South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a 2020 candidate, reached out to Blair Garner and asked to give an interview on his country radio show, The Blair Garner Show. Buttigieg said he was trying to reach out to voters who feel overlooked by Democrats, and Garner was flattered that a presidential candidate wanted to appear on his show, according to Billboard.
Garner invited Buttigieg to the studio where they had a 20 minute conversation, but when Garner tried to air the interview, radio giant Cumulus told him that would not be happening.
Cumulus syndicates Garner’s show, and they claimed the FCC’s Equal Time Rule — which mandates that radio stations provide equal time to presidential candidates — stopped them from airing the interview. CNN’s Brian Stelter spoke to experts who called that explanation from Cumulus nonsense. What’s more, Garner said he couldn’t recall any other Democratic presidential candidates ever reaching out to be on his show.
Garner said he was shocked yet flattered Buttigieg wanted to be on his show “since country music tends to lean in a conservative direction.”
“One of the few truly viable candidates in the race raised his hand and asked for a place at the table. I was willing to give him that seat,” Garner said, according to Rolling Stone. “I would have also given a seat to any other viable candidate, from both sides. The only condition? They must also value and appreciate our listeners, and never treat them as pawns.”
Garner posted the link on Soundcloud and tweeted it to his listeners Friday and it’s now been played more than 4,000 times.
My interview with @PeteButtigieg. The only candidate who asked to be on my show. My employer decided I couldn’t air it – but I did get permission to post it on my personal Soundcloud here: https://t.co/Sqi0bOTyQ1 @Lis_Smith pic.twitter.com/0K88w3cA49
— Blair Garner (@blairgarner) July 19, 2019
Kurt Bardella, writer of country music newsletter Morning Hangover, wrote about the interview, which he witnessed, for USA Today. In a statement, he wrote: “It is an incredible act of cowardice for a company who’s [sic] slogan is ‘Where Every Voice Matters’ to censor an interview with someone who, for the first time ever, thought it was worthwhile to engage the country music audience in a conversation about the future of our country… Country radio should be on the front lines of breaking stereotypes and promoting diversity of thought.”
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