In a recent column blasting the new media ownership rules issued by the FCC, Tom Shales of the Washington Post quoted extensively from Bob Edwards of National Public Radio. He said, “Edwards used the example of the Dixie Chicks to show how monolithic media can manipulate public opinion.” Edwards claimed that Clear Channel Radio, owner of 1,250 stations, “spearheaded” a campaign against the Dixie Chicks because its lead singer had said in London, on the eve of the war, that she was ashamed of President Bush.
Here is what Edwards said in his speech: “Is Clear Channel’s move on those Dixie Chicks an expression of patriotism or a business decision? Should Clear Channel have the right to ban the Chicks from its 1,250 stations? I think what individuals do is fine?burn the CDs if you want. What industry does is another matter. Clear Channel can say the Dixie Chicks are tools of Saddam if it wants to, but it should not be allowed to kill the livelihood of any recording artist based on politics.”
The problem with Edwards is that he cites absolutely no evidence for anything he said. He cited no evidence of a corporate mandate to discontinue playing any records. Clear Channel says no such mandate was ever issued. Did Clear Channel destroy Dixie Chicks’ CDs? There’s no evidence of that at all. Instead, consumers did so, and that’s their right. In fact, Clear Channel says that, according to the Mediabase Airplay Monitor Service, Clear Channel played the Dixie Chicks songs more often?a full 10,069 times?than any other major broadcaster in the two weeks following the controversial statements made by the group’s lead singer. So Edwards’ charge is demonstrably false.
Speaking at his alma mater, the University of Louisville, Edwards went on to say, “An individual or a corporation used to be limited to five stations nationally and no two in the same town. Today, a single company, Clear Channel, owns more than 1,250 stations across the country and is out buying more. One of the stations it owns is WHAS, the clear-channel, 50,000-watt boomer that I can hear in Washington when the atmospherics are right. I used to listen on my way to work at 1:30 in the morning, just to hear a little bit of home. But now the man doing the overnight program on WHAS is nowhere near Louisville, and he may never have stepped foot on Kentucky soil in his life. He’s doing a program?from somewhere?for all the Clear Channel stations.”
Edwards, the host of NPR’s Morning Edition program, shouldn’t be the one who’s talking. NPR claims to reach an audience of more than 15 million Americans each week via 620 public radio stations and the Internet. Through a service called NPR worldwide, he can reach Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. Through the American Forces Network, he reaches U.S. military installations overseas.
Edwards is an on-air personality for a taxpayer-funded version of Clear Channel. From his perch in Washington, D.C., he is nowhere near most of the people who listen to him. He is a hypocrite, pure and simple, who doesn’t care about the facts.