Will KVMR stand up to local tea party bullying?

KVMR provides hard right and tea party loyalist George Rebane with a slot on its news show — a decision that I’ve questioned previously.

“Let him have a program but not during the news show” has been my opinion all along.

What does the community radio station get in return? Well, not much it seems.

Last week, county tea party Chairman Stan Meckler stated the following in The Union in an opinion piece:
“I have been on KNCO and published in The Union, but KVMR refuses to interview me. They call themselves ‘The Voice of Nevada County’ but have only one conservative on the air (Rebane) and only occasionally.

“Why should they interview me? Because I represent the largest organization in Nevada County with over 2,600 members. They are also receiving public funds, your money, to keep their station open. It’s the law that public funded radio stations must allow all sides to be equally represented. What do you think? ”

KVMR’s response: “KVMR would like the opportunity to set the record straight. Here is a photo of Mr. Meckler during a live KVMR interview with our News Director, Paul Emery, on August 13, 2010, at the Nevada County Fair.

“As its recording shows, it was a very civil exchange and Mr. Meckler is certainly welcome to return. Mr. Emery had personally invited him to do an interview after visiting with him at the Tea Party Patriots booth. The photo and the full audio are available on KVMR’s webpage: kvmr.org.”

“As for the ‘law’ Mr. Meckler references, which is called the ‘Fairness Doctrine,’ he is in fact misunderstood.”

Here’s what I think:

•The tea party and Stan Meckler owes KVMR a public apology. George Rebane also should apologize on his commentary, on behalf of the group he supports.

•The Union, including the editor/publisher, also owes KVMR a public apology and a correction for not checking its facts before running Meckler’s article. The Union needs to work harder to shed its “Tea Party Gazette” reputation.

•KVMR also need to rethink providing a tea partier like Rebane with “prime time” exposure on news. It is not paying any dividends and, in fact, is alienating regular listeners. Next thing you know, they’ll be giving the hard right more air time during prime time (the goal of bullys).

Most of us are “in the middle,” as I’ve said many times before. We don’t want George polluting the newscast. Just provide George and Mecker with a slot in the weekly program schedule like everybody else.

The stakes are high for KVMR. It comes at a time when the community broadcast station is considering a new headquarters. It will require community-wide support for the fundraising effort.

A tea party picnic is here. (Photo credit: Russ Steele’s blog)

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

23 thoughts on “Will KVMR stand up to local tea party bullying?”

  1. Gee whiz, how about blog and twitter updates…and a good ole fashioned debate about those issues? Just like we do here…Pelline, Steve, Ben, RL, Pat, Judith, even with the fringe thinkers represented, provides a more moderate and lively format than a single shouter format. It could include invitations to local government,corporate and socially aware artisans and thinkers…hell, even the governor if one asked nicely. You’ve proved on this blog that two or more voices is never a dull thing. With the right, funny radio dude it could be quite the illuminating ride. Kate

  2. If any one wants a view from “the other side”, KVMR broadcasts a 3 minute segment each weekday morning at 730am by Travus T. Hipp, aka Chandler Laughlin. He’s an old hippie, but he is stuck in the 1960’s.

  3. I have always thought of KVMR as the one county major media where liberals in the community have a voice, while The Union and KNCO are, my opinion, biased to conservative readers and listeners so far as editorial policy and selection of writers and programming. Consequently, I keep my radio tuned to KVMR, and maintain a membership and support the station in other ways, such as events they sponsor and businesses who also give support. I am content with KVMR giving approximately the same opportunities to conservative presentations that are afforded liberal writers and speakers by The Union and KNCO, which is some, but not an equal amount. Should KVMR staff choose to provide equal opportunities, as a liberal, I would likely drop my support.

    1. I love KVMR, but I cringe when I hear George Rebane’s ‘presentations’. I would love to hear some well moderated debates between the left and right on issues but leave the fringe where they belong. The MUSIC brought me to KVMR and I have been enlightened by other programming. I have to disagree with Pat to some degree because this wonderful station has actually helped me gravitate more to the middle.

  4. As the former news director of KVMR, I have more than just a passing interest in this story.
    First let me say that I consider Paul Emery to be a close personal friend and I know that he is doing the best work at KVMR that he can do, especially because as an organization KVMR doesn’t support news programming in any way close to what it should do.

    I’ve been waiting a long time to say that publicly!

    Also let me be clear and say that everything I write here are my opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Paul Emery or anyone else!

