Into the Belly of the Beast – Schweiger Takes on Conservative Radio Host
Real leadership is uncomfortable. It involves the willingness to do whatever it takes to promote truth – even if it means walking right into enemy territory – right into the belly of the beast. It involves facing the opposition with perseverance.
National Wildlife Federation President & CEO Larry Schweiger demonstrated that kind of leadership when he walked right into enemy territory and the Mike Pintek’s show on KDKA, the largest a.m. talk show program in the Pittsburgh PA market. (The National Wildlife Federation recently held its 73rd Annual Meeting in the city.)
Within 30 seconds of our arrival, Pintek announced that he was not going to talk politics or global warming. “Don’t want to talk about global warming because it’s a load of crap.” Nice …
Pintek introduced Larry and then asked about the top issue the National Wildlife Federation works on. Larry told him: to reform America’s energy policy. Well of course it didn’t take Pintek long to say, “Whaddya mean reform America’s energy policy?” and then, there we were, talking about global warming.
Despite Pintek’s insistence that we weren’t going to talk about global warming, he kept at it for about 30 minutes. Larry, calmly and clearly, kept refuting Pintek’s weak claims (not man-made, the sunspot theory, etc). Larry patiently explained what it means to keep polluting the atmosphere with carbon, what it means to do nothing in the face of this danger, what our responsibility must be to the next generation.
Watching from a corner seat, I have to confess I was squirming. Gritting my teeth. Here’s this guy Pintek, reciting from random pieces of paper strewn on his desk, what he considers the facts about global warming — implying he knows more than the president of the National Wildlife Federation who has read enough scientific-reviewed studies on global warming to fill Pintek’s studio from floor to ceiling.
Perhaps the most telling moment was when Larry suggested during a break that despite what Pintek believed, his audience deserved to hear the other side of the story. Not missing a beat, Pintek replied, “No. No. That’s not my responsibility. This is a talk show.”
Pintek kept insisting he wanted to talk about wildlife, and he decided to keep Larry on air longer to do just that. One question after another, whether it was about invasive species, wolves, eagles, endangered species, the Chesapeake Bay, the deer population in Pennyslvania, etc., Larry answered with the full authority of a man who has devoted his life to protecting nature.