‘Reliable Sources’ Debates Liberal Blogs Attacking Conservative Radio Station

CNN’s Howard Kurtz invited NewsBuster Dan Riehl and liberal Daily Kos blogger Mike Stark on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” to debate the recent attacks by the left on conservative radio station KSFO.

As Riehl posted Saturday evening, Stark was rather cocky leading up to this debate stating at his own website that “CNN will want to hire me as a sanitation engineer because I will have mopped the floor with Mr. Riehl.”

Well, the reality is that CNN might indeed want to hire Stark as a janitor, for he certainly didn’t come across as qualified to do much else as this video of the segment (provided courtesy of Ms Underestimated) clearly demonstrates.

I will update this post later with a full transcript of the exchange once it's available.

*****Update: Read Dan Riehl's comments about this encounter here. And, as promised, below is a full transcript of this segment.

*****Update II: The silence in the liberal blogosphere concerning this meeting is deafening. At 1:25PM PST, Mike Stark still had no post at his Calling All Wingnuts blog about this interview. Similarly, I can find nothing at Daily Kos, Crooks and Liars, Firedoglake, Raw Story, Huffington Post, or even Spocko's Brain which started all of this nonsense.

Yet, conservative blogs have been all over this. Besides NewsBusters, Hot Air, Little Green Footballs, Riehl World View, and Sister Toldjah have already written postings on the subject. What does that tell us?

Well, as you read the transcript below, you'll see in black and white how well Riehl did, and how poorly Stark did. In fact, as you watch the video, you'll see Kurtz seem rather bewildered by the juvenile positions his guest sitting across the desk was taking.  

Given the silence in the liberal blogosphere, it seems that the Netroots quite agree.

*****Update III: More silence from the Netroots. Brad Altrocket, who Saturday predicted a "smackdown of epic proportions" at Sadly, No!, has also not posted about the debate. He can't claim that he's too busy, for he did have time to write about how the Bears are beating the Saints! :-) 

*****Update IV: Stark has posted his views of this encounter, and though he chalks his poor performance up to nerves, he doesn't have very nice things to say about Dan Riehl, or us in the "wingnutsosphere":

Don’t get me wrong - I don’t think this exchange was contested - Dan Riehl didn’t even show up, really. My problem with me is that I lost my train of thought for a minute there in the beginning and I didn’t get to fully unload everything I had planned.

Crooks and Liars has also posted a view, although from SilentPatriot and not John Amato. Regardless, the take was pretty funny:

Mike Stark and Dan Riehl joined Howard Kurtz on Reliable Sources this morning to talk about KSFO and Spockogate. Stark tried to stay on topic throughout, but, Dan had to attack him personally. (Check out John Cole's encounter with him.) It would have been nice if Kurtz gave Stark a chance to respond in kind, but I guess that was asking for a little too much.

*****Update V: It's almost 24 hours since one of its diarists appeared on CNN, but I can find no discussion about this debate in any of the Daily Kos diaries. Furthermore, though Stark posted a review of his performance at his own blog Sunday night, he mysteriously didn't cross-post it at Daily Kos as he typically does. Why might that be?

HOWARD KURTZ: Now, the talk gets pretty hot on KSFO, conservative San Francisco radio station. And one blogger found some of the hosts' language offensive. Melanie Morgan, for instance, said this of new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MELANIE MORGAN, KSFO: We've got a bull's eye painted on her big, wide, laughing...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Easy. Easy, easy.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

KURTZ: Then there was this bit where the host talked about what it would sound like to execute "New York Times" editor Bill Keller.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to take Bill Keller. And if he were to be tried and convicted of treason, he needs to go to Old Sparky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And so Officer Vic (ph) was giving us a wonderful imitation of what that might sound like. So we're just going to allow you to feast your ears on this.

Go ahead, O.V.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Here you can see it's being strapped in now. And here comes the switch. They're throwing the switch.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

KURTZ: Wow. The blogger who posted these clips on his Web site, known only as "Spocko," sent audio clips from KSFO to advertisers in trying to launch a boycott. ABC Radio, which owns the station, successfully pressured Spocko's Internet provider to take down the clips on copyright grounds, which triggered a backlash from bloggers on the left.

Neither ABC Radio nor KSFO would give us a comment, but KSFO hosts complained on the air about crackpots with keyboards.

Joining me now in New York, Dan Riehl, who blogs at riehlworld.com -- riehlworldview.com, excuse me. And here in the studio, Mike Stark from callingallwingnuts.com.

Mike Stark, this guy, Spocko, he doesn't like what the KSFO hosts are saying on the air so he tries to get an advertising boycott going. What happened to free speech?

The way to fight free speech that you disagree with is to engage in more free speech. And that's exactly what Spocko did.

MICHAEL STARK, CALLINGALLWINGNUTS.COM: Spocko recorded these segments, he spread the segments. He enlarged their free speech. He send sent them to advertisers, who had been told, by the way, that KSFO was a family-friendly Disney station.

They had no idea that they were advertising MasterCard and Federal Express and. And, you know, several of their advertisers had know idea that this kind of speech was occurring on KSFO. And they exercised their free speech rights and said I don't want to say this anymore.

KURTZ: Do you know who the mysterious Spocko is?

STARK: I don't. I don't know his name.

KURTZ: And neither do we.

Dan Riehl, when a blogger sends audio clips from a radio station around, I mean, you are technically ripping off the station's product, right?

DAN RIEHL, RIEHLWORLDVIEW.COM: Yes. I think there certainly are legitimate elements of fair use here, although in this case I think it's a little bit more of unfair misuse because I think things were blown out of proportion misrepresented. But yes, we do take clips from radio shows and so forth.

