Statement re: Corporate Censorship

William O’Shaughnessy
wfo@wvox.com

Statement

Re:
Corporate Censorship

May 25, 2017

Organized coercion and intimidation of corporations, networks, news media, and educational institutions which is often clandestinely and stealthily subsidized is just as dangerous and chilling to Free Speech as censorship by government fiat, directive, decree, mandate or dictum.

And it matters not if it’s directed at Bill O’Reilly, Don Imus, Rush Limbaugh, Opie & Anthony, Howard Stern, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Billy Bush … or Donald J. Trump, president of the United States.

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WO Interview with Chris Ruddy, Chairman, Newsmax, re: Roger Ailes, President Trump, the Media and Cable News …

William O’Shaughnessy

Interview with

Chris Ruddy

Chairman, Newsmax

Re:  Roger Ailes, President Trump, the Media and Cable News …

May 18, 2017

 

William O’Shaughnessy:

The world of news and network television lost a luminous figure this morning with the announcement that Roger Ailes, formerly of FOX News, has gone to another and, we are sure, a better world.  As he departs, let’s go now to Palm Beach to one of his neighbors, also a network president, he’s the founder of NEWSMAX. Can I accurately describe that as somewhat “conservative?”  His name is Christopher Ruddy. Chris … Roger Ailes … did you know him?

 

Chris Ruddy:

Bill … I knew him very well.  I’ve known him for about 20 years. He was a genius on television, an incredible giant in the news business. We once had a cover of Roger Ailes we did for our magazines. Most people know us for our network and website.  The cover said: “The Most Powerful Man in News!”  Roger told me a few weeks later he met Obama … and Obama said to him “Oh, the man Newsmax says is the most powerful man in news!” He was a giant. He changed the landscape of news and cable news forever. He changed the country. I don’t think Donald Trump would ever have been elected if it wasn’t for Roger. 

 

WO:

Chris Ruddy …  what’s going to happen now to FOX News?  Are there opportunities for you, for Newsmax?

 

CR:

Well, Bill, we’ve already been out there on Newsmax TV.  We’re now on Verizon FIOS channel 615.  We expect to be in another 30 million homes over this summer.  People can call their call their cable operators and ask for Newsmax TV.  We’re building a very powerful lineup.  We think we’re, in some ways, better than FOX.  We give opportunities for people to call in, to become part of the programming.  And we have a lot of good newsmakers coming on all the time.  Alan Dershowitz was on yesterday, for example.  FOX opened the door for networks like Newsmax. Roger was a pathfinder and broke the media monopoly. For years, you know, the media was largely liberal and left-wing. 

 

WO:

And now …?

 

CR:

And now the media, I think, is more open to other points of view.  I think CNN, for example, has become more centrist because of FOX.  It used to be very left wing in the day.  I know Donald Trump doesn’t like the media … but if they didn’t have FOX as the counterweight, Donald Trump would have gotten very little airtime on the major networks.  I think the country benefits from multiple voices. This idea that we should only have one point of view – back in the day when there were three networks led by Cronkite, let’s say as the preeminent anchor, there was generally an Establishment view on things.  Now we have multiple views.  Even MSNBC … I watch that too. I don’t agree with most of their programming, but I think it’s good, interesting stuff.  I think Ailes would applaud that.  That said, I think the guy was … you know in this business … the difference between genius and insanity is a very thin line!  Roger had a lot of quirks.  There’s been a lot of allegations about him and FOX News and sexual harassment issues … it’s not my job to judge that, other than to say that the situation there seems pretty darn messy.  As you may know in the ratings, MSNBC is beating FOX in a lot of the key demos now.  It’s not good for FOX.  And I think with Roger not being there, they don’t really have an organizing principle any more.

 

WO:

Christopher Ruddy … another network said that Roger sold his home up the road apiece in Garrison.  And another place he had in Creskill, New Jersey and moved to Palm Beach where you are, at the moment.  What is it about Palm Beach that all you network chiefs repair to the damn place?

 

CR:

Well, it’s Shangri-La down here.  It’s an incredibly beautiful area.  It’s got a lot of people from New York and New Jersey so there’s a cultural mix that’s pretty accommodating, let’s put it that way.  A lot of amenities.  The tax environment … we have no state income tax, so a lot of people love that. Roger was also facing a lot of litigation, and a lot of people think the reason he bought a $36 million dollar home on the ocean very quickly was that he was hoping to shield assets in some of the litigation he’s going through.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it is a smart idea for a lot of people.  I love New York. Newsmax has an office in New York.  I think New York is still the epicenter of the media world, for instance, and in business and commerce.  But Florida is a great state.  C’mon down if you haven’t been down here yet.

