WASHINGTON – People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas said his organization will ask activists to pepper the Pentagon with calls to put Ed Schultz’s talk radio program on the American Forces Radio Network (AFRN), after plans to air the program were scrapped by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Allison Barber, the “coach” of the now-infamous staged, scripted satellite feed featuring President Bush and troops in Iraq.
Schultz, who does a nationally syndicated talk radio show from his home in Fargo, North Dakota, received word last week (view the letter received by Schultz’s producer, James Holm) that his show would debut today on the taxpayer-funded radio network for U.S. troops around the world. Last Friday, Schultz played excerpts of Barber coaching the troops in the satellite feed. At 6 a.m. today, Schultz’s producer, James Holm, received a phone call from Allison Barber. Barber informed Holm that AFRN would not air Schultz’s show today, and that she could not guarantee the show would ever be added to the network.
“It certainly looks like retribution. Why else would a top Pentagon official personally reverse a decision made far below her rank?” asked Ralph G. Neas, President of People For the American Way. “It looks again like this administration is using brute force to quash voices of dissent and limit criticism of its actions. That’s just wrong.”
Neas pointed out that Schultz, who calls himself a “red-meat eating, gun-toting progressive,” would provide a much-needed voice of balance on the AFRN network, where the schedule is packed with such well-known ultraconservatives as Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, and James Dobson of Focus on the Family.
Neas said he would write to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld urging that Schultz’s show be added immediately to worldwide distribution on AFRN, as was originally planned, and informing him that PFAW members and activists would be urged to call the Pentagon to ask that the decision to not air Schultz’s show be reversed.
“The men and women of the Armed Forces deserve to hear different points of view. The Armed Forces Radio Network was never intended to be a propaganda machine for the government, but a voice of freedom for servicemen and women all across the world,” said Neas.