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Arthur Schaper: Who’s Pushing the DePetro Boycott?

Friday, January 10, 2014

 

Arthur Schaper answers the question: Who is behind this momentum to bring down the independent conservative shock-jock?

Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day.

So sang the Mamas and the Papas in the 1960s. They were busted and disgusted with their sudden superstar, drug-addled rock status, and everyone got fat, except Mama Cass. As for WPRO and John DePetro, they were singing a different tune, not like a fat lady, this past Monday, January 6, 2014:

I’m hooked on a feeling, high on believing, that you’re in love with me.

After eleven thousand votes in a ProJo poll, 75% for keeping DePetro, it would appear that Rhode Islanders more than not support DePetro, or at least they support his right to speak on the radio, regardless of the reaction or recrimination of his opponents, or his targets. More specifically, individual activists have declared that they do not want public sector unions and politicians, no matter where they stand, deciding who can speak on the Providence airwaves. At this time, a petition to retain DePetro in the face of union bullying has taken to the Internet, RI, hosted by Barrington resident Peggy Price. Contacts with her have not yet been returned.

Letters in the local press abound with support for the radio host. Go Local Mindsetter Russell Moore commented earlier this week that no matter what people on the outside may thing, it’s all about the money. Perhaps the controversy has only emboldened the station to keep DePetro. A succès de scandale is still a success.

Who is behind this momentum to bring down the independent conservative shock-jock? Yes, there’s that wonderful list at the bottom of the website outlining the steering committee, and yet where are they getting their money?

Does Checkmate Consulting play a role in this smear campaign? If this political group is pushing the DePetro boycott, then what we have is nothing more than fake grassroots paid with public money: AstroTurf, Big Labor style.

Last year, DePetro fingered Brad Dufault and Ray Sullivan, both of whom have leadership connections with Checkmate Consulting Group, the same firm which helped pass gay marriage in Rhode Island. Calls and emails to Checkmate Consulting were not answered. Pouring over the Twitterverse, Checkmate Consulting is re-tweeting the tweets from For Our Daughters, so at least there is evidence of comity, if not collusion.

Now, on to For Our Daughters. . .

Taking a closer look at the “For Our Daughters RI” website, one finds a hasty patch-up with the word “Hate” more prominent than the allegations of wrongdoing.

I contacted the Rhode Island Secretary of State for some background information on this “grassroots” organization. Despite its stately status, the Secretary of State provided me in a timely fashion the election results for the 2010 and 2012 Providence, Rhode Island elections, both the assembly and state senate seats in play along with the mayoral results, and even the tallies for federal offices. They had no information on the group, and even the representative with whom I spoke was at a loss for whom I should speak with about “For Our Daughters”.

For all the talk about transparency in campaigning and government, For Our Daughters acts in just as elusive and specious a manner as many corporate entities. What gives? At the bottom, the steering committee lists individuals related to public labor, including Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals Liz Larkin, Alert Communications Controller Paul Harrington, Roy Coulombe of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, RIFT Director of Political Activities Maureen, and Robin Covington, a lobbyist for the Rhode Island League of Women Voters. Contacts with these individuals were not returned, either. ProJo reported that these members of the For our Daughters Steering Committee, but after attempts to contact all them, none of my calls were returned, nor my emails answered.

For the sake of argument, even if one assumes that John DePetro is a depleted misogynist and guilty of the very charges of sexual harassment leveled against him from individual claims, the personal character cannot determine whether public sector unions and politicians should decide who gets to speak and who does not in a free society. In fact, speaking with local and statewide residents on the matter, they have voiced strong opinions about protecting DePetro’s right to free speech, even if they believe that he is a “despicable human being” or they have heard reports of other salacious allegations against the radio host.

Returning to the website, For our Daughters, the first sentence claims:

John DePetro's reputation as an abrasive misogynist is widely known, but his latest attack on women can't go unanswered.

The radio recording with the “W” comments were released in September, yet two months later, a petition emerges to threaten local companies to tell WPRO to fire the radio host. Two months later? If this man poses such a threat to the integrity and proper treatment of women, where was NOW? Why did these determined petitioners wait for two months?

