-By Warner Todd Huston
Members of Barack Obama’s campaign HQ in Chicago tried to shut down a local radio show on the City’s most powerful radio signal, WGN 720, because they didn’t like a conservative guest that was on going on the air to discuss Senator Barack Obama’s ties to local terrorist William Ayers. This is a shocking attempt at stifling political free speech and a bald attempt to quash debate by the office of the Democratic Party’s nominee. The funny thing is, WGN is the most liberal station in the City with every host but one slavishly supporting the junior Senator from Illinois.
Show host Milt Rosenberg, the station’s only conservative leaning host (probably to be considered more libertarian than Republican), had on short notice asked conservative writer Stanley Kurtz to come on the air to discuss his work on uncovering Obama’s ties to terrorist Wiliam Ayres and the Annenberg Challenge project. Kurtz was just in Chicago for his investigation and Rosenberg contacted Kurtz only that morning to appear. At the same time, Rosenberg’s producer contacted the Obama campaign’s HQ — which is but blocks from the radio station in downtown Chicago — to offer some time on the air with Kurtz to debate Kurtz’ claims about Obama and Ayres. The campaign, however, flatly refused the offer of the equal air time and instead tried to drum up via email a protest of the show, trying to get it stopped.
After the refusal of host Rosenberg’s offer to appear on the air with Kurtz, the Obama campaign issued an extensive email (The Chicago Tribune has the full text) to drum up protests of the radio station, which said in part…
In the next few hours, we have a crucial opportunity to fight one of the most cynical and offensive smears ever launched against Barack.
Tonight, WGN radio is giving right-wing hatchet man Stanley Kurtz a forum to air his baseless, fear-mongering terrorist smears. He’s currently scheduled to spend a solid two-hour block from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. pushing lies, distortions, and manipulations about Barack and University of Illinois professor William Ayers.
Tell WGN that by providing Kurtz with airtime, they are legitimizing baseless attacks from a smear-merchant and lowering the standards of political discourse.
The email gave the Rosenberg show contact info and told people to call and protest Kurtz’ appearance. The email also lied to its supporters by acting as if the Obama campaign was not offered fair rebuttal time.
It is absolutely unacceptable that WGN would give a slimy character assassin like Kurtz time for his divisive, destructive ranting on our public airwaves. At the very least, they should offer sane, honest rebuttal to every one of Kurtz’s lies.
I happen to live in Chicago and by chance was listening to the Milt Rosenberg show and heard for myself the host assure listeners that he offered the air time to the Obama campaign, an offer that was refused. Rosenberg even went so far as to offer any other show date for the Obama campaign’s rebuttal to Kurtz’ work.
Then, in compliance with the Obama campaign’s email instructions, a parade of callers was aired all telling Rosenberg to shut down the Kurtz interview. Each caller was quite insensible to the unAmerican reaction in which they were indulging and each one was entirely unreasonable and uninformed on the facts. Sadly, this anti-American attitude seems typical of Obama supporters nation wide.
Now, Dr. Rosenberg’s show is one of the most intelligent, even high brow, shows on the radio, so schmaltzy, exploitation radio is as far from his style as one can get. Rosenberg interviews authors of the highest standing and show topics range from philosophy, to Opera, to physics and political science. He even does a delightful yearly show on the misuse of the English language as well as one on the year’s best literary offerings. Like I said, exploitation radio he ain’t.
So, for the Obama campaign to act as if this particular show is an affront to reasoned debate is an outrageous charge. Just as outrageous is the Obama campaign’s obvious desire to destroy free political speech. It makes one quake to wonder what sort of oppressive climate an Obama presidency would impose on the country?
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