Bloggers have been wondering why ABC Radio Networks is continuing to use Fred Thompson as a "special program host and senior analyst” as well as running his daily podcast, "The Fred Thompson Report,” now that he’s quite obviously a candidate for president. The podcasts are pretty stupid; this week he takes on the death penalty, observing in that fake populist manner: “Smart kids have been telling us the death penalty doesn’t work. Common sense tells us that an executed murderer can’t kill anyone else.” I’m paraphrasing here, but news flash to Fred Thompson: incarcerated murderers can’t kill anyone else either, and an executed innocent man can’t be brought back to life. It’s always amazed me that the same people who think government shouldn’t be involved in things like Social Security and healthcare are perfectly fine with letting Uncle Sam decide who lives and dies. But I digress.
The thing that bugs me about the Fred Thompson Report is that it’s an obvious election ploy. The dang things only started on May 7! That’s eight weeks ago. Like he didn’t know he was running back then? Get real.
It’s sneaky. The podcasts are a forum for Thompson to attack Democrats--to actually campaign for president--that no one else is allowed to have. Imagine the pearl-clutching, the teeth-gnashing, if, say, John Edwards were given a daily podcast to discuss poverty in America, or Hillary Clinton were to discuss healthcare every day. IOKIYAR. When righties wonder what liberals mean when we say "the fairness doctrine," this is what we’re talking about.
Anyone else remembering National Review’s complaints about CNN’s “Clarkathon”, back when Gen. Wesley Clark served as a commentator for CNN before his run for the Democratic nomination? I don’t excuse Clark; candidates shouldn’t be serving as media analysts, even if their “official announcement” is months away. But the big difference is that Clark was covering the Iraq War; he didn’t have an open forum to express opinion about anything he wanted, which is what ABC News has given Thompson. To my knowledge, NRO hasn’t uttered a word about the Thompson podcasts. Again, IOKIYAR.
I’m remembering the conniption fits back in 2004 when liberal bloggers Markos Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong were hired by Howard Dean’s campaign. Right-wingers complained that a liberal Democratic candidate was paying bloggers to write good things about him, which was completely untrue. They worked for his campaign; Armstrong didn’t blog while he was on the Dean payroll, and Moulitsas posted a disclosure about his campaign affiliation on his blog DailyKos.
I don’t entirely blame Fred Thompson for this, I mean, you can’t fault a candidate (or soon-to-be-candidate) for taking advantage of every opportunity thrown his way. But what the hell is ABC News thinking? Did they think we wouldn’t notice?
Here’s something else few people have noticed. Mitt Romney’s company Bain Capital now partially owns Clear Channel, which controls hundreds of radio and TV stations around the country. I’m sure that will come in handy as the primaries approach.
The media is not supposed to have an opinion on political races, they are supposed to be impartial observers. But when a major media conglomerate like ABC gives one candidate an open forum to express opinion that is not available to everyone else, I have to wonder what’s up.
This creeping of the boundary lines is scary.