Sunday, February 15, 2009

Will Citadel Broadcasting Hire That Guy Who Killed Two UUC Church Members?

Photo by Lisa Hudson, AP

Later this week I'm going to print Jim Adkisson's manifesto in which he talks about how much he hates liberals. This was the note he wrote before he when out and shot eight members of the liberal UUC Church. He killed Linda Kraeger, 61 and 60-year-old Greg McKendry, the liberal hero who died shielding others from gunfire.
(For a post on What This Means, read my friend Sara Robinson at Orcinus. )

Did you ever wonder what kind of person talks about killing people because of their political beliefs? What kind of people use threats of violence to others in their everyday work life? Mobsters. Gang members. Street criminals. Talk Radio hosts.

Which publicly traded companies have a philosophy that accepts and embraces these people? Citadel Broadcasting (CDL) for one. Can you imagine paying someone big bucks who says that his co-workers should trace, hunt down and kill someone, "like a mad dog" just for sending an email with political views they don't agree with? (see video below) Citadel Broadcasting hires and pays these people.

Maybe Jim Adkisson should have searched for work at Citadel before he went on his shooting spree. Based on his note, he would have fit right in. Maybe he can broadcast on KSFO from prison, after all, Lee Rodgers isn't in the studio, he broadcasts from Arizona. What's great about working for Citadel is that you can even break the company's own rules about threatening talk and still get your contract renewed. Sweet!

(Jim, if you want to apply for a job at KSFO do it though their close friends at I'll bet that if you can't find one there, BAjobs can find you another company that doesn't require employees to following any rules, better yet, apply to Citadel directly Citadel Broadcasting Human Resources Susan Arville can tell you how they allow people to ignore the violence rules AND ignore the female harassment rules. )

How do Talk Radio hosts get away with it? Well partly it is because they have convinced the very people they are threatening to defend them. Nice trick. Kind of like the way they get the automakers they insult to pay them.

Defending People Who Incite Violence
Two weeks ago I spoke to a guy who told me my example of violent rhetoric from a talk radio host directed toward specific individuals was not inciting violence.

He said, "Only if the person was physically standing there and said, "Go get 'em." and the people heard him and then went right over and did something violent to another person would it be inciting violence. And even then, the person who did the violence had a choice, he didn't have to act."

As I listened to him I realized that he, like a defense lawyer, was figuring out how he would protect the client (the radio host) as an intellectual exercise. I know this was the case because he said, "At least that is how their lawyer will defend them. They will say that the radio host is not responsible for the actions of the person who committed the violence." He was thinking about how to defend the "free speech" even when it involved the one area most people agree is NOT covered --the "don't yell fire in a crowded theater someone might get hurt" part.

But responsibility for the act is different from the act of incitement. And legal responsibility is different from a moral responsibility.

Talk Radio is Regulated for Words Deemed Harmful
How did this regulation happen? Enough people decided that obscenity and indecency are harmful to the public so they convinced the FCC to make corporations take steps to prevent these words and phrases from reaching the public.

Whether or not you agree with these views, the fact is an obscenity said over broadcast radio can cost the corporation money if they allowed it to be broadcast. The fines can be up to $350,000. So, the corporations, to protect their bottom line, reissued guidelines. They made sure the seven second delay buttons, which they have been using for decades, were still working. Producers were told to keep their finger on the button to protect the public. Some slipped. Fines were levied. Radio host were fired. The corporations fought the fines under the mantle of "our right to free speech" but it wasn't as if they didn't know the score regarding obscenity and indecency when they got into the game.

But when it comes to suggesting, on the public airwaves, that a group of people be killed there is no FCC regulation or fines. And, as we have seen, the self-regulation of the corporation's own policies are ignored.

There are no FCC regulations that would result in a fine if, for example, a radio host said, "We'll trace you back, run you down and kill you like a mad dog." or "Liberals need to be hanged." or millions of Muslims need to be killed (and they don't mean terrorist Muslims, just plain ol' Muslims.).

In 2007 I asked current acting FCC commissioner Michael Copp,
"Is the public good being served by conservative radio hosts that suggest that their political opponents be killed?

His answer was "go to the advertisers" since there are no regulations at the FCC level. That is what I did, but even after 28 advertisers left the KSFO hosts are still at it. They are even allowed to ignore the company's own self regulation policies and keep on broadcasting. What will it take for something to change? Does someone need to act on their words? Wait, someone did! But since it wasn't their specific words and they weren't there to tell Jim to pull the trigger it still wasn't enough.

At Citadel Broadcasting station KSFO it appears you can call for the death of your political opponents on the air, violating the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics of your parent company and profit!

