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“freeSpeech” Has Failed

“Doesn’t it seem that CBS’ “freeSpeech” spots are overpopulated by people who already have regular platforms from which they speak freely and often?”

That’s what an e-mailer observed today, and he’s right. TVNewser has added up every “freeSpeech” speaker since Sept. 5, and the results are stark: More than two-thirds of the “free speech” is coming from the East Coast, with a fifth from New York City residents. The vast majority of the guests have national media platforms, like books, columns, magazines, and Senate podiums.

At least 24 of the 34 speakers are from the East Coast. At least 21 have national media platforms. (And that’s using a strict definition of “national platform.”) Here’s a list of each speaker since the segment premiered. An “E” indicates East Coast, and a “P” indicates national platform:

> Oct. 20: New York doctor     E
> Oct. 19: Media-friendly Senator     P
> Oct. 18: Bob Schieffer     E P
> Oct. 17: Mayor in northeastern Pennsylvania     E
> Oct. 16: NY Daily News sports columnist     E P
> Oct. 13: Media-friendly Senator     P
> Oct. 12: Atlanta-based lawyer     E
> Oct. 11: Bob Schieffer     E P
> Oct. 10: Marine-turned-PAC-founder from Virginia     E
> Oct. 9: D.C.-based editor of The Nation     E P
> Oct. 6: D.C.-based correspondent for NPR     E P
> Oct. 5: Detroit-based radio host and author     P
> Oct. 4: Bob Schieffer     E P
> Oct. 3: Former House page from St. Louis
> Oct. 2: Father of a Columbine victim
> Sept. 29: Author; lives in Brooklyn     E
> Sept. 28: D.C.-based 9/11 commission chair     E P
> Sept. 27: Bob Schieffer     E P
> Sept. 26: Soviet dissident/Israeli politician
> Sept. 25: Best-selling author; lives in New Orleans     P
> Sept. 22: Food safety advocate; lives in Chicago
> Sept. 21: Undocumented immigrant
> Sept. 20: Bob Schieffer     E P
> Sept. 19: Washington Post columnist     E P
> Sept. 18: Best-selling author; based at Yale     E P
> Sept. 15: Writer/singer who lives in NYC     E
> Sept. 14: Former Bush speechwriter; lives in Virginia     E
> Sept. 13: Bob Schieffer     E P
> Sept. 12: President of D.C.-based Muslim group     E
> Sept. 11: Former NYC mayor     E P
> Sept. 8: Comedy writer from NYC     E P
> Sept. 7: Radio host from NY & Florida     E P
> Sept. 6: Los Angeles Times correspondent     P
> Sept. 5: Film director from NYC     E P

Some of the best segments have come from the speakers without an East Coast presence or a national platform. Take the segment with the undocumented immigrant, or the segment with the former House page, or the segment from the Columbine parent.

As the observer remarked, “CBS should bring more fresh faces and fresh voices to speak freely, for free.”

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