“It’s because they’re smart!” one local media affiliate told me. But that’s precisely the point and the problem: "they". Who are they? Why won’t they acknowledge who is paying for this DePetro boycott?

 

Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter@ArthurCSchaper, reach him at [email protected], and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.

 

Related Slideshow: Infamous Talk Radio Controversies

Prev Next

Arbitron Ratings Scandal

In 2008, radio host John DePetro found himself in the midst of a ratings controversy.  The Boston Herald reported,

The briefly stellar ratings of controversy-dogged-talkmeister John DePetro’s Providence radio show tanked yesterday after a whiff of scandal forced Arbitron to reissue its spring survey of listener-dial habits.

In the 6 to 10 a.m. weekday slot occupied by the self-proclaimed “Independent Man” on WPRO-AM (630), “the reissue ranked WPRO at number nine” among valued 25- to 54-year-old listeners, “down from the number four rank in the original release,” program manager Paul Giammarco and station market manager Barbara Haynes announced in a joint statement.

Prev Next

Candidate Name-Calling

DePetro was fired from Boston radio station WRKO in 2006 for calling then-gubernatorial Rainbow Party candidate Grace Ross a "fat lesbian." 

Prev Next

Office Scuffle

The Providence Journal's Mike Stanton reported on an altercation in 2009 between DePetro and radio host Ron St. Pierre.

DePetro said he was hit -- and scratched -- in the eye with a balled up paper with a staple thrown at him by St. Pierre.  

Prev Next

Buddy's Return - to Radio

 

After five years in prison for racketeering conspiracy from 2002 to 2007, former Mayor of Providence Buddy Cianci returned to the public eye with a radio show on WPRO.  

While controversial, Cianci's continued popularity has people wondering if Buddy might just make another run for Mayor in 2014.  

Prev Next

Chafee's Talk Radio Ban

Upon taking office in 2011, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee announced that he would not appear on talk radio shows and barred state employees in agencies and departments that report to him from doing the same during work hours.  

Governor Chafee is among the elected officials who have signed the "For Our Daughters" pledge.  

Prev Next

Dennis and Callahan

WEEI sports radio hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan were suspended in 2003 when they referred to an escaped gorilla as a "Metco gorilla" waiting for a bus to Lexington -- with Metco being bus program that buses inner-city students to suburban schools.

Boston's http://www.wcvb.com/Radio-Station-Gorilla-Remarks-Spur-Advertiser-Concerns/-/9849586/11281756/-/5lg3o9z/-/index.html#ixzz2nbPAwzd2" target="_blank">WCVB reported that advertisers Dunkin' Donuts and Blue Cross pulled back station support in light of the incident.  

Prev Next

Severin Suspended

WTKK's Jay Severin was fired for making comments about sleeping with female employees over the years.  

Radio Ink reported on Greater Media's reaction to the incident.  

"Greater Media today ended its relationship with Jay Severin. Our company has always encouraged a free and open dialogue on a variety of issues and topics, and we will continue to be guided by that principle. But we also demand that our on-air talent maintain an appropriate level of civility, and adhere to a standard that respects our listeners and the public at large.

Prev Next

Imus' Racial Remarks

in 2007, nationally syndicated talk show host Don Imus called Rutgers women's basketball players "nappy-headed hos."  Imus was suspended -- then fired -- by CBS Radio.  

Five years later, Imus was back on the national radio circuit, as reported by New Jersey.com

Prev Next

Rush Limbaugh

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is no stranger to controversy; his latest remarks prompted the Democratic National Committee to call on Republican leaders to boycott the Daily Caller, which defended Limbaugh's remarks in an article entitled, "Liberals want to stop men from checking out women." 

 
 

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Comments:

DePetro is back, Alex and Ani still advertise on the station and politicians are eking their way back on the air for interviews. Common sense has won out. Heck, unions STILL have the General Assembly in their back pockets, what they worried about anyway?

Comment #1 by David Beagle on 2014 01 10

I listened to DePetro this morning. Right on top of things as usual, Art.

