Greetings to Rush Limbaugh Show listeners! You may have heard your host mention us on the program today. For those who missed it, the subject of Limbaugh’s
unhinged rant careful explication was Liel Leibovitz’s exposé, published nearly a month ago, revealing that Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications, has a service that hires actors to call in to radio talk shows (including ones syndicated by Premiere), read scripts, and pretend to be “real” people. “If he passed the audition,” Leibovitz wrote of one actor he spoke with, “he would be invited periodically to call in to various talk shows and recite various scenarios that made for interesting radio. He would never be identified as an actor, and his scenarios would never be identified as fabricated.” Leibovitz also mentioned that Premiere Radio—America’s largest syndication company—has in its roster Rush Limbaugh’s, Glenn Beck’s, and Sean Hannity’s shows.
Leibovitz’s piece does not allege that Limbaugh (or Beck or Hannity) have used this service; in fact, it implies that the service is mainly used for gags on ostensibly less serious programming, and then situates this plastic notion of authenticity in the context of that week’s Torah parasha. Keith Olbermann’s new blog, which yesterday highlighted Leibovitz’s article, also does not allege that Limbaugh has used the service, although it does make the point that Premiere conspicuously failed to deny that actors have called in to more serious shows.
Actually, Limbaugh is similarly curious on the question of Premiere’s non-denial. But he also labels Tablet Magazine a “radical left-wing operation” (take that, Philip Weiss!). Plus, some actual radical right-wing operation accused Leibovitz of being paid by George Soros to attack Limbaugh. (I have checked with Leibovitz, who denied any Soros connection, but suggested the billionaire liberal activist get in touch if he wanted to say thank-you.) An abridged transcript of Limbaugh’s remarks, as well as full tape, follows—courtesy of Media Matters (which, go figure, is Soros-funded). Enjoy!
You can’t do it any more! One of the great comedic arts of radio—and this is 20 years ago now—was dealt a fatal blow when the FCC said you can’t put people on the air without their permission. … People still wanted to do the bits. That led to hiring actors to portray the dupes, the objects of the bit.
… Why didn’t these people at Premiere deny, why didn’t they specify for this is for their prank calls in their morning shows, or whenever it happens during the day? [Ed.: Good point, Rush!] But it is not for talk radio. I have never heard of this. One of the cardinal rules here, from the get-go: Nothing is staged on this program, ever.
… But I still can’t figure out why Premiere did not specify—they let it stand out there that this is all happening as part of their talk-radio division, which it’s not, at least not here, and I can’t believe that it’s happening anywhere else. [Good point again!]
This story originally appeared in something called the Tablet Magazine, which calls itself ‘a new read on Jewish life.’ [True!] And Tablet Magazine is a radical left-wing operation [Not really!], and from Tablet Magazine, here’s one of the excerpts:
Michael Harrison, the editor of Talkers Magazine, the talk-radio world’s leading trade publication, said he knew nothing of this particular service but was not altogether surprised to hear that it was in place. There was, he said, a tradition of “creating fake phone calls for the sake of entertainment on some of the funny shows, shock jocks shows, the kind of shows you hear … ”
That’s exactly right, but not here! People doing pranks? I would consider it an insult.