THE REAL REASON WE’RE AT WAR: A HANDY DANDY INTERVIEW WITH HARRISON
"What we are going to do is give a voice to the voiceless! There are about 160 million Americans who do not listen to traditional right-wing, intensely commercial, corporate talk radio because they have been deselected. They are simply uninvited to the party, and their voices are never heard because they don't want to fall into lockstep behind one guy who claims to be the great thinker for all the rest of them. These are people, 160 million, who read, who laugh, who have friends, who are nice - millions and millions who have no voice - and we're gonna give it to them. We're gonna throw a great big fucking party in the afternoon."
Charles Shaw interviews Harrison
COPYRIGHT © 2001, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS
Harrison may be the most unique and talented unknown in entertainment today. He’s certainly one of our most under-appreciated social critics. He’s that rare-commodity: a telegenic radio personality. His Bio reads like the memoirs of a media Utility Infielder. His career began when he conceived and produced an entertainment show for a Los Angeles cable station. The program, Screen Test, won several cable ACE awards and was a forerunner for what later became E! Entertainment Television.
Harrison's career is as varied as his interests. Through the years he has hawked wares on the Home Shopping Network, and hosted programs on ESPN and TBS SuperStation. He’s played past presidents on the History Channel and voiced characters on several award winning A&E programs. Radio has taken him to top stations in Florida Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles, and he has enjoyed the added success of national syndication. Whether in print or on-air, his coast-to-coast scoops are more than award-winning entertainment, more than thought-provoking broaHarrisonasts, Harrison takes audiences places they never dreamed possible. Millions have enjoyed his unique brand of news, commentary and satire.
His trademark radio program “Reality Check” ran from 1997-2001 and at its height was syndicated in 200 markets with the daily three hour “Ken Hamblin Show”, a Right Wing Radio Personality who refers to himself as “The Black Avenger.” Pairing him with the White, Protestant, Blue Blood, Ultraliberal (aside from being a brilliant case study in anachronism) may one day qualify as one of the most bizarre media marriages, if not one of the most baffling business decisions ever made.
Nevertheless the friction between Hamblin and Harrison led to some of “Reality Check’s” best shows. These were one-minute editorial spots of a distinctly Liberal nature that commented, with an effluvistic flair that was distinctly Harrison, on the ills that plague us, the evils that conspire against us, and the hopes and laughter that push us through. Whether he was exposing the truth behind Gulf War Syndrome, International War Criminals, Environmental Catastrophes, Genetic Tampering of Foods, AIDS or The School of the americas, the work always managed to convey an amazingly adept sense of place, context, and humor. It was a Watchdog’s wet dream, a conspiracy nut’s naughty bits. But more than that it was a beautiful marriage of Politics and Entertainment.
Then, in February of 2001, during the Ashcroft Confirmation hearings, “Reality Check” was unceremoniously dropped from all of Ken Hamblin’ s 190 stations after reporting on Ashcroft’s dubious public endorsement of former KKK David Duke and the controversial Neo-Confederate publication, Southern Partisan.
Silenced, would be a better way to describe it.
Now, here with us, living in LA and looking MAHvelous, Harrison explores new opportunities in this strange new age…
3am: Good afternoon, Harrison, my old friend. So, we are all anxious to know, what are you up to now? You’ve been off the radio for about six months. What can we look for next?
HARRISON: Gosh …I must say that is perhaps the loftiest encomium that has ever been hefted upon me…I am blushing and driving my toe into the ground and thinking shucks and wondering how I might ever live up to all the wonderful things you said about me.
I’ve been off the radio for 5 months now while I have been putting together the new shows. I have three different shows in Development. From the Radio side, we’re looking to launch in the next few months a show called Harrison on the QT, which is for Hot FM stations. It’s a
long form talk radio show but fun and frollicky. It is not the usual, regular, narrow minded, narrowcast, australopithecine, myopic, monobrowed, knuckle walking, jackbooted, mountebank, sputum that incites rednecks and makes people crazy and pissed-off and want to go slaughter each other. We’re not gonna do that.
What we are going to do is give Voice to the Voiceless! There are about 160 million Americans who do not listen to traditional Right Wing, intensely Commercial, Corporate Talk Radio because they have been deselected. They are simply uninvited to the party, and their voices are never heard because they don’t want to fall into lockstep behind one guy who claims to be the great thinker for all the rest of them. These are people, 160 Million, who read, who laugh, who have friends, who are nice…millions and millions who have no voice…and we’re gonna give it to them. We’re gonna throw a great big fucking party in the afternoon.
What this means from a business standpoint is that the industry recognizes there is a huge untapped revenue stream that they do not know how to court, because either they don’t want to or don’t know how to open their hearts to these people…or I do.