 

WO:

Christopher Ruddy … Roger Ailes, in recent years, took a lot of shots.  But he happened to have been a very generous man.  There’s a group called the Broadcasters Foundation of America, and at the risk of embarrassing you, you also are very generous to that national charity.  Is there a side to Roger Ailes that maybe people didn’t know about?  You know a lot about a lot of things …

 

CR:

Well, I think he would not have risen to the success he did if there wasn’t a lot of good attributes.  I think he was intensely loyal to his friends.  I’m sure he had a charitable side as you point out.  I think he had a lot of empathy for people.  We’re hearing a lot of dark stuff about what happened there. Again, I don’t know if it’s true.  But I think there was probably a lot of good stuff there.  I think he deeply loved America.  He really strongly believed in a secure nation.  I would talk to him often about the sovereignty of the United States. Before Donald Trump was talking about these issues in any serious way, Roger Ailes was.  He was the guy that got everybody worried about the border.  Ten years ago, nobody was talking about the border. Now, it’s a major issue. And Roger started that.   Donald Trump carried the flag.  And has done a good job raising that flag.

 

WO:

While we have you live this morning from Palm Beach, I want to beg another minute to ask you about your friend, and you were accused in the New York Times of being a very good friend of the president. I understand there’s a photo going around that shows you sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office and he’s standing there with his hand on your shoulder. What the hell do you talk about?  Chris Ruddy and Donald John Trump?  What do you guys schmooze about?

 

CR:

Bill, I think that somebody photoshopped that photo! (laughter) I don’t think it’s an accurate photo. 

 

WO:

I don’t believe it …

 

CR:

I think the CIA or the Russians or Putin or somebody did that and I’m going to need to launch a full investigation.  I will appoint a special counsel to find out why my photo with the president was photoshopped!  (laughter)

 

WO:

But you do go to Mar-a-Lago, Chris Ruddy, and you do know the guy.

 

CR:

I’ve known him for 20 years.  I’ve known him well, I’d say, for 10 years.  I am a member of Mar-a-Lago, although I knew him before I was a member.  I’ve known him from the media. I’ve been with him in Scotland, at the opening of his Scottish club. So I’ve gotten to really know the president.  On his personal side, he’s a great guy.  He’s not what the media is depicting him as.  I think he’s a businessman, Bill. He’s not a politician.  And there’s good attributes to that and there’s bad attributes to that. So we’re finding out he doesn’t know that you can’t tell the FBI director: I think you’re pushing too hard on my guy.  Donald Trump would talk very candidly and openly to people.  Nobody told him that’s obstruction of justice if you mention this to the FBI.  And I don’t think he intended that, if he said it at all.  So I think they’re out to get him.  They don’t like him.

 

WO:

Christopher Ruddy … can he survive, President Trump? Tell us.

 

CR:

I think he can. There’s a book I’ve been recommending to everyone.  It’s called Big Agenda by David Horowitz. David has sort of a game plan. He wrote it before Trump became president and then so much of it became true:  the Big Agenda. He sort of lays out a way for Trump to survive all this. David predicted a likely impeachment hearing.  They were talking about this before he even took the oath of office.  I think he can.  But I do think he needs a strong team of advisors around him that are experienced and better in political matters.  I think what we’re seeing with the firing of the director of the FBI is that he did not have an experienced team. The very fact that they thought that  it would be widely accepted as a good idea and that the way they did it would be accepted as a good idea … it was a very strange situation which has led to this catastrophic situation he potentially faces now. 

 

WO:

Can Mueller hurt the president?

 

CR:

Immensely.  But it also will take time.  He doesn’t have time.

 

WO:

Summer has come to New York, Chris. You’re not the only one with good weather today.  Thank you Mr. founder of Newsmax. We’re glad we can get you now in Westchester on FIOS. 

 

CR:

Thank you, Bill.  You are a legend and a beacon of hope for all of us in the media world. 

 

WO:

Chris Ruddy, wonderful stuff …

 ###

William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America, the national charitable organization.  He is also a longtime director and member of the Executive Committee of the Foundation. He has operated WVOX and WVIP, two of the last independent stations in the New York area, for 56 years as president and editorial director.

 

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … and “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files,” released in January, 2011. He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, another anthology. He has also completed “Mario Cuomo:  Remembrances of a Remarkable Man,” a tribute to his late friend Governor Mario M. Cuomo which has just been published. 

