Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Anti-Rail Talk Show Fritters Away Most of Hour With HART CEO, which Was Fine with the Host, Then Launches Anti-Rail Rant for Rest of Show
The anti-rail morning talk show host has complained incessantly that supporters of the Honolulu rail project have never accepted his invitation to be on his show. It’s been one of his key talking points during innumerable hours of anti-rail rhetoric on his station going back to 2005.
So when Dan Grabauskas, chief executive officer of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) did agree to appear on his show this morning, how did the host handle the prospect of having his rhetoric refuted by a man who knows infinitely more about Honolulu rail than he does? By steering the hour away from substantive issues toward the unimportant and into cul-de-sacs of his own making, that’s how.
What was touted in advance as an hour with Mr. Grabauskas was reduced to maybe 10 minutes of substantive rail discussion, excluding the opening biographical segment (the host’s first cul-de-sac); three calls from listeners, including one from the Big Island of all places (all three voices were recognizable from previous calls as anti-railers); traffic reports, news breaks and commercials.
In other words, the hour was perfectly directed by the host to avoid both his vulnerable rhetoric and Mr. Grabauskas’ strengths.
And what made the whole charade even more outrageous was the host’s oh-so-sincere protestations that he wants to know more about rail that he made during the hour after the interview with HART’s CEO:
“…what is this about, and why? I’m just very curious, why? What are the justifiable reasons? It was interesting when Dan talked about traffic, about a choice, about spending time with the family, about possibly selling one of your vehicles. I get that, alright, I understand where you’re coming from…. And I’m truly interested in hearing what the explanations are and what the proposals are, what the vision is and all of that…. I know there are many other issues on the table, and we’ll get to those in subsequent conversations with Dan, about the promises of transparency…about the Alternatives Analysis process, about the federal lawsuit, why he believes rail is the solution to traffic…” yadayadayada.
What a Joke
Despite all the polite talk and kid-gloves interviewing technique, let there be no mistake about the radio host’s agenda: He wants to kill rail, and he’s not the least bit interested in transparency, even-handed discussions or anything else that might shed one ray of positive light on the project.
His open-line hour following the interview was a continuation of that agenda, inviting rail opponents to say why they’re opposed to the project. There was no similar invitation to rail supporters – just a one-way rant from the host’s true believers. On cue, anti-railer-in-chief Cliff Slater weighed in for the umpteenth time to suggest rail would be a failure because congestion will continue to increase. As the City's Wayne Yoshioka once said, "No kidding...."
Thankfully, the host's listeners make up a tiny percentage of the radio audience, and we have to admit after this morning's fiasco that maybe those who say it’s not worth spending any time talking to this particular radio station are right.
But if that time ever does come again, here’s a suggestion: Tick off the host’s objections to rail one by one, top to bottom, and expose the shallowness and misinformation on each of his points – the alternative to traffic issue, congestion reduction, noise, financing, construction byproducts, energy, ridership, TOD, jobs and all the rest.
Doing that would leave the host with no place to hide but the off switch. As for his faux desire to know more about rail, it’s a dark, black joke.