Everything That Rises Must Converge
The Nemesis of my Nemesis is Not My Friend. And We’re Not Related
Two of my biggest concerns about Georgia media for the last few years, political control and unchecked shenanigans at state-run Georgia Public Broadcasting and the rise of an alt-right local media infrastructure associated with Steve Bannon (no relation), began to converge last week.
The MAGA media outlet Georgia Star News published a story about Fulton County’s elections:
Lawmakers in Georgia’s Republican-controlled state Senate tried to cut nearly half a million dollars from Georgia Public Broadcasting’s state funding because “some members of the Senate are not happy with some of our content, but mostly on the NPR radio side” according to emails from GPB’s CEO Teya Ryan to the Gov.’s office obtained through an Open Records Request.
A donation link, reader survey, and grant-funded front-page story make me wonder.
It wasn’t so much the lure of a $200 gift card, which would only go to one lucky responder, than an interest in what the AJC was eager to hear from its subscribers that caused me to click through its most recent reader survey last week.
The bulk of the questions were about the public service mission of newspapers.
After seeing this tweet posted by the account Free Public Media in the weeks before Georgia’s close elections, I emailed Gov. Kemp’s spokesman and several other state officials, including Republican and Democratic leaders in the state legislature, asking for comment. About the tweet itself and related scandals at GPB.
More than most NPR or PBS affiliates, GPB receives over 40% of its funding from state appropriations. Moreover, its oversight Commission members are appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate.
None of the state officials I emailed replied.
That may be understandable given my lack of press credentials…
Steve Bannon-allied radio host John Fredericks announced on his program this morning that he is purchasing Atlanta station AM1690 WMLB.
He said his takeover begins March 1st.
Ironically, WMLB AM1690 was an Air America affiliate from Sept. 2004 until its purchase by eccentric radio owner and host Joe Weber in 2006.
During its Air America era, the station carried progressive hosts and personalities including Al Franken, Rachel Maddow, Marc Maron, Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder.
Fredericks’ network of stations in Virginia currently airs his own morning program, Steve Bannon’s War Room, and hosts Michael Savage, Mark Levin, and Dan Bongino.
After a tumultuous year in which Georgia played an outsized role in national politics, and after years of political interference, conflicts of interest, and cronyism at its state-run public broadcaster, NPR’s Public Editor finally wrote something about GPB.
But instead of forthrightly tackling its ethical lapses, the column praises one reporter’s access journalism scoop and uses it to promote NPR’s regional news hubs.
Never mind that no such hub exists in Georgia and in fact a wasteful, petty turf battle between GPB and Public Broadcasting Atlanta has been ongoing for over five years.
Before joining Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, my namesake but no relation Steve Bannon famously made Breitbart News a “platform for the alt right.”
He is now active in fostering an alternative right-wing local media infrastructure in Georgia. One encompassing new digital websites, podcasts, and cross-platform video and radio streams that openly challenge both the state’s mainstream media and its legacy talk radio stations.
Like Newsmax and One America News now challenging Fox News from the right, this MAGA media challenge to Georgia’s established conservative outlets echoes a civil war within the Republican Party.
While Fox News and talk radio helped…
Extensive cross-promotion agreements and joint TV specials by Georgia Public Broadcasting and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reveal deepening ties between the two media organizations.
Added to an ongoing radio relationship, the arrangement between a public broadcaster, whose oversight body is politically appointed, and a legacy regional newspaper, owned by the state’s richest family, amounts to a public-private media conglomerate.
One that is rife with conflicts of interest and antitrust concerns but that has consistently dodged any serious outside scrutiny.
Underwriting agreements obtained through an Open Records Request, show a lengthy trade agreement in which state-run Georgia Public Broadcasting received weekly print…
Atlanta writer and comedian. Occasional citizen journalist. Diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 40. No relation to Steve.