Ed Schinik, COO, Yorkville Advisors
These days, the networks that bring you the news are as much a part of the headlines as they are responsible for airing them. From gaffes by some of the biggest names in the business, to alleged affairs, assaults and “inappropriate banter,” The News has become part of the news.
This is especially true when big name companies get busted doing something that would make good headlines for their competition. It’s a tight, highly-competitive market out there, and, since much of the news is polarized, whichever network can win the “swing viewers” gets the advantage.
Trust is a big factor in earning that consumer loyalty… and earning that trust goes well past pithy slogans and popular pundits. You have to appear balanced, fair and impartial as an agency. And that’s the line mega-media company Salem Media Group is accused of crossing.
Salem is best known for syndicating some of the country’s most popular – and most conservative – radio talk show hosts, as well as a plethora of popular political commentary websites. Now, that company is having to answer for emails obtained by other news agencies that seem to indicate Salem “pressured” its stations to run commentaries that were slanted toward one particular political candidate.
Since that bombshell announcement, at least one former Salem radio host is going on record, saying she was fired for refusing to read the biased material on the air.
According to Elisha Krauss, the messages insisting on certain reporting came while she was co-hosting a morning show on KRLA with Ben Shapiro. Both Krauss and Shapiro were hired based on their political leaning, but both broke with the mainstream of their side of things to be critical of a certain political candidate. When the bosses at Salem tried to get them to switch it up, Krauss refused. She met with her supervisors who, she says, “explicitly directed” her to support the candidate she did not feel merited support.
Krauss says, when she refused to kowtow, she was fired. Prior to that, Krauss’ supervisors sent very critical emails demanding that she and Shapiro change the tone of the conversation regarding the candidate.
Of course, this is not the first time Salem has been accused of trying to make the media “home cookin’” a little too blatant. A few weeks before the news broke about Krauss, several writers at the conservative blog RedState were fired for, essentially, ‘not being partisan enough’ in regards to the same political figure.
This may be the end of it, and this story could go away, but if more surfaces, it’s very likely Salem’s competition will pour it on, looking to set the company up as a megaphone for one figure, rather than a news company. If and when that happens, very deep lines will be drawn for consumers, and those in the middle will find themselves compelled to choose a side.