Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Ed Schultz Radio Show Prevented from Armed Force Network


(10/17/2005 ) Military reverses plan to add Ed Schultz show to Armed Forces Radio.

The United States' military's Armed Forces Radio has reversed a decision to add The Ed Schultz show to their lineup abroad, RAW STORY has learned.

Schultz was told Sept. 29 he would be added to the military's programming today. That decision was reversed this morning. His producers are currently seeking answers from the military.

On his program Friday, Schultz attacked Alison Barber, an Armed Forces official, over President Bush's staged conversation with U.S. troops in Iraq. Barber is an Assistant Secretary of Defense.

Armed Forces Radio provides programming to American troops wherever they are stationed abroad. The network carries newscasts from a variety of outlets, including NPR and the Associated Press, along with commentary from Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, among others.

"Barber told [producer] James Holm that the Ed Shultz show would not start on AFR today because her boss, Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita, was out of the country and couldn’t approve it. Barber also said she was going out of the country soon for a week-and-a-half. Holm asked Barber if the show would begin when DiRita and Barber returned. Barber said she couldn’t guarantee that.

"Here’s the really interesting part. Barber told Holm she heard Ed announced that he would begin on AFR during his show Friday. Shultz’s show Friday began with audio outtakes of Barber sounding foolish as she rehearsed the troops “Q&A session” with Bush."

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) won approval last year for a nonbinding resolution urging Armed Forces Radio to offer more political balance in programming. Limbaugh strongly objected, noting that the network carries National Public Radio and declaring, "I am the political balance."

Late last month, Manny Levy, chief of the radio division for Armed Forces Network, told Schultz's distributor, Jones Radio, by e-mail: "AFN Radio has squared away everything on our end to begin carrying the first hour of 'The Ed Schultz Show' each day, beginning Monday, October 17, 2005."

Levy added: "I'm sorry that there were so many panicked, 'I need an answer soon' calls, false starts and unexpected delays on our end. An awful lot of people in the government had (or tried to have) a hand in [the] program selection process that ended with the decision to add 'The Ed Schultz Show.' "

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said last night that Levy "got ahead of the process" and 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."

And this from UPI:

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman denied any connection between the Barber tape and the decision to cancel Schultz's radio show. He confirmed the Armed Forces Radio Network is looking to diversify its offerings - it currently carries conservatives Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson's Focus on the Family — but said no offers have yet been made, including to Schultz.

GOI: The over-whelming shows carried on the Armed Forces Network are conservative and that is not Constitutional in my opinion. The U.S. military represents ALL Americans and since the military and AFN are supported by tax dollars the network should have a balance between right and left radio shows. American soldiers fight for the rights of all Americans and one of the most important right is freedom of speech. Of all people soldiers should have the right to listen to a myriad of political voices on the radio as they are themselves engaged daily in the protection of said right.

UPDATE (EDIT of email address):

I have sent an email to the AFN regarding my protests and if you agree then I urge you to contact them as well. Here is the email address: linda.sullivan@hq.afis.osd.mil

I would also recommend writing and/or calling your Senator and Representative about this issue.

---End of Transmission---

4 comments:

crimnos said...

This whole thing is ridiculous...I don't think either brand of editorial radio belongs on Armed Forces Radio, as it just invites propagandizing, but at the very least, there should be a balance between the two. Way to go, Pentagon: making the armed forces look bad since...well, forever.

Underground Logician said...

You guys,

Man, either brand of editorializing?

What should be acceptable, straight, balanced and objective news like from NPR or AP? You don't have a complaint here, unless they only allow conservative talk shows. But, that is not the case.

And who the blazes is Ed Schultz anyway? You think the Pentagon see him as a liberal threat that will poison the minds of our service men and women?

In my opinion, James, you are passing on an issue that is a threat only in someone's fantasy. You got the moxy to see this as it is. Move on.

crimnos said...

UL,

This is one I've been following, though not writing about. It's a bigger issue than has been covered even here.

There are really two central issues. The first is that, while there will always be a perception of bias (right-wing for AP, liberal for NPR), the news stories on both at least have a pretense of fact to them. Of course spin is contained within, but on the whole, there is a balance and a reader has a choice to make up their own mind, while Limbaugh's is all about editorial content and hiw own opinion, as is Schultz's show.

I'll come right out and admit it: I have a problem with the use of taxpayer dollars to promote propaganda and opinion and represent it as fact, whether it be Republican or Democratic-only. That said, I "get it" that Limbaugh is wildly popular with a large segment of the troops, and so they need to carry it. I don't think, however, that the liberal troops should feel they have no corresponding show, and that the military only endorses the politics that Limbaugh is pushing. That marginalizes people who are putting their lives on the line for their own beliefs, and it's not fair.

What makes this question of "balance" even worse is that Schultz is really a moderate. I mean, I guess some of the causes he champions, like higher pay for troops, and better equipment for Our Boys, are dangerous to the "global war against Islamic extremism", but to me, the guy is moderate. I'd prefer they balance Limbaugh with someone like Thom Hartmann, but you take what you can get.

This is all secondary to the real reason he was pulled, though. The real reason seems to be not just because he's a "liberal" (though this could make it easier to justify pulling him at the last moment), but because he criticized Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita, who apparently has some sort of say in this, though I have no idea why.

Ultimately, I think this decision has a lot more to do with personality politics, but it is something that desreves to be noted, as conservatives continue to attempt to marginalize the moderate and liberal viewpoint.

james said...

UL:

I should clarify part of my position. I do not have really any problem with balance of the "hard news."

My issue comes with the radio talk-show's represented on AFN radio (which it appears is the Pentagon's call not AFN). It certinaly worries me when I read Rush admitting that "I am the balance."

Here are the comments of an actual listener:

"I am an American living in Germany and often listen to AFN, the radio station of the US armed services. I don't know if the US TV shows they import or produce themselves are most neutral, but their radio program is grotesquely conservative and somewhat religious:

* The evening radio program is: Focus on the Family followed by Rush Limbeau followed by Dr. Laura! Sunday morning radio features "Rock of Ages"- contemporary Chrsitian music and some preachy talks and interviews.

* There are occasional ads from the military chaplaincy to "make time for God" or "talk to your pastor".

* There is nothing overtly liberal or critical. There is no grovelling for G.W. Bush and the news coverage seems fair and balanced, but none of the commentators or people giving advice do so without spooks and conservatism. I seriously doubt they show, for example, "Politically Correct" on AFN TV."

James: What does it matter who Ed Schultz is? The fact of the matter is he is a popular moderate-Dem radio show host who sould be allowed on the programming.

And I feel that we are missing the main part of the issue here that Crimnos touched on. This being the fact that Ed Schultz was slated and signed up with AFN radio to start broadcasting.

However, the days after he criticized Bush's staged press conference they rejected his deal with them.

Why?