborough has learned this the hard way:

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The day after the day after

As I begin to collect my breath, work on a few entries and figure out what all just happened, here's yet another one of those weekly wrap-ups. Interestingly enough, much of it revolves around Air Ameirca. Read more:

RFK Jr. would consider cabinet offer

The Obama Administration is currently in it's formative stages, with the announcement of Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel as President-elect Barack Obama's White House Chief of Staff. Over the next few days and weeks, various administrative and cabinet positions will be filled.

One position will be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. And one name that's being floated is Robert Kennedy, Jr. Kennedy is currently co-host of Air America's weekend show "Ring Of Fire."

Kennedy, the longtime environmental activist and member of the Democratic Party's most cherished family, said he would serve the next president if asked.

"You know what, I would be of service in any way that the administration asked me to be," Kennedy told the Huffington Post. "But I am also very happy and I believe I am being effective doing the stuff I am doing currently."

On Wednesday, Politico.com reported that Obama was strongly considering putting Kennedy at the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. The appointment would represent a major and early victory for environmentalists and would undoubtedly please Kennedy's cousin, Caroline Kennedy and uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy - who was an instrumental Obama backer during the primary and is in poor health.

Robert Kennedy downplayed the idea of any imminent announcement, saying,
"I haven't had that discussion with anyone in my family about" joining the Obama administration.

Radio Ink interviews Bennett Zier

Here's an interview with Air America Media CEO Bennett Zier, conducted by trade publication Radio Ink. In it, Zier discusses what's next for the network in the Obama era. And it's not just limited to political talk radio. Here's an excerpt:

RI: Will the focus stay as tightly on the liberal or progressive viewpoint as it has been?

BZ: We’re going to be an independent voice. We want people to listen to the radio station and feel that an independent voice is coming at them that maybe they haven’t heard before. What was on Air America in the past is the past, and I’m happy to be here today.

Here’s a vision: Four years from now, when the conventions are held, I’m hoping that people turn to Air America quickly, and in critical mass, because they want to know what Air America thinks, what Air America is saying, what Air America believes, what Air America challenges. That would be a great four-year plan.

RI: Does Air America lose some of its underdog energy if Obama wins and there’s a Democratic Congress?

BZ: If we do our job well, it won’t matter who wins. Being that independent voice gives us that opportunity. If Obama wins, it certainly gives Air America an opportunity to use the news and the change. If McCain wins, it gives Air America an opportunity to listen, understand, and comment.

RI: You alluded to Air America’s past. Would you say it has had some image problems?

BZ: I think there were two Air Americas out there. There was an Air America business-to-business, and there was Air America to consumers. Air America is a very well-known brand. What it means, we’re going to find out. It means a lot of things to a lot of different people. But people certainly know that it is radio and a website of some political nature.

One of the early things we’re going to be working on is to understand our brand and not just guess at it. We want to be fact-based so we can give the listeners, viewers, and readers what they want.

Another Maddow article

Another day, another article about MSNBC and Air America host Rachel Maddow, who currently leads in the Top Talkers survey in the middle column (vote now!). This one is in The Advocate.

Franken race still up in the air

Finally, to conclude this rather brief update (I've got more on tap for the weekend, so hold your horses), there's still one Senate race that has yet to be determined.

Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's is currently leading Democrat and former Air America Radio host Al Franken by a mere 337 votes as of Thursday afternoon. That's down from 438 votes Thursday morning and larger margins Wednesday.

With nearly 2.9 million ballots cast, the candidates are separated by about one hundredth of a percentage point.

The final tally won't be certified until the state canvassing board meets Nov. 18, and an automatic recount awaits.

And if the race doesn't go Franken's way, there are still other career options, as suggested by The Hollywood Reporter.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

President Obama



"Our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men."