You wrote,"For the sake of argument, even if one assumes that John DePetro is a depleted misogynist and guilty of the very charges of sexual harassment leveled against him from individual claims, the personal character cannot determine whether public sector unions and politicians should decide who gets to speak and who does not in a free society."

This begs the question, Who DO you think should determine whether or not DePetro keeps his show?

Comment #2 by John Onamas on 2014 01 10

Mr. Beagle hit the bulls eye!
While I don't happen to be a big fan of Mr. DePetro, this "campaign" was nothing more than an extremely thinly veiled attempt by organized labor to remove one of their most prominent critics.

They, like many other liberal groups, believe the only people who have a right to express an opinion are them and those who think like them. It's kind of ironical how many liberals have become some of the most intolerant people in the country.

Comment #3 by Walter Miller on 2014 01 10

But don't liberals and conservatives have a right to express their opinion equally, no matter their agenda? Don't you think that DePetro has an agenda?

Comment #4 by John Onamas on 2014 01 10

Arthur, what Projo poll are you referring to? The only poll I see regarding Depetro has 8904 votes, and 65% that "welcome" him back. Your numbers are 11 thousand votes and 75% supporting him. Is there another poll? And if this is the poll you are referring to, why the discrepancy?

Comment #5 by A Rendel on 2014 01 10

I get a kick out of the fact that Depetro's sister moved to Jamestown, which apparently has a very good "Special Ed" program, as a renter, and then bailed to Narragansett when the child in question was too old for the Jamestown schools which go only to grade eight. What she cost the town to which she paid no taxes to is, well, interesting.

Comment #6 by G Godot on 2014 01 10

G..Godot
Renters pay property taxes, it is included in their rent. They also pay property taxes on their cars

Your Welcome Sammy the..landlord

Comment #7 by Sammy Arizona on 2014 01 10

A Rendell:

Here's the poll which I referenced:

http://www.providencejournal.com/business/content/20131213-campaign-to-force-wpros-depetro-from-airwaves-expands-to-boycott-by-politicians.ece

You may have referenced that poll at an earlier time, which would explain the discrepancy.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks!

Comment #8 by Arthur Schaper on 2014 01 10

Yeah, sure, and if the renter happens to rent a home the OWNER of which has a coupla tax exemptions for... the town will NEVER recover the extra cost. Included in the rent.... ROFLMAO.

Comment #9 by G Godot on 2014 01 11

Wow Arthur, really trying to manufacture a scandal, aren't you? You keep asking who, even in the title "who" is behind it, then you answer your own question: their names are listed on the website. But now you must find out where the money is coming from, desperate to call it "public" money, which is obvious nonsense. I'll take a guess, Art, the money probably comes from the people who's names are listed. Ya think? And how much money do you think it takes? they got a website up, someone's probably making calls, how much do you think that costs? Very little. There's no scandal to uncover. And the fact that the secretary of state "has no information" about them means what? Nothing is what it means. Same thing when people don't get back to you. It doesn't mean their hiding something, it just means they can't be bothered with your dopey questions. There's nothing else to know. There's a website, sponsored by some people who list their names right on it. That's some investigative report you've put together..

Comment #10 by D Regnan on 2014 01 11

Arthur,
By quoting the results of a Projo Open Access poll and passing it off as a real poll, you show a profound misunderstanding of how to gauge public opinion on this or any subject. Here is the difference between the two. The implications of the difference undermine your argument.

Opinion Poll
"An opinion poll, sometimes simply referred to as a poll, is a survey of public opinion from a particular sample. Opinion polls are usually designed to represent the opinions of a population by conducting a series of questions and then extrapolating generalities in ratio or within confidence intervals."

Open Access Poll
"An open access poll is a type of opinion poll in which a nonprobability sample of participants self-select into participation. The term includes call-in, mail-in, and some online polls. The most common examples of open access polls ask people to phone a number, click a voting option on a website, or return a coupon cut from a newspaper. By contrast, professional polling companies use a variety of techniques to attempt to ensure that the polls they conduct are representative, reliable and scientific. The most glaring difference between an open access poll and a scientific poll is that scientific polls typically randomly select their samples and sometimes use statistical weights to make them representative of the target population.

