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by spocko

The Magic and Beauty of Hiding Behind Front Groups

2:45 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

From a great diary at Daily Kos, ”Industry Expert Says StopRush Has Destroyed Limbaugh’s Business For Good“ by Proglegs:

Speaking yesterday on the Ed Schultz radio show, industry insider Holland Cooke credited a persistent online activist movement with completely destroying right wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s business model by using the very free speech that El Rushbo claims gives him carte blanche to do what he does.

The piece quotes Cooke on the Ed Show and discusses the lower ratings, Rush’s move to smaller stations and the impact of less income for Rush’s distributors and radio stations.
Cover up False Front
Being the self-important Vulcan I am, I commented on the piece and my role in the process that lead to this.

Discussing the article with my friend Jeff Tiedrich of the Smirking Chimp there was some confusion.

Wait, how does losing advertisers result in fewer listeners? Seems to me they’re two different problems.

I explained they they were indeed separate issues. I created the Spocko Method specifically to reduce revenue in an environment where the ratings wouldn’t necessarily be impacted by an action and could even increase the ratings because of controversy.

I know that when KSFO, Savage, Beck or Limbaugh lost advertisers that didn’t necessarily mean they would lose ratings. In fact. they would keep bragging about the ratings because people were tuning in to hear the controversy. See the Streisand Effect

Higher ratings usually translate to higher ad rates. But if no one wants to advertise or sponsor the show, then high ratings are moot, especially to the people wanting to make money off of ratings. However, the ratings are still useful to people who want to push a message.

People who like a message, and want it to continue, needed to find new sponsors who love the message but are not vulnerable to pressure the way customer facing advertisers are. These new sponsors could stand behind someone who would normally be sanctioned or be fired for violating the normal HR policies found in most corporations. The groups could even support views that a huge percent of the population find offensive.

Front Groups are Magical

Front groups like the Heritage Foundation, Freedom Works and Americans For Prosperity can deflect connection and responsibility from individuals, corporations or brands who love a “no regulations ever” message, but can’t be seen supporting a sick and twisted host or his comments.

When you don’t want your brand tainted by association, you find or create a group of anonymous donors and ask them to pass money through to the messenger they don’t want to be associated with anymore.

Front groups funding right wing radio isn’t new, Politico did a piece on them funding right wing radio back in 2011. Here is another from this week. There are still reasons people and companies hide. There are marketing and brand considerations that remain. If you, as the person driving a message, find that activists have developed and harnessed a customer facing advertiser alert programs that challenges their brand, you work to remove those sponsors identities from the equation. Then you give them the option of funding you via the ‘cut out’ front group, like the Chamber of Commerce does. The other option is to reform the messenger, and that isn’t going to happen.

Customer facing advertisers, like the ones listed here at, had a hard time justifying sponsoring a sexist bigot who would be fired for violating all their own HR policies. But a front group doesn’t have to answer to HR policies, brand managers, customers or shareholders.

The people who want the money to keep rolling in do suggest the host change or tone down his views to appease the sponsors, and some of that does happen behind the scenes, although they will never admit it. The current procedure is to embrace the offensive comments and look for other sponsors.

The consumer facing advertisers were, (and some still are) a weak link in the game. They could be convinced to move away from Limbaugh. However dark money doesn’t care about what anyone thinks. They can “lose” money for decades on an influential narrative shaper, because they ARE getting an ROI. The advertisers could measure their short term ROI with new sales. But the front groups don’t have those short horizon metrics.

They are earning the money that they beg for every year from donors by pointing to their cultural impact.  They have:

Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

Your RW relative, “They never had to gas Tea Partiers!”

3:59 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

I’ll bet you 10 quatloos that if you eat Thanksgiving dinner with right wing relatives one or more will make the baiting comment, “You know, the police never had to use tear gas on the tea partiers.”

Now you can say, “Hmm. Yeah, could you pass the yams?” or take the bait. I prefer the yam route, especially if they are topped with a little brown sugar. But if the yams are gone and the game isn’t on yet let ol’ Mr. Spocko make some suggestions on engaging on this topic.

Now I rarely engage in this kind of conversation because I don’t find it as entertaining as they do.   The problem is that usually the premise is flawed and is just designed to bait you. One of the great appeals of Rush, Hannity and Coulter is that they give “ammunition” to the poor beleaguered conservative so they can show up and defeat those smarty pants liberals with their “facts” and “reason”.

I once had conversation with a right winger where he actually said, “Even if you showed me proof I still wouldn’t believe it.” Using logic against a rock is illogical.

But if you choose to engage, and there are other people around, you might choose to use it as an opportunity to educate and win over people who aren’t as hard core and to dig into the premises of the right winger for all to see.

