Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Great Air America MSM Cover-Up

For those of you out there that depend on the leftist MSM for your news, you have not heard about the potential criminal scandal involving Air America. The Radio Equalizer first broke this story on his blog.

'The day the media's old guard allow bloggers to drive a story, is the day they (insert Helen Thomas joke here).

Time for a look at how Air America's dirty money scandal, where as much as $800,000 in taxpayer funds were diverted from a Bronx-area community center, the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club, is being covered:

Blogosphere, Internet, New Media:

Bloggers jumped on this rapidly, beginning with the Radio Equalizer plus Michelle Malkin, and soon after joined by hundreds of others, from the largest, to the smallest.

Support has been terrific, there seems to be a realization perhaps learned during Rathergate, that bloggers simply cannot back off and allow a major story to die.'

The gist of the story is that Evan Cohen, who ran Progress Media, which had owned Air America, had borrowed monies from Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club. Mr. Cohen was the development director of this nonprofit club. The amount transferred to Mr. Cohen and then to Air America totaled some $875,000.00 dollars. This was reported by David Lombino in the New York Sun.

Fellow blogger Ed Morrissey of
Captain's Quarters picked it up and ran with it from there. Captain Ed is the driving force on this in the blogsphere, so I urge you to go to his blog for the latest updates.

'Mr. Franken said he has learned details of the story only in the last week. He said Piquant LLC, current owner and operator of the radio network, found a record of the transfers while conducting a "forensic" investigation into the finances of the previous owner, Progress Media, which was run by Mr. Cohen. That internal probe was conducted before the city agency became involved, Mr. Franken said. Efforts by The New York Sun to reach Mr. Cohen for comment in recent days have been unsuccessful.

A Piquant spokesman said yesterday that Gloria Wise would be compensated regardless of the amount of money it transferred. Mr. Franken said he did not know if money from Gloria Wise had been absorbed by the network and used to finance its operations. He said Piquant's payments to Gloria Wise were scheduled to begin this month but were prevented from going through while the city investigation continued.

A spokesman for the Department of Investigation, Keith Schwam, said that if Air America discovered the transfers before the city probe began, "They neglected to tell anyone at DOI or in the city about it."'

The above comes from Michelle Malkin's blog. One has to wonder why Air America did not immediately contact the NYC Department of Investigation upon finding these financial irregularities. What were they trying to hide? One also has to wonder why Piquant is making these payback payments over time,instead of returning the monies in full. Also, there is no mention of any interest on these "loans".

Ed Morrissey also has a fine article on this in the
Weekly Standard.

'We often hear journalists claim that their mission consists of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted. One crucial element must therefore put powerful people under a spotlight. Some journalists say that they fight for the little guy, the downtrodden, which means that the story must include victims. Still others like investigative work, digging through arcane paperwork and doubletalk to reveal misdeeds that otherwise would never come to light, which means that a crime or at least unethical conduct would help draw interest. And finally, big money always attracts a crowd and helps audiences relate to the disgraceful actions unveiled by the reporter.

Thus, the perfect journalistic storm would arise when powerful people victimize the poor and downtrodden, breaking laws or at least ethical constructs, by taking money meant for their benefit. That sort of story will get anyone's attention. All it takes is one reporter to tell the story, and the rest of the media will jump all over it. Right?

ACTUALLY, this perfect-storm story is already percolating in the blogosphere, and oddly enough, hardly anyone in the mainstream media is paying attention to it. Brian Maloney at Radio Equalizer noticed a short blurb in the local-only July 26th edition of the New York Daily News reporting that a well-known corporation had taken money from a Bronx non-profit charity--city government grant money earmarked for poor kids and Alzheimer's patients. The corporation's CEO had also served on the board of directors for Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club and had quarterbacked a "loan" to his struggling company using these earmarked funds. The Daily News also noted that the money added up to almost a half-million dollars, funds that should have provided services to the elderly and the disadvantaged children of the borough.'

Captain Ed lays into the MSM hard here and rightfully so.

Doug MacEachern has some observations in his
Arizona Republic commentary.

'According to reports, Cohen was in an advantageous position to secure the loans: In addition to directing Air America, Cohen also served as development director of the Gloria Wise club.

At the same time, it is worth noting, Cohen also secured loans to himself. All told, he borrowed more than $800,000, according to club officials.

In this case, "borrow" seems to be a loose term. The club's president says Cohen made at least one of the Air America loans - $213,000 - without her approval. Cohen no longer works for either the club or the network, and there is some indication that the current owner of Air America, Piquant LLC, may not have been aware of the loans at the time it purchased the network on May 24, 2004.

For the Boys & Girls Club, meanwhile, the results have been disastrous. The New York Department of Investigation announced in June that city grants and contracts to Gloria Wise - about $10 million worth - were to be suspended because its officials had approved "significant inappropriate transactions and falsified documents that were submitted to various city agencies."'

It looks more and more as if there is some criminal activity here. Criminal activity that has seriously hurt those who need the programs that the Gloria Wise Group provides.

Hugh Hewitt has a fine
article on this scandal and how the MSM may finally be discovering this scandal in The Weekly Standard.

'To its troubles over audience decline must now be added the very strong smell of scandal. Though you, and apparently New York's publicity-addicted Attorney General Elliott Spitzer, may not have heard, Air America is in some serious trouble for its creative start-up financing.

The full details are available from bloggers Radio Equalizer, Michelle Malkin, and Ed Morrissey, and New York Sun reporter David Lombino is digging as well. Short version: Not-for-profits that exist to serve kids and Alzheimer's' patients, overwhelmingly via the funds obtained from government grants, should not be "investing" in incredibly risky start-up radio networks. But the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club--apparently now defunct--did just that last spring, funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into Air America's coffers.

Here's the most recent IRS Form 990 for the Club. Here's the one from the year before. The Club does not appear to have made any prior "investments" of this sort, and if there are "investment guidelines" from which the Club's Board of Directors was operating, I will be very, very surprised. My producer and I have spent a lot of time trying to get a member of the board on the record about the investment. The only one who agreed to talk to us referred us to Rubenstein Public Relations. An assistant to Richard Rubenstein called me to relay that he didn't know anything about the "Gloria Wise story." Odd.'

Eliot Spitzer wants to be NY's Governor. There is no way he is going to upset his dem/leftist base to go after Air America.

This is a major story and the MSM is not covering it at all. The self proclaimed "paper of record", The New York Times, is no where to be seen on this. Considering this is a major national story and one in the Times' own backyard, why in the hell are they not on this like white on rice? Could it be that there leftist bias is showing once again? They were all over the Rush Limbaugh medical issue. The Times has even gone so far as to look into trying to get unsealed, the sealed adoption records of SCOTUS nominee Roberts' adoptive children. Yet, they have still not even given a whisper on the Air America scandal. I will continue to provide updates as more information comes available. I again urge you all to head over to
Captain's Quarters to stay up to date on this unfolding scandal. - Sailor

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