Those prophetic words were spoken in 1974 by a Republican president, Gerald Ford. He said that in a famous speech upon the resignation of former President Richard Nixon, who led the most corrupt administration in American history. The same could perhaps be said of the very times we now live in. We usher out the nasty, angry, arrogant and divisive politics of George W. Bush, and replace it with the promise of proactive, positive and much more inclusive change. Hatred is being replaced by hope.

Granted, President Bush is still in office, a lame duck until January 20. But the American people have named his successor, and a very good one at that. In just over two months, we will welcome President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to the White House. Furthermore, the Democrats will add to their numbers in the House and Senate, going a long way in repairing this country and its reputation around the world. And its all because of you.

Wow. Just plain wow.

Thank you, America.

Of course, mere words cannot describe of the historical magnitude of Obama's victory. Only four decades separated from days of Jim Crow laws in southern states, we now have an African-American president. That's truly amazing, and something I thought wouldn't occur for at least another decade or two, if ever. But it is reality, and I couldn't be happier.

Obama's feat is especially a victory for people-powered democracy. From the very beginning, the seemingly longshot Obama campaign eschewed the typical way of fundraising, which consisted mostly of competing with Hillary Clinton for donations from party sugardaddies. Clinton turned out to be the beneficiary of many of those. Obama's campaign took a different approach. Taking an idea from darkhorse Democratic candidate (and current party chairman) Howard Dean in 2004, they opted for an aggressive high-tech grassroots strategy. Early in the campaign, Obama made a pitch to a group consisting of some of the hottest tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Internet gurus from companies like Google and Yahoo! were in attendance. Obama and his campaign masterminds presented their plan. They wanted to run a true 21st century campaign, harnessing the power of the internet to create a massive volunteer-heavy apparatus, with an interactive web presence and ground operations in all states. The approach would even encourage a true 50-state campaign, encompassing even states that seemingly would never go in the Democrats' favor. The dot-com crowd was hooked. They saw a candidate as innovative and cutting-edge as they were. One of the founders of the social networking site Facebook even joined the campaign to help set up Obama's web infrastructure.

And they pulled in money in ways nobody would have imagined probable. While many campaigns snicker at donations smaller than $50, a mere $5 donation was just as good for them. It all added up in the long run. The end result was the biggest war chest of any politician in American history, with more than half of all donations coming from small donors. Republicans have attacked Obama for the size of his coffers and his heavy spending throughout the campaign, but they're really just envious, mostly afraid to admit how exactly he pulled in all that money and ground support. It came directly from the people. And it is an approach that will be analyzed and imitated by many in the future. Obama rewrote the book.

This turning tide means one other very big thing: The American people are sick and tired of silly games. They're sick of insults. They're sick of dirty politics. They're sick of watching the economy go down the crapper. The neoconservative movement that typifies much of the modern-day Republican Party is now dead, along with the cruel tricks of unsavory people like former Bush political svengali Karl Rove. The American people have returned to reality. They want real solutions, not jingoism, not tacky photo-ops, not faux patriotism, not divisive red-blue rhetoric. They want to make an America for all people, a country as great as it possibly can be.

Obviously, Obama will not be taking a casual stroll through the park by way of the Oval Office during the next four years. It's gonna be a brutal job, and he strongly admits that. We are living in tough times. The economy is a mess. The deficit has risen to a level even greater than during the Reagan Administration. We are also fighting two wars. In short, he has his work cut out for him. But after becoming familiar with Obama over the past year, and seeing his intelligence, confidence and savvy, I feel very comfortable with our new president. We are in good hands.
Barack Obama's victory is a monster step forward for what can be accomplished in the United States of America. Yes, it is indeed a great day to be an American.

Congratulations, President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden. And the best of luck to you.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The finish line

The end is here. The candidates have made their pitches, and now it's time for us to make the choice.

I could go on and on with even more cliches, but I'll stop here. There's really nothing else to say but get your asses out there and vote.

Rather than make any more pitches of my own, I'll leave you with a song. Four years ago, prior to the 2004 presidential election, I wrote an entry about Eminem, who wrote and recorded a strongly political song called "Mosh." The video itself was powerful as well, and a strong indictment of the Bush Administration. And it was designed to get young people out to the polling place.

