SuperBloggers Congregate at the Lord High Commissioner’s Office

If you weren’t listening to the Hugh Hewitt radio show — or if you’re allergic to “Going Up The Country” by Canned Heat — you missed a terrific hour and a half, where Hugh interviewed Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, James Lileks, and Roger L. Simon, all of which can be found on my blogroll as well. Great discussion and phone calls, and Hugh was kind enough to mention an e-mail I sent in. DC from Brainstorming called in and did a great job.
If you missed it, check out the replay at the KRLA website, and find out the top five blogreads of these blogosphere leaders…

Liberal Radio Launch

Today’s Washington Post takes a revealing look at Air America, the new liberal radio network that will launch soon in four cities: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Spearheaded by Al Franken and funded in the multimillions by people like George Soros and the Hollywood left, they intend on providing another choice in talk radio. Mitch Berg and the guys at Fraters Libertas have written extensively on this topic and have much more familiarity with the personalities involved than I do. In fact, we spent the final hour of our own radio show yesterday discussing the upcoming launch.
I don’t quite see the market for Air America, although we won’t know for sure until they go on the air. After all, no one’s arguing that NPR is fair and balanced, and it has much more intellectual heft than Al Franken, Chuck D, and Janeane Garofalo will provide Air America (or as Mitch loves to refer to it, FrankenNet). While the Washington Post piece refers to the liberals’ mistrust of “mainstream media”, it would be hard for anyone to imagine that the most powerful news organizations in their launch markets — New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and just about every periodical in San Francisco — are somehow overly conservative. (Perhaps in Chicago one could make an argument that the Sun and the Tribune aren’t as left-oriented as the broadsheets in the first three markets, but I don’t think you could describe them as part of any vast right-wing conspiracy, either.) Conservative talk radio in these markets thrive because of that lack of balance in the mainstream media, but generally only occupy one or two stations in a very crowded dial.
However, ratings won’t really be a problem anyway, as the fledgeling netlet has not been able to sell itself to any radio stations, and instead has had to spend its money buying stations rather than leasing time on others. This rather expensive strategy has cost Air America most of its capital and limited its ability to expand, but it also frees the operation from attracting advertising dollars, at least in the short run. Eventually they’ll have to have some cash flow in order to pay salaries, but for now they’re free to operate in any way they see fit — and if they can keep capital flowing in from their wealthy benefactors, that could continue for some time.
For an idea of how the gang at FrankenNet plan to approach their new air time, here’s Lizz Winstead, formerly of Minnesota’s “Lutheran police state”:

“We’re not going to call anybody names,” Lewis says. “I don’t think we’re trying to make people mad. There are a lot of people out there who are already mad.” … “I’m not a crazed ‘I hate all conservatives’ person,” Winstead says in Air America’s 40th-floor office on Park Avenue. “One thing we’re not about is ‘Doesn’t Bush suck?’ That’s boring.” She disdains hosts “who can incite hot-button issues and hot-button answers.”
Limbaugh, she allows, “is highly entertaining. He has emotion, highs, lows, passion. But so did Hitler.”

Glad to hear that name-calling is off the agenda at Air America. Here’s an unbiased opinion from the Washington Post of their chances at building a market:

Marty Kaplan, a former Walter Mondale aide now at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication, says that “the power of radio is extraordinary, and I don’t think it’s ever been tried as a mood button for progressives. There’s an audience for bile. One hopes there is equally an audience for irreverent comedy and smart deconstruction of the foibles of the right, which has become the establishment.”

The Washington Post looks for an expert in radio and marketing, and finds one who coincidentally worked for Walter Mondale — who then dismisses conservative talk radio as “bile” while describing Air America’s programming (which so far doesn’t exist) as “irreverent comedy and smart deconstruction of the foibles of the right, which has become the establishment.”
Yes, I can see why the Air America group thinks that there’s no liberal media bias. Kaplan didn’t get a chance to mention that the right were a bunch of hate-filled bigots. Shame on the WaPo for silencing Kaplan! Thank goodness that Air America will soon fill the airwaves, freeing us from the oppressive conservatism of the Post and the other corporate-greed media barons.

