Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Cathy Hughes targets 5 black members of congressA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Black radio's wealthiest woman, who claims that very modest royalties to musical performers will “destroy” what is, in fact, a very profitable industry, will host a fundraiser for Florida Rep. Kendrick Meek, candidate for the U.S. Senate. That's in stark contrast to the “dirty war” Cathy Hughes has been waging against five other members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Radio-One Bashes five Black Reps., Raises Funds for Another
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Cathy Hughes is showing she can use her wealth and broadcast power to help, as well as harm, Black members of Congress.”
Radio-One founder Cathy Hughes is hosting a fundraiser for Florida Black Congressman Kendrick Meek, who's running for the U.S. Senate. The September 15 affair in Washington wouldn't be news, except that Hughes has been using her radio stations to wage a dirty war against five other members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The Black lawmakers on Cathy Hughes' hit list are cosponsors of a bill that would require stations to make modest payments to performers whose music they broadcast. The legislation is opposed by virtually the entire broadcast industry and by the most right-wing Republicans on Capitol Hill, who claim the payments to performers is a “tax.” But Cathy Hughes is also working a phony “Black” angle, claiming the bill, the Performance Rights Act, would destroy Black commercial radio, which in fact is a very profitable business in which Ms. Hughes is the biggest - and one of the richest – owners, with 54 stations. For example, Radio-One's profits were sufficient to give Hughes' son, Alfred, a $10 million bonus. Hughes and her son also operate the cable channel, TV-One.
The congresspeople Hughes has slimed are John Conyers, of Detroit, Hank Johnson, from Atlanta, Bobby Scott, of Richmond, Mel Watt, of Charlotte, and Sheila Jackson-Lee, representing Houston. All except Mel Watt live in districts where Radio-One operates stations. That means these lawmakers are acutely aware of two things: one, Hughes is exploiting her license to broadcast over the public airwaves to threaten their re-election prospects in their own districts and, two, Cathy Hughes does not provide to her radio listeners the most elementary service, news. Like her white corporate counterparts, she just rakes in the money. But unlike her white business peers, Ms. Hughes is able to hide her greed behind her Blackness. She is a corporate profiteer pretending to be a Race Woman.
Like her white corporate counterparts, she just rakes in the money.”
The NAACP has endorsed the Performance Rights Act, while Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson side with Cathy Hughes and the rest of the corporate owners. That's not surprising, since Sharpton and Jackson have radio talk shows, Sharpton on Radio-One, and Jackson on the biggest chain of them all, Clear Channel. Reverends Sharpton and Jackson are captives of these radio corporations, which can throw them off the air in an instant.
We learned of the fundraiser from Lauren Victoria Burke, who runs a very useful web site called Crew of 42, dedicated to the activities of the 42 members of the Black Caucus. Cathy Hughes has caught a lot of flak for trying to bully five of the most popular and progressive lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Apparently, her hosting of a money-making event for Florida Congressman Meek's Senate race – in Washington, DC only ten days before the Congressional Black Caucus's gala legislative weekend - is Cathy Hughes' way of showing she can use her wealth and broadcast power to help, as well as harm, Black members of Congress. But of course, she's really only helping herself. That is as far as her Blackness goes.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20090902_gf_RadioOneMee.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:51pm EDT