The Gray Lady
Bloggers Take on Talk Radio Hosts
By NOAM COHEN
A San Francisco talk radio station pre-empted three hours of programming on Friday in response to a campaign by bloggers who have recorded extreme comments by several hosts and passed on digital copies to advertisers.
The lead blogger, who uses the name Spocko, said that he and other bloggers had contacted more than 30 advertisers on KSFO-AM to inform them of comments made on the air and to ask them to pull their ads.
The comments were also posted on Spocko’s Web site, spockosbrain.com. In response, ABC Radio Networks, which owns KSFO and which in turn is owned by the Walt Disney Company, sent letters to the site’s service provider, demanding the clips be taken down from its servers. The provider complied, raising the issue of what constitutes fair use of copyrighted material by a critic.
In an unusual cap to a simmering controversy, four talk radio hosts at KSFO-AM themselves played the clips on Friday, which had, in some cases, drawn national attention for language considered racially insensitive, religiously intolerant or containing violent imagery. The broadcast contained the occasional carefully measured apology for language that “could have been put more elegantly,” as one host, Melanie Morgan, described her comment — “We’ve got a bull’s eye painted on her big wide laughing eyes” — about Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, who is from San Francisco. “But Ms. Morgan added that her words were obviously a political metaphor that had to be distorted by critics to appear violent.
Spocko had recorded and disseminated other clips from the station in an effort to alarm advertisers. In one, Brian Sussman, an evening host on KSFO, described Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois, as a “halfrican,” because he has one African parent and one white parent. In another, from 2005, he challenged a caller who said he was not a Muslim to prove it by repeating back an insult to Allah. Mr. Sussman apologized for both comments during Friday’s three-hour show.
In an interview, Spocko, who described himself as being in his “late 40s and a communications professional,” said he was appalled by what he heard on KSFO. Among the advertisers Spocko contacted, and who have been reported in The San Francisco Chronicle to have stopped advertising at KSFO were Bank of America, MasterCard and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. During the Friday show, one of the hosts, Lee Rodgers, read an e-mail message asking if the station had lost any sponsors so the listener could, in turn, boycott the former sponsors. Ms. Morgan said “one advertiser — exactly one” had left the station.
When reached at his office, KSFO-AM’s program director, Ken Berry, said he felt “the three-hour broadcast best spoke for us” and referred other questions to ABC. An ABC spokeswoman had no comment.
KSFO’s Lee Rodgers: “Well I haven’t apologized for anything and I am not going to start with you. How the hell do you like that, creep?”
Of course Rodgers hasn’t apologized. His state of contrition is irrelevant: Being an on-air, jackbooted Conservative wank means never having to say you’re sorry.
What is relevant is what Spocko has accomplished here.
Violent, eliminationist rhetoric has become the lingua franca of the fucktard base. It has been rolling off their tongues since the early mass media days of Limbaugh and the White Power Hotline, every year getting more casually vicious and every year getting more mainstream.
Like constant, toxic references to “dirty Jews” that were used almost as conversational punctuation in fascist Germany, or American bigot's beloved “nigger”, the Right Wing has grown so off-handedly comfortable with their giggling, "feminazi"-fication of the English language that their rhetorical universe has grown increasingly saturated.
They now steep so completely in their own vomitous propaganda that their gasbag heroes have to drill ever deeper into the bile mine to tickle their listener’s debased nerve endings with New!Hategasmic!Thrills!
They literally don’t notice anymore what appalling and manifestly anti-American swine they have become. The can no longer detect their own stench and act genuinely surprised/enraged when anyone calls them on it.
In the stinking wake of Iraq, Katrina, Terry Schiavo, The “AARP=Queer” campaign (during the Social Security crossfire) and especially in the last three election cycles, no one but the most willfully ignorant (in other words, about 116% of the Paid Pundit Caste) can fail to notice the oratory depths into which the GOP will gleefully sink, for any reason or none, at the drop of a hat.
That during the Reign of the Christopaths, the Right deliberately made Newspeak their Mother Tongue and Two Minutes Hate into a 24/7 media empire.
And once that happened –- once one side tossed Reason out the window and embraced darkness, irrationality, fear and smear as political instruments –- it stopped being OK to pretend that we can play nice with the crazy people any more.
It’s time for every American who still give a damn about this country to take the nearest available 2x4 to the only nerve-bundles they can still register -- the polling place and the $$$$-sac -- which is why what Spocko has done is so miraculous.
Using only a blog, a few words and some audio, Spocko has forced a story that features the two central issue of our times -- the rise of the Right as powerful, bellicose and explicitly Hate-based political cult, and the almost categorical refusal of the major media to report on it as such – onto the pages of America’s journal of record.
And that is pretty damned impressive.