I wonder if the rest of the employees at Citadel Broadcasting are paying attention to how clearly the KSFO hosts ignore the rules? Will they will follow suit since there are no consequences? Follow the money! Who's making money? The people who break the rules! Unless it costs money when you break the rules (via FCC or internal guidelines) people in media corporations won't follow any rules.

Brian Sussman can finally start Bring Your Gun to Work Day and there is nothing Citadel can do to stop it. If they want to challenge Sussman's second amendment rights, I say go right ahead and when you do be sure to tell his fans you have required him to follow your rules Citadel. I'll bet they will be very upset. (And when you get the upsetting letters be sure to remember this is the audience you are courting and encouraging, see how comfortable they make you feel when you tell them you are requiring Sussman follow your rules and regulations.)

If you ask him to not bring his gun to work he will probably talk about how you have made KSFO a "Victim disarmament zone." and suggest more guns. In case you haven't noticed, that is the new tactic. Their solution to gun violence is more guns (frankly I thought it was tax cuts, because usually that is the conservative's answer to everything).

Sussman certainly won't following any code of behavior rules if the Great Lee Rodgers doesn't have to. As Brian reminded us just after Obama got elected.

"I don't use my gun for hunting, if you know what I mean." (audio link)

(Sussman is SO subtle, he wants his listeners to understand the connection between Obama being elected and how he uses his gun. Wink. Wink.)

Yes, KSFO advertisers from BMW, Mercedes and Toyota the Citadel Broadcasting Corporation encourages these men. Read what Jim Adkisson said in his manifesto then compare that to what Lee Rodgers or Brian Sussman have said on the air for years.

Talk radio hosts are supposed to get people to act, to buy advertiser's product. What if the product is violence toward a group of people? Well then we have our own version of Hutu Power Radio. The results are not an abstract intellectual exercise. It's bodies on the floor of a church.

Jim Adkisson is talk radio's biggest success story
I'm sure right wing talk radio hosts are proud of themselves. Adkisson didn't just buy the product, he bought the ideas and he ACTED! That is what a real right wing conservative would do, right? Act! Are the hosts telling us that they DON'T mean what they say? Lee Rodgers has said in the past that he means EXACTLY what he says. (audio link) As Rodgers has also said, "Nobody is gonna tell me, what to talk about or not talk about or in what fashion on this radio program. It ain't gonna happen!" (audio link)

Bottomline, the stations profited, and that is all that matters. That is the only "public good" that matters to the owners of the broadcast licensees. Unless there are financial consequences nothing changes.
UUbuntu caught my typo on the church being the Unitarian Universalist Church not UCC.
Thank you for the correction. It was the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.
He wrote an excellent post on the subject.

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Blogger Southern Beale said...

Great post, Spocko. It's a fine line we walk between free speech and irresponsible behavior that incites violence. It bears remembering that while people do have a right to free speech in this country, there are limits. It's still illegal to shout "fire!" in a crowded theater.

4:48 AM  
Blogger David Aquarius said...

Free speech is there but not free to do harm. A 'Clear and Present danger' must exist for speech to be restricted.

When these loons take up arms and start shooting liberals, how far back does the fault line go? These mad dogs take their cues from the radio hosts that feed them the anger and purpose they so desperately need.

KSFO is a septic tank. Everything in its little stink bubble is corrupted and diseased. They can spew all the hate and vile they want - First Amendment - but we don't have to listen or frequent the businesses that choose to associate themselves with this garbage.

The First Amendment also enables us to use whatever means at our disposal to inform the people who may be customers of these sponsors. An informed public exercises its will by where it spends its money.

As hard as Spocko is working, I'm afraid there will be more violence against liberals and progressives. The tide is turning in America which further isolates these cretins. KSFO will see its market share drop, making the wingnuts their only audience.

They too will become more extreme, perhaps finally crossing the line enough to get taken down.

Remember, the FCC is on our side now.

11:39 AM  
Blogger (O)CT(O)PUS said...

Spocko, I haven't forgotten about the article ... still thinking through some issues ... but hope to have it ready soon for you to take a look at. Many apologies for the delay.

9:02 PM  
Blogger UUbuntu said...

Here is my post on the same subject. Thank you for your comment on my blog, Spocko.

So, why do they speak like this? The connection between those who promote a culture of division and victory (combined with the self-pity of victimhood) makes for good ratings in a fragmented marketplace.

I have no doubt that many of them believe their own words, but they use the voices those of actors reading lines, not humans struggling with complex moral issues.

They promote a simple "with us or with the terrorists" message, and expect that those who listen will "get the message". And while they will decry the actions of their followers, they will never challenge their followers to consider any point of view other then their own.

One correction though: Jim David Adkisson attacked a Unitarian Universalist (UU) church. Not a UCC church.

5:12 AM  

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