The campaign of Barack Obama (D-IL) has asked supporters to flood Tribune’s WGN-AM Chicago with phone calls to protest the booking of Stanley Kurtz on talk show "Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg." Kurtz has been making the media rounds to discuss the relationship of Obama and former Weather Underground radical and current professor and education advocate William Ayers. The move goes along with the campaign’s attempts to squash a 527 ad campaign on the same topic from American Issues Project which has been trying to spend up to $2.8M in battleground states. While AIP is trying to find a justification to spend what is not hard campaign cash in an advertisement, the WGN situation is seemingly a simple objection to Kurtz being booked at all. "WGN radio is giving right-wing hatchet man Stanley Kurtz a forum to air his baseless, fear-mongering terrorist smears," said the campaign in an email to its supporters.
According to the Chicago Tribune, whose parent company owns WGN, the Obama campaign said at the very least the station should rebut claims made by Kurtz that have been debunked. However, the Trib noted that the program’s executive producer claimed that the campaign declined an opportunity to include one of its own representatives on the show.
WGN GM Tom Langmyer, in answer to queries from the company’s flagship newspaper, said that station policy was followed, that it is used to strong responses due to its policies of airing opinions from all sides and not shying away from controversy. “We simply provide an open forum for civil discussion,” he said.
RBR/TVBR observation: If your station gets into politics at all, don’t be surprised if you hear it from people. Both campaigns are paying close attention to what’s be said, and who’s on the air where – just ask NBC about the McCain campaign. They are not just challenging who gets access and what they say, they are also challenging the validity of entire topics, as is the case in the immediate situation. It only figures to get noisier before it gets quiet.