Sunday, May 26, 2013

Reclaiming Our Airwaves: Squawk Radio =/= Bona Fide News

Just over a year ago, I told the gentle reader that the Media Action Center had gathered enough evidence to show that squawk radio channels WTMJ-AM 620 and WISN-AM 1130  had violated the Zapple Doctrine, a federal law that requires radio stations to give both sides of a political race equal time for at least the last 60 days prior to an election.

In November, based on the station's violations of the law and refusal to correct their illegal behavior, the Media Action Center filed a legal challenge to the renewal of the license for WTMJ-AM.

After a lot of dinking around by the FCC, including claims of having not received the challenge and/or not being able to find it, things started to proceed.

WTMJ's attorneys responded that they did not violate the law, claiming that the likes of Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner are bona fide news sources, like Walker Cronkite and Douglas Edwards.  As "bona fide" news sources, the lawyers contended that they were immune to the Zapple Doctrine, so that they could cover fundraisers and late breaking events.

Sue Wilson, Director of the Media Action Center, responded to the lawyers' claims in a press release:
Media Action Center filed a petition late in 2012 with the FCC to deny the license because, during the Scott Walker recall campaign, WTMJ's Jeff Wagner and Charlie Sykes shows were proven to have given as much as a half a million dollars in free airtime to supporters of Republican Governor Scott Walker. The station specifically denied comparable time to supporters of his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

The FCC's quasi-equal opportunities rule (Zapple Doctrine) states that broadcasters must give supporters of both major party candidates comparable airtime. Only "bonafide news" programs are exempt so they can cover candidates' events in real time.

"Bonafide news programs are specifically not allowed to politic for candidates," says Media Action Center Director Sue Wilson. "Now is our one chance to make a stand for journalism. The FCC has a duty to the public to draw a clear line between news and opinion.

"If the FCC does not draw a clear line, radio talkers from Charlie Sykes to Rush Limbaugh will be equated with newsmen like Walter Cronkite, and listeners will lose any hope of ferreting out fact from fiction," Wilson added.
I would point out that anyone that thinks Charlie Sykes is a bona fide news source is themselves a bona fide crackpot.

Sykes is nothing more than a megatroll. Sykes has been caught libeling innocent people and then whining about being forced to act like an adult.  Sykes' libel was so egregious that he had almost lost his job.  WTMJ wanted to fire him, but ironically, Sykes went crying to the union which saved his worthless but and allowed him to keep his job.

Even more damning is Sykes' own admission to how bona fide his reporting is (emphasis mine):
When we asked Sykes for support for his claim -- a standard first stop in the items we do -- he quickly backed off.

"The only politically connect(ed) hack I know is going is Jim Doyle (and maybe some of the regents)," Sykes wrote in an e-mail that he also posted on his SykesWrites blog. "My ‘evidence’? Absolutely none."

Sykes went on to label his remark "an off-hand wisecrack" -- "You know, humor, hyperbole, joke."
So he makes up stories out of his arse, and then calls his libelous statements as humor and as a joke.  Yet somehow we are to believe that he is a bona fide news source.

The Media Action Center, working with MoveOn.Org has launched a petition drive for public support.  Their drive is called  "Tell the FCC: Talk Radio is NOT Bonafide News!"

Please sign their petition and get your friends and family to sign on so that we can start reclaiming our airwaves.