KURTZ: Mike stark, I'm not defending some of these outrageous comments on KSFO, but, you know, when Melanie Morgan, one of hosts there describes Barack Obama as a "Halfrican," meaning he's only half a minority -- black father, white mother -- isn't that obviously intended as a satire?

STARK: You know, it's funny, because I don't believe you've even brought up the most egregious clips. Lee Rogers (ph) called for killing of millions of Muslims in Indonesia if they didn't bend to our will. We have got troops in theater in the Middle East right now in Muslim land, and Lee Rogers (ph) is calling for the killing of -- I mean, essentially the genocide of Indonesian Muslims.

Other Muslims are going to take up the cause. They're going to join that battle, and it's endangering our troops.

KURTZ: Wait a minute. Other Muslims are going to take up the cause and join the battle because of what somebody said on a radio station?

STARK: Because of the entire psyche of the United States, which is, you know, essentially set by our media. They see our media. Our media goes worldwide. And when Lee Rogers (ph) says that, it expounds to, you know, the president saying things like -- that Democrats don't support the war on terror, that we're supporting the terrorists.

KURTZ: All right. But, you know, radio hosts are opinionated.

Let me go to Dan Riehl.

Look, KSFO is a major station. None of this is a secret. Don't advertisers know what they're getting into when they buy time on that station?

RIEHL: Yes, I think they do. And I find this silly.

I mean, in essence, the clip he's talking about, I believe what was said is that there were a lot of terrorists in Indonesia. And if they don't knock it off, we'll end up in a war and we'll end up killing millions of them. That's a far cry from the way Mike is representing it. That's his typical tactic.

It's my understanding just last week Don Imus and Mike Barnicle did an entire bit on hanging Vice President Dick Cheney. We had a movie released last year that the premise -- the basis premise was the hypothetical assassination of the sitting president of the United States. You know, during a week when a young woman died allegedly because of some involvement with talk radio, if this is the most outrageous thing Mike is seeing, he might want to revisit what's going on in the media around him today.

KURTZ: You're referring there to the woman who drank seven gallons of water apparently at the urging of some radio jock and did die. What a tragedy that was.

RIEHL: Yes.

KURTZ: Mike Stark, do you want to respond to that?

STARK: Yes. Actually, that's not the most egregious thing.

I think this rhetoric bleeds over from right wing talk radio into the blogs and even into the leading influential on the right side. Ann Coulter was at CPAC. That's the Conservative Political Action Committee meeting they had here in D.C. last year.

She said, "Ragheads talk tough, ragheads face consequences."

Who else attended that? Dick Cheney, Mitch McConnell, John Fund, John Cornyn.

KURTZ: All right. I don't want to get into too much of a tangent about the impact of right-wing talk radio, but you seem to have a problem with the First Amendment. I mean, some of us think -- you and I may think this is the most offensive stuff in the world. We can always turn it off.

STARK: I am the champion of the First Amendment. I want their speech to be known by everybody. Because you know what? These people marginalize themselves. The more their speech is heard by reasonable people like you and me, the more they marginalize themselves. So I want their voices to be heard by everyone in America.

KURTZ: Well, thank you for including me in that description.

Dan Riehl, what about ABC Radio, which reacts to this blogger Spocko who starts this boycott campaign by going to his Internet service provider and getting these clips taken down? Isn't that a little heavy-handed?

RIEHL: Well, I thought it was a little heavy-handed, but I just need to say one thing. OK, I'm not here to push my blog, but I have a picture on it right now of Mike sneaking into camera view on a national network, holding a banner which is probably one of the most obnoxious distasteful things you've seen. He's not exactly the person who should be making judgments about what's outrageous in media today.

That said, yes, I think if I were ABC, knowing what I know about Mike Stark, I would have sent him a hat with funny ears and let him wear it around the house and let him shine them on, frankly.

KURTZ: Mike, just explain to our viewers, what banner were you holding up and where was this?

STARK: I was on your competitor, FOX station. I stood behind Colmes during a viewing of "Hannity and Colmes" with a sign that said, "Hannity sucks ass." All I did was tell the truth. That's not a major...

KURTZ: You had no right to be there.

STARK: I'm sorry?

KURTZ: You had no right to be there.

STARK: Sure I was. I was at Ned Lamont's headquarters.

KURTZ: I see. All right.

STARK: Something I'd like to suggest...

KURTZ: Let me ask this last question because we're running short on time.

STARK: Sure.

KURTZ: Is this, the way ABC and the parent company reacted, is this a big corporation trying to intimidate bloggers?

STARK: Oh, it's absolutely a big corporation trying to intimidate bloggers. But what they're enabling here is Ann Coulter calling for the rat poisoning of Justice Stephens. Supreme Court justices, each one of them, received a box of cookies filled with rat poisoning.

KURTZ: So you're saying there are real world consequences to some of this speech. STARK: Real world consequences. Anthrax attacks all went to journalists and two Democratic senators.

This elimination (ph) rhetoric from the right is irresponsible and I don't know why Dan would ever defend it. But he engages in it himself. He posted pictures of "The New York Times" publisher's home on his Web site...

KURTZ: All right.

STARK: ... essentially encouraging people to...

KURTZ: You two continue this off the air. I want to give you my take, which is, I don't like boycotts, but, you know, tough luck. It's fair game when you're in the media business for critics to talk about what's on your air.

And ABC Radio should not be saying no comment. ABC is in the communications business. They ought to have some kind of comment about what they did.

But you all are continuing this exercise in free speech. And it's an interesting one. It shows that bloggers have become a real force.

Dan Riehl in New York, Mike Stark here, thanks very much for joining us.

RIEHL: Thank you, Howie.

STARK: Thanks very much.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.