Posts from May 13, 2004

Grouping

Grouping
: Ev announces that Google is beta-testing the ability for users to create their own groups (fighting Yahoo on another front).

I just went in and created a group for the nascent Citizens Media Association hatched at Bloggercon. Nothing there so go say things…

The White House cancels more subscriptions

The White House cancels more subscriptions

: Donald Rumseld is addressing soldiers, sailors, and whopping Marines in Iraq right now. After talking about the prison abuse scandal and bringing those responsible to justice and about his own position, Rumsfeld says to cheers and more whoops:

I stopped reading the newspaper.

It’s a fact.

I’m a survivor.

And instead, I’ve been reading a book about Ulysses S Grant and the Civil War.

He also said to the troops:

One day, you’re going to look back and you’re going to be proud of your service and you’re going to say it was worth it.

Airless America

Airless America

: It’s too damned bad that Air America came out in the hands of such incompetents. We do need a liberal voice on radio, for the only way to have a conversation is to hear both sides of it.

But from a programming perspective, the network set off to do nothing but recreate the shrill voice of conservative talk radio from the other side — and be just as one-sided about it. I had hoped that Air America would be an intelligent network: NPR with opinions, NPR with personality, NPR without fear. But instead, we get the bizarro Rush, Randi Rhodes, shrieking at me every afternoon.

From a business perspective, they screwed it up royally, not getting enough funding and not lining up enough advertisers before doing on the air, so this smelled like a business failure from the start (which I said from the start).

The network gets pulled off the air in a major market. Executives keep leaving. And bad news keeps piling up.

The latest: Rhodes made a “joke” about assassinating George Bush but especially these days, when madmen plot to fly jets into our White House, that’s just not funny. But that’s Rhodes. Even on her own forum, some fans are critical.

Here’s what Michael Goodwin, NY Daily News columnist, said yesterday:

Color me confused. If Franken & Co. hate the pill-popping Limbaugh so much, why imitate his tarpit tone? Sounds like Limbaugh has simply driven them nuts.

Missing was the tension that comes from honest debate. Only Franken had guests voicing even slight distance from the party line, which is that John Kerry is perfect except he should attack Bush more.

The queen of venom, Randi Rhodes, followed Franken in the host slot. Her imitation of a cracker military type telling a soldier to “insert this fluorescent light bulb into that man’s buttocks” was revolting. She compared U.S. prisons in Iraq to the “Nazi gulag” and said, “The day I say thank you to Rumsfeld is the same day I’ll say thank you to the 12 people who raped me.”

Rock bottom came when she compared Bush and his family to the Corleones in the “Godfather” saga. “Like Fredo, somebody ought to take him out fishing and phuw,” she said, imitating the sound of gunfire.

During a day of torture by radio, I heard ads for Hewlett-Packard, Greyhound and, especially, General Motors. I asked GM why it appeared in such shows.

Ryndee Carney, GM’s manager of marketing communications, said the ads were wrongly picked up from an earlier deal with WLIB. She said the station was ordered to “cease and desist” yesterday, and added: “GM will not advertise on any Air America affiliates.”

Now I don’t like turning advertisers into programmers (any more than I like turning FCC commissioners, congressmen, or lawyers into programmers) but I have to think that GM was looking for an easy way out of a bad network.

I doubt that Air America will last to the election.

The Daily Stern

The Daily Stern

: THE F IN FCC STANDS FOR FANATIC: The truth of the supposed uproar over alleged broadcast indecency is that it is the orchestrated roar of a few fanatics.

A few days ago, First Amendment lawyer Robert Corn-Revere gave use these amazing figures:

In 2000, commissioners received 111 complaints about 101 shows. Last year, they fielded 240,350 complaints, most of them about only nine programs, all of which were targeted on the group’s [that is, Brent Bozell’s] website.

I have been told by more than one source that the FCC is well aware that the complaints are carbon copies from one or two sources. Do these fanatics with postage stamps speak for America, for you and me? No. But the FCC is letting these nuts drive their campaign against the First Amendment.

Today the Wall Street Journal profiles another such fanatic, a guy who has made it is life’s mission to go after Chicago DJ Mancow. [This is one of the Journal’s daily blog-friendly free links.]

Since 1999, Mr. Smith has sent the FCC more than 70 complaints about Mancow’s humor. They have resulted in $42,000 in fines that Mr. Muller’s employer insists he pay. And so far, the FCC, behind in its work, has only waded through his complaints up to July 2002. Half of them are still pending.

“Persistence pays off,” says Mr. Smith, a father of two toddlers who holds down three jobs: school bus driver, policy analyst for the Illinois Family Institute, and church janitor.

Remember another news item on this from from March, when was sued Smith:

The nationally syndicated WKQX-FM (101.1) morning personality is expected to file a $3 million lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court today against David Edward Smith, the Chicago man whose Citizens for Community Values has lodged 66 complaints about “Mancow’s Morning Madhouse” with the Federal Communicatons Commission….

Among other claims, the lawsuit will charge Smith with business interference and filing “spurious complaints” with the FCC that are “repetitive, malicious, untrue, and designed merely for the purpose of harassment [and] to cause [Muller] economic ruin.” …

You see, that is the real story: How even one fanatic can bring down the fury of a government commission without due process and without any real effort to discern what the standards of the community — as opposed to one lone fanatic — are.

[Note: I read the WSJ story on my phone and didn’t see at first that it included a reference to Mancow’s suit against Smith and so for about a half-hour, this post was wrong and it’s now corrected. Apologies]