August 24, 2005

Media Bias and the Air America Scandal

Johnathan Gurwitz of the San Antonio Express News examines the mainstream media's stunning silence regarding both Air America's awful ratings and its recent financial scandals:

Despite some initial success, ratings have been underwhelming, even with an unpopular president who makes an inviting target and an unpopular war generating political discontent. In the fall of 2004, in Air America's home market of New York City and with the presidential election inflaming liberal passions, Franken's show trailed his on-air nemesis Rush Limbaugh by a substantial margin. Since then, the ratings picture has gotten worse. Air America supporters have their explanations. Some are entirely reasonable — building a radio network from scratch is bound to entail pitfalls. Some demonstrate a disturbing arrogance — ratings don't matter because Air America listeners are too sophisticated for plebeian radio, choosing webcasts and podcasts instead.

But Air America and its minions are having a much tougher time explaining how the network pocketed $875,000 intended for poor kids and Alzheimer's sufferers in the Bronx. That revelation stems from an audit by New York City's Department of Investigation into the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club. The city determined the organization to be a "non-responsible" agency and suspended funding.

Why "non-responsible?" As the New York Sun reports, the agency is accused of making "inappropriate transactions" beginning in early 2004, including the transfer of said $875,000 to Progress Media, the former parent company of Air America, and its chairman, Cohen, who also happened to be a board member of the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club.

Unlike the personal foibles of Bill Bennett, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, and in contrast to Air America's celebrated start, the network's financial impropriety has received scant attention in the mainstream media. A handful of bloggers, led by syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin, have put the issue in the public eye.

Conservatives, however, have just as keen a sense of irony as liberals. If conservative moralizers deserve their comeuppance, why shouldn't the Enron-like scandal of liberal do-gooders taking money away from needy minority kids and old folks merit equal treatment?

Perhaps because the American media are not so dominated by conservatives as Air America's promoters suggest.

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