Country station Nash FM has refused to air an interview with gay presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Blair Garner, a nationally syndicated Cumulus Media host, said he interviewed Buttigieg on Wednesday. But after he conducted the interview, Garner said, Cumulus — a conservative broadcasting company that is the third-largest owner of radio stations in the U.S. — refused to broadcast the sit-down.
“The only candidate who asked to be on my show,” Garner wrote on Twitter. “My employer decided I couldn't air it — but I did get permission to post it on my personal Soundcloud.”
Buttigieg’s campaign told HuffPost that it reached out to Garner’s show hoping to reach an audience not normally exposed to the candidate’s message.
“It’s important to Pete to reach voters everywhere,” said campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith.
Cumulus drew immediate criticism online for the choice to censor the interview.
Here’s the ironic part of Cumulus Media & @WestwoodOne spiking the @PeteButtigieg & @blairgarner interview (see above :point_up_2::skin-tone-4:)
Their motto is “where every voice matters” pic.twitter.com/26HygCpscU
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) July 22, 2019
For its part, Cumulus cited Federal Communications Commission regulations in its decision.
“The decision was made by local programming management based solely on concerns related to the application of the FCC’s Equal Time Rule,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“The effects of the FCC’s Equal Time Rule are widely understood and considered whenever these types of issues arise.”
However, as Rolling Stone notes, “the Equal Time Rule grants exceptions for 'news interviews' and is largely a formality these days and not a concern for broadcasters unless they’re selling political advertising.”
Of course, Garner said he would provide the same platform for any candidate, including President Trump, to sit down for an interview.
In the interview, Buttigieg name-dropped progressive country stars like Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley, the latter of whom he admitted not recognizing when they bumped into each other at a media event.
“Now I’m going have to live down I thought his name was Fred for a while,” Buttigieg said of Paisley.