Clear Channel is a behemoth—the media conglomerate owns 850 radio stations, making them the gatekeeper of mainstream radio airwaves across much of the country. And this week, the company is being a total douchebag.
The crime? Refusing to run ads for the South Wind Women's Center, a full-spectrum reproductive healthcare clinic in Witchita, Kansas that opened this year in the space that was Doctor George Tiller's clinic before he was murdered. Clear Channel says the Kansas clinic's ads violate the company's "decency standards."
Here's the transcript of the "indecent" ad:
"South Wind Women's Center was founded to reestablish access to full-spectrum reproductive healthcare. The center provides high-quality medical care and trusts women to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. South Wind Women's Center: Entrusting women with their own medical decision-making."
If Clear Channel is trying to defend mainstream American values by pulling these ads, the company should note that that most people in America favor a woman's right to a legal abortion if she should choose to have one. Apparently, the people who run Clear Channel aren't a part of that group—like, really really aren't, considering that neither of the ads they banned even used the word "abortion."
Is this douchey? Yes. Shocking? Not really, unfortunately. Clear Channel has a long history of douchiness, including in 2004, when they refused to admit to a conservative bias despite giving a campaign contribution of $42,200 to George W. Bush. In more recent history, there's also the fact that Bain Capital (Mitt Romney's ex-company) holds a major financial stake in Clear Channel.
As if this isn't enough for the douchebag label, they're also the parent company of Premiere Radio Networks, the group that produces such charming programs as The Rush Limbaugh Show, The Glenn Beck Program, and The Sean Hannity Show. So, apparently, Limbaugh calling N.O.W. a "bunch of whores" is decent but legal reproductive care is not. I guess douchebags really don't mind when the people on their programs are total douchebags.
But this isn't just about ragging on a conservative company. This is about creating access to abortion. Women in Wichita need to know about the clinic to access its safe, legal services. Keeping the clinic from advertising keeps them from reaching women who might otherwise wind up at, say, a crisis pregnancy center.
The South Wind Women's Center has started a petition to demand Clear Channel reinstate the ads, encouraging listeners to threaten to "change the channel" if their demands aren't met. The clinic's Facebook page is currently being bombed by negative comments and reviews.
Following Senator Wendy Davis's astounding filibuster in Texas, national attention is finally being paid to all the tiny ways that conservatives have been working to control the debate around abortion and chip away at women's reproductive health care bit-by-bit. Hopefully Clear Channel will get with the message loud and clear.