In Case You Missed It: One of the most amazing moments in Michigan gubernatorial politics – certainly in recent history – took place on Wednesday when Democratic candidate Shri Thanedar was interviewed on Detroit radio station 910 AM by host Steve Neavling.
Sparks were flying. Verbal punches were thrown. An angry shouting match ensued. All the clichés apply – and more.
A couple of examples: Have you ever seen an interview in which the host three times had the politician’s microphone shut off? Have you ever seen an interview in which the host repeatedly asked (badgered) the politician about whether he was secretly paying other hosts from his own media outlet – 910 AM — to promote his candidacy?
This was wild. And it was all caught on a studio camera that was livestreaming the event.
Neavling, the creator and writer for the Motor City Muckraker website, had invited Thanedar to appear on his radio show and the candidate/entrepreneur showed up, though Neavling had outlined in advance numerous controversies he wanted to talk about.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday morning, Neavling wrote:
“Democratic gubernatorial Shri Thanedar … abandoned dogs and monkeys that his company tested … (in labs). His companies sold what appears to be illegal drugs masquerading as “herbal remedies” at urban gas stations. He’s paying black journalists to vocally support (him) …”
Some of the most fiery moments came when Neavling, a former Detroit Free Press reporter, pressed Thanedar repeatedly to explain why the candidate running as the “most progressive” contender in the Dem field gave a large donation to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.
The host also raised the issue of Thanedar allegedly inflating the value of one of his corporations in an unethical manner before selling it. And Neavling questioned whether the over-the-counter supplements a Thanedar company had previously sold were a form of methamphetamines or if the packaging promoted date rape.
Thanedar fought back, claiming that Neavling was spreading smears, distortions, rumors and lies rather than engaging in a professional interview.
But there was so much more to this bizarre encounter, which lasted about 45 minutes, in terms of body language, debate tactics and vocal aggressiveness.
At one point, when Neavling accused Thanedar of repeatedly dodging questions, he called for the radio station’s security to intervene and remove the candidate from the studio. “You’re going to have to get out of here,” Neavling said. “… This is my show. You will not lie to my listeners.”
At another point, after Neavling repeatedly shook federal documents and lawsuits in Thanedar’s face to build his case against the candidate’s corporate actions, Thanedar snatched several pieces of paper from the host’s hands and referred to it as Neavling’s anti-Thanedar “script.”
At no time during the entire confrontation did Thanedar make eye contact with Neavling, though they were only sitting a few feet apart. Even during the commercial breaks, which are part of the station’s video version of the show – though without in-studio audio – Thanedar could be seen bickering with Neavling throughout while looking straight ahead.
Equally stunning was Neavling’s forceful attempt to get Thanedar to concede that at least three 910 AM hosts were being paid by the candidate to help promote his campaign. Neavling asserted that two prominent black ministers in Detroit who host shows on 910 AM – the Rev. Horace Sheffield and the Rev. David Alexander Bullock – were quietly being paid up to $10,000 a month to promote Thanedar’s candidacy.
The candidate said that he has not paid “journalists” to talk-up his bid for governor but money has flowed into a pro-Thanedar Political Action Committee (PAC) to compensate Detroit political figures who are helping to organize his campaign in the Motor City.
Thanedar then added this shot at Neavling: “Do you yell at your guests all the time?”
In a follow-up radio show today, a much more low-key Neavling took a second look at the explosive interview from a day earlier. He did not back down on anything and he suggested the 910 AM management gave him no blowback on his incendiary remarks about certain pro-Thanedar hosts employed by the station.
Today’s show featured a phone interview with Democratic political consultant Joe DiSano which reiterated previous press reports indicating that, when Thanedar, a political neophyte, was shopping for a political operative in early 2017 to run his gubernatorial campaign, he was still unsure whether he wanted to run as a Democrat or a Republican.
While Facebook comments during this weird Wednesday radio rodeo were decidedly mixed about who tied down who — Thanedar or Neavling – DiSano, a notoriously snarky commentator, had a different reaction. The inability of the candidate to explain news that Thanedar’s lab company closed its doors and left 170 neglected dogs and monkeys behind in cages was politically damaging in an unprecedent manner, DiSano said.
“That live interview with you yesterday,” DiSano told Neavling, “couldn’t have been worse if (Thanedar) had slaughtered a puppy on air.”
Again, the video of Wednesday’s interview can be viewed here. There are some ebbs and flows so you may want to scan through some sections in short intervals.
Photo: 910 AM screenshot