Radio silence? Suit against conservative talk show hosts

Los Angeles: “David Birke and his attorney Johnny Birke filed a complaint Aug. 27 against seven talk show hosts of KRLA-AM (870), Salem Communications Corporation and its owner Edward Atsinger III, alleging that they use the public airwaves to push Republican beliefs. David and Johnny Birke would not say whether they were related, citing attorney-client privilege. … Radio hosts Laura Ingraham, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Miller, Mike Gallagher and Kevin James are named as defendants in the suit.” The various defendants have defrauded the public and violated FCC obligations “by using their radio license to discuss only Republican issues, Johnny Birke said Monday.” (Veronica Rocha, “KRLA sued over content”, Glendale News-Press, Sept. 8). Radio Equalizer (Sept. 9) notes one presumed irony: “KRLA has in the past featured a show on the subject of lawsuit abuse.”


  • So what relief is Birke seeking, revocation of the FCC license? Money damages for having to listen to beliefs other than his own? Maybe his radio does not get Air America (though i think that is defunct now) or NPR.

  • My bad, Air America is still around.

  • Sadly, as I understand it, this actually has some small chance of success – the results would be disastrous for several reasons, one of which being the amazing lack of even enforcement taht would ensue.

  • This will be entertaining to watch unfold, if nothing else. I’ve not heard Limbaugh mention it – I’m an EIB daily listener, like right now, for instance. Given Limbaugh’s hyper-sensitivity to such matters and he as an indirect stakeholder, I’m inclined to think if it has any substance, he or Snerdly would have done a thorough analysis and it would have certainly been page one material on his show. But, aside from that, in my lay opinion, this little dog & pony show will get a little attention, and then fade away after the election. Then, a judge will (hopefully) intervene and shut it down (the suit).

  • I have seen this on a local level here in Savannah Ga. There was a local white conserative morning talk show host who was very critical of a liberal black county commissioner who happened to be an attorney. The commissioner sued & the station settled the case & booted the guy. Now there is a similar case in which a local white political activist used email to disparage another black county commissionwoman & she has also sued for defamation & slander…I think their take on the story is when liberals try to re-distribute your welth by whatever means they see fit…it’s cheaper to let them do it than fight it!

  • Would someone please sue MSNBC (and NBC in general) on behalf of all Americans?

  • Regarding MSNBC (and NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, etc), I refer you to the “uneven enforcement” I mentioned above…

  • I suppose this means I can start suing hip-hop and rock stations. I mean, I’ve never heard a single pro-Bush lyric…

  • I’m a progressive and I find this lawsuit incredibly depressing. The free market should decide what is on the airways. Period.

  • Perfect. Don’t like what you’re hearing on the radio? Sue the hosts. Turning the dial is just too much to ask.

  • Much of talk radio does promote only the Republican point of view, especially when it comes to George W Bush. There is hardly ever any sort of negative discussion of his disasterous domestic and foreign policis. I say bravo to these two gentlemen. There should be some sort of revival of a “Fairness Doctrine” to protect the public from a one-sided view.

  • So, Vito… because liberal talk radio cannot find a market, the state should take some of the conservatives’ market away from them and give it to the non-competitive liberal radio? Will that guarantee liberal radio an audience? Or will there be a suit saying that all citizens must divide their listening time equally among various radio stations?

    I think you’re earning far more money than you need or than is fair. Please send me my share.

    Or I’ll sue.

    Thank you.

  • What should happen as a result?
    1. Plaintiff charged with filing a frivolous lawsuit.
    2. Attorney disbarred for filing a lawsuit CLEARLY without merit. (can’t even argue for an extension of the law, there is no constitutional case and controversy – no harm)
    3. Case dismissed due to: A. Lack of standing (no harm), B. failure to exhaust administrative agency (FCC) forums prior to filing suit, and C. on summary Judgment on First Amendment Grounds (The public air waves are a public forum, this would CLEARLY be a content restriction, and hence the government must prove that taking them off the air is narrowly tailored to a compelling governmental interest – clearly it is not, change the station)

    The Judge should just throw the lawyer AND his client in jail for contempt. They are abusing the Judicial process to make a political statement. Their suit has no chance, and in fact their alleged claims are clearly false.

  • All of the hosts of the Sunday Morning political shows such Chris Matthews, George Stephanopoulos and the late Tim Russert are (were) Democrats – would imposition of the idiotic “Fairness Doctrine” mean that at least one of these needs to be a Republican ?

  • This is absurd. For decades now, the primary networks, NBC, CBS and ABC, have had a well documented democratic bias – in fact, something on the order of 80% of Washington news correspondents are registered democrats! There have been repeated scandals regarding network news anchors, e.g., knowingly using doctored evidence to attack conservatives, actively campaigning on behalf of democratic candidates, etc. How “fair” is that to the conservatives who have had to read and hear biased reporting on almost every issue, all the time? The fact that when they turned to talk radio, the medium further developed the few voices that shared their ideals, is hardly surprising, and if an individual station is required to be balanced, then ABC, NBC and CBS should all be pulled off the air.

  • It’s not often that I find myself telling someone that their opinion or position on something is just patently wrong. However, Vito, I have to let you know that yours is one of those exceptions. While I’m tempted to spend the next twenty minutes writing and revising what I want to say, I’ll submit to you that I don’t want anyone in any of the branches of government “protecting” me from what others might find objectionable. I have this faith in my own cognition that I’m more capable of filtering out the bad than anyone else. Maybe your cognitive ability isn’t as keen as others. Do YOU want me telling you what is unsafe to hear?

  • Hey, you guys picking on Vito’s comment: I think he was being facecious (sp?). There is no way anyone could be that stupid as to mean that, or that ignorant of what America is about. Could they? No, I don’t think.

  • Dave. Maybe Vito works for the Canadian Human Rights Commission and finds speech policing to be necessary and essential in a quasi-free society.

  • Or maybe he’s had a little too much of that Kool-Aid, Todd.

  • Sorry Todd. I meant my previous statement for Dave.

  • If you think that Radio is a free market you’re cracked. Those airwaves are controlled and sold by the government. You can’t just start up a competing station.

    If the radio station is being used to provide free advertisement to Republican candidates, the lawsuit may have a legitimate basis as violating Federal Election Commission rules.

  • So Name,

    I guess you would favor shutting down Air America and Pacifica also.

    If things are as you postulate, I would think that the proper response would be filing a complaint with the the FEC rather than filing a lawsuit.

  • The market should decide what kind to radio is played. There is no market for liberal talk radio. The people who listen to talk radio listen to learn about issues. And the conservative point of view is the only view that makes sense.