Think of it in the Talk Show model—telephone calls, lively debate, intellectual swordplay—but with the definite feel of morning drive time on a rock station. This is not Howard Stern, nor is it Rush Limbaugh, nor is it anything in between. This is fast and fun and lively and edgy, sort of like a cartoon on the radio if you will…sketches and spoofs and dead-serious stuff and some of this and some of that…and you’re gonna hear the voices you never hear on Corporate Radio…you’re gonna hear Black people, you’re gonna hear Gay people, you’re gonna hear women, intellectuals and people who fart granola. But you’re also gonna hear the Ku Klux Klan, should they choose to call. You’re gonna hear it all. Nobody, repeat nobody will be turned away.
It will be Radio for the Rest Of Us.
3am: Yes, quite a step from your humble beginnings at the Home Shopping Network.
HARRISON: (sinister laughter)
3am: So, speaking of that, I have to ask you, nay, implore you, Mr. Harrison, if you please, to indulge our lovely readers with the story of how you were fired from the Home Shopping Network. This is sheer Media Lore!
HARRISON: I usually don’t talk about the HSN, I’d prefer that to disappear into the anals of history…
What happened was I was selling Elvis figurines and fake diamonds for them while living in Tampa, their HQ, and I am not a salesman nor have I ever pretended to be one, but they gave me a show selling gold chains. Now, I don’t know if you have ever seen one of these shows but it’s essentially three hours pushing eight hundred near-identical gold chains on the same twenty million people. After the second hour I begin to lapse into a coma as we segued into a commercial break, at one in the afternoon.
Now my boss at the time is one of these alcoholics I am sure you have seen who sweat yellow rings into the armpits of his grey wool suit, and had this godawful toupee that was so bad the glue was melting under the heat of the TV lights and running down the side of his face, and out of his pores erupted this odoriferous chemical admixture of pheromones and rotting booze. So, he’s greedy, because he is just like the HSN, which is nothing more than a big, greedy video cash register. That is its sole purpose on this planet, and this guy’s sole purpose was to make his bonus, something none of us “On Air Personalities” ever received.
So he punches me in the small of the back during the commercial break and says, for all and sundry to hear, “You better come up with a new goddamn pitch!” Oh my! So I turn to him and I say, “you want a new pitch, you got it.”
So we came out of the break, and I turn to the camera and say:
“Ladies, have I got something for you. Now, some of you have seen this, most of you never have, but I’m sure all of you have wanted to. It’s eight inches long, it’s hard as a rock, it’s in my lap, and it’s coming up right now!”
So I look into the camera, wink, pull up an eight inch gold chain, and every phone line lit up. We sold out in two minutes, $20,000 worth of worthless gold chains, and that was basically my last show before they insanely promoted me to Network Manager.
3am: So how does an altruist such as yourself survive LA, the Land of Silicone Personality?
HARRISON: I love it here. I feel like I’m in my natural habitat. I haven’t really had that “silicone” experience, the people I have met have been open and warm and friendly and contemplative…Perhaps I may be having a singular experience.
3am: Perhaps you may be.(profuse laughter) And now that LA has faded back from the spotlight as all the networks are seemingly stuck on the East Coast, still covering NYC and Washington live daily. Well, faded back isn’t exactly correct. It’s more like LA had the spotlight ripped from it (if you remember, right before 9/11 what were we talking about but the California “Power Crisis” and a certain quasi-charismatic California Congressmen who committed chicanery with a certain Chandra) and went down kicking and screamhat ing.
HARRISON: Well, LA still erupts often enough in that Hollywood now has essentially become an extension of the Pentagon’s penis with all these war movies out like Behind Enemy Lines and of course Blackhawk Down, which is such nonsense, such an egregious atrocity on history being perpetrated on the public as if it were a true story, when the exact opposite really happened!
When Clinton sent the troops into Somalia in 1993 it was a debacle, it was horrifying! It was not very well thought out, and was all about cutting “access deals” (uninvited military incursions and ultimatums) with incredibly avaricious, murderous thugs who still run Somalia. There was nothing heroic about it, nothing that was intended to bring about any good. It was a horrendous fuck up on our part.
Listen to all the swearing…oh my! I can hear my grandmother wincing!
So, in this movie you have this Heroic struggle of the righteous American Soldier going overseas to Feed the Negro. Not true. In fact there is more oil in Somalia than you can possible imagine, and isn’t that interesting? There are a reported 40 billion barrels of untapped oil and 110 trillion cubic feet of untapped Natural Gas, more than all in the North Sea. Somalia is the ultimate prize for a petrochemical society, it has nothing to do with a starving, Militarily oppressed populace.
Black gold, Texas tea…
3am: And Afghanistan?
HARRISON: Of course, Afghanistan too. We know through published reports that a few years ago Unocal hosted the Taliban here in America for a week.
Now, this next bit hasn’t come out in the media yet, but there is a book that the French are publishing that details goings on between the Taliban and the Bush Administration just a handful of months ago, just before 9/11. It reports on their attempts to cut a deal for a pipeline across Afghanistan (“Operation Silk Road”), because the prize there is an unimaginable vast oil reserve under the Caspian Sea. In the past, this wasn’t an option, because we had to deal with the Soviets, and then the Russians, so it was too expensive. Now, the pipeline will go through Afghanistan and Pakistan so that the oil will flow unhindered from East to West.
