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Seattle Court Decision Geared To Silence Talk Radio

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posted on Jul, 6 2005 @ 08:26 PM
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I just heard this on the radio, and it's really screwed up.

In Seattle, there is a battle going on to raise the gas taxes by $.095. Believe it or not, conservative talk radio is against the tax increase, and has said so over the radio. No surprise there. However, in a court case just finished, a district court judge stated that any comments made by talk radio hosts constituted financing the campaign being waged against the tax increase, and had to be quantified by the radio station.

Do you have any idea what this means? This decision, using campaign finance reform, just began a precident (hopefully it's not going to last) that, any opinions voiced on talk radio, where a group or individual which is under the campaign finance reform laws has the same opinion, are counted against that group or individual's campaign funds. That means that opinions voiced on NPR, which doesn't have advertising, are free, while anything coming out of Rush Limbaugh's mouth costs groups agreeing with him a ton of money. This is an attempt to curb free speach through taxation of sorts. What is happening to our first ammendment?




posted on Jul, 6 2005 @ 08:34 PM
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This makes perfect sense. Why should sponsored advertising be allowed to masquerade as news or opinion? All the court is doing is calling a spade a spade. How can you guarantee someone is expressing honest opinion and not what they're being paid to advertise on the radio unless it's completely listener sponsored?

Also, NPR isn't completely listener sponsored, although it's not 100% commercial either. I doubt they'd escape the ruling if they were the offenders in this case. The only true listener-sponsored station I know of is WBAI in my area (New York). If the DJ wants to express his opinion, let him call up his local listener-sponsored station and do it there, instead of using his bought-and-paid-for-by-big-vested-interests media outlet to do it.

-koji K.



posted on Jul, 6 2005 @ 08:48 PM
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So because you don't know if someone really believes something, no one can say anything?

Make no mistake, this is censorship of ideas. If this goes to the Supreme Court, and they rule in favor of it, it will be the end of all opinion shows. This is an assault on conservative talk radio, where these shows are most prevelant. It may sound good now, if you can't win people through the facts, simply silence the people who are winning people over to their side, but see past the politics and look at our First Ammendment.

This may also eventually include editorials and opinion columns in news papers. No one will be able to express how they feel about something without it hurting their side financially, so everyone will just have to take it. You speak out publically against Bush? The DNC just took a knock to it's coffers. So you stay silent about Bush, and hope that the DNC does a good job of getting him out of office, but they can't do anything about it. Could blogs, and even ATS, be included, too? What does advertising here cost? Could every post any one of us make where we support a platform be used against that platform's available finances?

Beyond that, the wording was left totally open. Specific statements were not made, so it's up to the individual judge to decide if that opinion is alligned with the opinion of the group or individual under the Campaign Finance Reform bill. This is dangerous ground we've broken through, yet again, another judge reinventing the constitution.



posted on Jul, 6 2005 @ 11:17 PM
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The only surprises for me are that it took so long to get to this point and that it happened in Seattle first and not San Francisco.



posted on Jul, 6 2005 @ 11:40 PM
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I live in Seattle, and I am against the gas tax hike.


The station did more than just talk about being against the gas hike. They are the biggest force against the tax hike. They are out there providing petitions to gas stations and private citizens so they approve an initiative to stop the gas hike.

I am with them on this, however I also agree that they are running a political campaign, raising money and providing petitions.

This won't apply to stations that support a candidate. It will apply to stations that actively campaign and raise money for a candidate, and rightly so.

I have also heard John Carlson whining about the "unfairness" of this court decision.

If you want to run a PAC from your radio station, then you have to follow the rules.

This is not the witch-hunt you make it out to be.



posted on Jul, 6 2005 @ 11:45 PM
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KVI had issued a news release May 9 bragging about the success of Wilbur and Carlson in helping to "promote the launch of a new gas-tax initiative."

And Kirby told the Spokane Spokesman-Review newspaper a day later that "our legal team is writing the initiative."

