How Media Matters Infiltrated a Major Conservative Talk Radio Network

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Posted: Apr 25, 2022 11:30 AM
How Media Matters Infiltrated a Major Conservative Talk Radio Network

Source: Cumulus Media

Cumulus Media, a national radio and podcast company, has repeatedly been in the news for several missteps its leadership has made when it comes to its hosts and handling of COVID-19 in recent months — but it turns out those missteps may be more by design than the result of ineffective management.

As Leah reported last October, some Cumulus hosts took a stand against the company's vaccine mandate that saw a number of radio hosts employed by the company quit or get fired because they chose not to get vaccinated for personal or medical reasons. The decision followed President Biden's calls for large companies to mandate COVID vaccines before a since-invalidated federal OSHA mandate was instated, but puzzling given the media company's overwhelmingly conservative hosts and listeners.

Making matters worse, and raising more questions about the decisions made by Cumulus leadership, was the situation that saw Cumulus unceremoniously cave to a woke mob and fire conservative host Amber Athey from WMAL, the conservative talk station owned by Cumulus in the Washington, D.C. market. 

The situation revealed a troubling reality for a company that holds almost entirely conservative stations in its talk format portfolio — it's apparently just as susceptible to the whims of radical leftists who use trumped-up claims to demand ideological opponents be de-platformed. 

The obvious question in the wake of Cumulus Media's decision to fire Athey is: Why? The company's talk stations and podcast hosts are almost exclusively conservative, save for a few stations and personalities who've made a leftward turn. It would follow, then, that Cumulus listeners are almost entirely on the right side of the political spectrum and therefore it is conservative listeners from which Cumulus makes its money.

A quick look at Cumulus leadership reveals that a member of its board of directors is Tom Castro, who is also on the board of the left-wing Democrat cover operation Media Matters for America. Castro is, in fact, the MMFA board's treasurer. 

Dispelling any notion that Castro's position with either board is merely symbolic, an interview with Castro from 2016 sheds light on his ideology and what his leadership intentions are. Described as "a lifelong Democrat," Castro previously worked "to lobby for the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which legalized immigrants who came to the United States before 1982." After the legislation passed, he was "hired by the federal government to help immigrants of all backgrounds understand the nuances of the law. By the time the campaign ended, three million undocumented immigrants, 80 percent of whom were Latino, had been legalized," the interview explained.

As Castro is quoted, "I learned the golden rule: he who has the gold makes the rules.” 

And indeed Cumulus, under Castro's tenure, made the rules that run contrary to what is considered mainstream conservatism in addition to enacting a vaccine mandate and firing a conservative host at the behest of a cancel mob.

A host who's worked at a Cumulus-owned station detailed some of the leftist propaganda points that were decreed by Cumulus leadership. Among the most glaring, the host told Townhall that they were cautioned to tread lightly when it came to the violent BLM and Antifa riots that turned American cities to smoldering rubble, as if it wasn't immediately clear that leftist rioters were to blame and needed to be held accountable. 

A document titled "The Guiding Principles of Cumulus Media Programming" shared with Townhall shows how the company addressed content concerns. "...the words and actions we present to the public — as well as the absence of words and action — are a direct reflection of the company," the document explains, hinting at a leftist trope about how "silence is violence," a refrain used to compel speech. "Cumulus' culture, and by extension its programming, is defined by: The open, informed, and civil expression of diverse ideas, perspectives, passions and opinions," the guide also explains. "This means we can't have the fun of the last part — impassioned, diverse opinions — without the first part: well-informed civility." Conservatives know well that calls for "civility" are just another excuse used to silence conservative speech from college campuses to political debate, to (apparently) radio companies as was seen in the firing of Amber Athey.

In another Cumulus document guiding employees' speech, the thinly veiled left-speak gets even more obvious:

While this might otherwise go unsaid, the world is upside down, and with the emotions and tensions and fears that have been roiling through our country from the onset of the pandemic to the ongoing reactions to brutal racism, there has never been a time that has called for us to be more attuned to our audiences. So ASK for that help BEFORE you key the mic, or post something questionable on social media. Few of us have perfect pitch, and it is always smart to bounce an idea off another knowledgeable person.

First of all, Cumulus' guide conveniently omits "riots" from the reaction it mentioned and also fails to note the "roiling" emotions from small business owners and others who were being terrorized by Antifa and BLM. 

The document continues to, in a twist of tragic irony, claim "Cumulus content relies on facts — we consider the source, we double-check the assertions, and we seek to always provide the truth... We're held to a higher standard than the average person on the street, or that anonymous 'keyboard warrior,' the troll, shuttered away, pounding out messages of misdirected anger. We're better than that," Cumulus claimed.

Yet, none of those practices were exhibited by Cumulus when it accepted the false assertions of a cancel culture mob about Amber Athey, ignored the facts of the situation, and failed to provide the truth. Instead, Cumulus caved to disingenuous leftists, keyboard warriors, trolls who were indeed "pounding out messages of misdirected anger." Cumulus was not, in fact, better than that. 

Being "better" is apparently too much to expect from a company that has a Media Matters director on its board. While profiting off of conservative talk radio and its massive audience of listeners, Castro is also profiting off of its demise. The crossover between the two should concern Cumulus' conservative hosts even more than the lefty-sounding corporate messaging because, if Castro and his MMFA board colleagues had their way, conservative radio hosts would all be off the air. As was seen with the layoffs due to noncompliance with the COVID vaccine mandate and the complicity with cancel culture warriors that saw Amber Athey fired, that work may already be underway.