August 26, 2004
Interviews show Bush tuned in to right-wing radio (Brian C. Mooney, August 26, 2004, Boston Globe)
On the White House website, www.whitehouse.gov, nearly all of the administration radio interviews featured since April are with conservative commentators, hosts at stations in battleground states, or both.
A White House spokesman, Ken Lisaius, flatly denied that political considerations are involved in making administration officials available to radio stations, or any other news media.
"We're not concerned with politics," he said. "It's the Bush-Cheney campaign that's focused on politics."
Moreover, the interviews on the website, which has audio links, are merely a sampler of those of good audio quality or on timely subjects of public interest, he said. In addition, interviews on less-than-conservative National Public Radio (the Globe found at least 10 in recent months in the transcript archives of NPR's website, www.npr.org,) cannot be posted.
"NPR doesn't allow us to use their audio," Lisaius said.
"We try to make members of this administration available in any number of media formats so that people around the country know what their government is doing because this administration has a very solid record of accomplishment," said Lisaius. Those media include radio stations "of all stripes in all parts of the country," he said.
But of 61 interviews featured on the White House website since April in which the interviewer and station or network is identified, 54 were conducted either by conservative commentators or by hosts in markets located in battleground states, a Globe analysis shows.
They include 27 interviews with stations in Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Missouri, Florida, New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, and Arkansas -- all among the 20 or so states being contested by both sides with paid advertising.
Another 27 were with conservative hosts; ABC Radio's Sean Hannity had seven interviews on the White House site, and Hennen had five.
Some of the interviewers are not only supportive of Bush but active in the campaign. For instance, Steve Gill of WTN in Nashville, with three interviews on the White House site, spoke at the opening of the Bush-Cheney headquarters in Clarksville, Tenn. Syndicated talk-show host Laura Ingraham served as MC at a Bush campaign rally in St. Paul last week. Another, Premiere Radio Networks talkmaster Glenn Beck, is selling "John Kerry's Waffle House" T-shirts for $14.95 on his website, capitalizing on the Bush campaign's "flip-flopper" assault on the Democrat.
Among other interviews on the White House site are three each by personalities of the Radio America network (self-described as "driven by a commitment to traditional American values, limited government and the free market") and the Salem Radio Network ("the largest network serving religious radio").
If, as the White House contends, the concentration of administration interviews in battleground state stations is mere coincidence, the daily flurry of radio appearances by Bush campaign officials in those same states is not.
"It's part of our effort to do what we call `flood the zone,' " said Bush campaign spokesman Kevin A. Madden. "When you have a campaign designed around `echo politics,' we try to get our message out there every which way possible."
These guys are good. Posted by Orrin Judd at August 26, 2004 8:52 AM