Young people are vital to the political process. When I turned 18, I was chomping at the bit to cast my vote. My first time was in a gubernatorial primary race. Not a high-profile vote, but it felt good to get out there and take part in the process. I have voted in almost every election since.

For the Democrats, particularly Barack Obama, to win, they have to rely on a strong yet unreliable base - young people. Republicans, on the other hand, tend to draw much older people, who are much more reliable as far as hitting the polls. This was one of the biggest differences between a President Kerry and a President Bush in 2004. Republicans were more successful at getting their supporters to the precincts.

So, if you're desperate to get the Democrats to clean house and get this country back on track, get those 20-somethings off their asses, out of their McJobs and into the polling place. Their importance cannnot be more overstated.

And again, back by popular demand, is Eminem's call to arms, and it rings true as much today as it did four years ago. Here is "Mosh:"

Monday, November 03, 2008

Vote... for the Top Talker of 2008

One day to go.

Yes, it is almost here.

Hopefully, all of you reading this will fulfill your civic duty and cast a vote on national Election Day for the people you want running the government over the next few years and the various initiatives on the ballots, regardless of your choices.

Granted, faithful readers of this blog likely know where we stand, but much of what makes our country great is that we all have different opinions. And unlike places like Zimbabwe, where a hostile and suppressive military dictatorship intimidates anyone who opposes them at the ballot box, we as Americans have the freedom to vote however we wish. Your choices may not be the same as mine. That's fine. I accept that. But strip away all the silliness, stunts, smears and stupidity you've been hearing all year and cast your vote for the people you think would most effectively run your government over the course of the next four years. On Tuesday November 4, you're the boss. You do the hiring and firing.

Today, though, I'd like to share with you a different kind of vote. And you can do it right here, right now. You are all cordially invited to take part. Yes, it's once again time to prepare the “2008 Year In Review” here at LTR. To kick it off, please cast your votes for "The Top 10 Liberal Talkers of 2008."

Here's how it works: Scroll down the middle column. You will see 40 or so personalities and/or shows listed on the ballot. There's probably a few here that you've never even heard of. They were all picked from the listings in the center column. All the entrants from last year are included. Additional entries this year include some newer shows (Air America has added several this year), a few local personalities, some notable weekend shows and even some online-only hosts. And they are listed alphabetically in each bracket. You can select up to ten names. If you only have three, or five, or eight, that's fine. Please go through the list carefully, and vote how you see fit. And don't stuff the ballot box. This ain't Tammany Hall here. One computer/IP address per bracket.

The poll ends on December 24, Christmas Eve, at midnight. On January 1, 2009, the results will be announced here. Simple, huh?

In case you need a refresher, you can find links for each entrant in the middle column, below the poll.

So there you go. Determine the fate of the world. Vote.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Two days to go: Send in the clowns

As we wind down the final weekend before THE BIG DAY, I thought I'd share a few humorous moments that I happened across this weekend.

First, in the “we're here to plump... you up” department, Republican presidential candidate John McCain brought a guest campaigner to a rally he held the other day in Columbus, OH – California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzennegger is almost typical of today's Repbublican party – always looking back on past glories rather than the current reality. He'd rather that people remember “The Terminator” rather than the politician that can't control California's crappy economy. He's in a serious predicament back home, where the government is almost bankrupt, hard-right Republicans are trying to get a recall election and Democrats and those on the left still don't trust him.

In keeping with one of McCain's current memes, Schwarzennegger riled up the few people who still admit to supporting McCain by lashing out at Obama for (gasp!) actually spending money on his campaign. Ironic, since Schwarzenegger himself has raked in over $132 million dollars in donations since his first election in 2003. That's more than McCain can even spend in this election.

Oh yeah, and Schwarzy even called Obama a socialist. Nya nya!

