And once again it's got gutless folks caving in lest they be tainted by wickedness. Those pious frauds who burned the women of Salem would recognize their contemporary brethren.
The target this time? A dreadful fellow named Bob Grant. Mr. Grant hosts an afternoon drive talk and call-in show over WABC-AM, has been doing so for years, drawing enormous audiences, some of whom I cheerfully admit, are whackos.
A couple of weeks ago New York ran a cover story which Grant shared with another dreadful fellow, a black. In its simplest terms, the story was about a white who reputedly hates blacks (Grant) and a black who hates Jews, the other guy. So now Bob is being accused, and on all sides, of awful stuff.
The black guy, I might note, doesn't get mentioned.
But Grant? Why he's a terrible man. Hates blacks. Hates feminists. Hates immigrants. Minorities. Women in general. Doesn't get on with Lapps. Not too high on Peruvians. Thinks Clinton's a commie. You get the picture.
My impression has long been that Bob Grant's an equal opportunity hater. If you're out there, he doesn't like you. When it comes down to it, I don't think Bob likes anyone very much. He may not even like himself.
In some respects, he's Rush Limbaugh without the smooth.
The current bitching about Grant already has some advertisers running for cover. New Jersey Transit pulled its ads. It seems the Guv thought that might be a politically prudent thing to do. Amtrak pulled $42,000 in ads. Not a fortune, but still. Amtrak apparently frets about the committee power of New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, who's won re-election in a tough race. So the senator campaigns against Bob Grant. And Amtrak ducks for cover.
Public and quasi-public advertisers like railroads are among the first to submit to boycott pressure.
"You mean this might be a controversial buy, Chauncey? Oh, dear, let's not."
The most glorious part of the Bob Grant boycott isn't the advertisers; it's the folks demanding they pull their business. Led by, oh, heavens! the Rev. Al Sharpton. When last seen here in New York, Rev. Al was leading another boycott, on 125th Street in Manhattan, of white, Hispanic and Asian shopkeepers, in generally black Harlem. "Buy black!" thundered the Rev, as other chaps, whose identities have remained masked and no arrests have been made, poured glue into the front door locks of shops not operated by blacks.
Several years ago Rev. Al whipped up the troops in support of a similar boycott in Brooklyn of a Korean grocer.
Aiding and encouraging this sainted figure in his good works on 125th Street and in a boycott of Bob Grant is another Rev, this one Jesse Jackson, who in sermons and uplifting remarks, has been known to dismiss New York as "Hymietown."
They get away with it and Bob Grant can't?
But the story gets better. Gov. Christie Whitman of New Jersey used to go on Grant's show regularly, eight appearances by one published account. But now she is "shocked, shocked!" to learn Bob's a "racist."
Grant's show has peddled the same stuff for years. The format and the tone and the content don't vary that much. But now a year or so after winning election, and all those appearances, it finally sinks in on the Guv that Grant is a terrible person.
We also have here in New York a black-owned radio station called WLIB. On-air talent and guests and callers-in to WLIB on a regular basis blackguard white pols, including the mayor, whom one disc jockey calls "Adolf," white cops, white folks in general, and black moderates.
No one is suggesting a boycott of any of those shows nor of WLIB.
But advertisers mustn't spend money on the Bob Grant happy hour? Talk about double standards!
I think advertisers have every right not to spend their money in a magazine or a newspaper or on a broadcast that doesn't appeal to them. But I am against organized campaigns to force their choice of media buys. Any advertiser pulling out of the Bob Grant show these days on the ground Grant peddles a nasty message is an idiot. Grant's been doing the same shtick for years. What, they never noticed before?
Sack the media buyer.
I was opposed to the drive to boycott Rush Limbaugh. I was against driving Anita Bryant off the air. I would oppose, if it came up, a boycott of New York's station WLIB. On stuff like this I vote with my feet, buying here, not buying there, switching channels, twirling dials, picking up a magazine with a cover that grabs me, passing on one that doesn't, subscribing to this paper and not to that one.
Which is what sensible people do all the time. We make choices. We don't let others windbag us into submission.
As of this writing the WABC management (John Mainelli's the program director) has, as it should do, held firm. And more. They've taken out a couple of page ads saluting their own daylong schedule of talk shows, including, and not apologizing for, Bob Grant. Good for them.
And Grant himself? He gave an interview to Gersh Kuntzman of the New York Post, blathering on at some length about his philosophy. He did get across one specific point, responding to the New York mag piece, about a caller to Grant's show who urged whites to "oil their guns." "That's when I abandoned him," Grant says, complaining the magazine left out that part, about cutting off the caller.
Am I a Grant fan? I think I've been on the show three times, talking about the Marine Corps, fashion and the legacy of Scott Fitzgerald. If he asks, and I have something to say, I'd go on again. Not my favorite show in town; not my favorite broadcaster. But if Bob Grant gives his audience, and his management, the show they apparently want, the rest of us can tune in. Or tune out. Boycott the boycott!