The Boston Globe editorial page today runs a curious correction: “An editorial Tuesday misidentified the radio chain that pulled the Dixie Chicks from its country stations’ playlists in 2003. It was Cumulus Media, not Clear Channel Communications.” The editorial is linked from the correction.
Well, now. The way the Globe first had it is certainly the way I remember it. What happened?
To begin with, you will not be surprised to learn that Clear Channel itself loudly pats itself on the back for not doing what a lot of us think it did. Here’s what the corporate Web site says in part:
MYTH: Clear Channel radio stations banned air-play of the Dixie Chicks after political comments.
FACT: The radio company that banned the Dixie Chicks was Cumulus Media, not Clear Channel. That company also hosted the CD-smashing ceremony outside its Atlanta, Ga. headquarters, during which bulldozers crushed the group’s CDs. Simon Renshaw, the Dixie Chicks’ manager, told the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee in July that Clear Channel Communications did not ban the group’s music and had received a “bad rap.”
According to the blog Facing South, published by the Institute for Southern Studies, Cumulus‘ behavior was indeed more outrageous than Clear Channel’s — so much so that U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., once warned the company that its actions were turning it into a symbol of everything that’s wrong with media consolidation.
Still, it’s not as though Clear Channel stations never banned the Dixie Chicks. In March 2003, two Clear Channel stations in Jacksonville, Fla., dropped the Chicks following Natalie Maines’ “we’re ashamed” remarks about President Bush at a concert in London. So did the Clear Channel station in San Antonio, Texas, where the company is headquartered. And that’s just based on my quick Googling this morning.
Clear Channel also organized pro-war, anti-Dixie Chicks rallies across the country, featuring the loathsome Glenn Beck. And this Wikipedia entry strikes me as a pretty balanced summation of the charges against the company:
There is speculation that Clear Channel … may have directed their stations to [ban the Dixie Chicks], but the company states this was solely the work of local station managers, DJs, and angry fans. Some critics of Clear Channel, including the editors of Rock and Rap Confidential, say otherwise, claiming that Clear Channel executives, in a bid to gain support for various policies they were pushing in Washington, instigated the boycott among its country music stations to send a message to other musicians that criticizing President George Bush’s administration could hurt their careers through reduced airplay, etc.
It looks to me as though the original Globe editorial was true but not accurate. The correction is accurate but not true. Will the third time be the charm?