On Friday, August 26, I was driving to lunch and did my usual AM talk show radio sampling. If you listen to AM talk radio, I urge you to take my sample test. In the St. Paul/Minneapolis radio market, you need to set you buttons to 950 for Air American, 1220 for Bill O'Reilly and 1500 for the Rush Limbaugh Show. Then, when the commericals hit on one station, hit a pre-set button and go to the station. The idea is to keep away from the commercials and compare what is being talked about. Since the commercial blocks are three or four minutes and way too frequent, you will be able to move around and catch a flavor for what is being talked about.
Sometimes you will catch Al Franken and Bill O'Reilly and/or Limbaugh talking about the same thing. However, you will think that O'Reilly and Limbaugh are in a different universe than Franken...which they probably are. If you tell me you can't stand Limbaugh and/or O'Reilly and would never listen to either of them, I will tell you need to start -- if you want to know what the right-wing in up to. Ditto for the right-wingers. If you are afraid that listening to right-wing radio is going to make you a Kool-aid drinking, neo-con full of fanatical Christian fundamentalism, the chances are very slim. If you are a afraid that listening to left-wing radio is going to give you strong urges to eat grapes and granola, go purchase a pair of Birkenstock and passionately hug the next tree you encounter, the chances are two -- slim and none.
Up front, I have to admit my bias in radio listening. I'm not really impressed by AM talk radio. I prefer public radio with an emphasis on Wisconsin Public Radio or NPR talk shows like On-Point. I've had a server distaste for Rush Limbaugh since he took over the spot of a talk host named Michael Jackson (no relation to Neverland). He provided intelligent, issue orientented talk focused on a variety of headline issues. Then came Rush and his hate-tainted talk about femi-Nazis and the homeless. By 1996, I knew our nation was in deep trouble. Coming out of work one day, a guy whom I'd known for years and considered a closed-minded, redneck idiot started talking to me about the upcoming election. Then we started adding the tag line "Rush says..." and I knew we were in deep, ditto doodoo.
Below is a sample of what I learned by listening to AM talk radio on Friday, August, 26.
On this noontime drive, O'Reilly was talking about a story involving Roger Piekle Sr., a respected atmospheric science professor and Colorado's state climatologist. Piekle was on Bush's Climate Change Science Program committee charged with examining trends of recent surface and troposphere (a layer of Earth's atmosphere) temperatures. He left the committee in a disagreement about views presented in a report chapter for which he was the lead author. He said his reasons for leaving the committee were "mischaracterized" in an article published Tuesday in the New York Times. Piekle published a reply to the NY Times story on a blog hosted through the CSU Department of Atmospheric Science. There was one sentence he did agree with in the Times story. Here's a link to theNY Times story.
O'Reilly said he heard about the NY Times story via a blogger who forwarded him a story from the Daily Coloradoan, the student newspaper at Colorado State University, where Piekle teaches. Here's a link to the Coloradoan story. O'Reilly yacked on and on about this being another example how the NY Times has a "liberal bias" and will resort to outright lies to get its point across that Bush is anti-global warming, etc. O'Reilly blasted the NY Times about being too arrogant to print a retraction, etc. Then BO'R went on to praise the power of blogs and how papers like the NY Times are no longer able to get away with those pack of lies and stuff their lefty agendas down our innocent throats. Of course, BO'R didn't mention USA Today in his rant...even thought it printed pretty much the same story as the NY Times. See USA Today story.
That same evening I Googled this story and got the above links. The following link is the kicker. It is Dr. Piekle's blog with the comments conversation between Piekle and Andrew Ravkin, the Times reporter, working to correct the Times story. What's really interesting, is that the post took place hours before BO'R was doing his rant. See the Piekle blog link. From reading the post, it appears that Piekle and Ravkin were able to come to a professional understanding about the problem and find a solution to it...all before BO'R went on the air.
After the Piekle story, BO'R went into a story in the Wasington Post and started it off with the hackneyed phrase of "liberal bias...global warming alarmists...blah, blah, blah."
The Ed Schultz Show
Later Friday afternoon, on my way home from work, I was listening to the Big Ed Schultz show on 950 Air America. Big Ed was interviewing Randy Vorick of La Habra, Calif., a man whose home was wrongly identified in nationally televised Fox News story as belonging to an Islamic radical terrorist . Since the story ran on August 7, the Vorick family has faced harassment, vandalism, etc. and police are providing protection.
Vorick was on vacation when the story was aired. When the family returned a week later to the ongoing harrassment, he contacted Fox News to run a retraction. Fox said there was nothing they could do. Apparently there are things other media outlets could do to help the Voricks. The LA Times and various LA TV news outlets ran stories. CBS and CNN both ran stories. All these media outlets dealt with the problem before FOX News responded to the LA Times story.
According to the LA TImes story, the Voricks said they had made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Fox News and Loftus by telephone and e-mail. They want a public apology and correction. Both have issued apologies — Fox in a one-line statement to the Los Angeles Times and Loftus in an e-mail to the family — after being contacted by the newspaper. The Voricks say they have yet to see or hear a correction.
"John Loftus has been reprimanded for his careless error, and we sincerely apologize to the family," said Fox spokeswoman Irena Brigante. Loftus said "mistakes happen."
The above examples are part of the reason I do the radio dial sample test on the AM talk shows. It gives me a flavor for what is happening and how the news is being slanted to meet certain agendas. BO'R didn't have anybody involved with the Dr. Piekle story on his show. It was all his "liberal bias" rant on story over a sentence that was misinterpretated. It wasn't a life or death situation, but rather a common happening in the writing of a complicated science story.
BO'R works for FOX News. You would think, if you are going to be the judge and jury of good journalism, you would make sure your house is clean. But no, instead we have a fine example of the "fair and balanced" hypocrisy that FOX News peddles. BO'R's radio listeners hear that and go YEA! Liberal Bias! But, if you dig into the facts, you will find that isn't the case.
Over on the Air America side of the radio talk show dial, we have Big Ed Schultz doing a responsible bit of radio journalism to get to facts out on a FOX News story endangering the life of an innocent family. The FOX News story is a prime example of bad, reckless reporting. People could get killed because of a reporting error like this.
In the "fair and balanced" world at FOX News, "mistakes happen." Evidently, mistakes don't happened at the NY Times, because it is all an evil communist plot to put floride in the mother's milk of human kindess leaking out of the Statue of Liberty.