Comments: Al Franken erroneously claims radio ratings not available to public

Does it have to be either-or?

Posted by McGehee at April 30, 2005 10:27 AM

Of course it has to be either-or. It was written by a conservative, so shades of gray and nuance go right over his/her head.

What Franken was referring to was the ratings by demographic, specifically the 18-54 set, in which Air America fares much better than their conservative colleagues in many markets. The reason this matters is because advertisers are more interested in this demographic than any other, so they pay more for it. He also mentioned that the hourly ratings are not available, which makes it impossible to see how specific shows (namely his) are doing.

I wonder if mhking reports on the flat-out lies that pass as "news" on right wing talk shows that Franken uncovers nearly every day. We're not talking piddly stuff like radio ratings, either. The fact of the matter is that Franken (unlike some others on his network) doesn't intentionally spread lies and misinformation, and any time he realizes that he has said something untrue, he reports it and apologizes. I wonder if mhking will do the same.

Posted by Rob Daniel at May 4, 2005 12:31 AM

Nothing in the transcript of the Franken/Anderson conversation indicated that Franken was speaking of anything but the raw ratings that anyone can get from a myriad of sources both on and off the internet.

As for the "flat-out lies" that Franken uncovers, please cite one that can be confirmed please. Please point to someone who spreads intentional "disinformation."

As for your parting shot, if you have been a regular reader, you'll already know that if I find I'm wrong about anything I say, I own up to it -- and I'll apologize in that instance. But at the same time, I will not apologize for disagreeing with someone's opinion, whether they are on the right or the left. And I certainly don't post hit-and-run messages on others' blogs either.

Posted by mhking at May 4, 2005 12:11 PM

I went back and listened to the broadcast. They are specifically discussing the 25-54 demographic for most of the first portion of the broadcast, wherein Al concedes that Rush is currently beating him in NYC, but that his show beats O'Reilly. Al also mentions that in this demographic, his show is trending upwards and Rush is trending downward. At only one point during the entire broadcast does Al question whether or not the ratings are public:

Anderson: It's (finely?) there for anybody to see, they can just check out the Arbitron ratings and, uh...

Franken: Well, they can't, because they're - they're - the Arbitron ratings aren't public.

Anderson: No, they are. The quarterly ratings are public. Uh, you can look at them on this Radio Equalizer blog. He's posting them.

Franken: Does he have every city?

Anderson: I don't know if he has every single city.

Although you are correct that he doesn't specifically state that he is referring to demographic info, when Anderson amends his statement to say that only the quarterly ratings are public, Franken doesn't challenge him on that fact.

When Franken says that the Arbitron ratings aren't public, he is correct. If they were public, noone would pay for them and Arbitron would go broke.

I don't wish to split hairs here, it's just that when I heard it, I understood what Franken meant when he said the ratings weren't public - and he's right, they aren't. Only an extremely generalized version is available, and throughout the preceding discussion, they had been arguing over material that is not included in the public version.

As for the flat out lies, here are some whoppers that Al has brought up in the recent past. I'll limit these to Rush Limbaugh, though Franken has certainly exposed a fair share from Hannity and O'Reilly as well.

LIMBAUGH: We're spending as much on environmental protection as we are on defense and homeland security. And, yet when there's a crisis of deficits, do you ever hear anybody say, "We need to reduce our expenditures on the environment"? No, they always focus on the military.

FACT: According the OMB, 2004 spending on "Defense & Homeland Security" was $455.9 billion. "Natural Resources and the Environment" was $30.7 billion.

LIMBAUGH: The minimum wage has gotten so high that it's paying people that are not skilled to do anything. ... It's -- whatever it is, six and a quarter, seven bucks an hour...

FACT: Try $5.15, which is what it has been for over 7 years. As far as it paying people who are not skilled to do anything, we'll give him a pass.

LIMBAUGH: Most of them [journalists] are liberals. Eighty percent of them will admit it in the latest press poll -- it was a -- that was a -- a Pew poll.

FACT: The Pew poll stated that 34% of national journalists described themselves as liberal. Only 23% of local journalists described themselves as liberal.

LIMBAUGH: The federal budget is over 2.2 trillion, and...we're spending $745 billion on education...we spend $300 billion a year on defense, the defense of the country, for crying out loud. We're spending close to three times that on education.

FACT: According to the OMB, we spend roughly 14 times more on defense than we do education. He got his numbers from the Heritage foundation, which included federal, state and local spending - plus spending by private schools and universities. Woops.

I could go on and on and on. But since this is not my blog, I'll stop there.

I'm sorry if you thought my post was a hit-and-run. I was actually searching for the latest AAR ratings out of Seattle (which were quite good) when I stumbled along your post among the results. Whenever I see something that is not true, I try to set the record straight. I made a similar post on the Radio Equalizer blog.

My post was a bit snarky, but I was angry at your description of Franken as a "frothing-at-the-mouth moonbat" who "fabricates"
facts. I have never found anything I have heard on Franken to be untrue. Randi Rhodes may play fast and loose with facts, but Franken is pretty on the money, and you should give him credit for that.

Posted by Rob Daniel at May 4, 2005 05:38 PM

Limbaugh will admittedly play loose with stats, making sure he gets them from sources that benefit him (I would expect no less from a commentator or talk show host from either side of the aisle), but that's no different from what Franken or any of the other Air America hosts do (most notably - as you've said, Randi Rhodes).

That being said, I will still stand behind my assertion that conservative hosts, as a whole, do not intentionally lie or spread "disinformation" to the American public. Do we have some "foaming-at-the-mouth" types on our side of the aisle? Absolutely (Michael Savage immediately comes to mind). But as I said, there is no intentional lying going on.

And as for my characterization of Franken as a "foaming-at-the-mouth moonbat" who sometimes "fabricates" facts, I will point to his slamming of Swift Boat veteran and author John O'Neill, including his meltdown on Michael Medved's show at the CPAC conference this past winter. He has made multiple accusations and claims regarding O'Neill and the other Swift Boat veterans, yet when confronted with O'Neill and the opportunity to discuss said claims, he went into meltdown mode.

Franken is entitled to his opinion - no one will deny that (least of all, me). But he did cross the line when it came to the Swift Boat veterans.

Posted by mhking at May 5, 2005 06:40 AM

Al is,has been,and will always be ignorant to the truth...

Posted by reagan at June 16, 2005 04:42 AM

I listen to rush almost everyday and can't recall any of these "facts" posted, though he may have quoted them. The ones on defense don't look to be quotes that rush would use, as any fiscally conscious person would see as incorrect. Although education should be considered on all levels for cost. Arguably defense could have state funds for National Guard added, though that could also be described as emergency response funds(hurricaine,flood,riots,etc). And the one thing that can be said about the ratings is that advertisers are not clamoring to get the show on more markets.

Posted by dan at July 20, 2005 09:00 AM
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