Since participants in an open access poll are volunteers rather than a random sample, such polls represent the most interested individuals, just as in voting. In the case of political polls, such participants might be more likely voters. Because no sampling frame is used to draw the sample of participants, open access polls may not have participants that represent the larger population. Indeed, they may be composed simply of individuals who happen to hear about the poll. As a consequence, the results of the poll cannot be generalized, but are only representative of the participants of the poll."

Comment #11 by Jonathan Flynn on 2014 01 12

I disagree with your response.

The fact that eleven thousand people participated, and more importantly that there are that many who care about talk radio in Rhode Island, suggests that the issue is very important. Moreover, the number of letters in the press, on Facebook, and comments with local leaders also suggest that Rhode Islanders, and Providentials specifically, are tired of public sector unions who threaten their vocal critics.

Does this debate about free speech "rattle your cage", John? If so, then all the better. Stay Loco, my liberal friend!

Comment #12 by Arthur Schaper on 2014 01 13

Your response eliminates all your credibility. 11k represents 1% of RI residents and talk radio, by most estimates , represents about 3-5 % of radio listeners. The people who care are the same 3% of the electorate that, frankly, like your commentary. It is not a representative poll, it is a cherry picked bogus statistic for you and your kind to feel good about. If more people were on your side, your representation in the GA would be closer to being even. It is not. Do you comment on California politics or did you give up on that already?

Comment #13 by Jonathan Flynn on 2014 01 14

I wouldn't be so sure 11 thousand individuals participated in that poll, Arthur. One can vote as many times as they want, they just have to reopen their browser.

Comment #14 by G Tallsan on 2014 01 14

Arthur, why don't you answer my question.

You wrote,"For the sake of argument, even if one assumes that John DePetro is a depleted misogynist and guilty of the very charges of sexual harassment leveled against him from individual claims, the personal character cannot determine whether public sector unions and politicians should decide who gets to speak and who does not in a free society."

This begs the question, Who DO you think should determine whether or not DePetro keeps his show?

Comment #15 by John Onamas on 2014 01 14

John:

Regarding who determines whether DePetro keeps his show or not, here are people who get to make that decision:

1. Station owners: they assess the demand, the ratings, and how much money the radio host can draw it. They can terminate a contract if the radio host does not abide by their agreement, as well.

2. Advertisers, in that they can finance or refuse to purchase advertisements for the program.

3. Enough individual listeners can tune out a radio host, which will drive down profit for a station, and thus move the owners to fire a radio host, too.

Regarding boycotts: Once again, private individuals and organizations have every right to boycott whomever they please. When public sector unions get involved, corralling their coerced funds to spend on candidates and causes which rank and file members may or may not support, that is an abuse of power and makes a mockery of the democratic process.

DePetro is back on air, and this "For Our Daughters" website gives the impression of a veiled front based on specious allegations. A history of attacking women? The website sites four incidents, with some as much as six years apart!

This is fomented offense or manufactured outrage at this point.

Questions?

Comment #16 by Arthur Schaper on 2014 01 15

Art, I agree with your 3 points. The unions cannot fire Depetro. However, you have effectively eliminated the ability of unions to influence station-owners, advertisers, and listeners through exercise of their right to free speech. Free speech is not limited by a person's allegiance to any group, their belief in any ideology, or by who signs their paycheck. By extension, you would limit the same right of free speech of any group--from a book club to the NRA--to respond to issues that concern them using whatever legal means available. Free speech doesn't mean that anyone gets to say anything they want while everyone else just shuts up. In fact, the right of organized groups of people to virtually unlimited media influence over public and private policy was affirmed by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United decision.

As for Depetro, I'm glad he kept his show. I don't make a point to listen to him, but I don't turn him off either, and occasionally he has interesting things to say. You question whether he has a history of attacking women, and then you confirm it in your own words: "The website sites four incidents, with some as much as six years apart!" That's the definition of history. I'll give anyone a mulligan for a first mistake, but four times is three times too many in my opinion.

