Roger L. Simon

Calling the American Civil Liberties Union!

The ACLU, that world renowned supporter of free expression, should immediately investigate the case of Seattle radio talk show host Brian Maloney who was fired from his job last Friday. Mr. Maloney, according to the Associated Press, claims this happened because he criticized CBS anchorman Dan Rather on the air.

A radio talk-show host said Saturday he has been fired for criticizing CBS newsman Dan Rather’s handling of challenges to the authenticity of memos about President Bush (news – web sites)’s National Guard service.

“On the talk show that I host, or hosted, I said I felt Rather should either retire or be forced out over this,” said Brian Maloney, whose weekly “The Brian Maloney Show” aired for three years on KIRO-AM Radio, a CBS affiliate here.

Maloney says he made that statement on his Sept. 12 program. He was fired Friday, he said.

“What they have expressed is essentially that my show went in a direction they’re not comfortable with,” Maloney said.

I have been a longtime supporter of the ACLU because, as a writer, free expression is naturally of paramount importance to me. And, even though I am a Jew, I stood by them in backing the American Nazi Party’s right to march in Skokie, Illinois some years ago. But lately many liberal organizations of their sort have turned almost reactionary in a kind of closed-minded defense of an aging system. That is one of the reasons I have referred to certain liberals and liberal institutions as the New Reactionaries on this site. The Maloney situation, if true, will be a test for the ACLU because it is a classic case of free expression. PEN, the international writers organization, should also get involved.

(via Captain’s Quarters, who is challenging Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon to protest. Because of where I work, I know that’s a waste of effort. But the ACLU and PEN are serious organizations with real histories. It’s time for them to honor them.)

UPDATE: Okay. Unlike Rather I am backing down. (See how easy it is, Dan.) I understand the argument (made by John Moore and others below) that this is none of the ACLU’s business because it is the internal affair of CBS and its affiliates. I do not back down about PEN, however, whose principal task is to jawbone, not to go to court (as does the ACLU). CBS deserves to be scorned for firing someone like Maloney for a number of reasons. It is worth noting that the network had no apparent problem with “Sixty Minutes'” Andy Rooney attacking Rather. Evidently, they have their own version of the class system.