In recent days, rumors have circulated throughout the media that the liberal radio network Air America is suffering from a severe financial crisis and could be teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Where there are rumors, there tend to be bloggers. And, sure enough, amidst all the speculation, bloggers took the opportunity to air out their feelings about Air America.
Think Progress, one of the original sources behind the speculation, laments Air America’s supposedly imminent downfall, but also finds reasons to celebrate.
“The right wing is sure to seize on Air America’s financial woes as a sign that progressive talk radio is unpopular,” writes Think Progress. “In fact, Air America succeeded at creating something that didn’t exist: the progressive talk radio format. That format is now established and strong and will continue with or without Air America. Indeed, many of the country’s most successful and widely-syndicated progressive talk hosts — Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller, for instance — aren’t even associated with Air America.”
Some liberal bloggers seemed ready to jump to the rescue.
“The network needs our support,” Blue Spot writes. “Nothing would make Bill O’Reilly or Rush happier than to see the network fail. If you don’t like something in particular, write to them. Give them feedback. If AAR fails, the right wing will surely use this as an example. We can’t let them do this.”
Others were more fatalistic.
“I’m not terribly surprised that Air America is having financial problems.” remarks Ron Chusid at Dem Bloggers. “Liberals don’t have the people with deep pockets willing to subsidize them as conservatives do. Liberals are also much less likely to listen to one-sided talk radio, while conservatives appear to thrive on having their thoughts fed to them.”
According to an article in today’s New York Sun, however, a financial scandal in 2005 and ensuing probe reveal far greater issues at Air America than a general lack of popularity.
“While he was helping launch the radio network, a former director of Air America, Evan Montvel Cohen, simultaneously served as development director for the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club,” reported the Sun. “Mr. Cohen told the Sun that he arranged the transfer of $875,000 from the club to help the start-up radio network. He could end up facing criminal charges for arranging the transfer.”
Elsewhere, conservative bloggers, fully armed with news of scandal and mismanagement, came down hard on the network.
Anniemayhem opines, “With the over-inflated salaries of Al Franken and Randi Rhodes, several internal scandals (Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club for example), various high-level executives leaving, big layoffs earlier this week and the fact that Air America could no longer afford to pay the Associated Press for wire service coverage it’s no surprise that Air America is financially bankrupt. After all they’ve been morally bankrupt from day one.”
Adds RedState: “I seem to dimly remember commenting somewhere or other that Air America’s bankroll would be better spent somewhere else than on what was essentially a cargo-cult scenario, but did they listen? No, they did not — but they put quite a bit of money into circulation trying, and, you know, in an election year, every little bit helps. So I suppose that they did help with the election … just on my side. That’s something, yes?”
Despite the excitement, many bloggers remained skeptical of the rumors. Longtime Air America watchdog Brian Maloney of the Radio Equalizer, for one, suggests that the spreading gossip and ensuing panic may contain more than meets the eye.