But that's not the funny part. He has said in a recent interview that he would be willing to work with Obama when he wins the election (and by his word choices, it appears Schwarzy thinks Obama will win). But in front of the crowd, he sounded a different tone, mocking Obama's slim physique:

"He needs to do something about those skinny legs, make him do some squats and some bicep curls to build up those scrawny little arms."




Uhhh... yeah right.

Schwarzenegger is far from the only Republican acting like a complete moron. This weekend, we found out why McCain operatives are careful about who they give access to their bewildered running mate, Sarah Palin. The only other VP nominee I can even recall not giving media interviews is, um, Dick Cheney, and we all saw what happened there. Sheesh, I can't even recall Palin going on relatively harmless shows like Larry King, “Meet The Press” or even some softball show like Rachel Ray. Hey, at least she's talked to Sean Hannity a few times.

Perhaps the following incident is why her handlers are careful about who she talks to. Maybe her handlers aren't careful enough. Perhaps they actually believed French president Nicholas Sarkozy was indeed calling to talk to Palin. No way could it have been a couple radio pranksters from Quebec.

Two comedians from CKOI in Montreal called Palin, got through to her and kept her on the line for over four minutes, in what was probably the most obvious prank call ever. For a couple French-speaking guys, they didn't even sound French! In the call, “Sarkozy” talked about shooting animals from airplanes, having sex with his hot wife and other ridiculous stuff. “Sarkozy” even got her to drop a hint about a future presidential bid. Palin got punked, and it was pretty embarrassing. When the radio duo fessed up that it was all a ruse, a tongue-tied Palin immediately handed off the phone to her handler, who tersely ended the call.



Here's the download link and the transcript.

And finally, speaking of Cheney, what could be funnier than the hidden Vice President, a more reclusive figure than Howard Hughes in the late 60s, emerging from his bunker to give his heartfelt endorsement of the McCain/Palin ticket. At a time when his slightly less unpopular boss is in hiding. As if the approval of a guy with a 15% favorability rating will actually help the woeful McCain juggernaut. The Obama campaign, fighting hard to control their laughter, immediately came out with an ad trumpeting this much-coveted endorsement. The gift that keeps on giving.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Spring forward, fall back, and stop the insanity!

Only three more days will occur between now and the end of this very long election season. Sure, it's been fun to follow, and it has been historic, but enough already! The finale can't come soon enough.

I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!

In the meantime, here's a roundup of some smaller stories crossing the desk...

Election Night In America

Election Night has been referred to as the Super Bowl for the news media. All of the major television news operations will be covering it, in addition to others such as Comedy Central. And viewers across the country can tune in to watch their favorite media types play with the latest in technological toys, such as touch screens and CNN's weird “Star Wars”-type holograph gimmick.

For those who desire a low-tech approach, radio is offering a wide array of choices. Most of the radio news networks, such as NPR, CNN, FOX, etc. will offer coverage.

Naturally, Air America Media will present their own in-depth coverage of the 2008 Presidential Election on Tuesday, November 4, both on-air and online.

Air America’s on-air election night coverage will originate from the Obama Campaign’s outdoor election event in Chicago beginning at 7P ET. Ron Reagan and David Bender will anchor from Grant Park, on Chicago's lakefront, and be joined by Rachel Maddow, Thom Hartmann, Lionel, and other members of the Air America team from locations across America.

Web site editor-in-chief Beau Friedlander will be blogging live on the Air America site throughout the evening. The company’s “MaronvSeder” daily live web video program will also present a special live broadcast to wrap up the evening.

“This is an historic election year, and the results are of paramount interest to our listeners, readers and viewers,” said Bill Hess, senior vice president of programming for Air America. “We stand ready to be the source for smart, witty, and entertaining commentary as news about this monumental political event unfolds.”

