Activists are expressing serious concerns that Mitt Romney’s private equity firm Bain Capital owns one of America’s largest media conglomerates, Clear Channel Communications, Inc., which broadcasts numerous popular talk-show hosts with incalculable influence in the 2012 GOP primary. Among the radio personalities syndicated by Clear Channel or aired on hundreds of stations it owns nationwide are Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, and many others.
Because of the San Antonio-based media giant’s enormous influence — it is the largest owner of radio stations in the United States, and experts point out that it essentially owns what has come to be known as the conservative talk-radio industry — Romney critics, supporters of Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, Tea Party groups, and elections commentators are all raising the alarm. Some analysts are even calling for the firm to disclose the fact that Romney’s Bain Capital owns a station or syndicates a show whenever a media personality is reporting on the Republican presidential campaign.
Former Politico.com reporter Ben Smith, now the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, called out Rush Limbaugh on Thursday for defending Romney and Bain Capital without disclosing that his employer is owned by the candidate’s firm. “Talk radio king Rush Limbaugh has emerged as a key defender of Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, where — his Republican and Democratic critics charge — layoffs at companies Bain owned should be blamed on Romney,” noted Smith. “But Limbaugh hasn’t mentioned his own tie to the venture capital firm: Bain owns Clear Channel Communications, whose subsidiary inked a $400 million, eight-year syndication deal with Limbaugh in 2008.”
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