Monday, January 11, 2021

Report: Cumulus Mandates Talkers Tone-Down Rhetoric

After months of stoking anger about alleged election fraud, Cumulus Media has decided on an abrupt change of direction.

According to The Washington Post, Cumulus Media, which employs some of the most popular right-leaning talk-radio hosts in the United States, has told its on-air personalities to stop suggesting that the election was stolen from President Trump — or else face termination.

A Cumulus executive issued the directive on Wednesday, just as Congress met to certify Joe Biden’s election victory and an angry mob of Trump supporters marched on the Capitol, overwhelmed police and briefly occupied the building, terrorizing lawmakers and leading to the deaths of five people.

Brian Phillips
"We need to help induce national calm NOW,” Brian Philips, executive vice president of content for Cumulus, wrote in an internal memo, which was first reported by Inside Music Media. Cumulus and its program syndication arm, Westwood One, “will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended. The election has been resolved and there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’ ”

The memo adds: “If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately.”

The Washington Post says new policy is a stunning corporate clampdown on the kind of provocative and even inflammatory talk that has long driven the business model for Cumulus and other talk show broadcasters. 

Since the election, Cumulus has remained silent while its most popular syndicated hosts — which include Mark Levin, Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino — have amplified Trump’s lies that the vote was “rigged” or in some way fraudulent.

Atlanta-based Cumulus owns 416 radio stations in 84 regions across the country.   Cumulus’s biggest stations include WMAL in Washington, KABC in Los Angeles, WLS in Chicago and KGO in San Francisco, all of which air a news-talk format. (Rush Limbaugh, perhaps the biggest star of conservative talk, is syndicated by another company, Premiere Networks, though his program is heard on many Cumulus-owned stations. Limbaugh isn’t subject to Cumulus’s memo.)

The memo appears to reflect the reality that voters, presidential electors, courts and now Congress have accepted or certified that Biden won the election and is the president-elect. It may also be an attempt to cool down emotions that led to Wednesday’s invasion of the Capitol, and to mollify advertisers that are concerned about being associated with programs that could be inciting listeners to violence.

But it also reveals some of the hidden corporate hand behind what is said and discussed on talk-radio programs. Rather than a medium of freethinking individuals expressing passionately held beliefs, the memo reminds that hosts are subject to corporate mandates and control.

No comments:

Post a Comment