More Arrogance of Power
This story is a couple days old, but worth noting.
As I've mentioned in a previous post, while Rush Limbaugh has been carried on U.S. Armed Services Radio, broadcast to our troops and by extention, millions of people in countries around the world, there is no comparable voice on the left to counter Rush's lies and distortions. The fact is that many people around the world are getting their political information about the U.S. from ... yep.... El Rushbo. And you're paying for it.
AFR's mission is described on their site as, "AFRTS is the American Forces Radio and Television Service. It is part of the Department of Defense, and is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. The AFRTS mission is to communicate Department of Defense policies, priorities, programs, goals and initiatives. AFRTS provides stateside radio and television programming, "a touch of home," to U.S. service men and women, DoD civilians, and their families serving outside the continental United States. AFRTS includes the Radio and Television Production Office (RTPO), The Pentagon Channel NewsCenter, and the Defense Media Center." Apparently, the consider the blatant right-wing propaganda of Limbaugh to be "a touch of home".
It reports that AFR, "...provide(s) multiple television and stereo audio services to over 1,000 outlets in more than 175 countries and U.S. territories, and on board U.S. Navy ships."
Taxpayer funded broadcasting of Limbaugh around the world is, of course, yet more evidence of the sheer arrogance of power in this administration, and amounts to us paying Rush Limbaugh to broadcast Republican propaganda around the world.
Iowa's Sen. Tom Harkin long ago got a non-binding resolution passed asking Armed Services Radio to either drop the big fat idiot or add a comparable show from the left to provide balance. Showing that the administration truly believes that they OWN the country and government, they did nothing.
Now, after years of this outrageous situation existing with nothing being done, , the Pentagon finally indicated that it would begin airing the first hour of the Ed Schultz show on ASR beginning on Oct. 17th. Ed Shultz is a moderate-left radio host based in Fargo, North Dakota. He's been carried on Air America's network, though he's not affiliated with them. I've listened to him a lot and he's good. Not only is he an experienced and professional host, he tends to be a moderate, midwestern brand of liberal with a broad appeal.
Just hours before the show was supposed to begin airing, in a fit of arrogant pique, the same Pentagon press flack that was caught rehearshing troops for Bush's phoney "chat" with them informed Schultz's producers that they were not going to air the show. Then they lied and said it was all a mix up and that it was never decided that they'd air the show.
"Armed Forces Radio notified us that we were supposed to start on (Monday)," said Schultz, who broadcasts from Fargo, N.D. "Then my producer got a call from Allison Barber at 6 a.m. saying it's not going to happen. I don't know now if it's ever going to happen. They never gave us a reason."Gen. Wesley Clark's political action committee has sent out an e-mail urging people to take action against this injustice,
Barber is the Pentagon's deputy assistant secretary for internal communications.
She was at the center of an embarrassing episode last week when an open mike caught her rehearsing with soldiers in Iraq who were about to talk with President Bush on a televised teleconference call about improving conditions there.
Among those criticizing Barber for "a publicity stunt" was Ed Schultz.
"I called it a joke, an organized event, and compared it to Bush's phony town meetings on Social Security (reform) and the campaign rallies last year where people had to sign a loyalty oath to get in," Schultz said in an interview.
"I might have poked a little fun at Allison Barber, too. But that's talk radio."
Barber was traveling yesterday and couldn't be reached. But Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said "an unfortunate communication from a staff member to the Schultz show" led to the mix-up.
"The Schultz show was never actually scheduled," Whitman said, adding that "it is one of several shows being looked at" as the network considers schedule changes. "This has nothing to do with (Schultz's criticism of Barber and Bush). I understand how one could be suspect, though, given the timing."
AFR, which reaches more than 800,000 military listeners overseas, has long carried Rush Limbaugh's conservative talk show. Democrats had complained for equal time, and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, secured a nonbinding resolution in the Senate urging AFR to offer more political balance in its programming.
Schultz said his show's distributor, Jones Radio, was informed by e-mail on Sept. 29 that the first hour of his three-hour program would be broadcast daily on AFR beginning Monday.
Then came Barber's call pulling the plug.
Schultz, who calls himself a "gun-toting, red-meat-eating lefty," said AFR badly needs political balance.
"I'd say there probably are some Democrats serving overseas who might appreciate a different point of view," Schultz said. "What am I going to say about the Bush Administration that Rush Limbaugh hasn't already said about Hillary Clinton or Ted Kennedy?"
Last year, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced a resolution that was unanimously passed by the Senate, urging Secretary Rumsfeld and Armed Forces Radio to ensure more political balance in programming.Sign the petition here.
It looked like progress was being made when the Pentagon agreed to air the first hour of Ed Schultz's daily radio show live on Armed Forces Radio every day. Then, only hours before the first show would have been broadcast, the Pentagon suddenly reversed the decision and refused to air Ed's program.
We must let our voices be heard and exercise leadership to help ensure that the spirit of Senator Harkin's resolution — and the spirit of fairness — are at play on taxpayer financed programming.
Send an email to your Members of Congress now — urge them to enforce fair play on Armed Forces Radio!
The sample letter found at Clark's site which people can edit and sign makes perfect sense:
It was just 11 years ago when 70 Republican Members of Congress, led by then Congressman Robert Dornan (R-CA), demanded that President Clinton's Secretary of Defense Les Aspin broadcast Rush Limbaugh's radio and television programs to the military.
Well if Armed Services Radio is good enough for Rush Limbaugh, it's certainly good enough for Ed Schultz.
I urge you to call on the Pentagon to honor their promise and air the Ed Schultz Show on Armed Forces Radio. It's time to restore political balance in the programming being broadcast to our men and women in uniform.