I’ve been following right-wing violent rhetoric for years. I’ve also been following actual violence of members of the right wing for years. One thing I know is that how the Right Wing decides to protest and what it believes is a win is NOT the same as how the Left Wing decides to protest and what it believes is a win. Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

SF Radio Host: Okay to Meet Government Employees With a Loaded Shotgun

12:22 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

I sent this letter to the California Air Resources Board, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Census Bureau

Jack Broadbent, APCO
Bay Area AQMD
San Francisco, CA

Dear Jack:

On February 8, 2010 a caller to the Brian Sussman show on KSFO bragged about how he met a California Air Resources Board employee at his door with a loaded shotgun.
Instead of the host condemning the suggestion of violence toward a government worker, Sussman supported the caller’s action.

Please listen to this audio clip (WMA format, MP3 format) Transcript below

This is not an isolated incident. Sussman has a history of his own violent rhetoric as well as agreeing with callers suggestions of violence toward government workers (audio link). He also agrees with callers suggesting violence toward innocents in their houses of worship. (audio link).

Sussman disagrees with the concept of Spare the Air days (or nights) and believes it is a "ridiculous law". He says that "the science behind declaring these spare the air nights is absolutely full of holes". (audio link) He has a right to his opinion on the law, he can even attempt to disprove the science, but it is irresponsible to agree with the actions of a caller who answers the door to a government employee with a loaded shotgun.

Right now you are supporting his show by advertising on KSFO. I would like you to pull your ads from the show. I would also suggest that you request a written and verbal statement from Sussman that people should not threaten government and Resources Board employees with guns when they come to their door. This statement should be on the KSFO website and his personal sites.

I want to emphasize that if you withdraw your ads you aren’t limiting his free speech, just removing your support of it. As a government entity you might be sensitive to claims of censorship. Pulling your PSAs (or paid ads) because of their suggestions of violence toward your workers is not censorship, it is showing respect for the lives of your employees.

I understand you can’t listen to all the shows you advertise on – no one can. Perhaps you don’t realize you are advertising on this show. Other advertisers I have contacted in the past were not aware that their ads were running on this station and this program, they were put in a package via KGO (KSFO’s parent company) or via an ABC statewide buy. To confirm your ads have run on KSFO here is a live read ad run Jan 25th at 6:10 pm. (audio link). There was also a digital insert on the podcast feed on January 26th at 6:25 pm.

You may be tempted to debate Sussman on his show on the issue of the science. If you go that route please be advised that he will not play fair with your scientists. Most likely he will get into a shouting match with them and insult them after they have left the show. Your ads and PSAs are mocked and contradicted on the show, he uses them to tee off on your science and push his upcoming book.

Unlike a peer reviewed journal or even a decent newspaper, Sussman has no obligation or requirement to either tell the truth or correct his inaccurate or misinterpreted information. This is why I suggest getting written corrective statements and apologies from Sussman.

But it is the suggestions of violence that is the most troubling. As your employees and the Census Bureau employees spread out across the country to knock on doors to do their jobs they shouldn’t have to fear for their lives because talk radio hosts have inflamed their listeners in hating the government.

Ignoring this kind of violent rhetoric doesn’t make it go away.


San Francisco, CA

P.S. I have multiple instances of Sussman actively mocking your program dating back to 2006 and suggesting non-compliance. (link) (link) (link) If you want any more clips or more audio for context I can easily provide it.

Bay Area Air Quality Management District

Outreach & Incentives – Jack M. Colbourn
Deputy APCO – Jeffrey McKay.
Legal (District Counsel) – Brian Bunger
Technical Services – Gary Kendall
Planning and Research – Henry Hilken

Michael C. Cook, Census Bureau

Verna Ruiz, California Air Resources Board, Enforcement Program
Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle
Carla Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle

Transcript on KSFO Feb, 8 2010 7:48 pm Brian Sussman Show.

Brian Sussman: Let’s go next to CARB out of control. This Paul in Belmont. Paul thanks for being with us.

Paul in Belmont: Hey Suss, how you doing buddy?

Brian Sussman: I’m doing okay man. Glad you checked in tonight

PiB: Yeah, I check in with you all the time. Just real quick, eh we had a fire in our fireplace and we had the Resource Board come and banging on our door.

BS: Noooo!

PiB: Yes.

BS: Okay now, you know why I’m amazed by this?

PiB: I keep a loaded shotgun by my front door. They went flying down the driveway

BS: Paul I’ve heard that they are making these calls, but I haven’t heard from anyone who received the knock at the door.

PiB: Yep.

BS: So you just you just had the gun in hand, just kind of holding it upright.

PiB: It’s always right there at the front door and they said, "You can’t have a fire on." And I said, "Well, we are only heating one room to save gas. What’s wrong with that?"

BS: And that should be perfectly legal.

PiB: It should be perfectly legal. We are only doing it in one room. It’s not like we have a big ol’ pot belly.

BS: According to, you know even as I read the laws that should be perfectly fine. But these people are actually driving around in their little hybrids looking for guys like you and they met up with you and Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson as well. Appreciate you being there Paul on KSFO. It’s the Sussman show, we’re live and local, KSFO.