Is the Media Ignoring the Air America Scandal?
Investor’s Business Daily is amazed that a scandal involving Air America is receiving “A Big Fat Yawn” from most of the press.
Rush Limbaugh’s prescription drug troubles were splashed all over the media. Yet a financial scandal rocking a leftist radio network rates no coverage. The mainstream media, fixated on bringing down Karl Rove, have so far deemed apparent funding irregularities at Air America unworthy of note. But that doesn’t make them any less of story.
Here’s the gist, according to The New York Sun Ã¢€” which is giving the scandal the coverage it deserves Ã¢€” and a few others, mostly bloggers and columnists, who are providing a public service: New York City’s Department of Investigation is looking into charges that $875,000 from a Bronx nonprofit group and an affiliate whose budgets are generously stuffed with local, state and federal grants was inappropriately used to fund Air America, the left’s counterattack on the colossal success of conservative talk radio.
The two groups Ã¢€” the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club and Pathways for Youth Ã¢€” said they thought they were making a loan to the network. But when Evan Montvel Cohen was working as both chairman of Air America and director of development for Gloria Wise, some red flags should have been raised. Jeannette Graves, president of Gloria Wise’s executive committee, has said that without her authorization or knowledge, Cohen siphoned $613,000 from the organization to himself and Air America. Cohen also allegedly used money from the groups for personal medical care.
While this mess is being sorted out, the city has suspended its ties with Gloria Wise and Pathways. That means money intended for poor minority children and Alzheimer’s victims was instead used to make sure the financially tanking and ratings-troubled Air America could keep blathering.
Public funds used to prop up a business! Just the kind of scandal that left-leaning media would die for. Yet for some reason they’re giving this one a pass. Is it because there are no mean ol’ conservatives to blame?
Michelle Malkin does the math:
Number of NY Times articles mentioning Air America since March 2004: 59
Number of NY Times articles mentioning the Air Enron scandal: 0
An amusing juxtaposition, although somewhat unfair since the scandal has only emerged recently. Presumably, there have been rather few Air America stories during the overlapping period.
Is this a conspiracy of silence among the liberal media elite? Perhaps. More likely, the relative lack of attention is because virtually no one has heard of Air America. While Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo are reasonably famous in their own right, neither is on par with Limbaugh. Scandals involving the famous and powerful are simply more newsworthy than those involving lesser players. It’s the same reason that Howard Stern’s move to satellite radio got more attention than the hiring of presumably dozens of other hosts for other shows on Sirius.
Indeed, Hugh Hewitt hints at this in his Weekly Standard piece on the subject.
WHAT DID AL FRANKEN KNOW, and when did he know it?
When Air America launched last year, it was the beneficiary of more free publicity than any radio show or network launch had ever received. So desperate was the mainstream media to find some left-leaning response to the Limbaugh-led revolution in talk radio that the many and obvious flaws in the network’s offerings went largely unreported. Those of us who have been around radio studios for a few years know, though, that launch hype and selective reading of Arbitron results can never mask the key question: Is a show profitable? Do the ads sell? Do sponsors arrive and stay, year after year? Does the affiliate list grow and grow?
The answers to those questions are yes, yes, yes, and yes for Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and, yes, me. About Air America it is very hard to say because, well, the numbers are hard to come by.
Still, as all the pieces note, the story is getting plenty of coverage in the Blogosphere:
The full details are available from bloggers Radio Equalizer, Michelle Malkin, and Ed Morrissey, and New York Sun reporter David Lombino is digging as well. Short version: Not-for-profits that exist to serve kids and Alzheimer’s’ patients, overwhelmingly via the funds obtained from government grants, should not be “investing” in incredibly risky start-up radio networks. But the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club–apparently now defunct–did just that last spring, funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into Air America’s coffers.
Given all this scrutiny, details will emerge. The level of outrage generated will, presumably, be proportional to the level of interest in Air America itself, though.