Wickham gave few details explaining his decision. But he indicated his ruling applied to the airtime when the hosts were soliciting money and promoting the campaign -- and not their on-air interviews and discussions of issues.

Source: The Olympian, 7/6/2005



It seems pretty clear that these announcers were going beyond mere endorsement. They had a "legal team" behind their self-described initiative.

As the article points out, the decision gives rise to concerns because of its ambiguity, but as is usual in the law, future decisions will clarify the ambiguity which seems so troubling at the moment. For the moment, in the present case, however, I think the court made the right decision. Like I said above, they are calling things like they are. It makes no sense in this day and age to presume that anything a radio station (or other media outlet) decides to do falls under the shield of "free speech." This is political campaigning, pure and simple.

Ordinarily I would be the first person to get up on my soapbox about this, but I actually believe it's a good sign of the times. The courts are recognizing finally that the majority of media outlets in America resemble more closely political entities with agendas than true "soapboxes" (pardon my use of the metaphor again). I'll say it again, if these announcers want to use the corporate might they have at their disposal to sway the publics political opinion, let them do it through the proper, legal way. The court isn't gagging them, it's simply applying the law where it should be applied.

-koji K.



posted on Jul, 7 2005 @ 12:02 AM
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It is one thing to state your opinion or open a discussion of it on the radio. but having hosts solictite money and promoting a campaign about a political issue that is differant.

I love talk radio (especailly NPR and Air America Radio) but that is a little too far and I think the court made the right choice.

That is all we need in the 2006, and 2008 election is to have clear channel campaiging for GOP canidates



posted on Jul, 7 2005 @ 06:50 AM
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If the day ever comes, I pledge to be on the front lines with you guys if any court decision or legislation is ever put forward to take away the rights of all Americans because it hurts or silences the DNC. The patriot act, sedition act, this, none of it wis worth compromising what America is to silence an opposing viewpoint. My country and my fellow Americans come before politics in my mind. I'm sorry to see that's not the general case.

[edit on 7-7-2005 by junglejake]



posted on Jul, 7 2005 @ 10:10 AM
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Originally posted by junglejake
If the day ever comes, I pledge to be on the front lines with you guys if any court decision or legislation is ever put forward to take away the rights of all Americans because it hurts or silences the DNC. The patriot act, sedition act, this, none of it wis worth compromising what America is to silence an opposing viewpoint. My country and my fellow Americans come before politics in my mind. I'm sorry to see that's not the general case.


If it's any consolation, JJ, I agree with you 100%.

The popular illusion that talk radio opinions are totally dictated by Corporations is just plain incorrect.

Most radio stations get their money from advertisers, plain and simple. Those advertisers rarely care about the politics involved, they want ratings. If a show has #1 Arbitron ratings across the board in an area, advertisers will savage each other to be on that show, regardless of whether or not the opinions expressed in that show conflict with their own. Why? Because Politics are never as important as profit, where a business is concerned.

Now sometimes station owners will require certain views not be expressed among their regular programming, but you can rest assured that Howard Stern never has to worry about their political views being censored by their station managers. Why? Because with power-players like Stern, if the station loses them, their rating falls by no less than 6 places. Not points, places. The station that gains Stern inevitably becomes the #1 station in that market.

If you're a diehard conservative, but your job is to ensure that your company's name is heard by the greatest number of people in radio, are you really going to balk at advertising on Stern? Hell no!

And the story goes the same for any leaders in ratings. Now, views may be influenced by the owners of that station, but typically in radio, that's either going to be ClearChannel or Infinity, both of which are purely interested in profit, which in radio exists in appealing to the broadest possible audience.

Thus, while no doubt a slight bias exists, it is unfair to say that any and all talk radio is a puppet of the corporation. Additionally, it is one of the few remaining widespread free public forums where an actual live human voice may be heard.

