Monday, January 23, 2006

Sykes choosing words more carefully?

His 'spot' becomes paid commercial

[This was written Sunday, but you'll find today's latest update at the bottom.--Xoff.]

Has Charlie been hearing from the lawyers?

Is it just my imagination, or is Republican radio shill Charlie Sykes beginning to watch his words just a little more closely as he describes the corporate-financed radio commercial he's been running that basically calls Gov. Jim Doyle a racist?

Do you think Charlie's been talking to the corporate lawyers about where the line is between unregulated free speech and regulated issue advocacy advertising?

You be the judge:

When he first played the commercial, produced by WTMJ staff using WTMJ production facilities and aired on WTMJ radio, Sykes called it a spot. You don't have to be a radio professional to know that a spot is a commercial. They are used interchangeably.

His first post on the subject:

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 18, 2006, 8:40 a.m.

This is the script of the spot we played this morning. [He also offered a link to the audio, which is called " 189 School Choice Ad" on the station's website.
Wednesday afternoon's WisPolitics report:

WTMJ-AM conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes is running a spot on his show featuring young voices blasting Doyle for "blocking school choice opportunities for hundreds of African American students here in Milwaukee." The spot draws comparisons between Doyle and former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who once stood in front of a schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama in an attempt to stop desegregation of that institution.

When asked who was paying for the spot, which is running on Sykes' show, Sykes responded via e-mail:

"This is what makes it interesting. No one is paying. Mikel Holt (the editor of the Milwaukee Community Journal) and I put it together on our own. For free. We are making it available to anyone who wants to use it. Right now, it is simply an element of my show."
Sykes stammered a bit on the air Friday morning before defiantly playing the spot over and over. He introduced it as a "spot," then said it was "an element" of his show, and finally, at the prodding of his producer, called it a "message."

Afterwards, this was Friday post on Sykes Writes:

We will continue to air the message from the kids as part of my show.... authorized and paid by no one. For now, it's not an ad, because no one bought it, no one paid for it, and it does not run in any of our ad breaks. But once again: Mikel and I have agreed to make the spot available to anyone who DOES want to turn it into an ad on any station of their choice. Smoke on that, Xoff.
From Friday ...

-- WTMJ-AM conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes today responded to criticism on a controversial school choice spot running on his show. The spot, which features young African American voices blasting Doyle for "blocking" school choice opportunities, was criticized by one Dem blogger [Guess who?] yesterday as free corporate issue advertising.

In an e-mail to WisPolitics, Sykes clarified, writing, "at this point it is not an ad, because no has bought it. No one has paid for it. It is not run in any of our ad blocks. It is an element of my show."

Sykes indicates that all of the voices featured in the ad are students in the choice program. ``None of them were paid. The ads were recorded in the WTMJ studios," writes Sykes.
So Sykes insists "it is not an ad," and in the next breath says "the ads were recorded in the WTMJ studios."

Saturday Journal Sentinel:

Voucher advocates have launched a series of moves aimed at pressuring Doyle to agree to lift the cap. Commercials in which students and others urge Doyle to "lift the cap" have been running on radio and television in Milwaukee and Madison ...

In one commercial, students say Doyle is "standing in the schoolhouse door" the way segregationist Southern governors did in the 1950s and '60s.
Clearly, what Sykes has done is to produce an ad, a spot, a commercial. It is running for free on the state's biggest radio station, owned by Journal Broadcast Corp., a large corporation. The commercial is clearly issue advocacy. Corporations are not allowed to spend money on issue advocacy. To run the commercial as many times as it already has would cost school choice supporters or opponents thousands of dollars.

Is this beginning to sound even a little problematic?

Sykes' defenders say there is no difference between him spouting off his right-wing talking points for three and a half hours every morning and running a free commercial. But there is an obvious difference, and anyone who's listening can tell what it is. A commercial is a commercial is a commercial -- even if you claim it's just "an element" of your show. Even the newspaper calls it a commercial.

Sykes tries to use Mikel Holt, the black newspaper editor, and the black students of Messmer High, whose voices are on the commercial. He plays the race card, says I'm trying to silence black kids, calls it the kids' message when what they were doing was following a script he gave them. He's using those kids, and he's putting words in their mouths to unfairly paint Jim Doyle as a racist. That's what makes this whole thing so disgusting.

So when is a spot not a spot? Why, when Charlie says it's not.

UPDATE: Now the Coalition for America's Families, the same wingnut group that brought us the racist anti-immigration ad attacking Jim Doyle,says that it will buy the ad and pay to put it three Milwaukee radio stations with black audiences.

"Well, now it **is** an ad," he crows on Sykes Writes. Indeed it is. It always was an ad. And now it is an issue ad being run as a paid commercial on other stations while the Journal Broadcast Group continues to run it for free on WTMJ-AM.

Sykes and his right-wing friends have just proven my point. If it continues to run on WTMJ, it should be as paid issue advertising there, too.

UPDATE 2: Sykes mixes misdirection with bluster.


At 11:26 AM, Blogger Michael J. Cheaney said...

