WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- A talk radio host says his program, slated to debut on a Pentagon radio station Monday, was pulled to punish him for airing audio embarrassing President Bush.
Ed Shultz played an audio tape of Pentagon communications official Allison Barber helping troops in Iraq rehearse for their broadcast video teleconference with the president last week. Barber walked them through questions and their answers and warned them the president might ask questions not from the script.
The incident was widely considered an embarrassment to the White House, which appeared to be coaching soldiers for its own political purposes.
According to People for the American Way, Barber personally called Schultz -- regarded as a liberal in the world of talk radio -- on Monday to tell him his show would not be airing Oct. 17 after all.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman denied any connection between the Barber tape and the decision to cancel Schultz's radio show. He confirmed the Armed Forces Radio Network is looking to diversify its offerings - it currently carries conservatives Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson's Focus on the Family -- but said no offers have yet been made, including to Schultz.
However, the Fargo, North Dakota radio host received a letter from AFRN confirming the Oct. 17 debut, which was posted on the People for the American Way web site Monday.
The letter was written by Manny Levy, chief of the Radio Division for AFRN. Levy refused to comment to United Press International.
"AFN Radio has squared away everything on our end to begin carrying the first hour of 'The Ed Schultz Show' each day, beginning Monday, Oct. 17, 2005," states the Sept. 29 letter.
Levy added: "An awful lot of people in the government had (or tried to have) a hand in the program selection process that ended with the decision to add 'The Ed Schultz Show.'"
"I'm afraid the staff member got ahead of the decision," said Whitman.