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Air Enron: morning update

By Michelle Malkin  •  August 18, 2005 07:43 AM

The New York Sun is the first print outlet to pick up on yesterday’s Air America post authored by Brian Maloney and me. Reporter David Lombino writes:

A lawsuit filed by an owner of radio stations claims that the transfer of ownership of the Air America radio network from Progress Media to Piquant LLC in May 2004 was a “sham” intended to maintain the network’s assets while deceiving its creditors, according to documents posted on a blog yesterday.

In the suit, which was filed in state Supreme Court at Manhattan in May, Multicultural Radio Broadcasting, a radio station owner with affiliates across the country, is seeking more than $255,000 it claims it is owed by the current owners of Air America, Piquant LLC. Multicultural’s complaint, as posted on the blog of Michelle Malkin, a conservative commentator, states that the station owner is trying to enforce a judgment in its favor last November, in which the court ordered Air America’s owners to pay it that amount.

Lombino notes that Air America declined to comment on Multicultural’s allegations.


Another interesting article appears in this morning’s Philadelphia Inquirer, where reporter Beth Gillin writes about bloggers’ role in pushing the Air America story into the MSM. She interviewed Brian Maloney, Macho Nachos, and me for the story. Here are the questions she asked me, along with my answers:

Why are you so relentlessly pursuing the Air America story?

Simple: It’s newsworthy and national journalists aren’t covering it. The hype about Air America upon its launch last year, from the New York Times on down, was overwhelming. But where are all the mainstream media cheerleaders now as reality caves in on the beleaguered liberal radio network? Political, financial, entertainment and media reporters should be all over this. But the silence is deafening. So, blogs are filling the void.

Why do you think the mainstream media isn’t picking up on it? I seem to recall that Hugh Hewitt thought one explanation might be that Air America is a network with so few listeners that it’s seen by the rest of the media as inconsequential.

I think it’s partly ideological bias, partly ego, partly turf protection. Liberal journalists touted Air America as the left-wing radio alternative that would bring down Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio. It was a pipe dream. They don’t want to see it fail. They don’t want to acknowledge they were wrong. And they sure as heck don’t want to be forced to admit that a bunch of rabble-rousing bloggers beat them to the story and shamed them into covering it.

Its clear blogs can create enough momentum to propel a story into the mainstream — as Atrios did with Trent Lott, as Powerline and others did with Dan Rather, for example. But those were big national stories. Is Al Franken worth going after, and if so, why?

Al Franken is not the target. It’s the past and current management at Air America Radio that’s under scrutiny.

With regard to the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club funny money business, of course it’s a worthy story. A mostly government-funded non-profit charity gets bilked out of some $900,000. No one knows where the money went. Air America’s current management knew about it up to a year ago and did nothing to report it. The charity still hasn’t received a penny back. Two government probes are underway. If a conservative radio network were in the middle of this mess, there’d be no question from the NYTimes’ front-page editor that the story belonged on A1–with terrorist attack-sized headline font.

Do you like/dislike the term blogswarm?

It’s useful shorthand, I guess, but it does carry the misleading connotation of a mob of pajama-clad people piling on. The reality is far from that. In this case, as in all the other major “blogswarms” recently (see also Easongate), you have many talented individuals contributing specialized knowledge, skills, and creativity to effect change and end MSM inertia. Brian Maloney is the radio industry veteran who sniffed out the story and set things in motion, prompting other bloggers, talk show hosts, and a few MSM rarities to pitch in with their own reporting, analysis, and lingering questions. It’s more of an online brainstorm and less of a “blogswarm,” but whatever you want to call it, it’s a highly effective way of holding the MSM’s feet to the fire.

Do you think pushing the MSM by gathering information and insisting they pay attention is part of the evolving role of blogs in journalism — at least so long as bloggers have the passion and energy and networks and newspapers have the brand identity?

No question. Blog pressure and blog reporting are integral parts of the 21st Century information revolution. Better get used to it.


The New York Times responded to my question about the Department of Investigation transcript that Alan Feurer cited as the source of the incorrect Al Franken quote that appeared in this article. Senior editor Bill Borders e-mailed me:

Barney Calame has passed on your letter about the article we published on Friday about the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club. I certainly wish we had not erred in our quotation of Al Franken, but am glad we could at least correct it immediately. As for the transcript, we are not prepared to discuss our sources in that regard, but I am confident that no further correction of the article is necessary.

Unfortunately, this response raises more questions than it answers:

1) Borders isn’t prepared to discuss Feuer’s sources even though Feuer already identified his source as a Department of Investigation transcript. Maybe Feuer got the transcript from a DOI official who does not want to be identified, but if that’s the case why can’t Borders simply say that?

2) Borders is confident that no further correction is necessary. Presumably that means he’s standing by what Feuer wrote, i.e., that the botched quote came from a transcript provided by DOI. But DOI told me last week that “no official transcript exists” and that the New York Times would be running a correction. Perhaps, as Patterico suggests, DOI provided the Times with an unofficial transcript. If that’s the case, why can’t Borders say so? Alternatively, if DOI was less than fully forthcoming with me, why can’t Borders say that?

3) Finally, why would Feuer rely on a DOI transcript (if that is in fact what happened) rather than simply listen to the audio himself, as Brian Maloney did. Brian posted an accurate transcript on August 10, the day before Feuer’s article appeared.


The Bronx News, which was the first media outlet to break the Air America connection to the Gloria Wise loan scandal, has a follow-up on reporter Michael Horowitz’s role in uncovering the mismanagement of charity funds. Check it out here.


Part II of the Maloney-Malkin investigative series will appear later today on The Radio Equalizer. Don’t miss it.


Bulldogpundit at ABP:

Reading it from a legal point of view, I’d say that if facts pleaded are true, then Piquant LLC (Air America’s ownership entity) is in deep trouble. In short, Air America’s prior owners are accused of fraudulently transferring all assets – but not the debts – to Piquant LLC in order to avoid paying judgment creditors.

I’ve done some work for corporate clients and banks in Bankruptcy Court where this kind of conduct was alleged. The good part about these types of cases is that there’s usually always a “paper trail” that will eventually tell the tale. Further, the if either the Piquant or the former owners ever want to file for bankruptcy they will likely not be able to discharge the debts. Further, I had one case where a guy got convicted for this type of conduct. And in these cases the court does have the ability to “unwind” the conveyance and take the assets from the new “owner” to pay the creditor what is owed.

Leon H. at Macho Nachos tries to figure out the legal entanglements between Air America and Multicultural Radio.

Captain Ed on the NYTimes’ woeful coverage: “Do you think Bill Keller will ever feel embarrassed by this?”

Cox News Service tries to catch up, and simply regurgitates Air America’s spin. An example of stenography, not journalism.


Inside Air America: An investigative blog report
Air Enron: Al Franken needs help
Air Enron updates
Air Enron: The dam bursts
Air Enron: NYTimes corrects
Air Enron: MSM errs and lags
Air Enron: The NYTimes speaks! (or rather, whispers)
Air Enron: Heads roll, victims shafted
Air Enron: No letting up
Air Enron: Franken speaks again
Air Enron: Elite media blackout contd.
Air Enron: quotes of the day
Air Enron: Spitzer steps in
Air Enron: questions, questions
Air Enron: the blame game
Air Enron: thumb-twiddling MSM
Silence of the race hustlers
Air Enron: Al Franken speaks
Air Deadbeat: the saga continues
The Air America loophole
Air America is scrambling
Air America: Don’t blame us
Air America: Stealing from poor kids?!

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Categories: Air America, Al Franken