Thanks to a concerted effort among conservatives, America has been addicted to hate for too long. Like many destructive commodities, as long as “hate sells” its purveyors will never stop peddling it and in 21st Century America nothing sells like hate. Conservatives thrive on peddling hate because it resonates with their increasingly ignorant racist, sexist, and nativist base. In fact, Republicans have benefitted greatly from selling hate and it was that fact that likely prompted Mormon cultist and then aspiring Republican presidential candidate Willard ‘Mitt’ Romney to direct his company, Bain Capital, to buy control of America’s leading hate radio network, Clear Channel. Romney’s intent was to use “his new” hate radio network to curry favor with the hate-addicted Republican base to win the White House in 2012.
Fortunately, not all Americans were as inclined to buy all the hate Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and others were selling and after a carefully-devised and crowd-sourced boycott effort, iHeart Radio Networks (formerly Clear Channel) is facing an over $20 billion bankruptcy. There is probably something in the Christian bible denoting how horrible it is to take pleasure in the distress of another person, but in the case of the right’s hate mongers and for the good of the nation, one cannot help but celebrate the news that Willard Romney likely helped foster the impending demise of hate radio.
It was reported late last week that the president of iHeart Media, Bob Pittman, was forced to make an emergency trip to San Antonio to personally grovel before a judge and beg for a restraining order. The order was all that stood between the network staying open and creditors putting the company into bankruptcy for defaulting on its $20 billion debt. The former Clear Channel network owns 850 radio stations across the nation that includes a substantial network of “hate radio” talk shows hosted by right-wing extremists such as Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.
Those four popular, among conservatives, hate-mongers are guilty of propagating fear and hate among their audience by pandering to racists, misogynists, homophobes, and xenophobes that consistently support Republicans. That hate-mongering inspired a substantial group of Americans, 139,000 thus far, to sign a petition to boycott Rush Limbaugh’s sponsors that helped drive thousands of hate-radio advertisers to flee for fear of their own businesses’ demise. Limbaugh in particular drew the wrath of decent Americans for his attack on Sandra Fluke that incited a very small group to start the StopRush, among others, movement and organize a potent counter-attack against Limbaugh’s particularly vile brand of hate.
Of course, killing off advertising dollars had a devastating effect on hate radio, but just as devastating was selling the company off to bankruptcy ring operators Willard Romney and Bain Capital. After Romney’s plan to use a media giant he owned failed to win the White House, he directed Bain to implement his now-legendary scam to saddle Clear Channel with incredibly massive “private loans” that Bain and Romney knew in advance the media giant could never repay.
With mounting debt piling up, the media giant’s only hope was a desperate attempt to dig itself out of deep dark hole even while the “hate radio industry’s profit margins completely collapsed” due to advertisers succumbing to intense and well-organized public pressure to bail on hate talk. The effect was that in 2015, iHeart Media posted losses of over $661 million that sent a clear message to creditors that the corporations would never be capable of repaying its debt. Just interest on the wrong-headed loans amounts to $1.74 billion and with advertisers virtually non-existent and mounting revenue losses, iHeart is a two-week restraining order away from bankruptcy.
What started the big rush toward bankruptcy court was a deceptive maneuver by iHeart that the corporation’s creditors’ claim is a violation of their lending agreement by shifting money from one division of the business to another instead of paying toward the debt. Naturally, iHeart Media contends that the lenders are lying and claimed that the illegal asset transfers “constituted a permitted investment under, and fully complied with, our financing agreements.”
The creditors are furious because instead of at least attempting to make its interest payment, iHeart transferred a $200 million dividend from its Outdoor Holdings corporation to a subsidiary media company to save it. The senior debt holders who have the first claim to assets when the company goes under contend the illegal stock transfer “constitutes a default and they intend to call in the debt within 60 days.” Calling in the debt iHeart cannot pay would lead to a default that will “cascade and trigger defaults on the companies’ other crushing debts leaving everyone empty-handed; except Bain and Willard Romney.
Sadly, decent Americans will have to wait a couple of weeks to find out whether hate radio is bankrupt and unable to pay its purveyors of hate. Whatever iHeart president Pittman said to the judge earned the company a 14-day restraining order although it is highly unlikely less than two weeks is enough time to dig itself out of debt. It is true hate sells, but not enough to cover a $20 billion debt in 14 days.
The encouraging news is that the hard work and due diligence of a small number of outraged Americans who organized the various StopRush movements achieved more than just getting advertisers to flee the hate mongers; they may have had a strong hand in dealing a death blow to a major supplier of hate.