Opinion Brief

Do Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck hire fake callers?

Premiere Networks, which syndicates many of the biggest talk-radio shows, sometimes pays "angry" actors to call in to their programs. Are Limbaugh and Beck involved?

That mad-as-hell caller to Rush Limbaugh's talk radio show, whose pitch-perfect anger seems too perfect, may in fact be a fake. In February, Tablet Magazine reported that Premiere Radio Networks, which syndicates Limbaugh and Glenn Beck's shows, hires stealth actors to "recite various scenarios that made for interesting radio." Though the website soliciting actors has since been taken down, The Raw Story confirms that Premiere is still hiring plants, but couldn't say which shows used the service. What are the chances that Rush and Beck hire fake callers to juice their shows?

Rush's response is suspicious: Limbaugh swears that he doesn't pay plants, and when he "says he doesn't pay actors to call in to his show, I believe him," says Bonos Rama at Newsvine. But it could still be true that he has Premiere pay the actors to call in. Rush is "famous for carefully cultivating words," and you have to read his denials closely for what they don't explicitly say."I believe Limbaugh did not 'hire' actors for his show"

Please, drop the denials and just stop using plants: All the top Premiere talkers reacted to this explosive "dial-a-fraud" bombshell in their own unique way, say Gustav Wynn and Rob Kall at OpEd News. Limbaugh "attacked his bosses," Sean Hannity "attacked the messenger," and Beck went "bonkers," attacking George Soros but defending Premier. But regardless of whether it's Limbaugh or "progressive Premiere talk show hosts like Randi Rhodes," this kind of "deception in radio betrays a sacred trust.""Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck respond to report that parent company hires actors..."

Sign me up: It was about halfway through Limbaugh's "lengthy, passionate" denial that I became "distracted by one simple thought," says Jon Bershad at Mediaite. "How freaking sweet would that gig be?" The actors make $40 an hour "just to call in and improvise with a radio host for a while." So if you're out there, "Premiere On Call, I don't care what shows you do. Just contact me.""Rush Limbaugh livid over allegations that some radio show callers are actors"

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