By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
The message such actions send -- that juvenile behavior is not only tolerated but often rewarded -- is underlined by the activities of Clear Channel management, which has its own tradition of lowbrow pranksterism. In 1995, Jacor minions disrupted an auction staged by KBCO (which at that time hadn't yet been purchased by the conglomerate) by parking a truck full of manure outside the venue where it was taking place. When he was asked about the stunt a few days thereafter, then-boss Jack Evans told Westword he'd reprimanded his lackeys only for not using a bigger truck. A few weeks later, on the cusp of Thanksgiving, KBPI lugs tossed a frozen turkey on the lawn of Bryan Schock, program director at now-defunct rival station 92X, and planted a sign beside it reading, "Unlike this bird, your goose is cooked. This will be your last Thanksgiving in Colorado," so freaking out Schock's nine-year-old daughter that her dad filed a trespassing complaint and obtained a restraining order against program director Richards. For his part, Richards never took the matter seriously, jokingly defending himself in the O.J. Simpson manner: "Somebody tried to frame me," he said to Westword. "I was home that night practicing my golf swing. I am spending all my time and energy trying to catch the real perpetrator or perpetrators." Obviously, Richards knew that he was in no danger of being scolded -- and he wasn't.
And if you think the Federal Communications Commission will make KBPI choke on such bravado, think again. KBPI's license doesn't expire until April 2005, and even if the date were sooner, FCC regulations don't really apply to the sort of mischief enumerated above; they focus more on obscene language and unfair contests. Believe it or don't, the Commission granted the station its current license in 1997, mere months after the monkeyshines at the mosque.
So give Howe, Richards and the rest credit for understanding where the line is drawn and how far things can be pushed. But when they apologize, know better than to believe them.
Everything's coming up Rosen: By contrast, KOA talk-show host Mike Rosen really does regret the muddle he stepped into on September 25 -- and his blunder serves as yet another reminder that while there's a lot of nifty information on the Internet, plenty of it just ain't factual.
Prior to his program that day, Rosen's producer passed the show's star a letter he'd found on the Internet purportedly written by Al Gore to his parents in May 1969 to explain his feelings about the Vietnam War. An elephant-blood conservative, Rosen was understandably fired up by the text, in which Gore supposedly described the draft system as "illegitimate" and claimed that he would serve in the military only "to maintain my political viability within the system," adding, "For years I have worked to prepare myself for a Presidential run characterized by both practical and political ability and concern for rapid social progress." Rosen subsequently went on the air and read the letter (which resides at queencity.com/whistleblower/gore-letter.htm), discussing its "revelations" for what he estimates as fifteen or twenty minutes before receiving a call from someone who thought its prose was suspiciously reminiscent of a missive that a young Bill Clinton sent during that same period to Colonel Eugene Holmes, overseer of the University of Arkansas ROTC program, in an effort to evade the draft. Rosen was familiar with the Clinton-Holmes letter, having quoted from it extensively in a 1998 Denver Post column defending now-Colorado governor Bill Owens against draft-dodging accusations, and promised to double-check the Gore document's veracity. In less than the length of the next news block, he discovered that this blockbuster was every bit as bogus as the Hitler diaries.
In retrospect, it's surprising that Rosen fell for the gag. After all, the letter offers numerous clues to its falsity, ranging from its opening salutation ("Dearest Mother and Senator Gore") to Al's declaration that his high regard for his folks "made our family bond somewhat palatable to me." Furthermore, Rosen's antennae should have been up given how much has been made about media types duped by Internet hoaxes, among them the Rocky Mountain News's Bill Johnson, who wrote an entire column based on a similarly fabricated manuscript ("The Man Who Wasn't There," December 9, 1999). But, mercifully, Rosen didn't try to gloss over his error as did Johnson, whose followup to his original column concentrated mainly on the positive responses his inadvertent piece of fiction had received. Following the news, Rosen announced that the letter was a sham, and he spent much of his broadcast the next day reiterating the point, albeit in the context of discussing letters an eighteen-year-old Gore actually did write in 1966 to his girlfriend Tipper; they'd been made public a year ago
A lesson learned? Sure -- but Rosen would have preferred gathering his wisdom another way. "Yes, it's true," he concedes. "I was suckered."
Return to sender: My nomination for 2000's weirdest correction goes to the Denver Post, for a September 16 notice so confusing that it requires translation -- which, as it turns out, is entirely appropriate. Inside a box that at first glance looked like an advertisement was the heading "Correction Notice" and the following statement: "The business reply card in Spanish, offering a free 30 day subscription to the Denver Post to the readers of 'La Solución,' was printed and distributed without previous knowledge or authorization from 'Páginas Amarillas Hispanas La Solución.' 'Páginas Amarillas Hispanas La Solución' and 'Solid Future Publications' had no involvement in the creation and/or translation of the reply card and are not responsible for the spelling and grammar mistakes in the text. The Denver Post apologizes for any confusion this may have caused."