Mitch Berg on Liberal Talk Radio

No, Mitch is not defecting: the much-ballyhooed liberal talk-radio network has announced its schedule and on-air talent. (Thank goodness we got our show on when we did!) Rather than tear this group to pieces, I’ll direct you to the Northern Alliance’s own Mitch Berg from Shot In The Dark, who does a great job of it this morning.
Mitch even makes predictions on how long the hosts will last. I think he gives Janeane Garofalo too much credit — she’ll be gone in 90 days. She’ll be lucky to fill an hour; she’d better hope for a lot of in-studio guests and phone calls. I notice that Al Franken had to rip off Bill O’Reilly’s show name instead of coming up with one of his own (“The O’Franken Factor”?). That level of creativity doesn’t bode well for a show that bills itself as three hours of relentless “satire”.

Stern and Limbaugh, Together Again For The First Time

Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh — not exactly the Bobbsey Twins of radio — have both blasted what they see as government infringement on free speech on their shows today. First, Stern said this:

“They are so afraid of me and what this show represents … I could blow my stack, but … ,” Stern said, trailing off. “A caller used the N word, and I hung up on him.”
“Janet Jackson is now forgotten and I’m on the front page of every newspaper,” said Stern.

The only thing surprising about Stern’s reaction is how mild it appears to be. He’s known for loudly proclaiming his victimization whenever he’s disciplined for on-air stunts. His autobiographical movie, Private Parts, is about almost nothing else (and is rather funny, in its own way). Surprisingly, Rush Limbaugh supports Howard Stern and complains that the government intrudes too far into talk radio (all in caps, via Drudge):


Rush, of course, is being ludicrous. The FCC does not and cannot ‘censor’ anyone, nor do they fine people for political speech — only for indecency. Bill Clinton (and, I suppose, Terry McAuliffe) had control of the White House for eight years, and as I recall, Rush Limbaugh did all right during that time. Also, the White House does not control the FCC, although the President nominates the commissioners. The FCC receives its funding and its authority from Congress, who can also revoke or modify that authority at any time.
My response to both is: cry me a river. Both men have made fortunes exploiting public resources and then complain when they’re held responsible for their use. Neither of them has a “right” to the airwaves. If they don’t want to abide by the regulations controlling the use of this public resource, then let them publish their speech using private resources instead.

Howard Stern Goes Silent After Racist Caller

Howard Stern, long the bad boy of radio, lost all of his Clear Channel outlets today after a caller asked Stern on the air if he had ever slept with a “n****r chick”:

“Clear Channel drew a line in the sand today with regard to protecting our listeners from indecent content and Howard Stern’s show blew right through it,” said John Hogan, president and CEO of Clear Channel Radio. “It was vulgar, offensive, and insulting, not just to women and African Americans but to anyone with a sense of common decency. We will not air Howard Stern on Clear Channel stations until we are assured that his show will conform to acceptable standards of responsible broadcasting,” Hogan said.

The Drudge Report’s blurb on this story reads as follows:

The action comes after CC executives reviewed comment made on Stern’s Tuesday broadcast, including an on-air caller’s comments: ‘Ever bang a famous n****r chick? What do they smell like? Watermelons?’

The incident could not have come at a worse time, as Hogan is scheduled to testify before a House telecommunications subcommittee about broadcast indecency. So far, no one knows how long Clear Channel intends on keeping Stern off of its outlets. It probably won’t be long before CC claims a “new understanding” with Stern and puts him back on the air.
While it seems a bit harsh to punish Stern for the actions of a live caller, I suspect that Howard probably didn’t express outrage at the sentiment and instead played off of it. If so, a suspension seems reasonable to me, especially since the stations belong to Clear Channel and they have the right to set boundaries for their use. It also seems a bit hypocritical to me at the same time, since everyone who’s ever listened to or watched Howard Stern knows that offensive material is a staple of the show. If Clear Channel wants to dump Stern, then fine, but do it up front and honestly. Using this incident — even as disgusting as it was — sounds somewhat akin to Louis proclaiming himself shocked that gambling was going on at Rick’s.
I intended on getting Stern’s side of the issue and checked out his website. Unfortunately, the only item on the site is a Photoshopped image of Janet Jackson and Howard Dean, which under other circumstances would have been funny.
UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis is upset with Clear Channel’s suspension of Howard Stern, and he’s urging his readers to file protests with the FCC:

