Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sykes mixes misdirection with bluster

Charlie Sykes missed his calling. He should have been an illusionist, a sleight of hand artist specializing in misdirecting the audience's attention. Or maybe that's what he is.

His latest post twists the language inside out again:
"Why are Doyle and Xoff so upset?" he asks, then answers: "because this ad is so powerful."
Actually, it's because the ad in question is so vile, so slimy, and so unfair. But back to Sykes:
Doyle flak Xoff's legal complaints turned out to be bogus, but curious minds want to know: have I…crossed…the…line…into….activism….by so openly advocating for school choice?

Um, yes. Hello? If I crossed the line, I crossed it years ago. I’ve been advocating for choice for most of the last decade, including actively raising money for scholarships on the air. This is part of what it means to stand up for what’s right. While the local MSM managed to ignore those campaigns, they have been reported nationally for years.
The question, of course, has never been whether Sykes has crossed the line into activism. The question is whether the Journal Broadcast Group, which owns the radio station on which Sykes performs, has crossed the line into corporate-sponsored issue advocacy.

The corporate-produced commercials he is running, with no disclaimer, are issue advocacy, pure and simple. That advocacy is regulated, and corporations are not allowed to engage in it.

Despite Sykes' claim, it is not the same as when he spouts off about an issue. It is a commercial. Any listener can tell the difference.

It's not the same as a newspaper editorial, either. It would be the same as if a newspaper ran full-page ads, day after day, taking a position on some piece of legislation, but without saying who paid for the ads or even identifying them as advertising.

Let's say the Journal Sentinel -- owned by another arm of the same company that owns WTMJ -- ran a full page ad every day calling for defeat of the concealed weapons bill. The paper has editorialized against it. Would running unpaid, anonymous ads every day be the same thing? Of course not. Would it be legal? I don't think so.

Sykes says his company backs him up. Of course they do. They always do after the fact. WISN backed up Mark Belling for his "wetback" remarks, too, but that didn't make it right. I'll bet you a dollar to a doughnut that Sykes didn't check with the lawyers before he pulled his stunt, but now they're on the hook and have to defend him. What are they going to do, say they broke the law and tell him to stop? Not likely. That's not what they get paid for.

Here's Sykes, in full bluster, with a phalanx of corporate lawyers, hurling his challenge at the blogger (me) who dares to challenge him:
In case there is any doubt, my managers and the companies lawyers are standing solidly behind Mikel Holt and I on this. Xoff, of course, is perfectly free to file any campaign-related complaint he wishes (he is unable to cite any law we might have violated); and we, of course, are free to seek legal fees and costs incurred in defending against frivolous charges.
Does that sound like intimidation? It is certainly intended to be just that. Actually, the State Elections Board, where such a complaint could be filed, doesn't award lawyers fees and costs. If it won the case, Journal Broadcast Group would have to file a separate lawsuit to try to collect. The purpose of doing that wouldn't really be to be reimbursed -- the company has billions -- but to try to intimidate anyone who might think about challenging them in the future.

I don't plan to file, although I still think there could be grounds for a complaint. It is not how I want to spend my time and energy. It's the kind of thing a good government group might do, if they weren't so busy trying to make every elected official look like a crook. The last thing those groups are likely to do is to challenge the media.

I do seem to have gotten Sykes' attention. It's always fun to watch him overreact and talk like a tough guy.

Sykes dishes it out like a pro, but he can't take a punch.

Setting him off like a skyrocket with some regularity is really pretty amusing. I'd invite others to join the fun. He froths at the mouth, but can't really hurt you, although you can be sure he would it he could.


At 9:10 AM, Blogger krshorewood said...

When you think of the 3.5 hours of Charlie McCarthism in the morning and Jeff Chitchat in the afternoon the Journal should be filing all that free air time for the GOP with the FEC as an in-kind donation.

At 9:11 AM, Blogger Dad29 said...

There are plenty of people who are disgusted and unhappy (to put it mildly) with the tactics of Doyle, Dean, Carville, & Co.

Don't be foolish enough to think that you have a "moral" stand here.

We emphatically enjoy seeing the screeching from the Left when they are treated to a dose of the unvarnished truth.

And, as in the case of Murtha, when they are unveiled as phony, second-rate, hacks.

That applies to Doyle.

How's that Grand Jury coming along?

At 9:21 AM, Blogger Xoff said...

I will stack John Murtha's record up against yours any day of the week, Daddy.

At 10:33 AM, Blogger DairyStateDad said...

In case there is any doubt, my managers and the companies lawyers are standing solidly behind Mikel Holt and I on this.

Gee, Charlie gets so flustered when he's mad, he even screws up his grammar...

At 12:10 PM, Blogger Spotlight said...

If Sykes really believed in free speech he'd take comment posts on his blog. But he's too scared. It's why he has a screener on his show: he's afraid of real debate, preferring to talk from a sealed booth to his blogger buddies.

At 3:17 PM, Blogger watchdogmilwaukee said...

Xoff, I think you should file the complaint. In the very least, the FCC might give us a spectrum perspective. In the very least, this issues advocacy by Sykes and Holt, who should file the production time and TMJ staff costs as an independent expenditure, and should reimburse the station for use of their resources. That would clear up the campaign finance issue. Beyond that, he's free to run it as show content whenever he wants.

Would he allow Doyle on the show? Who knows, but a better place for Doyle to be is Messmer High School, where he could have an open and honest discussion with the students, unfiltered by Sykes and Holt. Sykes could even broadcast it ... nahh, who am I kidding.


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