Cumulus Media has blocked an interview conducted by Blair Garner with Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg from airing on the host’s syndicated overnight program.
Garner was contacted by Buttigieg’s camp ahead of his campaign stop in Nashville. Garner and Buttigieg met on Wednesday, July 17, where an interview was conducted that Garner planned to air in two parts beginning Monday, July 22, the Huffington Post reports.
Garner emailed affiliates of the Westwood One-syndicated show about the plan to air the interview and also offered alternate programming for the segment for those who wished not to carry the piece. “It is not, in any way shape or form, my intention for our show to become political,” he wrote in the email. “But because someone clearly saw the value of our listeners, I felt secure in affording him this opportunity.”
A follow-up email from Garner came hours later: “I’ve been told that the interview cannot air,” he wrote. “I was very proud that a presidential candidate of any party valued our show to the degree that they would ask to be a guest… Just to be clear, I would have also enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity to have any candidate, including President Trump, as a guest. It was simply that Mayor Pete showed up, and made the ask.”
Cumulus Media told Huffington Post the company decided against airing the interview due to the FCC’s Equal Time Rule because of “the large number of political candidates currently in this race. The decision was made by local programming management based solely on concerns related to the application of the FCC’s Equal Time Rule,” a Cumulus spokesperson said in a statement to HuffPost. “The effects of the FCC’s Equal Time Rule are widely understood and considered whenever these types of issues arise.”
However, the FCC Equal Time Rule only pertains to advertising, not show content.
Buttigieg chose Garner’s show as a way to reach out to those who may not usually be aligned with the Democratic Party, as country listeners tend to lean more conservative.
“It’s important to Pete to reach voters everywhere,” campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith told HuffPost. “We’ve made it a point on this campaign to go outside the traditional political media bubble ― that’s why we reached out to Blair about an interview.” She added that Garner has a large audience, “and it’s an audience that doesn’t typically hear directly from Democratic candidates for president.”
“I think that our base tends to be more conservative,” Garner told Buttigieg of his program’s listeners. “And the fact that you, from the Democratic ticket, are the singular candidate to reach out and to say, ‘May I please be on your show?’ That you are reaching out to our listeners ― I think we all have to embrace that and be appreciative of that.”
The interview, where the South Bend, IN mayor spoke about meeting country stars Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley, among other topics, is available on Soundcloud.