Clear Channel Refuses VoteVets Ad

Radio giant Clear Channel Communications is refusing to air an ad by VoteVets, a veterans group protesting Rush Limbaugh’s recent assertion that vets who oppose the war in Iraq are “phony soldiers.”

VoteVets received a letter explaining that the ad would not run because:

“Airing anti-Rush Limbaugh ads during the Rush Limbaugh Show on WJNO would only conflict with the listeners that have chosen to listen to Rush Limbaugh.”

Once again, Clear Channel has taken it upon itself to stifle public debate and restrict the free flow of information. In refusing to air this ad, they are stepping on the free speech rights of the veteran activists at VoteVets. Clear Channel’s offer to air the ad at other times or on other stations denies VoteVets the opportunity to counter Limbaugh’s rantings in context. They fail to recognize the importance of directing the response to the audience that was subjected to Limbaugh’s insulting diatribes in the first place. And Clear Channel also makes the mistake of assuming that there aren’t any listeners who disagree with Limbaugh.

Clear Channel’s justification of their censorship on the grounds that it would create conflict is beyond absurd. This is the Rush Limbaugh Show we’re talking about. Conflict is part and parcel of the program’s mission. If Clear Channel is concerned about conflict, why do they let Limbaugh air audio of Democrats for the explicit purpose of denigrating them and thus, creating conflict? Why do they allow Limbaugh to take phone calls that have the potential to produce further conflict? Why do they let Limbaugh express any opinion at all at the risk of creating conflict wiht the many listeners who do not share his views?

To its credit, WJNO has a fairly balance schedule. Their weekday roster presents Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Randi Rhodes, Ed Schultz, and Sean Hannity. The problem is that Rhodes and Schultz are likely to address the VoteVets matter on their own. It’s the Limbaugh audience that most needs exposure to contrary arguments. I would have no objection to the GOP front group, Vets For Freedom, running ads on Schultz’s show. But I assume that Clear Channel would also think that that’s a bad idea too. What are they afraid of?

VoteVets is an advocacy group that supports soldiers and veterans. Unlike Rush Limbaugh, they fought for the rights enumerated in the Constitution, including free speech. But that right is being denied to them today.

You can call Clear Channel in Palm Beach at 561-616-6600 and tell them to air the VoteVets ad. Tell them that our veterans deserve the right to heard. Tell them that, as a listener, you don’t necessarily agree with everything (or anything) Limbaugh says. Tell them that you’re capable of enduring whatever conflict such an ad subjects you to. But what you are not capable of enduring is a giant media corporation infringing on the rights of citizens.

UPDATE: On his show today, Rush suggested that VoteVets run their ad on his program. Either he’s not talking to his ad sales people, or they’re not listening to his show.