Open Letter to Clear Channel
by heehorse on June 6th, 2003
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The following is an open letter written by a friend of a friend protesting to Clear Channel about racist remarks disparaging Arab-Americans on a particular talk show. Now, in the letter he is rather neutral towards Clear Channel, but I believe that he will not get a second look from Clear Channel, because I believe that Clear Channel is bad - bad for us, and bad for the country. Here's why:
Clear Channel a plurality of radio stations in the US. (1200 radio stations. 1/2 of the country's popular music stations. 247 stations in the country's 250 largest radio markets)
Clear Channel's management team is clearly biased towards one particular side of the political spectrum. This is pretty clear, as the (Texas) owners are buddies with the present administration.
While there may not be an explicit policy of political bias in the management and content Clear Channel stations, there is strong evidence that there is an implicit policy (NPR reports, Salon Articles).
A free and balanced press is an essential element to a strong healthy democracy. I feel that America's democracy recently has been in danger because of the failure of its media industry to live up to the standard of being free and balanced. For many of the print and television media, I think that it may be due to corporations chasing profits. In Clear Channels, I feel its a case of self-censorship due to political affiliation.
In any case, I am writing this, and re-posting the letter below to spread awareness.
Clear Channel Communications,
I am writing you today to express my grave concerns about Clear Channel?s production of a local talk radio station that promotes discrimination, bigotry and violence against a segment of our American community. I am writing to a wide cross section of the Clear Channel community in a desperate attempt to raise awareness of this situation. I have worked closely with Clear Channel in the past, and know that the decent people of Clear Channel would never knowingly tolerate what I am about to describe.
Specifically I'm referring to the Shannon Burke Show, which comes on between the hours of 5:30 am and 9:00 am during weekdays on WFLA 540 AM in Orlando. Mr. Burke has and continues to make very inflammatory and racist statements against Americans of the Muslim faith. For example, he recently said "Muslims hate democracy and hate the United States." He has also accused Muslims of "taking their children out of school beginning in the 4th grade and sending them off to suicide bombing school." Some of his scariest on-the-air statements include "We should round up ALL Arab-Americans and throw them out of the country," and "We should not only bomb Mecca, we should FRY Mecca."
There are many more horrifyingly racist and hateful statements he's made that I'll be more than happy to share with you if you like.
As Muslims, we believe in democratic values and are patriotic, freedom-loving Americans. We reject being tainted and defamed by a talk show host who uses Clear Channel?s vast media network to spew his vitriolic remarks. Shannon Burke has a constitutional right to state his views, but Clear Channel can also choose if it wishes to participate in the distribution of those views.
Just a few months back, an Orlando man and his daughter were shot at as the man was driving his daughter to school. The man was targeted because he "appeared" to be Muslim. A few weeks ago an Orlando mosque was vandalized; the attacker sprayed "terrorists" all over the front wall of the building. There are other documented incidents that have been reported to law enforcement in the past year, with hate crimes against Muslims increasing by 1600%.
Although I have no indication that Shannon Burke's remarks led to those specific incidents, I believe that his hate speech against law-abiding citizens of Orlando created the environment that promotes violence against American Muslims.
There already has been a backlash against this kind of hate in Orlando. An Orlando paper has already run a story on grassroot attempts to pull the show off the air (http://www.orlandoweekly.com/slug/index.asp?navId=1031) and 7 major sponsors have pulled support of the show (Joseph A Banks Clothiers, Suntrust Bank, Kaiser Pontiac, The Orlando Sentinel, Ron Jon Surf Shop, The Melting Pot, Thurston's Used Cars). Clearly it is not in Clear Channel's self interest to support this kind of programming.
I ask you to please stop production and distribution of the Shannon Burke show. I believe its association with someone who promotes bigotry against Americans is tainting the good name of Clear Channel. As a graduate of the inaugural class of the Red Mccombs School of Business, I expect better from the company Red built.
Please feel free to contact me at your convenience if you'd like to discuss this matter.
Aziz xxxxx xxxxxx