Monday, June 11, 2007

oil and talk radio

Is squeal on the take?
Now, there is no proof that Atlanta Based radio whiner Neil Boortz (Squeal) is accepting compensation from Exxon Mobil. And, even if he was, he is not a public official, and can accept bribes from anyone who wants him to make their point of view public. Of course he would deny this, but then, as his website says:
“ Don't believe anything you read on this web page, or, for that matter, anything you hear on The Neal Boortz Show, unless it is consistent with what you already know to be true, or unless you have taken the time to research the matter to prove its accuracy to your satisfaction. This is known as "doing your homework."

Also on the same homepage is this:
STOP THE WHINING ABOUT GAS PRICES! Don't you know how much the politicians are enjoying this?
And this:
Do you actually think that this gasoline price gouging bill is about you and what you pay for gas? Come on, you're not really that out of touch, are you? Political power. It's all about pandering to ignorant voters in order to keep political power.
This was a theme of his show recently, about how the oil companies spend lots of money to bring oil to you, that the prices are not really that bad adjusted for inflation, and how the oil prices are a lot better than if the government was selling it. While all of this may be true on some levels, an opposing side could be argued for all of it.
Does anyone know the word "sophistry"?
To be painfully fair, oil exploration, refining, and distribution is a risky enterprise, requiring vast amounts of capital. Much as we may hate to remember this, the oil companies are entitled to a REASONABLE return on their investment. Being a high profile business that markets a necessity, big oil is a handy target for rabble rousers with an axe to grind.
Getting back to the bribery theme, a certain pattern emerges. While there are no videotapes of cash filled envelopes changing hands, Squeal has certain themes on his show, which are consistent with what ExxonMobil would want for their investment. This includes
1. Defending the high price of gasoline.
2. Poo Pooing global warming, mocking those who are concerned about it, and overall arguing against it.
3- Support of the war in Babylon, and mocking those who say it is about oil.
4- Trashing environmentalists in Florida as retired folk with nothing better to do than stop oil drilling off the coast.
5- Trashing Citgo for being owned by the Venezuelan government. Now, I suppose a bit of research could see if this is true or not, but even if it is true, wouldn't it be to ExxonMobil's advantage to have this bit of information spread about a competitor?
To be fair, the Citgo-Bashing has gone low key recently. Ads from Citgo have appeared on his show. Maybe this is a coincidence.
And so on. While none of this is direct evidence of a quid pro quo, it is a lot of coincidences.
Not that anything is really wrong, or at least illegal about this. A radio announcer is not an elected official, does not directly manufacture public policy, is really nothing more than a pair of moving lips between the commercials (and there are lots and lots and lots of commercials on his show).
The landscape of American journalistic entertainment is littered with announcers who blur the line between editorial content and advertising, to the point that the line ceases to exist.
One of the talking points popular to the radio whiners is the Fairness Doctrine. An ancient bit of government regulation, the FD requires equal time to be given to all points of view on public broadcast stations. It has not been effect for a few years, but the whiners are doing a Chicken Little number about the prospect of its return.
Now, suppose the FD was interpreted to cover bribery from people who wanted their ideas peddled. You would have to accept tips from both sides of a controversy, in equal amounts. Since ExxonMobil has a lot more money than Al Gore, you can see where this would threaten Squeal.

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