Christian-Owned Salem Media Group Told Radio Hosts To Be More Pro-Trump
The Salem Media Group, a conservative Christian broadcasting company, secretly told some of its radio hosts to be more pro-Trump during the 2016 election.
Elisha Krauss, a former Salem radio host on KRLA, told CNNMoney that Salem executives explicitly pressured her to praise Trump.
Salem executive Terry Fahy wrote an email to Ben Shapiro and Krauss, hosts of TMA (That Morning Show), on July 19, 2016:
What I have been hearing on TMA… has not been in the spirit of “supporting the GOP nominee.” In fact, it seems that the show gets into negative minutiae of the Trump campaign and the GOP convention (e.g. criticizing Trump for having his kids speak at the convention.)
Do we really need a side by side audio comparison of Trump’s wife’s speech with Michelle Obama’s? How is that ultimately relevant to the big picture and advance the cause?
Fahy, a self-proclaimed Christian, has also been the longtime general manager of KKLA, a Christian radio station in Los Angeles, noted Mother Jones.
However, when Krauss didn’t praise Trump enough, the radio host she was fired in January 2017:
They shouldn’t do it with the facade that they’re delivering multi-level opinions and they’re not puppeteering those opinions.
Fahy sent another email to Krauss and Shapiro in 2016 that said they were “doing nothing but throwing rocks at a significant percentage of our audience every morning”:
Why should we unnecessarily (in my view) drive away all the Trump supporters from your show? Is there no nuanced way we can highlight shortcomings of the campaign?
Phil Boyce, a senior vice president at Salem, wrote an email to Shapiro in June 2016 that said Salem’s CEO Edward Atsinger had made the case that supporting Trump was necessary to beat Hillary Clinton.
Mother Jones reported how Salem wants to push its conservative Christian agenda on the airwaves:
Salem’s founders, Stuart Epperson and Edward Atsinger III, have a far grander goal: spreading the word of the Lord and offering an alternative to the creeping secularism that they see as responsible for America’s moral decay.
“When you secularize a culture,” says Epperson, “you lose your moral compass.” A mission statement in Salem’s 2003 annual report reads: “One mended marriage. One regained childhood. One restored faith. One broadcast at a time.”
Boyce said in his June 2016 email that Salem radio host Hugh Hewitt changed his position and wrote a pro-Trump article for The Washington Post.
Atsinger said, according to Boyce’s email, “Wow he took a lot from my email to him and turned it into an article.”
Hewitt insisted to CNNMoney that he had not been pressured by Salem to change his position on Trump:
I have never felt any pressure from Salem to be for or against the President. I do get everyone’s opinions just as I do at NBC and the Washington Post but as with those organizations Salem does not dictate host opinions.