Sirius XM Radio also has a few tricks up their sleeves come election night, giving many options for their subscribers. Coverage will include special programming on several channels, including XM's "Oprah and Friends," "The Power" and "POTUS '08," which will be live at the Obama rally in Chicago's Grant Park and the McCain rally in Phoenix. On Sirius, the Foxxhole channel will feature coverage with namesake Jamie Foxx and his crew live beginning at 4P ET.

Sirius Left's coverage will be hosted by Mark Thompson starting at 8P ET. OutQ, Indie Talk and Sirius Patriot will also offer live programming that night.

And of course, there's all the rest...

Sandler's back

Former WINZ/Miami morning host Nicole Sandler drops LTR a line...

Hi.. .You've been kind enough to cover some of what's gone on with me in South Florida... I'm working at the very conservative 850 WFTL through Nov. 5, bringing the "view from the left" to their morning show, plus hosting a special 3 hour election preview show on Sat Nov. 1 (850wftl.com), plus I'm podcasting and blogging daily at www.radioornot.com.

A vote of umm... confidence

Keeping up with wingnut media lunacy in the waning days prior to the election is like playing whack-a-mole. I say this after subjecting myself to a few minutes of “Hannity and Colmes” last night before my brain started to hurt. I swear, I actually lost IQ points in that short amount of time watching those idiots still rambling about Bill Ayers, as if it were bigger than Watergate. I changed the channel as soon as I saw the frightening Ann Coulter appear onscreen. I may go see the doctor today to make sure there's no permanent damage.

Many other sites track this nonsense, and I salute their bravery in doing so. But I will relay one item, which seems almost typical of the McCain media crowd, and it's from the Cincinnati Enquirer, by way of radio industry trade site All Access.

Bill Cunningham, perhaps the dorkiest-looking radio talk show host in the country, is back at odds with the McCain campaign, but is advising conservative listeners to "hold their nose and vote for McCain -– not because McCain will be another Ronald Reagan, but because Obama will be another Jimmy Carter." Uh huh.

Keep in mind that Carter failed mostly because he governed as an outsider, and was opposed by much of the Democratically-controlled Congress, who longed for Lyndon Johnson's Great Society approach to government. Republicans hated him, well, just because. And some rather hairy situations at home and abroad (i.e. Iran) in the late 70's certainly didn't help. Obama likely won't have many of those same problems if he gets the nod. But Cunningham looks like the type of guy who talks out of his ass without even pulling the big stick he hauls around out of it, so take it for what it's worth.

Anyhoo, you may remember this goofball from a rather embarrassing McCain rally appearance earlier this year. There, he pulled the xenophobia card, stressing Obama's middle name (Hussein). McCain repudiated Cunningham's comments, and the host tossed McCain under the wheels of the Twisted Talk Express and went off to sulk in front of his microphone. Cunningham may not think much of McCain, but he doesn't like the idea of a President Obama, so he proposed a barnstorming tour of battleground state Ohio with McCain joined by guys like Sean Hannity and others , much like President Bush did in 2004. McCain rejected the idea. Why? Hey, would you want to be seen with Cunningham?

"He refuses to work with the people who put Bush over the top in 2004. We energized the Republican base the weekend before election day," said Cunningham of the candidate. Cunningham did say something many on both sides can agree with, when he described the McCain juggernaut as "the worst Republican campaign in 12 years."

Apparently, Cunningham isn't the only one ashamed of McCain's campaign. FOX News Channel gave the ultimate seal of disapproval, 'accidently' putting the dreaded “D” next to his name in an on-screen graphic, which for them is the equivalent of turning their backs. Doesn't get much lower than that.

Or, perhaps the “D” will help round up more votes.


Turn back the clock

Finally, after this crazy year we've all been through, it's time to get a little rest. Tonight marks the end of Daylight Savings Time for those who observe it (and the time of the year I have to go through the show listings and figure out what times KPHX in Phoenix, in a state that does not observe DST, is going to run their weekend programming).

The bad news? It will get dark earlier now. The good? You get an extra hour of sleep tonight. Or an extra hour of getting liquored-up. Whatever, get some rest, and get out and vote!


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