Arthur Schaper: Who’s Pushing the DePetro Boycott?
Friday, January 10, 2014
So sang the Mamas and the Papas in the 1960s. They were busted and disgusted with their sudden superstar, drug-addled rock status, and everyone got fat, except Mama Cass. As for WPRO and John DePetro, they were singing a different tune, not like a fat lady, this past Monday, January 6, 2014:
I’m hooked on a feeling, high on believing, that you’re in love with me.
After eleven thousand votes in a ProJo poll, 75% for keeping DePetro, it would appear that Rhode Islanders more than not support DePetro, or at least they support his right to speak on the radio, regardless of the reaction or recrimination of his opponents, or his targets. More specifically, individual activists have declared that they do not want public sector unions and politicians, no matter where they stand, deciding who can speak on the Providence airwaves. At this time, a petition to retain DePetro in the face of union bullying has taken to the Internet, RI, hosted by Barrington resident Peggy Price. Contacts with her have not yet been returned.
Letters in the local press abound with support for the radio host. Go Local Mindsetter Russell Moore commented earlier this week that no matter what people on the outside may thing, it’s all about the money. Perhaps the controversy has only emboldened the station to keep DePetro. A succès de scandale is still a success.
Who is behind this momentum to bring down the independent conservative shock-jock? Yes, there’s that wonderful list at the bottom of the website outlining the steering committee, and yet where are they getting their money?
Does Checkmate Consulting play a role in this smear campaign? If this political group is pushing the DePetro boycott, then what we have is nothing more than fake grassroots paid with public money: AstroTurf, Big Labor style.
Last year, DePetro fingered Brad Dufault and Ray Sullivan, both of whom have leadership connections with Checkmate Consulting Group, the same firm which helped pass gay marriage in Rhode Island. Calls and emails to Checkmate Consulting were not answered. Pouring over the Twitterverse, Checkmate Consulting is re-tweeting the tweets from For Our Daughters, so at least there is evidence of comity, if not collusion.
Now, on to For Our Daughters. . .
Taking a closer look at the “For Our Daughters RI” website, one finds a hasty patch-up with the word “Hate” more prominent than the allegations of wrongdoing.
I contacted the Rhode Island Secretary of State for some background information on this “grassroots” organization. Despite its stately status, the Secretary of State provided me in a timely fashion the election results for the 2010 and 2012 Providence, Rhode Island elections, both the assembly and state senate seats in play along with the mayoral results, and even the tallies for federal offices. They had no information on the group, and even the representative with whom I spoke was at a loss for whom I should speak with about “For Our Daughters”.
For all the talk about transparency in campaigning and government, For Our Daughters acts in just as elusive and specious a manner as many corporate entities. What gives? At the bottom, the steering committee lists individuals related to public labor, including Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals Liz Larkin, Alert Communications Controller Paul Harrington, Roy Coulombe of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, RIFT Director of Political Activities Maureen, and Robin Covington, a lobbyist for the Rhode Island League of Women Voters. Contacts with these individuals were not returned, either. ProJo reported that these members of the For our Daughters Steering Committee, but after attempts to contact all them, none of my calls were returned, nor my emails answered.
For the sake of argument, even if one assumes that John DePetro is a depleted misogynist and guilty of the very charges of sexual harassment leveled against him from individual claims, the personal character cannot determine whether public sector unions and politicians should decide who gets to speak and who does not in a free society. In fact, speaking with local and statewide residents on the matter, they have voiced strong opinions about protecting DePetro’s right to free speech, even if they believe that he is a “despicable human being” or they have heard reports of other salacious allegations against the radio host.
Returning to the website, For our Daughters, the first sentence claims:
John DePetro's reputation as an abrasive misogynist is widely known, but his latest attack on women can't go unanswered.
The radio recording with the “W” comments were released in September, yet two months later, a petition emerges to threaten local companies to tell WPRO to fire the radio host. Two months later? If this man poses such a threat to the integrity and proper treatment of women, where was NOW? Why did these determined petitioners wait for two months?
“It’s because they’re smart!” one local media affiliate told me. But that’s precisely the point and the problem: "they". Who are they? Why won’t they acknowledge who is paying for this DePetro boycott?
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter@ArthurCSchaper, reach him at email@example.com, and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.
Infamous Talk Radio Controversies
Arbitron Ratings Scandal
In 2008, radio host John DePetro found himself in the midst of a ratings controversy. The Boston Herald reported,
The briefly stellar ratings of controversy-dogged-talkmeister John DePetro’s Providence radio show tanked yesterday after a whiff of scandal forced Arbitron to reissue its spring survey of listener-dial habits.
Sexual Harassment Claim
In 2012, DePetro was sued by a WPRO colleague for sexual harassment.
Producer Dee DeQuatro said DePetro invited her to lunch before driving to a house and making sexual advances.
DePetro denied the allegations.
Buddy's Return - to Radio
After five years in prison for racketeering conspiracy from 2002 to 2007, former Mayor of Providence Buddy Cianci returned to the public eye with a radio show on WPRO.
While controversial, Cianci's continued popularity has people wondering if Buddy might just make another run for Mayor in 2014.
Chafee's Talk Radio Ban
Upon taking office in 2011, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee announced that he would not appear on talk radio shows and barred state employees in agencies and departments that report to him from doing the same during work hours.
Governor Chafee is among the elected officials who have signed the "For Our Daughters" pledge.
Dennis and Callahan
WEEI sports radio hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan were suspended in 2003 when they referred to an escaped gorilla as a "Metco gorilla" waiting for a bus to Lexington -- with Metco being bus program that buses inner-city students to suburban schools.
Boston's WCVB reported that advertisers Dunkin' Donuts and Blue Cross pulled back station support in light of the incident.
WTKK's Jay Severin was fired for making comments about sleeping with female employees over the years.
Radio Ink reported on Greater Media's reaction to the incident.
"Greater Media today ended its relationship with Jay Severin. Our company has always encouraged a free and open dialogue on a variety of issues and topics, and we will continue to be guided by that principle. But we also demand that our on-air talent maintain an appropriate level of civility, and adhere to a standard that respects our listeners and the public at large.
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is no stranger to controversy; his latest remarks prompted the Democratic National Committee to call on Republican leaders to boycott the Daily Caller, which defended Limbaugh's remarks in an article entitled, "Liberals want to stop men from checking out women."
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