Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Radio Boot Camp

Pointing rightward
Armed Forces Radio, the station with more than 1,000 outlets broadcasting to American troops in 175 countries, has canceled a program that was supposed to be the liberal counterpart to radio Icarus Rush Limbaugh.

The decision to ad the Ed Schultz Show to the AFR lineup follows a campaign last year by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin to provide "programming that reflects a cross-section of what is widely available to stateside audiences." According to the AFR website, its programming is meant to "represent what is seen and heard in the United States."

The addition of the Ed Schulz's show was meant to provide an antidote to the fact-challenged screed of Limbaugh, who AFR now airs for one hour each day.

According to ThinkProgress, Jones Radio, the company that syndicates Schultz's Show, received an email on September 29 from an AFR official confirming that one hour of Schultz's program would begin airing yesterday, October 17. But yesterday morning, the producer of the Ed Schultz show received a call from Pentagon communications aide Allison Barber who said AFR would not air the show this week, next or for the forseeable future.

You’ll remember Barber as the aide caught coaching troops before a photo-op with President Bush last week.

Barber said she couldn’t guarantee that the show would be airing in the future. Barber told Schultz’s producer that she had heard that the first program on AFR would begin with audio outtakes of Barber sounding foolish as she rehearsed the troops "Q&A session" with Bush.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told the Washington Post last night that no decision had been made in a review of which programming to add to the network. When asked about Schultz's insistence that his criticism of Barber played a role, Whitman called that "an unfortunate misperception on his part. That has nothing to do with this."

Visitors to Ed Schulz website disagreed, suggesting two possible reasons for the DOD decision to cut his show from AFR programming:

1. It‘s retaliation for Schultz criticizing the Department of Defense’s Public Relations team for staging a ‘spontaneous’ media event for President Bush last week; or

2. The Bush Administration doesn't want dissenting voices or any other kind of speech on radio unless it's going to be promotional for them.

Others wonder whether Schulz is really the right voice for the left:

Blowin' Smoke
"I like the concept of a liberal talk-show host who can connect with working-class and rural audiences, but damn, can't we find anyone better than this guy?" asks "B" at ThinkProgress. "The only thing he really has going for him is his eerie vocal similarity to Rush Limbaugh. If they have any liberal on Armed Forces Radio, it should be Randi Rhodes, who's at least served in the military." Rhodes' radio show is carried in 32 states by Air America and other affiliates.

Schultz's show is now on 105 stations in 9 of the top 10 radio markets versus Air America's 95 stations, two satellite feeds. While labeled progressive by many, the show differs from Air America and other liberal formats in many ways -- packed with callers offering different viewpoints.

Blowin' Smoke
While his show may be crap to some, that’s beside the point. The fact that there is no commentary on the service that would even begin to counter the repugnant right-wing views that Rush Limbaugh routinely spews forth on his program is troubling. In 2004, Limbaugh used his show to trivialize U.S. soldiers’ abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, likening their torture to a fraternity initiation and calling some of their abusive tactics a "brilliant maneuver."

Moreover, that the DOD would take such blatant action to stifle opposing views to this war -- at a time when a majority of Americans oppose Bush’s leadership and our occupation of Iraq – reveals an administration and its DOD lackeys that are desperately out of touch with the public and the soldiers they’re supposed to serve.

For more on this story . . .


KYGuy said...

Good post. I believe this is a blessing for the left. This controversy is a great promotional deal for Shultz's growing base of fans and stations. And, I think Shultz will likely still be picked up by AFR. Like others, I enjoy (and prefer) the flame-throwing Randi Rhodes. But, I think Shultz's everyman approach from left of center will win more minds from the right.

RADdams said...

Is the White House really as dumb as they appear, even in full defensive mode? With the Special Prosecutor wrapping up an investigation into what appears to be retaliatory leaks against Valarie Plame, they couldn't have picked a worse time to retaliate again. But then again, if the M.O. script says "Step 1: Retaliate", "Step 2: Discredit, Deflect & Deny", then retaliate it is!