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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Ed Shultz radio show pulled from AFR before Starting

Ed Schultz has a radio show heard across the country, and, for a short time, was slated to be heard on Armed Forces Radio (AFR) as well. Ed had received a signed letter from AFR confirming that his show would be heard on AFR, which, until now, has only had Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson's Focus On The Family radio offering general commentary. That was on 9/29/05.

All seemed to be going well, with the Ed Schultz Show scheduled to start on Oct 17.

That is, however, until someone at the Pentagon noticed that Ed was actually awake and breathing, and able to notice that when the Bush White House tried to build a "Potemkin village" using the U.S. troops in Iraq when Bush recently made a "conference video call" to what was (according to the White House press secretary) an unscripted and unrehearsed dialog between Bush and the soldiers.

Unfortunately for the White House, when specifically asked, they claimed that there would be no scripting, and no pre-vetting of questions. Because of *that* response, it was all the more embarrassing when there was a live cable feed, before Bush started his part of the call, when Pentagon staff went over exactly what the procedure would be, and what kind of questions Bush was going to ask, and who should yield the mike to whom. Including an admonition, at one point, on just what to do if the call got "off the script."

Ed actually had the temerity to make the call that this was contrary to the earlier stated pronouncements by the White House, and mentioned it on his show. And it showed even more gall to actually play a clip of Allison Barber doing the coaching.

Yesterday morning (Monday, 10/17/05) Ed was informed that he would not actually be airing his show on AFR that day after all.

He got a 7:00 AM call from one Allison Barber, the Pentagon's deputy assistant secretary for internal communications, telling him that his show would not be carried that day.

Think Progress reports the following scenario as to why Shultz's show would not be carried:

"Barber told Holm [of the Schultz Show staff] that the Ed Schultz show would not start on AFR today because her boss, Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita, was out of the country and couldn’t approve it. Barber also said she was going out of the country soon for a week-and-a-half. Holm asked Barber if the show would begin when DiRita and Barber returned. Barber said she couldn't guarantee that. "

If the name Allison Barber sounds familiar, it may be because she was the Pentagon employee who was, you guessed it - coaching the troops before Shrub's conference call.

Now, it *could* be coincidence that the two events -- Schultz's comments on his show about the "unscripted conference call" and the de-scheduling of the show, happened so closely in time

Of course, it's a coincidence. (Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. You know what I mean? You know what I mean?)

I really don't know why the White House and the Pentagon have got themselves in a quiver about this. Their practice is commonly to hedge their bets by this kind of event:
- from stage managing parade routes (to put "free speech zones" outside of the sight of anybody actually *on* the parade route);
- to "town hall meetings" with selected rosters of "average citizens" on the podium (and requiring party "loyalty oaths" to get tickets);
- to staffers who will eject or have arrested people with "off-message" t-shirts or signs from "public events";
- to posting a "Mission Accomplished" banner on an aircraft carrier.

If the Administration were to admit the flubs and mistakes the public would not be having more and more doubts about their veracity in *anything* these critters say

You can read the early story on The Moderate Voice site here.

The story has since gotten legs with UPI and the Washington Post. The Pentagon story now (from spokesman Bryan Whitman ) is that no decision had actually been reached, and the letter that Shultz has is just the result of some staffer "getting ahead of the process."

Now, I've done some contracting work for the DoD, and I can safely say that the reliance on the proper initialed entries on the chop-chain before doing *anything* is Pavlovian.

The Moderate Voice website also has an interview with Schultz that was slated to run coincidentally with the start of the Ed Schultz Show being carried on AFR. In the interview Schultz offered an observation about the tension that is sometimes seen between the military and those on the "left:"

"Schultz: My wife Wendy and I went down to Gulfport, Mississippi a few days after the hurricane (Katrina) hit. And we had an opportunity to go out on some supply missions with a Black Hawk helicopter. We were flying with guys out of the Florida National Guard. They had just gotten back from Iraq.

Wendy and I were down there producing a radio show on Labor Day. We got to Talk to the military guys. The liberals do not have a good relationship with military people. It’s all a lot of what they’ve been told and what they’ve heard. I really view this as a real important step forward for our show to have an opportunity to tell the troops and those listening to Armed Forces Radio about how we fight for veterans' benefits and how we care about injured soldiers, proper armor, complete equipment and proper funding. All of those things, they never heard on conservative talk radio. All that has been on Armed Forces is ONE side of the story. It’s no wonder the Democrats have an image problem with the military."


Maybe if we can get the Ed Schultz Show on AFR this perception can change.

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