The more I think about this, the more enraged I get. One tit flopped out and the government — the Bush administration — can’t wait to play to its far-right fringe and censor speech and intimidate speech and chill speech. How dare they? This is not the role we expect of our government. We don’t need a nanny. …
I don’t give a damn whether you like or despise Howard Stern; that’s beside the point. If you’re American, you cherish free speech and you should be appalled at what is happening to it. This is not coming from media consolidation. This is coming from government intimidation.
F Michael Powell. F the FCC. F Clear Channel.
Defend Howard Stern. Or lose your own rights to say what you want where and when you want to say it.

This is nonsense. Howard Stern can say whatever he likes, whenever he likes — but if he says it while broadcasting on Clear Channel’s government-licensed stations, then Clear Channel has the right to take him off the air. And since broadcast licenses are public monopolies, the government does have the right to set conditions on those licenses regarding how they are used. The right to free speech does not mean that people are free from the consequences of exercising that speech.
Don’t weep too much for Stern; Clear Channel will put him back on soon enough, and even if they don’t, plenty of other people will want to contract his services.
UPDATE II: Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost sees this as a commercial, market-driven decision, which is a lot closer to reality than Jarvis’ hysteria.
UPDATE III: Instapundit weighs in, with this comment: “And if Rush Limbaugh had been canned over the kind of racial comments Stern made, and allowed on the air, nobody would be crying “censorship.” Instead they’d be saying that it showed the inherent racism of his show and his audience.”
But Limbaugh was canned (from ESPN) over controversial remarks he made about Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, opining that McNabb got an easy ride from the media because he’s African-American. I note that a search of articles on Buzz Machine containing Rush and McNabb turn up nothing. Jarvis’s outrage is pretty selective …
UPDATE IV, EWOK’S REVENGE: Okay, I’m pretty sure Glenn was engaging in irony, and here I was with my irony detector turned off. Sorry, Glenn. In the immortal words of Emily Litella, “Never mind!”

With Marshall, It’s All Personal

As I was driving to work this morning, I caught the replay of the last hour of Hugh Hewitt’s show from last night, and the quality of the debate from Joshua Micah Marshall stunk, and that’s been the rule rather than the exception. Both in tone and in content, Marshall constantly relies on personal attacks and hysterical approaches whenever Hugh challenges him on a political issue. Last night the topic was John Kerry’s Senate testimony in 1971 that alleged that the US murdered 200,000 Vietnamese a year, but the topic is irrelevant.
Here’s the template for debates between Hugh and Marshall:
H: So, Josh, have you read the report today that says the sky is blue?
J: Oh, Hugh, that is so like you and your buddies on the right! What does color have to do with anything? You and your colorist friends never complained that the sky wasn’t pink during the last Bush administration!
H: Josh, I’m just referring to this article —
J: That article has already been discredited, it’s so lame, and I can’t believe you’re still talking about that, Hugh.
H: But the sky has been consistently the same across different partisan administrations —
J: Oh, my God, Hugh, that is just ridiculous, you KNOW it’s a matter of perspective. From your right-wing cloistered view, of course the sky is always blue. I can’t believe you mislead your listeners like this.
And so on and so on, week in and week out. Peter Beinart of The New Republic gets hysterical in debate on occasion, but for the most part actually debates, rather than trading in invective and desperately attempting to change the subject. I’m beginning to understand Hugh’s motivation for inviting Marshall on the air with him: to underscore the intellectual bankruptcy of a good portion of the Left, including the so-called intelligentsia.
While learning to debate in high school and college, two key concepts were repeatedly drilled into us — whoever raises his voice first loses the argument, and whoever resorts to personal attacks forfeits credibility. Joshua Micah Marshall apparently never learned this, and judging from his appearances on the air, didn’t do too well in comportment, either.