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Dixie Chick Damage Control

Nashville is NOT Hollywood. Do we need any more proof of that than two concurrent stories out of the Music City: the Charlie Daniels pro-war rant, producer for country TV channel replies, gets fired story; and the Dixie Chick Natalie Maines busts loose with an anti-Bush statement at a concert in London, feels the wrath of suburban Republicans from coast to coast story.

Unless you read Blogcritics or live in Nashville, you probably haven’t seen too much about the Daniels story because the woman who got fired for her anti-war email wasn’t a celebrity, just a civilian responding to a celebrity who had spoken the ostensible Nashville pro-war party line.

Natalie Maines is another story: the Dixie Chicks are pop-country icons already and multi-platinum superstars. She spoke Thursday night in London, she apologized Friday:

    “As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect. We are currently in Europe and witnessing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war. While war may remain a viable option, as a mother, I just want to see every possible alternative exhausted before children and American soldiers’ lives are lost. I love my country. I am a proud American.”

Why?

    Angry phone calls flooded a Nashville radio station on Thursday, some calling for a boycott of the trio’s music. Two Dallas stations stopped playing the group’s music because of Maines’ comments. [AP]

And:

    Country stations across the United States have pulled the Chicks from playlists following reports that lead singer Natalie Maines said in a concert in London earlier this week that she was “ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”

    Station managers said their decisions were prompted by calls from irate listeners who thought criticism of the president was unpatriotic.

    ….One station in Kansas City, Missouri held a Dixie “chicken toss” party Friday morning, where Chick critics were encouraged to dump the group’s tapes, CDs and concert tickets into trash cans.

    Houston country station KILT pulled the band’s records from its playlist — at least temporarily — after 77 percent of people polled on its Web site said they supported the move.

    “We’ve got them off the air for right now,” said Jeff Garrison, program director at KILT, which is owned by Viacom’s Infinity Broadcasting Corp.

    “People are shocked. They cannot believe Texas’ own have attacked the state and the president,” Garrison said.

    ….One of the country stations in Dallas that helped champion the Chicks when they were scraping by in that city playing gigs on street corners for tips, “99.5 The Wolf,” said they are listening to the listener’s views but do not think it is right to immediately jump on the bandwagon and stop playing the Chicks, said program director Paul Williams.

    Williams said it is too early to tell how strong a backlash may develop against the Chicks. He said the comments touched a deep nerve in Texas because they came from one of the biggest country groups to come out of the state and were directed at a president who calls Texas home.

    “The listener outlash is probably bigger here than anywhere else,” William said. [Reuters]

Where did all of this outraged response come from? Well, um, outraged citizens of course, but doesn’t the response strike you as a bit extreme? Check out this email that the sponsors of the Chicks’ tour, Lipton, received from a “concerned citizen”:

    Hello

    You should know that your company is being targetted by a radical right-wing online forum. You are being “FReeped”, which is the code word for an organized email/telephone effort attempting to solicit a desired response. Please go to http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/864728/posts and http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/863398/posts
    for evidence of this.

    www.freerepublic.com claims over 30,000 members.
    The opinions on this forum are often racist, violent, and homophobic. I hope you will not feel pressured by them to change your policies. Keep in mind that they are very active and will give the appearance of a widespread reaction when in fact it’s limited to their isolated group. These are not people you want to cater to, as you will see if you spend a little time observing them. And don’t feel bad. Besides you, they are boycotting Canada, France, Germany, Russia, Mexico, Belgium, and 3/4 of hollywood. They are so petty that they research goods they believe are produced by these nations and list them for boycotting. The dumb thing is they get it wrong half the time.

    I will be very dissappointed with Lipton if it tries to appease these radicals. I would continue to buy Lipton regardless though 🙂

    When we went to the site it was clear what was going on, this organization had not targeted Lipton for their campaign, they had selected the Chicks for “FReeping.”

    As we reviewed the site we came across a whole area that was devoted to the Chicks, and more specifically the activities of the campaign against them, check it out:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/keyword/dixiechicks

    As you move around this area and start to look at specific threads you will see that these people have actively manipulated radio polls, and how proud they are of their handiwork.

    Here’s some of their exchanges regarding their specific attempts to manipulate radio polls, notice the advice given on trying to ensure that their manipulations remain disguised:

      To: webfooter
      Cat Country in Harrisburg has a poll on whether they should stop playing the Chicks. They attribute the quote to Natalie.
      Current vote is 5 for and 5 against.
      I would recommend only locals vote, but you FReepers can do what you want.
      Shalom.

      To: webfooter; LindaSOG; Kathy in Alaska; radu; bentfeather; southerngrit; Bethbg79; All
      One of the country stations in my area is boycotting them: Here’s the link! Please freepmail them thanks! I have done so already!!
      WCMS

      38 posted on 03/13/2003 1:52 PM PST by MoJo2001 (God Bless Our Troops and Allies!!)
      [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

      To: All
      LOL!! Um, email them! Don’t freepmail them! My bad!

      39 posted on 03/13/2003 1:52 PM PST by MoJo2001 (God Bless Our Troops and Allies!!)
      [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies ]

      To: MoJo2001
      FReep Natalie Maines’ hometown country station!
      Natelie Maines’ home radio station (KLLL.com) and email address of the DJ’s. Just in case anybody wants to drop them a friendly email about boycotting the Chicks. As a bonus, pappa and the family live here too, so you are sure to get noticed.

    ….As always the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” and these weasels know how to squeak.

    Consider a radio station that receives 1,000 calls and emails from listeners demanding that they boycott the Chicks music, they ignore the fact that 17,500 fans have bought tickets to a show in a couple of months and seem to think that these 1,000 calls/emails are somehow reflective of their audiences’ wishes. Yet, the box office at the local venue receives only 3 calls regarding the show and wanting to know if they can arrange to return the tickets! Now the authenticity of the 1,000 is in question!

This email is unidentified and has its own ax to grind, but it does remind us that listener, customer, citizen complaints are often the result of organized campaigns and not the spontaneous behavior of independent individuals.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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