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Indybay Feature
NAB Hate Radio Olympics
by Paul H. Rosenberg (rad [at] gte.net)
Thursday Sep 21st, 2000 1:33 AM
It’s no accident that the Marconi Radio Award nominees include Don Imus, Howard Stern, and Rush Limbaugh, while past winners include Limbaugh, Stern, and Dr. Laura. Their styles of hate radio, carefully blended with plausible deniability, are anything but an abberation from the norm that America’s corporate broadcast media have sunk to.
The NAB's Hate Radio Olympics

At the Marconi Radio Awards on Saturday, September 23, awards will be given to such radio personalities as Don Imus, Howard Stern, and Rush Limbaugh (all are competing for the same award). Past Marconi Award winners include Limbaugh, Stern, and Dr. Laura. All these personalities share something in common--they represent the most influential and (except for Stern) the most sophisticated forms of hate radio going.

Of course, if anyone asks, they'll deny it. Denial is very much at the heart of this genre. It's called having your cake and eating it, too: you get to say anything you want about anybody you want, and then when people (with far less media access) attack you for what you've said, you switch roles and play the poor innocent victim. But the roster of nominees and past winners of the Marconi Award speaks for itself.

Before we examine them, an important reminder is in order: don't be taken in by the denials and defenses offered on their behalf. Examine the evidence for yourself and come to your own conclusions. The excuses and evasions offered on their behalf have a long history, but a single example from the last decade is enough to make the point.

In the mid-1990s, FAIR helped launch a campaign to Bob Grant, host of the biggest talkshow on the country's biggest radio station, New York's WABC. At a time when there was endless hand-wringing about Louis Farrakhan, who was rarely given any kind of media platform, FAIR challenged the double standard that let Bob Grant get by without a word of protest [ Spotlight Finally Shines On White Hate Radio ]:

  • "We observed that media commentators kept prodding black politicians to distance themselves from the Louis Farrakhans -- but did not ask white politicians to distance themselves from the Bob Grants."
Republican politicians from George Bush on down appeared on his show. New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman came on to Grant's show to thank him for "all that you did to help the campaign." Then two weeks later she returned to invite him to her inauguration. In short, he was a key Republican supported in the corporate media.

At the time, FAIR explained,

  • "Grant's favorite words for blacks include 'savages' and 'subhumanoids.' When black college students gathered at a New Jersey beach, Grant talked of 'the savage mind, the primitive, primordial mentality.... As far as that stretch of beach there at Belmar, it's being written off by, shall we say, civilized people.' "Referring to thousands of blacks who attended a celebrity basketball game involving rap stars, he spoke of 'subhumanoids, savages, who would feel more at home careening along the sands of the Kalahari...people who, for whatever reason, have not become civilized.' "The few blacks who call the show can expect to be insulted -- and perhaps derided as 'shoeshine boys." In hanging up on a black caller, Grant said: 'Get off my phone, you creep, we don't need the toilets cleaned right now.' When he hangs up on black women, he yells: 'I don't need the windows washed today.' "When an African-American caller pointed out that the KKK was more violent than the Nation of Islam, Grant hung up on the 'swine': 'On the evolutionary scale, you're about 25 generations behind me.'"
Backing up all this invective, FAIR noted,
  • "Grant espouses a 'scientific' form of racism known as eugenics and speaks of the bad 'genes' of black youths. He praises City College of New York professor Michael Levin, who asserts that blacks are hereditarily less intelligent than whites, and he regularly promotes the 'Bob Grant Mandatory Sterilization Plan' for women on welfare."
Grant was a powerful media figure, and it showed. It took nearly 8 months for news reports about Grant's on-air racism to appear in New York and national media. But that wasn't enough to make any difference. It did, however, change the atmosphere. Several months later, FAIR later reported in Extra! Update, June 1996, Disney/ABC fired him for his comments after Commerce Secretary Ron Brown's plane went down in Bosnia (4/3/96):
  • "My hunch is [Brown] is the one survivor. I just have that hunch. Maybe it's because at heart I'm a pessimist."
According to FAIR,
  • "Grant tried to portray this remark as a momentary lapse of taste. 'I never wished Ron Brown dead,' Grant told Newsday (4/19/96). 'The only people I've ever wished dead were Hitler, Stalin and Saddam Hussein.'"
Another New York station, WOR--which suspended Grant in the '70s for calling black heavyweight fighters "baboons."--promptly offered Grant a job. When he accepted, one of the station's other hosts, travel guide publisher Arthur Frommer, quit his show and issued this statement:
  • "The decision by WOR to fan the flames of racial conflict in New York, in order to earn additional millions in advertising revenue, is utterly irresponsible and abhorrent, and should be condemned by every New Yorker.... If the object of Bob Grant's vile filth had been Jews, or Italians, or Irish-Americans, it is inconceivable that WOR would have taken this step.... I can no more present my program on a WOR devoted to broadcasting what I regard as claims of a master race than I could have appeared with Joseph Goebbels on a radio station in Berlin devoted to the same end."
This kind of clear-sighted, no-nonsense principled stand is virtually unheard of in today's corporate media. It certainly won't be found in the NAB, as we turn to consider the record of its past and potential honorees.

Next Section: Laura Schlessinger

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