Lets take a look at the Milwaukee demographics shall we?
The racial makeup of the city is 49.98% White, 37.34% African American, 0.87% Native American, 2.94% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 6.10% from other races, and 2.71% from two or more races. 12.00% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. (Now granted these are census figures from 2000 and they may have changed a bit)
However by doing a little math, (BTW, I did go to a private school so I CAN DO THIS!!) The percentages CLEARLY show that whites only make up 49.98 percent of the population, while minorities make up the remaining 50.02 percent. And out of that 50.02 percent African Americans make up the largest percentage at 37 percent So which group stands to gain the most thru School Choice? Clearly it is the African Americans BECAUSE THEY MAKE UP THE MAJORITY OF THE Minority POPULATION.

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Xoff said...

Thanks for the numbers. I live in Milwaukee, and am quite aware of the makeup of the population. The percentage of the MPS population that is black is much higher.

What is your point?

At 11:50 AM, Blogger Michael J. Cheaney said...

Which group would be affected the most? The Blacks of Course. So all anyone is trying to do is raise awareness about this issue within the demograhic that will be hurt the most.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Xoff said...

To raise awareness? By clearly suggesting that Jim Doyle is a racist like Faubus or Wallace?

The vast majority of kids in MPS are also black. There are still 96,000 kids in that system,

Doyle is trying to improve the quality of everyone's education, public and private, black and white.

At 2:08 PM, Blogger Michael J. Cheaney said...

The only reason that racism is even at play in this, is because it was a white commentator, bringing this subject up. If Mikeal Holt,Eugene Kane, Michael Mcgee Jr. or Lee Holloway, brought up this issue and (except for Mr. Holt)they haven't, would it still be race-baiting? No it wouldn't.
But because it was (enter any WHITE name here) its suddenly "Race Baiting"
Like it or not THIS IS an issue that affects EVERY CITIZEN in this State, in one way or another, maybe not today, but 10-20 years from now I MAY HAVE TO HIRE SOMEONE WHO WAS EDUCATED THRU MPS.
And I would hope to hire someone that has a basic grasp of things like reading, and math. And my feeling is that the parents and the students having a say-so in where THEY feel they will get the better education, is not a bad thing. Think of it as parents taking Responsibility for their child's future.

At 2:22 PM, Blogger nosefornews said...

Yikes, has Sykes finally lost his grip on reality? While Journal Communications has supported his right wing agenda for years, it has always been lightly veiled as independent speech. No platform more clearly demonstrates this hypocrisy as the Sunday morning show where "The Tuna" features fellow wingnuts while handpicking weak representatives from the other side, interrupting, mocking and ignoring them all in service to his agenda.

I have previously given him credit for manipulating this format for his values (not conservatism, actually, but ratings).

But this weekend he went too far. In addition to Mikel Holt, of whom the less said the better, he had Mssrs. Wagner and Reardon and Madam Erickson. Talk about a kangaroo court. Has the man no shame?

The discussion of the tireslashing case just made me sick. These bozos want to waste their time and ours making the settlement out to be a miscarriage of justice while their buddies in Washington are finally being called to account for truly egregious crimes.

DA McCann took this case to trial and accepted a plea on serious misdeamnor charges. Holt's attempt to stand up for the defendants was the weakest, stupidest, idiotic and indefensible excuse for an argument I have ever heard. It went something like, "I think they are innocent but if they did do it then they were manipulated by powerful outsiders from Washington." He is a foil for Sykes that Central Casting could only dream of.

Are these wingut loonies deaf, dumb and blind? Sorry for the slur to people with real disabilities.

Good for you, XOFF, for calling 'em as you see 'em. Take them down, my good man, take them down.


At 7:24 PM, Blogger Cheesehead_FIB said...

"The discussion of the tireslashing case just made me sick...DA McCann took this case to trial and accepted a plea on serious misdeamnor charges"

nosefornews, can you honestly say that if the tables were turned (sons of Republican officials charged and convicted of slashing Democrat vans), you would have the same attitude, especially if Republicans called it a "a waste of time"?

-a proud wingnut loony

At 9:50 PM, Blogger getitright said...

Jim Doyle is blocking access to decent education, just like Orville and George were. He has been unremittingly hostile to Choice for 3 years, and his people boasted (Marc Marotta included) that this issue was not going to be a political liability to him. Now, feeling the heat, he is struggling with it, claiming he cares indeed, has always wanted to help, has been the long-suffering misunderstood silent hero in the drama. (And what big teeth you have, grandma!)

He is standing in the schoolhouse door, of Choice schoolhouses, defending the existing power structure (teachers unions and public education establishment and Dem party callousness apparently) against the aspirations of low income kids many of whom are in fact minority.

Whine that the comparison with George and Orville is racist; I find it chillingly apt.

Why the hell a self-respecting Democrat would do what he is doing beats me.

At 9:52 PM, Blogger Newshawk said...

Bull Connor, Jim Clark, Lester Maddox, Orval Faubus and George Wallace were all the products of this "system" and were DEMOCRATS WHO advocated states' rights, local control and an antifederal ideology of less government, lower taxes and a strong military.

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Newshawk said...

Republicans freed the slaves, Republicans passed the civil rights act, and Republicans will free inner-city students from the tyranny of the Milwaukee Public Schools. There is an eerie simularity between Lester Maddox, Orval Faubus, George Wallace, and Jim Doyle standing in the school house door - the only difference is that Doyle is doing it for WEAC and not the KKK.


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