Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Air America and the Repugnant Huckster, Part II: Hypocrisy and the Need to Fight Back

JABBS readers may recall that 10 days ago I wrote about Air America Radio's decision to continue running advertisements for hypnotist Wendi Friesen, even after I and other callers alerted the radio network's advertising department that Friesen shops a CD on her web site fraudulently and dangerously claiming to help "heal" cancer victims through hypnotherapy. (If you missed the original story, click here: http://jabbs.blogspot.com/2004/12/quest-for-advertisers-lands-air.html)

Now an update.

Air America, at least for now, apparently will not change its policy, even though it runs counter to the credo preached by its on-air personalities: transparency and honesty, creating an educated society for a better nation. Friesen, who does not advertise the anti-cancer CD "Heal Your Body" on the radio, does not practice transparency and honesty, and she's counting on an uneducated society to propel sales.

I reached out to lots of folks: JABBS readers, friends and family, a host of anti-scam/anti-quackery web sites, and the doctors and nurses at Hackensack University Medical Center, where I had a successful adult stem cell transplant for acute myeloid leukemia on Dec. 12, 2001.

I've received a lot of positive feedback, and I know that calls have been made to the Air America ad rep, Barbara Brown (646-274-4900, ext. 3087) and her bosses.

But I saw this bit of negative news earlier today. Quantum Thought, an anti-quack blog (with a right-wing tilt) run by Norm Weatherby, posted my plea for help. Additionally, Weatherby posted this:

NOTE: I personally called Barbara Brown to check this out and her opinion was that they will take "any ad that is not patently offensive" (meaning no conservative leaning stuff) and "they could care less what the ad does in leading people to a web site that advocates anything dangerous, etc". In other words folks it's the typical in-your-face liberal response of irresponsibility and cultural depravity. You can bet one thing...if this ad led you to a conservative web site the ad would be jerked immediately. Here's an opportunity to talk to a real crass liberal and let them know what you think of their social irresponsibility. Have fun!

Maybe, for once, the right-wing noise machine will do some good, and flood Air America Radio's phone lines with complaints.


After reading Weatherby's post, I left another message for Brown, and one for Air America's general manager for East Coast advertising sales, Leon Clark. (I'm forwarding a copy of this blog post to all of Air America's senior advertising executives).

A few minutes later, Brown called me back (actually as I was writing this), and said basically the same thing to me that she said to Weatherby. Air America Radio is in the business of making money, she explained, and there's a "separation of church and state" between the credo of the on-air personalities and the practice of the advertising sales department.I replied that at my company, a very successful financial newsletter publisher, we don't accept ads from companies we know to be dishonest -- i.e. hucksters.

"I'm not telling you not to make money," I said. "I'm saying that you can do the right thing and still turn a profit." To which Brown suggested that someone could find fault with nearly any advertiser. Brown also said that she did not know, at the time she landed the Friesen account, that Friesen was hawking the anti-cancer hypnotherapy CD.

"But that's my point," I said. "Your on-air people browbeat the president all day for not changing his mind after getting new information. But you're doing the same thing."

At that point, Brown said she had to go.


So I'm asking JABBS readers, again, to help me with this protest.

Again, I have nothing against the capitalist system. I have nothing against hypnosis CDs. But I do have a problem with Friesen, who advertises her "Heal Your Body" CD this way:

"One of our best selling CDs. Designed for those with cancer, chronic or other serious illness, this program inspires you to choose LIFE, stimulates your immune system to fight, and some say ... creates miracles. Three sessions, one will access your ability to heal, the second will strengthen your immune system, another will cleanse your body of bacteria, viruses and toxins. This process can help to speed the healing of surgery, illness, or even a cold or sore throat."

I find this repugnant, and dangerous for anyone who decides Friesen's $29 CD is a worthy alternative to a trip to the doctor, a biopsy, chemotherapy, etc. Friesen is spewing the lie that hypnosis can help you fight cancer. There is no medical evidence to support that theory, and there never will be. It's a potentially fatal decision to listen to a hypnosis CD hoping it will help your immunity system fight cancer.


Blogger TOMO said...

Agreed! This lady is a complete wacko. I am a conservative and love talk radio. I tune into Air America quite a bit to "hear the other side of things". But this hypnotist is a complete crock!


8:02 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Oh I am so glad someone is standing up and drawing attention to this. I cringe every time I hear the Wendi Friesen ads where she breathlessly chirps on about how listening to a CD can "power nap" you in 5 minutes, using "bionural beats".

Puh-leez!!! I mean does it come with a free bottle of snake-oil?!

I can only pray that someone doesn't get behind the wheel of a car at night after listening to a CD instead of getting a proper amount of sleep.

I am not surprised that she is also trying to hypnotize people into being cured of diseases now.

Air America should be extremely ashamed! If anyone should hear that ad and decide to forego real medical treatment for a fantasy panacea then I hope Air America is just as outspoken in taking responsibility for its role in promoting quackery for profit.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I called Air America and reached Leon Clark and was completely unimpressed. He seemed annoyed (mabye he's getting a lot of calls???) and clearly wanted to get off the phone in a hurry. He basically said that they were in the business of making money, and you can't just snap your fingers and find another advertiser.

Is this guy for real? I agree with the above poster. Air America should be ashamed. It's hypocritical to have people on the air saying one thing, and then doing something else when the bottom line is at jeopardy. If Air America can't run a credible operation -- news/opinion and everythign else -- then what good is it?

12:32 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Hmm, maybe that should be their tag-line: "Air America Radio: we only care about money", or how about "AAR: Profits over ethics."

At least then they would be honest and I hate nothing more than a hypocrite. AAR is so flippant about its responsibilities to its audience I wonder if they are just as happy to take the backlash that they so easily direct at others. Did someone say boycott? Maybe we are the hypocrites for going after the likes of Sinclair Broadcast for spreading lies, while we give our own media a pass?

4:47 AM  

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