Both the New York Times and ABC World News Tonight have run stories hyping the new liberal radio network called Air America. The hosts include comedians Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo. The CEO is a former official of the Democratic National Committee. A former producer for the “American Morning” on CNN will oversee news programming, while Martin Kaplan, a former chief speechwriter to Walter Mondale, will host a talk show about the news media. The radio network says that Kaplan will “cover the spinning of the news with a regular segment called ‘The Corrections,’ and his show will be “the place to hear the political voice of Hollywood, with celebrity guest interviews from the entertainment industries.”
Kaplan currently serves as director of the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication. Lear, of course, created the popular program, All in the Family, which featured the conservative character, Archie Bunker, as a laughingstock. Lear founded the liberal group People for the American Way, and he served as the president of the Board of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. The ACLU favors such things as legalization of drugs, prostitution and the possession of child pornography. Neal Gabler, a senior fellow at the Lear Center, is a liberal panelist on the Fox News show that monitors the media, Fox News Watch.
Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post reports that Air America will feature a daily story contributed by the Internet news site Salon.com. That’s interesting because Jake Tapper, the correspondent who did the ABC news story about the new liberal radio network, served as the Washington correspondent for Salon.com He did a previous piece about the network which appeared on the ABC News website on March 11. Tapper’s relationship to Salon.com wasn’t mentioned there, either.
But Tapper was honest enough to admit that, “Previous efforts on the radio with noted liberals Mario Cuomo, Jerry Brown and Alan Dershowitz failed.” Jim Hightower is another who could be added to that list of failures. This time, Air America promises that its liberals will be entertaining.
Meanwhile, Fox News Radio is up and running, with Tony Snow hosting a show. A solid conservative, Snow went into radio after leaving as host of the Fox News Sunday show on the Fox News cable channel. In contrast to Air America starting out on only 4 stations, Tony Snow’s show began in 40 markets.
In an article for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tim Cuprisin points out that liberal talk radio already exists; it’s called public radio, subsidized by the taxpayers. He adds, “There’s nothing to prove to radio programmers that there is anything like a liberal radio audience, something definable that can be sold to advertisers, who drive the radio industry.” Liberal John Nichols, writing in the Madison Capital Times, seems to agree, saying that “some very wealthy liberals” are going to “waste a great deal of money” on the new radio network. He says that, “liberal talk radio hosts are so painfully earnest that they become painful to listen to?”