The Politics of Natural Destruction, Part II
There's a fight brewing in South Florida which proves that some elected officials are willing to put partisan politics above public safety.
Drudge has this link to a story in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, indicating that local Democratic politicians want to cancel an agreement with WIOD Radio, which has long broadcast emergency information for Broward County.
The reason? WIOD, the local news/talk powerhouse, airs The Rush Limbaugh Show and other conservative hosts. As one official told the Sun-Sentinel:
Commissioner Stacy Ritter said she did not want to support a station that's out of step with area politics. Ritter, a Democratic stalwart in the state Legislature before being elected to county office, cited talk shows hosted by Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and WIOD's partnership with Fox News.
"They have every right to speak, but we don't have to do business with them," she said.
Ritter's concerns were echoed by Commissioners Ken Keechl, a former president of the Dolphins gay Democratic club, and Suzanne Gunzburger, who served on the vote-tallying board that recounted the 2000 presidential election.
Fortunately, a few people in Broward County understand that the contract is about public safety, not conservative talk shows. WIOD Program Director Ken Charles told the Sun-Sentinel that "the station's talk show lineup has no relationship with its news coverage" and that the county should focus on the benefits of teaming with the station.
Commissioner John Rodstrom seems to agree, saying the county should not publicize emergency management.
To its credit, the Sun-Sentinel gets the story right, noting that the motivation behind the current agreement is disseminating emergency information to a mass audience, and not catering to El Rushbo's listeners. WIOD has the largest news staff of any radio station in South Florida; it's 10,000 watt-signal can be heard throughout the region, and it has a number of "sister" stations in the local Clear Channel "cluster" that simulcast emergency broadcasts. For those reasons alone, renewing the deal between WIOD and Broward County ought to be a no-brainer.
But then again, the Broward County Democrats are part of an establishment that tried to disenfranchise military voters, and spent weeks haggling over dimpled and hanging chads, so common sense clearly takes a back seat to party politics. So, with South Florida in another hurricane season, Democratic partisans are playing games with public safety, in a blatant effort to "punish" the local Rush affiliate.
That tells us the local hacks don't know much about broadcasting, or emergency management. If a hurricane's bearing down on South Florida, do they really think that WIOD would preempt weather bulletins, evacuation orders and other critical information to air the Limbaugh program? When another hurricane threatens the region, Rush will be broadcasting from New York, and WIOD will do what it's always done--dump regular programming in favor of wall-to-wall storm coverage. That's the main reason that Browad County partnered with the station in the first reason, and ample reason to continue the relationship.
And there's nothing political about that.