At first look, the February 14th story posted online for the Columbia Journalism Review titled, 'Premiere Plants' might lead the casual reader to believe that Talk Radio stars like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are stacking their popular programs with staged segments featuring callers who are not listeners, but paid performers reading from prepared scripts. This wild and reckless conjecture is simply not true and a little basic investigation reveals that and the fact these false attacks have been funded by the billionaire and currency manipulator George Soros.
The CJR "Premiere Plants' story from Liz Cox Barrett was really just a very selective cut & paste posting from another Columbia University grad and CJR contributor, Liel Leibovitz. On February 11th Mr. Leibovitz posted the story on Tablet Mag titled 'Radio Daze.' In that story Leibovitz does write about Premiere Radio's service, 'Premiere On Call' and how stations around the country are using actors to augment their programs but nowhere in the article does he offer legitimate proof or any reasonable semblance of proof that Beck, Hannity, or Limbaugh ever made use of the service. A quick email to Glenn Beck's executive producer asking the question was met with a definitive, 'No, we have never used actors." Leibovitz leads readers to believe otherwise:
Premiere syndicates some of the more sterling names in radio, including Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity. But a great radio show depends as much on great callers as it does on great hosts: Enter Premiere On Call.
“Premiere On Call is our new custom caller service,” read the service’s website, which disappeared as this story was being reported (for a cached version of the site click here). “We supply voice talent to take/make your on-air calls, improvise your scenes or deliver your scripts. Using our simple online booking tool, specify the kind of voice you need, and we’ll get your the right person fast. Unless you request it, you won’t hear that same voice again for at least two months, ensuring the authenticity of your programming for avid listeners.”
The actors hired by Premiere to provide the aforementioned voice talents sign confidentiality agreements and so would not go on the record. But their accounts leave little room for doubt. All of the actors I questioned reported receiving scripts, calling in to real shows, pretending to be real people. Frequently, one actor said, the calls were live, sometimes recorded in advance, but never presented on-air as anything but real.
"Their accounts leave little room for doubt?" Doubt of what? That some of the thousands of radio programs airing daily around the country are using actors to stage scenarios to be discussed on air? Real people are rarely as animated as professional actors and getting their permission to air dirty laundry on a popular radio show would not be that easily achieved. YES, actors are employed on radio, but on Entertainment-based shows, not on Talk Radio where the callers literally start ringing the call-in lines an hour ahead of the show, willing to wait on hold for a chance to interface with stars like Beck, Hannity & Limbaugh.
Premiere Radio, the largest radio syndicator in the country offers a wide variety of services to stations around the country. From Programming to production support, and for virtually every format on the dial. And yet Leibovitz only names three radio hosts in his accusatory article, Beck, Hannity and Limbaugh. Why those three and none of the other big names in the Premiere Radio stable? Names like Jesse Jackson and Randi Rhodes were not mentioned.
The answer to the question is simple, George Soros.
Both Leibovitz and Barrett are connected to the Columbia Journalism Review. On the Columbia Journalism Review site, under their short list of "Major Funders" we find:
The Open Society Institute - Note the website for Open Society, www.soros.org
The Sunlight Foundation - An organization that received $300,000 in funding from 'The Foundation To Promote Open Society'
And so we have the Columbia Journalism Review, directly and indirectly funded by George Soros. Two CJR staffers advancing a theory that the three biggest voices in Talk Radio, the shows with the most rabid and loyal audiences would not have enough call-in traffic to support their daily broadcasts, so they would have to resort to actors reading scripts.
This not-quite-truthful story has already gotten picked up, expanded and twisted, by sites like Crooks and Liars who printed it with the title:
Hmm. Prominent Conservative Radio Hosts Planted Scripted Actors Among Callers
This distortion will undoubtedly get repeated by other outlets in the blogosphere and it is a safe bet that before the week is out, the story will end up fueling an hour of giddy speculation on MSNBC.
And these guys regularly call Beck a conspiracy theorist.