    I know for a fact Nevada County’s right wing community representatives have had numerous opportunities to be interviewed for news stories and for long form call in and other types of programming at KVMR over the years.
    In many, many cases they would refuse the invitation, only to complain later that KVMR is “biased”.
    The Union has on at least one occasion been complicit in this deception.
    This took place during the Drew Bedwell vs. Bruce Conklin race for County Supervisor.
    I was told directly by former Union reporter Kevin Wiser (unfortunately deceased) that he was sent to cover a proposed debate between Conklin and Bedwell having been instructed what his headline was going to be, regardless of what happened at the event.
    This came after the Union publicly demeaned KVMR for being “biased” while privately voicing support the station’s effort to coordinate the debate.
    KVMR has a responsibility to be the “Voice of the Community” and that means making space for voices that may be anathema to some of the stations liberal-progressive supporters.
    However KVMR also has a role in maintaining a balance against the overtly conservative slant in other Nevada County media outlets.
    Let me make a big exception here for YubaNet.
    The idea that Rebane should be given a free pass on KVMR is troubling to me.
    If Mr. Rebane is given one of the “commentary” slots and it is clearly identified as such, I have no problem with it and perhaps someone like Steve Frisch of the Sierra Business Council would be a good counterpoint to Rebane.
    Not only that, but it would be great radio as well!
    I think you ask the right question in your headline.
    KVMR should definitely stand up to tea party bulling and misrepresentations in The Union.
    But that doesn’t mean only Paul Emery.
    The station’s General Manager, Program Director and Board of Directors need to step forward and rally around their news director and while they’re at it, make sure that he has the tools and support he needs to provide great news programming for Nevada County.

  5. I suppose by now that folks know my disenchantment with KVMR and a number of other local non-profits comes about through their refusal to educate themselves, learn the true history of Nevada County and the Nisenan People.
    In Arcata, I had a good relationship with KHSU because it was situated at the University, home to a very fine Native American Studies department, and up on their facts.
    Not so KVMR.
    Their leadership turned a deaf ear to me when I tried to get them to examine this very serious issue.
    The same with the Union.
    That said, there are some good people working at KVMR.
    They deserve the support that their station’s leadership is alienating.
    But, more than that, the community at large ought to be abe to rely on this public broadcasting station for the truth.

  6. I cannot act as the counterpoint to Mr. Rebane. Mr. Rebane is a radical right wing libertarian. The counter-point to Mr. Rebane would be someone like Leon Trotsky. Plus, George has proven that doing a joint event would be counter-productive since, even as a regular commentator to KVMR, he did not feel enough loyalty to his host to follow the rules we had established.

    I am actually a pretty moderate guy, and my organization is certainly a moderate organization. I would happily do a regular commentary on regional issues with an emphasis on the positive changes occurring in the region.

    There is so much good work going on out there that I would rather focus comment on the good, and leave the cranky complaining to Mr. Rebane.

  7. Actually, I think Steve F. hit the nail right on the head without knowing it. In today’s political atmosphere moderates continue to be labeled liberal or left. I consider myself a populist. I was called “Extreme Left” by Mr McClintock in an email. I sat next to a proclaimed communist in a public forum before and I can safely say I am no where even close to the extreme left. As I wrote on an facebook post tonight we are living in a corporatocracy or soft fascist (Mussolini definition) America.

    Mr. Rebane seems to be a pure partisan man that has a very narrow view of the world. A middle class white male in America view, or American exceptionalism. This is the 21st century manifest destiny ideology. I heard his commentary tonight on the health insurance regulatory bill that was passed last year, which people call Obamacare and cringed at the broad misleading characterization of single payer programs around the world.

      1. By that I meant that there is no true left in America; we have a center right country with the center defined as the left by the right, and media complicit in perpetuating this fiction.

  8. Stan Meckler is very predictable in his technique. He uses the Loaded Question fallacy and the Black and White fallacy to box people into a corner before they even have a chance to understand the question.

    A loaded question like “why doesn’t KVMR allow me on the air?” causes the KVMR board to bend over backward to show evidence that they did indeed allow him on the air. Perhaps the better response would be: We Don’t Respond to Bullies.

    A particular irony of Stan’s use of the Loaded Question fallacy is the alleged loaded question that has been posed to him by Steve Enos and others in a variety of forums claiming that Stan was caught pulling up campaign signs on private property several years ago, signs of candidates he opposed.

    Since Stan is in a pointing-fingers mode, I would really like to get to the bottom of this allegation right now. If it is false, I will publicly apologize in this forum for having brought it up again. If it is true, then I would like to hear in Stan’s own words how someone who wears the US Constitution on his sleeve can possibly be in a position to point fingers at anyone about anything.

