Columnist Stephanie Grace on the unethical whores at Entercom
"Garland Robinette violated the public's trust
There was plenty of anticipation Tuesday morning, as talk show host Garland Robinette prepared to go on air to address The Times-Picayune's report that he'd borrowed $250,000, interest-free, from landfill owner Fred Heebe. Heebe, of course, is under federal investigation for trying to the force the closure of two rival dumps after Hurricane Katrina, and in the months leading up to the loan, Robinette had used his perch on WWL radio to champion an agenda right in line with that of his friend and future benefactor.
Robinette, it turned out, didn't have much to say about the matter Tuesday -- which may be just as well, because there's really nothing he can say.
His short statement amounted to a plea that listeners still trust him, that they believe his opinions "are not and never have been for sale."
"I can look my wife and my daughter in the eye and tell you the public I have done absolutely nothing wrong."
Let's put his family aside. Robinette's daughter is not yet a teenager, and his wife isn't a exactly disinterested observer; she's the one who got the money.
That leaves us, the public, as Robinette put it. To hear him tell it, we're supposed to uphold our end of some grand bargain, to take him as an honest broker.
Yet he hasn't upheld his end. His obligation started with not trading favors for coverage, but it didn't end there. He was also supposed to scrupulously avoid anything that might even hint of a conflict of interest, to run the other way if someone with a stake in a story tried to get too cozy.
Instead, Robinette ran straight toward Heebe and his big fat bank account."
The new penalty, which would come as part of a consent decree with the radio companies — Clear Channel Communications, CBS Radio, Entercom Communications and Citadel Broadcasting — would reflect perhaps the toughest F.C.C. enforcement of the decades-old regulations that prohibit broadcasters from taking secret payments in exchange for playing specific songs. Critics have accused the agency of lax enforcement.
The agency chairman, Kevin J. Martin, said, “I hope it sends a strong message to the industry that we will be enforcing these rules.”
The F.C.C. started formal investigations of the radio companies last year after disclosures that radio programmers accepted gifts, luxury trips and other enticements surfaced as part of an inquiry led by Eliot Spitzer, then the New York attorney general.