The Majority Report

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The Majority Report is a listener supported, internet talk radio program and podcast hosted by actor/comedian Sam Seder. From March 2004 until July 2006 the show was hosted by film actress/comedienne Janeane Garofalo and originally aired on the Air America Radio network[1]. Garofalo was reportedly originally asked by Air America to host the program and suggested Seder as a co-host. The show focused on the discussion of current news events and political affairs from a liberal or progressive standpoint; to this end, comedy and satire were used on the program from time to time to make key points.

History[edit]

Regular guests included bloggers Atrios of Eschaton and Bill Scher of LiberalOasis. Veteran newsman Bill Crowley not only read the hourly news but engaged in a brief discussion at the beginning of each program's third hour, introduced thunderously by Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley." The name refers to Al Gore being "first past the post" on the popular vote (beating President Bush) in the 2000 U.S. presidential election (technically a plurality) as well as a play on Minority Report, a popular movie in 2002. The show debuted with the network on March 31, 2004 and aired from 8 to 11 p.m. Eastern time initially, and later in the year the time slot moved up an hour to 7 to 10 p.m.

According to Seder in an interview for Gothamist in late August 2004, the inspiration for the radio program occurred on election night 2000, when Seder witnessed via the television media what he perceived to be a veritable theft of the presidency by George W. Bush. In February 2003, Garofalo (a longtime friend of Seder and a fellow comedian) appeared as a guest with Seder on The Best Show on WFMU with Tom Scharpling, a comedy/talk radio program on the New Jersey station WFMU. In discussing the political atmosphere in America at that time, the chemistry between them as radio talents was evident, and their agreement on many liberal political views made them kindred spirits. In the summer of 2003, Garofalo was approached by representatives of Air America Radio to be a radio personality for their programming. She insisted that they hire Seder and that he share the hosting responsibilities. Less than one year later, The Majority Report was born. In September 2006, the show ended its run. Seder, hosting by himself, then began a new mid-morning program on Air America Radio, The Sam Seder Show, in the time slot previously occupied by Jerry Springer (which was also the lead-in to The Al Franken Show). The show retained many of the elements of The Majority Report.

Comedian Marc Maron filled in for Seder on December 1, 2006 and guest hosted the show for the entire week of December 18–22, 2006.

On April 8, 2007, Sam Seder aired the show's final broadcast on Friday, April 13, 2007. In November 2010, Seder relaunched The Majority Report as a self-produced online podcast, with largely the same format. Seder offers premium subscriptions to listeners (via the show's relaunched website) to help with production expenses (following the business model of Mike Malloy when his program became self-syndicated, and also that of Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks.

Garofalo once said getting on the radio was an early career goal of hers. One early program advertisement read: "The battle to reclaim America from the forces of darkness continues with hosts Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder." The early days of Air America Radio are chronicled in the documentary Left of the Dial, which includes a debate between Janeane and her conservative father Carmine, who was initially a regular guest on The Majority Report. Garofalo came under fire [2] from her listeners for her comments on her April 28, 2006 show supporting Scientology-linked "New York Rescue Worker's Detoxification Program",[3] a questioned treatment for workers now suffering ailments from 9/11 clean-up efforts in New York City.

Departure of Janeane Garofalo[edit]

After months of speculation, Garofalo announced on the broadcast of Friday, July 14, 2006 that she would be leaving her co-host position on The Majority Report; on the Wednesday, July 19 broadcast (while Seder and Garofalo were interviewing Jason Bateman), Garofalo cited her reason for leaving the show as precipitated by several "unrecoverable" on-air arguments with Seder; she also said that she regards Seder as a better radio broadcaster than she, and therefore a better choice to continue The Majority Report. Her endorsement of the above-mentioned Scientology program also put a wedge between her and Seder.

Although several reasons for her departure were cited (including her outside acting responsibilities, which made her largely absent from The Majority Report for several weeks prior), the relationship between Garofalo and co-host Sam Seder had become increasingly strained, owed largely to Garofalo's promotion of a Scientology-linked treatment program for firefighters and rescue workers in New York City. On June 2, Garofalo responded to Seder's opposition, suggesting that he would not have a problem with the program if it were linked to Jews rather than Scientologists. [4] Seder, who is Jewish, and his producer walked off the set in angry protest. [5]

Garofalo's long stint on the final season of the NBC drama The West Wing (as Louise Thornton, media strategist for Jimmy Smits' character, presidential candidate Matt Santos) did not allow her to be in New York to co-host The Majority Report for several weeks; this allowed Sam to make the program his own, and she acknowledged that this had a part to play in her decision to leave. She mentioned that Seder was her favorite available choice for co-host when she was approached by Air America for the radio show; her first choice (as she said in obvious jest) was her favorite actor, the legendary Steve McQueen, who of course has been deceased for many years. Her last broadcast as co-host of The Majority Report aired on July 21, 2006.

Garofalo returned to the show occasionally, performing as Senator Katherine Harris, a comedic/satirical impersonation of Katherine Harris, former (Republican) Florida Secretary of State and Representative for FL-13.

Radio industry sources claimed the real reason for her departure was "A casualty of low ratings, extreme revenue shortfalls, weird on-air behavior and the network's overall poor health, Garofalo's downfall is especially embarrassing considering that as a quasi-Hollywood star, she was once considered a key Air America selling point."[1]

2010 reboot[edit]

In November 2010, Seder relaunched The Majority Report as an independent online podcast. The format closely matches the previous Air America program (even using some of the same recorded intro announcements and bumper music), with politically oriented commentary by Seder and interviews with various guests. Seder currently is the sole host of this new version; Garofalo participates occasionally as a guest. Seder offers premium subscriptions to the podcasts, which allows subscribers access to expanded commentary not on the basic podcast (similar to the members-only wrap-up version of The Young Turks). On the relaunched website, Seder also offers DVDs of the 2004 TV series Pilot Season, produced and directed by Seder, starring Sarah Silverman and originally broadcast on the now-defunct Trio cable network. The Majority Report also streams live, Monday through Friday at noon Eastern Time at Majority.fm. Cliff Schecter, co-author of The Real McCain with Marcia Mitchell, is often a guest, usually on Fridays.

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