Wednesday, August 10, 2005

What Liberal Media Bias?

The New York Times has mentioned Air America Radio in articles 59 times in the last 17 months. To be fair, not all articles profiled or did fawning reviews of AAR. However, some articles have covered the radio station favorably, and given that AAR is in the NYT's back yard, you would think that a growing scandal involving $875,000 of city funds intended for children and Alzheimer's patients that ended up being used to fund AAR would be worth mentioning in the Times.
You would think wrong.

What other possible explaination could there be than bias?

Here is what the scandal involves:
1. The New York City Department of Investigations looking into Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club where program officials allegedly "approved significant inappropriate transactions and falsified documents that were submitted to various city agencies

2. The city's Department of Investigation announced the suspension of city grants and contracts with Gloria Wise, worth millions of dollars because of these allegations.

3. City Contract Funds from Gloria Wise were invested into Air America Radio

4. Piquant Media which owns and operates AAR issued its first statement on the matter inisisting "On MAY 24, 2004 the newly formed PIQUANT LLC acquired the principal assets of AIR AMERICA RADIO from the prior ownership entities. PIQUANT has owned and operated AIR AMERICA RADIO since that time. The company that had run AIR AMERICA RADIO till then no longer had anything to do with the network."
--Which is technically accurate, but leaves out that the same President & CEO is in place, so are the main investors.

5. Piquant then issued another statment soon after which said: "The current owners of Air America Radio have no obligation to Progress Media's business activities"
-Which again, is misleading as some of the same people are running Piquant as had been on board with the former parent, Progress Media.

6. While making these pronouncements, Piquant also said they agreed to repay the funds "months ago" which is certainly conflicting.

7. Al Franken, the big name talent of AAR, spoke out publicly on this saying "payments to Gloria Wise were scheduled to begin this month but were prevented from going through while the city investigation continued" which turned out to be a bald face lie ("DOI has done nothing and given no instruction preventing payment of money owed to Gloria Wise [Boys & Girls Club]. Any statements to the contrary are inaccurate," said DOI spokesman Keith Schwam.")

8. In another conflicting statement, Franken said in the same interview, "Piquant LLC, current owner and operator of the radio network, found a record of the transfers while conducting a "forensic" investigation into the finances of the previous owner, Progress Media."
to which the DOI responded "if Air America discovered the transfers before the city probe began, "They neglected to tell anyone at DOI or in the city about it."

9. On August 5th, 2005 The first payment of $50,000 from Piquant to Gloria Wise was deposited into an escrow account controlled by Air America's lawyer. That unsettled city investigators, who had recommended that the entire $875,000 be placed into an escrow account that no one could touch without their approval. Its also worth noting here that AAR had said they couldn't pay-back the "loan" earlier because they were waiting instruction from DOI, which they then ignored!

10. New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has stepped in, "We are looking into it in consultation with the city's Department of Investigation," Spitzer spokesman Darren Dopp revealed.

----
To sum up, we have:
  • A charity for children and the elderly has been shut down
  • Funds from that charity went to Air America
  • The owners of Air America have put out conflicting statements, and took actions going againstthe instructions from the Dept. of Investigations
  • The State Attorney General is investigating.

Now given all of this, a single article can't appear in the New York Times?
What is stopping them?
I know what I believe to be true...