Local Radio Works the Roots
I feel like I'm listening to Rush Limbaugh.
During a break this morning, Debra Burlingame came out and spoke,
which was carried on C-SPAN. She stated that, even though there is no guarantee,
if conversations by Al-Midhar were intercepted 9/11 might have been averted.
She asserted that NSA worries about domestic spying kept our government from
listening in to Al-Midhar. Her loss is great, but statements like these are
not helpful because they aren't true.
Then, phone calls came from halfway around
the globe, in Yemen. The super-secret National Security Agency was monitoring
a Yemen house around the clock. Inside was a so-called al-Qaida switchboard,
which received calls from bin Laden and relayed messages to his operatives around
the world. It was run by Samir al-Hada, Khalid al-Midhar's brother-in-law.
Hindsight and the attacks on
Mrs. Burlingame is talking about a pre-9/11 mind set. The NSA would never ignore phone calls of this nature today and evey person in this
country would support this type of wiretapping. This is not the issue before us.
However, all over the radio waves, this is exactly the type of
statement coming from right-wing radio and other Republican outlets in the media
throughout this country, all the way down into the smallest towns. It makes
our job of educating the public on what's going on today over Bush's illegal
wiretapping much more difficult. Once mis-information is out there it is almost
impossible to debunk.
Every day across this country Rove's “precinct captains”
are at work. By precinct captains I mean local radio hosts. Their job cannot
be underestimated. Air America is a wonderful new outlet for progressives, but
their audience is miniscule compared to Rush, Sean, Fox radio, Christian broadcast
and local radio programs. It will take a long time to get even. When trying
to make the case against illegal wiretapping local radio can make the difference.
Local radio works the roots.
Local radio is an audio hand shake.
Local radio is also the grass roots whispering campaign of the
Local radio is where real change occurs, because the host is a
member of the community. Nothing offers an opportunity for people to get to
know the political parties on a more personal basis, which is what wins hearts and minds.
That's why radio is working so well for Republicans, because it
seduces the listener into believing he or she actually knows the host. When
you know someone your trust level rises, as does the respect for the opinions
he or she is delivering. The extension of this local radio whispering campaign
is that if you know someone, you're more likely to work for him/her or the person
for whom they say to vote. The listener is also more likely to believe the host when he or she delivers the “truth” about something like Bush's illegal wiretapping.
Today, as this battle to save our privacy and define the illegal
wiretaps that have been going on for years accelerates, Rush, Sean and every local radio
host is talking to the American people, playing statements like Mrs. Burlingame's,
which only appeal to emotion, not the facts. The impression is lodged and the
battle is won because there is no opposing view being heard at the local level.
NPR doesn't do opposition party programs and Air America's outreach isn't wide
For years I've been trying to get back on radio. It's been all
uphill but I keep the fight going. Until we have more Democratic Party hosts
on local radio around the country, comments like Mrs. Burlingame's, which we appreciate
and respect, but which in no way offers the facts as they exist today, will be the appeal that's heard and accepted. The facts get lost
in this emotion, but it's the facts that are critically important.
The president's illegal NSA spying program is an overreach of
his office and Bush's unwillingness to use FISA is a breach of law. Mrs. Burlingame's
statements have nothing to do with that issue, but her emotional appeal will sway the people, especially when it's played over and over again on right-wing radio.
Democrats and Republicans want to listen in and wiretap our enemies, doing all we can to bring them down, but the
president of the United States is not above the law, and nothing Mrs. Burlingame says today can change that reality. Our president broke the law by going around
FISA. George W. Bush must be held accountable.
Note: The title of this post has been changed.