CNN Again Cites Liberal Study on Talk Radio, Pushes Localism

CNN's Carol Costello again omitted the liberal source of a statistic she touted during a report on Wednesday's American Morning, that 91% of talk radio is apparently conservative. Costello also pushed the left-wing aim of localism in radio programming, playing three soundbites in favor of the proposal, versus two against it.

Near the end of her report, which aired at the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour, the CNN correspondent cited ultra-left talker Randi Rhodes (all three clip in favor of localism came from Rhodes), who "says millions of Americans get their political talk from AM radio - 91 percent of which is conservative." Costello didn't cite the source of the figure, which comes from a 2007 report by two liberal organizations - the Center for American Progress and Free Press - and co-authored by Mark Lloyd, who is now the FCC's "chief diversity officer." The correspondent touted the figure as well during a report on Monday's American Morning, where she claimed that it came from "Talkers" magazine.

The figure itself is misleading because, as MRC's Culture and Media Institute pointed out, the CAP report ignored "non-commercial radio," such as NPR and other public radio networks.Earlier in the segment, Costello put the localism issue in the context of the past Fairness Doctrine, and before playing the first bite from Rhodes, acknowledged that "it's unlikely the Fairness Doctrine will return, but there is something else many liberal talkers are fighting for- localism." She also downplayed talk show host's leftism, merely labeling her as a "progressive political talker."

Rhodes came out of gate with her advocacy of localism in the first clip: "If you know that you live in a town where everybody votes Democratic [Washington, DC], and all you have on your radio is conservative talk, then you can see how localism isn't part of the equation in media programming." Costello then explained what that "localism...means radio stations would be forced to carry more local programming that appeals to local audiences. Right now, big broadcasting companies like ClearChannel Communications...own hundreds of radio stations across the country, and much of what they broadcast aren't shows with local personalities, but syndicated shows featuring Rush Limbaugh...and Sean Hannity."

Costello lined up a second bite from Rhodes before even turning to her two clips from critics of localism:

RHODES: Diversity always gets a better result than just as one steady- you know, lock-step repetition of talking - same talking points, over and over. COSTELLO: In November, the FCC will hold a media workshop, as is required every four years. Among the topics, the state of the current media marketplace.

BOB DURGIN: Men and women are dying over there-

COSTELLO: Bob Durgin, a conservative talker in Pennsylvania, is weary of localism.

DURGIN: They want to program the radio station. They want to tell the people what they're going to hear. They don't want the people hearing what they want to hear. They want the people to hear what they want the people to hear, and they want people to hear more liberal radio, more diversity.

COSTELLO: Durgin says liberals want it all, even though they have plenty now- not only on the radio and cable TV, but on commercial TV, and in Hollywood.

MICHAEL MOORE (from Capitalism: A Love Story): Congressman Dolittle, Michael Moore-

COSTELLO: Camille Paglia, a social critic and Obama supporter.

CAMILLE PAGLIA: I find the motivation for this- all this talk about the local show, is actually covert. It's actually a way to try to ambush right-wing radio, which has indeed risen up as a powerful force, in response to the shutdown of conservative viewpoints coming from the major media.

The third clip from Rhodes came immediately after Costello used the dubious 91% statistic from the Center for American Progress report:

COSTELLO: Rhodes disagrees. She says millions of Americans get their political talk from AM radio: 91 percent of which is conservative. RHODES: I do want to be on their stations. I want a crack at their audience, and let me live and die by the success or failure. But I don't have that access.

- Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.