So be it Extreme Left, Extreme Right, or somewhere in the middle, I say let the talk shows speak their mind, and damned be the consequences. And if the courts try to put another chokehold on Freedom of Speech, I say we give them something to choke on.



posted on Jul, 7 2005 @ 10:21 PM
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I don't think that you understand the issues involved here.

This isn't because the radio station involved supported an initiative.

They took it beyond free speech and actively campaigned for it. They raised money, distributed petitions, and had their legal team help out with the campaign.

That is above and beyond just speaking your mind about something.

Other talk shows support this initiative, they are not included in this. John Carlson, and Wilbur are part of the initiative campaign so they should have to follow the campaign contribution rules like anyone else.

I live in the Seattle area, I have signed the petition, I have also heard the radio shows in question, and I agree with the court decision.

This is about campaign finance, but the shows in question are spinning this as a free speech issue, when if you actually understood the whole story is completely irrelevant.

Like I said other stations and shows supported the initiative and told people to sign it. Only those two shows actively participated in the initiative campaign. They raised money and distributed petitions. They have to follow campaign finance rules like any others, they are not exempt because they have radio shows.



posted on Jul, 7 2005 @ 10:25 PM
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Outstanding piece of information! Was in State or Federal Court making that decision?

Dallas



posted on Jul, 7 2005 @ 10:39 PM
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It was a County court. Thurston County.

To give those of you who don't live in Washington state some perspective on this issue here are a number of links pro and con.

source

source

www.horsesass.org...

www.nonewgastax.com...

www.keepwashingtonrolling.org...

source

blatherwatch.blogs.com...


From the last link.


We're not lawyers, but can this heavy stumping for the No Road Repairs Initiative heard daily on KVI's morning and evening drive time talk shows by Kirby Wilbur (m-f, 5-9a) and John Carlson (m-f, 3-6p) be legal?



These guys, both long time GOP operatives, are not only drumming their message--that this is about gas taxes--into the heads of 1000's day in and day out, but they're organizing and brainstorming petition distribution; making signature-gathering plans and strategies with the campaign workers and volunteers among their listeners.

This is grossly unfair. The opposition couldn't buy this valuable airtime--no activist group could afford even a fraction of the continuous daily political infomercials afforded the Just Say No To Roads campaign by these talk shows.

These are public airwaves, they do not belong to this Republican cabal bent on vetoing a roads repair package passed painfully by a Legislature who, for once, did something both important and brave.


ed to shorten links


[edit on 8-7-2005 by DontTreadOnMe]



posted on Jul, 7 2005 @ 10:46 PM
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Dallas: it was a state court, I believe, but I'm not 100%.


They raised money, distributed petitions, and had their legal team help out with the campaign.


And all of that has a price tag that should be applied to the campaign finances. What I have trouble with is the fact that the judge said the radio station had to give a monetary value to any comments made over the air.

I have, here at ATS, had some issues near and dear to my heart that I have given my all for. There have been times when I've tried to start writing campaigns (when I first found out about the draft bill, well before it became publicized by the media), petitions, and activly sharde my opinions on these things, all here at ATS. I have also given my money to support opponents to things that I have campaigned on ATS for. From what I understood, as a US citizen, I was permitted to do that. The money the recieve is under campaign finance, and if I proveided them any services, those would have to have a monitary value. But do they have to pay for my comments and attempts at petitionsn and write ins here at ATS? If they did, I would have to get budget information from them, find out how much my comments would cost if I were to be advertising here on ATS, and determine if the sway my words create here would outwiegh the blow to the people promoting that which I so support's coffers. I couldn't do two of thsoe things, so it would be a major gamble. I would just have to stay silent for the sake of the cause I'm supporting.