Re: Billy Bush: He Deserves A Second Chance

Re:  Billy Bush
He Deserves A Second Chance
A WVOX Commentary
by William O’Shaughnessy
May 24, 2017

 

Billy Bush is an absolutely wonderful young man … a graceful fellow with sterling manners. But for one unfortunate and memorable lapse, he’s always been a perfect gentleman. 

He started as an intern with our suburban Westchester stations WVOX right out of Colby College in 1994.

Despite the Access Hollywood incident, Billy Bush has been a class act in every season of his life. 

He brings to everything he does – on and off the air – a generous helping of born–and-bred bonhomie, gregarious ebullience, joie de vivre and effervescence. He has always been accompanied by a lot of pep and gracious enthusiasm in everything he does. 

He’s also a fine journalist with good instincts who lights up a television studio. And as we’ve observed him over the years … there’s not a mean damn bone in his body. 

As the world knows, he is also a nephew of a former president of the United States (George H.W. Bush) … a cousin of another (George W. Bush) … and grandson of a United States Senator (Prescott Bush.) Interesting that he’s never “played” or bragged on any of that.

His father is the estimable Jonathan Bush, who Mario Cuomo once described as “the Bush all the others would like to be.”

In an era of vapid, vacuous, boring, tedious, unexciting talking heads, bimbos and poseurs glued to Teleprompters, we still think Billy Bush is a bright, shining star with great potential and a great future.  Because he’s real

And it is our hope that the elders of the television networks will not hold the temporary vulgarity of his frat boy episode with Donald Trump against him.

William “Billy” Bush has clearly done a lot of sincere, quality time, soul-searching with respect to the feelings of women. And he remains the gentleman he was brought up to be.    

To choke off this young man’s career would be unfortunate … nay, inexcusable. 

He deserves a second chance.

 

# # #

As I recalled in my new book Mario Cuomo:  Remembrances of a Remarkable Man, even the former Governor of New York was greatly taken with the young Mr. Bush and the way he carried himself years ago.  Here’s an excerpt:

 

The governor had considerable admiration for the Bush family. And Vice versa. I vividly recall a summer meeting of the New York State Broadcasters Association at the fabled Gideon Putnam, an historic old lorelei of a hotel in Saratoga Springs. William “Billy” Bush, who spent the summer with us as a news intern at our Westchester community stations, “covered” the upstate confab, with broadcasters from all over the state, at which the governor was the featured speaker. After Mario’s formal remarks, he opened it up for a Q & A session.

The very first question came from the attractive young man in the back of the room: “Mr. Governor, my name is William ‘Billy’ Bush. I am an associate of your friend Mr. O’Shaughnessy. I’d like to ask you why must it always be ‘us’ against ‘them’ in the public discourse?”

The room hushed and waited for Mario’s response to the excellent philosophical question, which was right over the heart of the plate for Mario Cuomo. “Well, I can tell from the elegance of your question that you are indeed a Bush …” And then Mario hit it out of the park with a beautiful ten-minute reply.

After the conference was over, I received a call in my car going down the Hudson River Valley. “Who was that attractive young man; is he really a Bush?”  Mario asked.  When I explained that Billy was the son of Jonathan Bush, Mario said, “Oh, I like his father very much.  He’s the one with the great personality, the one all the other Bushes wish they were like.”

 

# # #

 

William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America, the national charitable organization.  He is also a longtime director and member of the Executive Committee of the Foundation. He has operated WVOX and WVIP, two of the last independent stations in the New York area, for 56 years as president and editorial director.

 

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … and “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files,” released in January, 2011. He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, another anthology. He has also completed “Mario Cuomo:  Remembrances of a Remarkable Man,” a tribute to his late friend Governor Mario M. Cuomo which has just been published. 

 

 

Contact:

Cindy Gallagher
Whitney Media
914-235-3279
cindy@wvox.com

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Eulogy for Jimmy Breslin

Governor Andrew Cuomo

Eulogy for

Jimmy Breslin

Church of the Blessed Sacrament

New York, NY

March 22, 2017

 

The Cuomo and the Breslin families grew up together in Queens. Mr. Breslin and my father had bonded over the Corona 69 homeowners versus Mayor John Lindsay conflict. Obviously, they were with the homeowners. Together they were fighting City Hall — literally and metaphorically — and they would all their lives.

I was 12 at the time and to me Mr. Breslin was just plain scary. Mr. Breslin smoked a cigar and he smelled like it. He had a gruff air and apparently had no time or love for little children.