3am: Which is why we’re being so nice to Pakistan, and why Pakistan and Musharref are standing up and showing off for the rest of the world. They know we’ll defend them. The pipeline isn’t going over India!
HARRISON: Just after literally taking office, the Bush Administration halted all Terror investigations into Al Quaeda and Afghanistan at large. Richard Butler, former weapons inspector in Iraq, speaks to this, and other high-ranking Govt. officials are willing to talk about it, if they aren’t silenced first. Bear in mind this is still “alleged”
3am: And we couldn’t find out regardless because of the new law sealing the Presidential Record. Brilliant strategy, Dubya!
HARRISON: Right! Executive Order 13233, I believe, issued in November of 2001, and what that did was derail the Presidential Records Act of 1978. What that means is that the Citizens of this country no longer have access to Presidential files…they are OFF LIMITS! Don’t forget that the Presidency is a public position.
This book, 'Bin Laden, La Verite Interdite (''Bin Laden, the forbidden
truth'') points out that Bush Administration officials gave the Taliban a choice…a “carpet of gold…or a carpet of bombs”. They basically said, “let us do it, let the oil flow unimpeded, or we’ll bomb the hell out of you!”
3am: And then, ironically, a short time later on 9/11…
HARRISON: Yes, or something…you kick someone in the slats long enough, they’re gonna kick back…it’s simple Fight or Flight.
(very long uncomfortable pause)
3am: So now, I’d like to give you the chance to speak your peace on the whole Ken Hamblin issue, and tell everyone the real reason you were so controversially dropped from his show after exposing Ashcroft…DURING the confirmation hearings, which I think is quite important to note. How did this affect you, and could you speak to the larger issue of Media Censorship?
HARRISON: Well, media censorship right now is at an all time high. You have the CEO of AOL Time Warner stepping down and being heralded as a hero by every news source in the world, which by the way are all inextricably intertwined with AOL Time Warner, wink wink. This is a guy who they are claiming says that public access to the media has been on the “forefront’ of his plate of public gift giving over the years, when in fact it was this same guy who stood in front of Congress and repeatedly lobbied with cash and gifts against the public’s protection from spiraling cable and media rates, saying that public choice and voice towards pricing and viewing content was impeding their corporate First Amendment rights.
This means that the constitutional rights of Corporations supercede that of individual American Citizens in the eyes of our current Government. Now that is an interesting phenomenon when you consider that a Corporation is a fictitious entity that really does not exist, and the Constitution was specifically written for human beings.
Now, with all the cash flowing into the Bush Administration, and Colin Powell’s own son running the FCC, who jokes all the time that he knows “nothing about public protections”, it’s abundantly clear that this issue is about Corporations having rights and not individuals. Now that’s scary, because the ebb and flow of information now is something that is prepackaged and dare not be questioned. As a result, you have journalists being fired who write about the so-called War on Terrorism, who begin to ask questions. What does that sound like?
As it to relates to the Ashcroft/Hamblin situation, mine was just the hors d’ouevre before the entrée. We have this unelected position of Attorney General, our country’s top Lawyer, whose clients are the US Citizenry, and yet unlike in real life, where you get to pick your own lawyer, we are granted this lawyer.
Now, when America’s top lawyer hates his own clients…thinks they are inferior because they are non-white and non-Christian; this creates a certain conflict of interest. Ashcroft reportedly supported David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of the KKK, and his run for Congress. And then there was Ashcroft’s appearance in Southern Partisan, which is a Neo-Confederate publication that advocates a restoration of the Old South and Slavery. This is a guy who is a Christian Supremacist…so if you are not a White, Heterosexual, Christian Fundamentalist, you don’t get to play.
Ashcroft’s agenda is clear. He is getting rid of the icky brown people. It isn’t about “Threats to National Security” or “Immigration”. Just ask the 60 Mexican workers in Salt Lake City who were unconstitutionally rounded up and deported in preparation for the Olympics. Of course you can’t, it wasn’t reported.
3am: So what’s happening now in america?
HARRISON: We’ll, this isn’t new, but America is now America, Inc. And our President has become the CEO.
3am: I’d like to ask you one final question. Has anything really changed since 9/11?
HARRISON: I think everything has magnified…The loss of life is horrifying…all the way around. But all you hear about are the government and its paramilitary organizations, it is all about the cops and flag waving and the wonderful firemen and all that…and that’s great…
But what about the thousands of innocent civilians who died in the attack, and the thousands now known dead in Afghanistan? Who were they? What’s their deal? What happens if more die? They’re always putting uniforms on TV now, just like they’re putting them on every street corner. Pretty soon you won’t be able to leave your house without your tracking device and your National ID card.
In such a volatile time, there is a need for more voices rather than the withdrawal of thinking people amongst the wail of war sirens…
3am: Well, shit, we’ll just see what comes down the pike…
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HARRISON AT WWW.GOHARRISON.COM!!!!
and at http://www.spiritus-creative.com/realitycheck.htm
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
is a Contributing Editor to 3AM Magazine
, who graciously publish his drek.