This ruling strips American citizens from participating in American politics. I would be fearful of posting anything on here about an issue, in case I eventually donated to the cause. Then, suddenly, my words hold monetary value, too. Believe it or not, radio talk show hosts are Americans, just like you(?) and me. They just happen to have a talent for talking on the radio in a manner people find entertaining and informitive and where they wish to turn in again. We silence these Americans, we start on the slippery slope of who is allowed to say what, when. That line of questioning ends the First Ammendment effectivly. That's what I find so disturbing about this ruling.



posted on Jul, 8 2005 @ 10:01 AM
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My bet: SCOTUS will slam this for what it is, a clear & unambiguous violation of the First Amendment. The judge behind this ruling ought to be kicked off the bench, disbarred, and probably tarred and feathered.

Once we allow the .gov to start regulating political speech, democracy as we know it is stone cold dead.

To those supporting this: would you similarly support the .gov trying to stop a given media outlet from campaigning against the Patriot Act? The Iraq War?

Say a talk show host vocally opposed Bush and supported Kerry: should he/she be forced to shut up because expressing his/her opinion on the radio is a "campaign contribution?"

Free speech is for everybody, not just the people you agree with.

[edit on 7/8/05 by xmotex]



posted on Jul, 8 2005 @ 01:44 PM
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Originally posted by junglejake

This ruling strips American citizens from participating in American politics. I would be fearful of posting anything on here about an issue, in case I eventually donated to the cause. Then, suddenly, my words hold monetary value, too. Believe it or not, radio talk show hosts are Americans, just like you(?) and me. They just happen to have a talent for talking on the radio in a manner people find entertaining and informitive and where they wish to turn in again. We silence these Americans, we start on the slippery slope of who is allowed to say what, when. That line of questioning ends the First Ammendment effectivly. That's what I find so disturbing about this ruling.


The thing is, this ruling was not brought solely against American citizens, if at all. It was brought against the political campaign group "No New Gas Tax." No New Gas Tax, with its team of lawyers, not only advertised on a radio station where it's founding members worked, but did so without disclosing the fact *or* monetary contributions they recieved.

The difference between the situation you pose and the situation that happened in Seattle is that you, or anyone else who promotes a cause on ATS, isn't recieving money for their efforts. If you were a representantive of a political campaign/action group, and thus the one actually receiving the money, then things would be different. The DJ in this case WAS the political action group, he set it up. He cannot argue, as you could, that his in-kind contributions were unsolicited, because *he* made them himself, and very purposefully so. Not only would I call this a campaign finance issue, but also one of "piercing the corporate veil". He can't use his position in one company to finance, in kind, a political action group he set up, without reporting it.

Of course, no one is arguing (I think) that the DJ didn't have the right to do what he did, it's purely a matter of obeying the appropriate campaign finance laws in doing so.

Here's the slip ruling for anyone interested (not sure for how long it will be on the site, it should be the third one down in the list):

Recent Opinions, Thurston Country Superior Court

-koji K.

[edit on 8-7-2005 by koji_K]



posted on Jul, 8 2005 @ 02:01 PM
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You raise a good point, Koji. I suppose what will be interesting to see is if Hannity's remarks, which also air on the station this DJ is on, will be counted against their finances. Hannity made comments about the gas tax and the ruling after the fact, but the ruling is in the process of an appeal, I believe.

I will conciede that using his DJ platform to further his political group which is under campaign finance law could fall under that, too. If others, though, do to because they were on the same station and talked with the guy, I'll start smelling conspiracy. Again.



posted on Jul, 8 2005 @ 07:16 PM
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EDITED: Got warned for excessive quoting


I certainly agree with you about other people talking on the station. That, of course, should definately be considered free speech. To be fair, since my first post, I've thought a lot about this issue, and it does seem to be at the "cutting edge" of the law, in a grey area that needs more clarification. I think the court ruled correctly in this instance, but I can see how future courts might misinterpret this decision to penalize genuine expressions of free speech. I hope you're right about the appeal, because however the appeals court rules, usually they provide a much more detailed analysis of their reasoning in their opinions, which I'd like to see.

-koji K.

[edit on 8-7-2005 by koji_K]



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