    I think it’s time to get to the bottom of this matter. Stan? Anyone else who allegedly witnessed the event that’s been described in so many forums care to speak up?

    Oh, and while we’re at it, if the person who dumped nails in Marty Pezzaglia’s driveway would like to fess up, this would be a good time to do that as well.

    1. BTW, just to clarify, I am glad that George Rebane has chosen to air his views on KVMR and no matter what show he does this I think it is all to the good. (There was the unfortunate incident in fall 2010 with Steve F. where George stomped on the rules of a live Q&A, but since Steve F. is willing to move on, I am as well.)

      Marc Cuniberti has morphed into an idealogue during the past year, and I do not see the same level of opprobrium.

      Self-proclaimed idealogues like George and Marc are theorists, throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. They are willing to accept the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to move the dialogue forward.

      I am not threatened by this, and I recommend that y’all not be threatened by it as well.

      Stan is a very different animal than Marc or George.

      1. Michael, I am sorry, but although I am willing to turn the other cheek on George stomping on the rules of engagement that we agreed to abide by with Mr. Emery because it was directed at me, and thus is my choice, I am not willing to say that it is right for KVMR to provide a forum for a man who routinely uses bigoted epithets on his web site to describe Muslims.

        In addition, Georges beliefs are beyond being a ‘theorist’; he is an advocate of separatism, through his support for the concept of the “Great Divide”.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think that KVMR has right to provide George with a forum, but it is not right to provide George with the forum. There is a difference.

        We, as a community, should not countenance bigotry, and reward bigotry by making the advocates of bigotry a respected voices in our community. Every time he speaks publicly we should ask him, “George, are you ready to reject your use of the term ‘raghead’ to describe Muslims?”

        I am not threatened by their behavior and beliefs, but I think it is morally wrong, and we should state that every time they given a pulpit in our community.

      2. Thanks Steve. I agree with you about the distinction between “rights” and “what is right.”

        The First Amendment is the most important, so I am OK when people say stupid, ignorant, hurtful, arrogant, abusive, and ridiculous things. If they are not crying about a non-existent fire in a theater and threatening people’s safety, I am hesitant to call for censorship.

        But you are not asking for that, what you are asking for is that George self-censor after we harangue him for calling people ragheads.

        I contend that his language stands on it’s own, and the definition of “respected voice” in this community has been really hard to define, at least in the 22 years I have been here.

  9. You are right, I am not calling for censorship. I would contend that this group of mouths ability to self censor, or hold each other to any reasonable standards for civility, accuracy, or rationality is severely compromised.

  10. It is interesting, this conversation. It parallels our national, and as it turns out our international conversation. There is some sincere consequences and fall out to allowing violent, vitriolic rhetoric into the public bloodstream. I don’t know how many of you have been following what’s happening in the United Kingdom about Newscorp, News of the World, Murdoch, and the fact that their prime minister availed himself of a Murdoch “circus” promoter/press agent named Andy Coulson. This guy was an out and out criminal, at Murodoch’s behest it seems…using hacking, private investigation, harassment and bullying in the highest halls of political power…including the royal family, and members of Parliament, the House of Commons, etc. Coulson has since resigned and is facing criminal charges. A man named Tom Watson spoke yesterday in their House about allowing this kind of poison being allowed to go on day after day unchecked. He called out Glen Beck and flatly stated the man was “a bigot”…period. I would add that Beck is, in my opinion, the “Charles Manson of the fringe wing”, and Mr. Watson is a British patriot for saying so. People like Beck and Andy Coulson (a modern day Iago) are dangerous to our freedoms, and the fact that you Steve, and others like you, take on this bigotry bodes well for the freedoms here in our communities and our country. Kate

  11. This came to me from a member of the Nisenan tribe.
    It sums it all up beautifully.

    “There is an ancient Indian saying that something
    lives only as long as the last person who remembers it. My people have come to trust memory over history.
    Memory, like fire, is radiant and immutable while history serves only those who seek to control it, those who douse the flame of memory in order to put out the dangerous fire of truth.
    Beware these men for they are dangerous themselves and
    Their false history is written in the blood of those who might
    remember and of those who seek the truth.”


    1. I think that’s one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry I’ve ever read Judith. I hope it’s in your documentary.<3 Kate

  12. Kate,

    That’s a great idea.
    It was originally used in an old episode of the X-files.
    You know, the program about invading aliens ; )

  13. By the way, this is the headline over at Rebane’s Ruminations this morning: “States Busy Strapping on Bankruptcy Kneepads”

    Does anyone else find that ironic?

    I guess this means that our local right wing sages will cease any complaints about permissive language on public broadcasting.

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