With his broad chest, open collar and full head of curly black hair, he looked like a lion with a flowing mane. Although I was frightened by Mr. Breslin, I couldn’t help taunting him occasionally, the way a mouse would run through the paws of a lion.

I was too small to really engender his wrath. He would call the house multiple times at night and I would imitate the way my father answered the phone with a simple, deep throated “Yup.”

That’s all Mr. Breslin needed to start a diatribe. He would normally begin by cursing some politician and then continue for several minutes stringing together profanities and comments on parts of the human anatomy that I had never heard before.

He would pause for a breath and I would say, “Oh Mr. Breslin, you must want to talk to my father.” This would incite the lion’s rage and he would say, “You little blank-blank,” and just hang up.

He would come to the house and sit with my father at the kitchen table — a round, blue Formica table that was designed to look like marble. They only have blue marble in Queens. I would sit down the hall and listen. They would have a drink — and talk for hours, railing against the injustices in life and the failures of the system.

My father was a lion too — a different species without the mane or the colorful language — but a strong, aggressive lion nonetheless. And together they would roar.

They were great crusaders for justice. Always on the side of the little guy. Dismissing the liberal elites and professional agitators, their True North was the common man. They were always looking to step into a fight against the bully. And they loved each other.

As they were two tough Queens guys, I’m sure they never actually said they loved each other. Queens men didn’t say that to each other then.  But they did.  And they knew it.

There was a softer side to their relationship. Mr. Breslin in the quieter moments, would talk about his family, and his face would change. His first wife Rosemary, and how she was a saint — his daughters: Rosemary the superstar, the writer, my sister Maria’s best friend.  And Kelly, the enchantress. His boys, his sons — Kevin, James, Patrick and Christopher. He talked with great pride and love in his voice.  And listening to him speak I hoped that my father had that same love for me.

My mother and Jimmy had a sweet, caring relationship. There was a vulnerability to Jimmy and my mother, always the nurturer, was naturally drawn to him.

Jimmy met Ronnie Eldridge, a strong, brilliant woman, and a political force in her own right and the two married. I can only imagine being married to Mr. Breslin was more than a full-time job.  And God bless Ronnie for all of the support and love. My mother believes Ronnie literally kept Jimmy alive for years.  And with Ronnie came a bonus — Daniel, Emily, and Lucy. And they all brought him much joy.

If my father were here today, he would say Jimmy was an artist and his pen was to paper what Picasso’s brush was to canvas. He would say Jimmy was never a Newsday reporter or Daily News employee — he was just “Breslin,” anywhere and everywhere. He would speak of his superb God-given gifts and selflessness in using them to do good. He would say Jimmy faced many hardships in life. That he came from a family of hardships and suffered much pain, early and later in life, losing both Rosemary and then Kelly.

But my father would say while a lesser man would have grown angry and bitter from the loss, Jimmy grew more empathetic and compassionate.

I hear Mr. Breslin’s voice often. I hear his voice as governor. I recently commuted the sentence of a woman in Bedford Correctional after 35 years of imprisonment. It was clear she committed a terrible crime. But after visiting her it was also clear to me she was a different person now. It was a hard, political decision. I spoke to Ronnie, her fierce advocate, about it many times. I could hear Jimmy’s voice saying, “She made a mistake — we all do. She learned, she paid the price, she spent her life in a cage, and she is now different. Jesus would pardon her. Who the hell made you better than Jesus?”

Mr. Breslin’s life was a life well-lived. We mourn today not for him, but for ourselves — for his family’s loss and our loss — because, in truth, in today’s world we need his voice more than ever. A voice with power and credibility, who wrote stories from the street not from a laptop. Who believed there was no truth worth telling that could be told in a tweet. Whose voice was authentic because he was authentic.  He was New York — hardscrabble, brilliant, difficult, gifted, complicated, argumentative, accepting … and loving.

But as the spirit lives … his voice lives in all of us.  And if we listen we can hear him saying today, “What do they mean they are going to cut the taxes for the richest Americans and tell the poorest we can’t afford to give you health care? Who do they think they are — who made their lives more important than the rest of us?”

It’s not over. Mr. Breslin’s quest for social justice and integrity goes on. He is here today with his good friend Mario and they are reading the papers — the hard copies — and railing at the outrage, disgusted by the political cowards, and ready to fight the good fight.

I say “Roar, gentlemen, roar! Let it echo down from the heavens! And we will hear you!”