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Fox News Joins Slimy Campaign to Smear Air America

Reported by Melanie - August 4, 2005

Fox News slithered into the trenches with the neo-con bloggers today (August 4, 2005) when Neil Cavuto devoted a segment to a story that is circulating in their blogosphere about Air America radio.

Here is the most comprehensive explanation I could find about what is going on: How to Fake News: A Primer. In a nutshell, in 2004, Evan Cohen, Air America's former executive director (the same guy who said Air America had enough money to operate for something like eight months, but instead it turned out to be eight weeks), convinced a Bronx-based boys and girls club to "invest" approximately $500.000 in his company, Progress Media.

Cohen, who resigned under fire from Air America in May of 2004 and dissolved his company, was on the board of directors of the club. The money has not been repaid, and the right is claiming that Air America is Stealing from Poor Kids, Air America Keeps Poor Kids Waiting, and Air America Borrowed Nearly a Million From Boys and Girls Club.

Here is a statement from Air America. Air America says the issue is between Cohen and the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club. A close read of the article linked to above (How to Fake News: A Primer), reveals that there are some very strange aspects to this story and that it looks like the right is fabricating and exaggerating several aspects of it. My personal belief is that the right is freaked out that Air America Radio up 140% in LA, Eating up Rush LimbaughÂ’s Audience. I believe this is a smear campaign, not unlike the one the right launched, and is still nurturing, against Ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame.

At any rate, Fox rolled around in the gutter today and jumped into the fray. Neil Cavuto hosted Jim Pinkerton of Newsday and Bill Press in a discussion he introduced this way:

All right. Well, a money scandal at radio network Air America and no one is covering it. A pill addiction of Rush Limbaugh's and boy, everybody was all over it. Is it a case of liberal bias in the media?

Pinkerton raised the monetary amount in question when he said it was an "$875,000 loan." He said "the week after that story broke, there were exactly nine stories on Nexis. By contrast...there were 67 stories" right after the Rush Limbaugh drug story broke.

Bill Press said there is "no connection" between the Air America story and Rush Limbaugh's drug story. He said, "Evan Cohen, who bilked the boys and girls club out of this money, also bilked Air America out of money. He is the guy, the con man we ought to be going after."

Cavuto said he agreed but wondered why it wasn't getting more coverage. "It's a pretty big story," he said.

At one point, a chyron appeared at the bottom of the screen that read: "Gloria Wise Spokesperson: Cohen siphoned $618.000 from the org."

Raising the amount in question yet again, Pinkerton wondered why New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer isn't investigating this, "doesn't he care at all about $900,000 in tax money, or government, who knows which."

Another chyron appeared that stated, as fact: "Money was Used for Air America Operations."

Cavuto asked Press whether it's worth "exploring to you whether the dots connect here and whether there was a point in Air America's history where its very survival somehow was assured by this money?" Press replied that, "Nobody at Air America today is involved in this. Nobody. Period. Get off it."

Comment: So, Fox joins a smear campaign against Air American, bringing it to the MSM (mainstream media), even going so far as to say, as if positively true, that the "money was used for Air America operations." But, of course, that's the heart of the smear. If this is between Cohen and the boys and girls club, obviously, Air America isn't harmed. If Air America can be accused of using money intended for poor little boys and girls, whether, in the end that's true or not, its reputation will be harmed, and that's precisely what this is all about.

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