The WALTHER REPORT
By Tony Walther
Probably the blog I shouldn’t bother to write, but I feel I have to comment about one of the few counters to right-wing hate radio, Bernie Ward, formerly of KGO Radio in San Francisco.
The “Lion of the Left” as they called him, was sentenced today to more than seven years in federal prison, to be served at Lompoc, Ca., a minimum security facility. He was convicted on numerous counts of distributing child pornography via the internet.
He had maintained he was doing “research” on a story, but I guess it seems as he had done a little too much “research.” I didn’t follow the whole story closely, but I heard that he had had some problems previously (don’t know for sure about that). He had been a Catholic priest at one time.
The point is this. It is always disturbing when someone who has been such a spokesperson for a point of view gets discredited on moral grounds. The worst example in modern history I think is Bill Clinton. Now he did not have to go to prison and he did not do anything illegal or quite as disgusting (oh, I guess he may have committed perjury, maybe).
In Clinton’s case, the tragedy is that he gave the other side (extreme right wing) such ammunition against progressives and liberals and anyone who is not extreme right wing everywhere.
The extreme right wing, neocon, even fascist-like politics of the last decade or two has been largely supported by the ubiquitousness of right-wing super cynical don’t let the facts get in the way radio and the void of any other point of view on the airwaves, to include middle of the road.
Ward filled that void. He was extreme left. I often did not agree with his extremism. However, I appreciated his analytical ability and his handle on events. As I drove a big truck down the road in the middle of the night, he was the first one to give me a heads up on the fact that George W was taking us into Iraq and that was before 9/11, as I recall. Bush was looking for an excuse and he found one (and I don’t want to get into the merits of that argument).
I should also mention, Ward was a tremendously successful fund raiser for causes mostly dealing with feeding the poor.
But as I blogged once before, I did always notice something creepy about Bernie Ward, usually when he discussed drugs and sex.
Then one night he casually mentioned that he might be in trouble for something involving research on a story or book he was writing concerning child pornography. It was kind of like, hey I had to look at it to do the research, would they put a policeman or a prosecutor in jail for looking at the evidence? I didn’t think much of it at the time and then was shocked when I heard that he had been arrested and charged (and I may have been the only one shocked; I don’t know).
I do know this: he reached millions of people all over the U.S. because of KGO’s strong nighttime signal (50,000 watts, I believe). He was also becoming a fixture on TV talking head panels because of the oddity of a far left mouthpiece these days (or anyone that is not far right).
It seems plausible to me that he could have been set up by the feds. But he has pleaded guilty and apologized (maybe because to fight it would be hopeless and you can get better treatment and possible time shaved from your sentence if you say you’re repentant).
I suppose the fact is that he is just plain guilty of a terrible and disgusting and heinous crime.
Certainly he deserves what he gets if that is the case.
I wonder how much talking he did to authorities. He often counseled that the last thing you want to do when dealing with the law (police, prosecution) is talk, even if you are innocent. Keep your mouth shut, he said.
For Ward, that would have been hard to do.
P.S. I plan to blog in reaction to Barack Obama’s speech tonight.