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My new talk show.

I have just returned from the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts' annual convention, and guess what? I'm getting my own talk show. For real. Here's how it happened.

When Congress passed the Telecom Act of 1996, it deregulated the broadcasting industry. Now one "entity" can own hundreds of radio stations around the country. The argument was that this "freeing up" of the industry would promote diversity on the air.

Well, as the dust is settling, about four huge conglomerates like Jacor and Westinghouse/CBS/Infinity control most of America's radio stations. And sure enough, these conglomerates love diversity. The executives at Jacor looked around and said. "We have too many conservative white men on the air." I said, "Well, what you need is a left-of-center feminist who thinks that media-merger mania is making the coverage of news and current affairs even more shallow and reactionary than it already was." And they said, "What a terrific idea. I'm sure we can get General Electric to sponsor."

We're calling the show Dr. Susan -- Media Babe. I'll be on about 400 stations any day now. There's only one hitch. The sponsors insisted that I can't be too hard on the big boys.

Here's the transcript from the first show.

Rita from Seattle: Hey, Media Babe, don't you think all the bashing of that tabloid rag The Globe for entrapping Frank Gifford into a tryst with a stewardess was a little hypocritical, given that the news magazines themselves are becoming more like the tabloids every day?

Media Babe: Of course not. On Larry King Live, Walter Isaacson from Time insisted there was absolutely no possible comparison between his magazine and those rags because Time would never pay anyone for an interview, and it would never pay a woman $75,000 to have sex with an aging sports announcer -- Time is above pandering to the audience. Time does serious news.

Rita: But Media Babe. there's a disastrous famine in North Korea and a proposed budget deal going through Congress that would engorge the wallets of rich people, slash corporate taxes. and screw everybody else -- and the news magazines could care less. Newsweek has those Kennedy boys who can't keep their flies zipped up on its cover, and the same week Time had an imaginary picture of a space alien on its cover and did ten pages -- count 'em, ten--on "The Roswell Files." I mean, if I want extraterrestrials and celebrity scandals, I can go to the Enquirer, right?

Media Babe: Aw, lighten up Rita. Here's Jim from Abilene.

Jim: Hey, did you see that the liberal media is at it again? ABC News actually gave air time to that commie pinko Paul Wellstone just because he decided to go to Mississippi -- just like that brie-eater Bobby Kennedy did thirty years ago -- to get the American people to think that there were poor people there.

Media Babe: Yeah, I saw that, Jim, but at least ABC set the record straight. Wellstone thought that if some cameras followed him around as he toured one of the poorest states in the union, he could make a case that the federal government still has an obligation to provide assistance to the poor. But ABC exposed him for the misguided, bleeding-heart liberal that he is. "Wellstone did not help his case," smirked ABC, "by coming to a state in which private enterprise" -- and here, Jim, they meant all those terrific gambling casinos now going up -- "is doing a better job than the government to lift people out of poverty." The Richmond Times Dispatch called Wellstone "pitiable" and emphasized that "more than 90 percent of officially `poor' families own color televisions." Wellstone's trip won't amount to anything anyway, Jim, 'cause as The National Journal points out, Wellstone isn't a celebrity like Bobby Kennedy. Now let's go to Kathy in New York.

Kathy: That's Katha, you pathetic apologist. Why aren't you talking about the Supreme Court's decision upholding a recent Montana law prohibiting physician assistants from performing abortions, even in the presence of a physician, and the fact that the national edition of America's newspaper of record, The New York Times, did not cover this decision at all?

Media Babe: Well, Katha, everyone knows that the revival of interleague baseball -- which did get front-page coverage -- and the fact that Trent Lott called the President a "spoiled brat" are much more important than that feminist stuff about women being able to control their own bodies. Get a life.

Delia in Detroit: Why did CBS News give only fifteen seconds of coverage to the huge pro-labor demonstration in Detroit in the aftermath of a federal judge's ruling that Detroit's newspapers engaged in unfair labor practices, but then devoted about four minutes to an up-and-coming fashion designer and his dog?

Media Babe: Because any media consultant will tell you that viewers care a lot more about designer clothes than they do about decent working conditions and higher salaries. Jeez, who's screening these calls, Bernie Sanders?

Richard in Buffalo: Dr. Susan, don't you think that GE should pull the plug on The McLaughlin Group now that it's a total parody of itself? The screeching-to-commentary ratio is about four-to-one, plus they don't talk about anything except for symbolic politics, and McLaughlin is a conservative lunatic.

Media Babe: Now hold on, Richard. Just because John McLaughlin calls giving tax breaks to lower-income people "welfare" does not make him conservative. And if you spend half the show yelling about the proposal that the government apologize for slavery, then you don't have to bore people with all that irrelevant stuff about the budget. Hello, caller, you're on the air.

Rita: It's me again, Rita from Seattle. Back to the news magazines. Newsweek gave us two pages on the JonBenet case, nine pages on the Kennedys -- including a family tree, for Christ sakes -- but only one page on Bill Archer's efforts to reduce capital-gains taxes and basically eliminate the corporate alternative-minimum tax. Do you know that before that tax was on the books, in the early 1980s, your sponsor, GE, paid nothing, zero, nada to the IRS and ....

Media Babe: We don't need that kind of class warfare talk. now do we, listeners? Next.

John from New York: Hey, Dr. Susan. This is John Welch from GE. Great job, great job.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Pundit Watch; humor - liberal media critiques
Author:Douglas, Susan
Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Column
Date:Aug 1, 1997
Previous Article:Dishwasher.
Next Article:Fallen senator takes on 'death tax.'(Bob Packwood lobbies against estate taxes)(Cover Story)(Interview)

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