Comment #17 by John Onamas on 2014 01 15

"I'll give anyone a mulligan for a first mistake, but four times is three times too many in my opinion."

You have deviated from the point which I have made many times, and I fear that you are adopting a narrative contrary to the main issue.

I find it fascinating how people will dress up a certainty out of four attacks over six years. No, that is not history. And he did apologize or the remarks.

You are welcome not to listen to him, too.

You disagree with the points which I have made. I have nothing more to add.

Thanks for reading.

Comment #18 by Arthur Schaper on 2014 01 15

You'll forgive me I'm puzzled that you consider a response to your own words a deviation from your narrative. Perhaps in the future, you should indicate typographically which points are parts of your main narrative and which ones are throwaway lines.

Yes, we do disagree. I believe that free speech is a right that is equally apportioned. You believe it is a right only granted to those with whom you agree.

You are saying that four incidents of attacking women does not indicate a history. I say it does, and a disturbing one. If a person needs to apologize four times for the same thing, he needs to examine his behavior a bit more closely.

Interesting discussion on Depetro this morning, huh?

Comment #19 by John Onamas on 2014 01 15

I have a number of questions:
1.)You state “private individuals and organizations have every right to boycott whomever they please” but public sector unions do not have that right because “corralling their coerced funds to spend on candidates and causes which rank and file members may or may not support.”
2.)What money was spent on “candidates and causes” in order to compel them to join this boycott. (Dollar amounts please)?
3.)If the unions are influencing these politicians to participate in the boycott with money, please explain why many republicans, and Gina Raimondo herself, who received no “funds” from the unions are participating?
4.)You state that the allegations against Depetro are “specious” (false, inaccurate, unfounded doubtful). The “allegations” are that he called a group of people whores. Is it your contention that he did not say that? If you agree he did, then what is “specious”? And why are they “allegations” and not facts?
5.)Why does the fact that you don’t know whether all “rank and file members” support the boycott of Depetro mean the union does not have a right to organize a boycott?
6.)You state that the website contends Depetro has a history of attacking women, but you feel he doesn’t because they only cite “four incidents, with some as much as six years apart!”. How many incidents, and what time frame do you feel would be sufficient for him to be considered having a history of attacking women?

Comment #20 by K Sullvin on 2014 01 15

"Art, I agree with your 3 points. The unions cannot fire Depetro. However, you have effectively eliminated the ability of unions to influence station-owners, advertisers, and listeners through exercise of their right to free speech."

Unions which exercise free speech through voluntary donations, I can accept. The reality remains that union money is never voluntary, at least from what I understand of the public sector collective bargaining units in Rhode Island, as well as in California, where members are required to join, and face incredible difficulties to opt out of dues and resign from the unions.

Comment #21 by Arthur Schaper on 2014 01 17

"Unions which exercise free speech through voluntary donations, I can accept. The reality remains that union money is never voluntary, at least from what I understand of the public sector collective bargaining units in Rhode Island, as well as in California, where members are required to join, and face incredible difficulties to opt out of dues and resign from the unions."

For the purposes of your moral judgment, this might be true. Legally, you would have no standing. Many organizations require dues as a condition of membership,and some of them aggressively lobby. Moreover, I believe that most union members do not feel "compelled" to pay dues. They see it as an investment toward maintaining their interests. Why do you believe you understand their best interests better than they do?

Comment #22 by John Onamas on 2014 01 17

If a collective bargaining unit does not compel membership, then the dues are voluntary.

If a union submits up front: "We support X and Y", and thus permits an employee a choice whether to join, fine.

That is not the case today in public sector unions. The issue ultimately returns to this: for any association to spend monies coercively collected is an immoral practice, contrary to the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Right to work, right to join, right to spend one's own funds as one sees fit.

Thanks again, John. Do you have a Twitter handle? Follow me @ArthurCSchaper

Comment #23 by Arthur Schaper on 2014 01 17




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