Thursday, April 15, 2004
Jim Watkins is the program director for my affiliates in Naples and Ft. Meyers, Florida... Several weeks ago he contacted the people at Air America to inquire about putting Al Franken somewhere on his radio station. Watkins remembered Al Franken from his Saturday Night Live days and felt that he might be entertaining and could draw an audience... The Air America official asks Jim what other programs they carry. Jim starts rattling off the names. Boortz, Limbaugh, Savage .... At that point the Air America official says "Stop." He then informs Watkins that they won't allow their programming to air on [his stations]. And why not? Because "We don't want our programming stained by being on a station that carries Rush Limbaugh."This seems odd. Wasn't Al Franken the guy who was happy to use Rush Limbaugh's name to sell his first book of 'satire'? (As in Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.) Whence this new fastidious aversion to recognizing el Rushbo's existence? Boortz thinks it's because Air America fears that listeners who hear both Franken and Limbaugh will start seeing through "the lies, the half-truths and the complete lack of common sense and logic" of the left.
I'm inclined to another explanation. The name Air America really does lend itself to the kind of metaphors that begin this entry. I believe the crew -- Franken, Garofalo, et al -- have become transformed in their own eyes. They may have started by thinking of themselves as comedians with some serious political opinions. Stroked by the mass media intellectuals, they began to believe they were serious thinkers (hence Franken's self-billing as a satirist). And now, with the election approaching and the flurry of liberal clamor for a 'progressive' (read 'anti-Bush') presence on the airwaves, they have become warriors, crusaders, fanatics. And like van Helsing on the trail of Dracula, they can't abide the touch or even the presence of the evil they are sworn to destroy.
Time to wake up, kids. It's not a crusade, and it's not a war. It's business. Allow us to offer some business advice. Air America is in a spot of trouble. No cash is not a sound position, but it's not a hopeless one either. You've got a name, at least, which makes it sound like you're a radio network. The best defense is a good offense. Air America should initiate a leveraged buyout of NPR. Get one of your limousine-liberal friends in investment banking to float several hundred million dollars worth of junk bonds, and use whatever means necessary (Madonna, Sarandon, Streisand, Stone, Roberts, etc) to "market" them to big money guys in New York and Los Angeles. Maybe some of the other Hollywood lefties would invest big amounts, too (though I wouldn't count on it somehow). Presto. NPR is now Air America-NPR.
All that would remain to be done is realignment of the program schedule. Where to fit the Franken and Garofalo programs into the mix? First, the new management could clear some room by firing Juan Williams and Mara Liasson. Does anybody at NPR even know that these two Benedict Arnolds work for the hated Fox News Channel? You could even make a deal with The Donald to come fire their asses right on the air. After that, it's a matter of deciding who else stays or goes. Terry Gross seems to be doing an outstanding Jeckyll and Hyde act, all sweetness and light with Palestinian-terrorist-novelists and all savage attack bitch with putative Republicans. Tavist Smiley has to stay. You know. Garrison Keillor is pretty safe. He's tried more ways to make the word 'Republican' a punchline all by itself, unsupported by even a feint in the direction of a joke setup, than he has yarns left to spin about his dreary hometown.
The best bet would be to deep-six 'All Things Considered.' With the November election only months away, who needs the subtle propaganda of interviewing leftist radicals as if they were mainstream spokesmen, or reporting a left-wing partisan charge as if it were a fact, or soliciting commentary on foreign policy from avowed enemies of the United States? And all done with a straight face no less. Now is the time for the unsubtleties of self-proclaimed geniuses who dribble flecks of foam from their mouths when they rail into the microphone. Now is the time for the likes of Garofalo and Franken. Get Air America back into the skies, and load the bomb bay with the biggest, dirtiest payload you can carry. God bless (Air) America.