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Ramsey-Collins Redux

Yesterday I briefly discussed an incident which erupted between former Cumulus Media audio tech/producer Matt Collins and financial talkshow powerhouse Dave Ramsey in a post entitled, “If you’re going to shoot the king…”

The title stems from a bit of advice I once received from a man far wiser than I upon targeting people of influence. He said, “If you’re going to shoot the king, then you better kill the king.” Basically, if you’re going to target someone influential, then you better be able to take them down. They’ll show no mercy in their retaliation if you don’t.

Collins learned this the hard way last week when he was relieved of his part-time duties at WTN 99.7 FM for publicly criticizing Dave Ramsey on Twitter. Dave Ramsey has been the anchor of WTN for probably two decades. The man has climbed out of bankruptcy to build a multi-million dollar financial consulting empire. He should be applauded for learning a lesson the hard way and making himself a better man for it.

Two quick housecleaning notes: (1) I have never personally met Dave Ramsey, nor do I have any incentive to defend the man, and (2) I want to thank those of you who have found this site through Ramsey’s “My Total Money Makeover” website. Apparently, this Ramsey-Collins flap has manifested itself in a few forum posts over there. Thanks for stopping in.

On the second part of my first point: Ramsey is a well-established businessman in Tennessee. His products have helped countless families come back from the brink of bankruptcy — and he’s probably saved a ton of marriages in the process. Ramsey is wildly successful, and I can’t imagine he’d even need some blogger like me to come to his defense.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Collins’ style, he gets his jollies from publicly criticizing (and even personally attacking) those with whom he does not agree. Collins is reflective of a very small but very vocal minority of Ron Paul supporters who exist beyond the realm of political reality. If you told them the sky was blue, but Ron Paul said it was green, then they’d argue with you and slander your name until you gave up and moved on.

There exists among this group an outlet for their political discussion: Ron Paul Forums. I don’t encourage you to go there. Most of the posts are rather disturbing. Matt Collins has an account there. According to the information available at the time of this posting, Collins had made nearly 30,000 individual posts on Ron Paul Forums since June 2007 — that’s nearly 21 posts per day (more than 600 posts a month) for a period of almost 4 years.

I suppose June 2007 is when Collins burst onto the political scene in Tennessee. To be honest, I don’t remember when I first met him, but I know he was involved in Ron Paul meetups in the Nashville area.

He was a dedicated worker bee, as most cadre supporters of a candidate are. Paul’s ranks are full of cadre supporters, not ready for leadership, but dedicated to the task if someone can direct them.

As was the goal of Ron Paul folks after the 2008 election, Collins got elected to the Nashville-Davidson County GOP. Several months later, he was removed for his unprofessional behavior in his official capacity as an executive committee member of the GOP toward a sitting Member of Congress at a public event. (I bet you can see where this is going…)

Collins made lots of noise after his removal. Rather than learning from his childish actions and the blowback (a term he likes to throw around when discussing foreign policy), Collins continued his quest against Republicans everywhere.

Several other lesser incidents occurred, and then finally we arrive at his critique of Dave Ramsey. He tweeted. And this is what Cumulus said when they fired him:

On May 2, 2011, you tweeted rude and derogatory comments about Dave Ramsey, the host of the show that you produce for this station. Ramsey and his representatives contacted the station to complain about your comments. Your inappropriate comments about Ramsey were unprofessional and constitute misconduct, failure to follow instructions and insubordination. They were also embarrassing and extremely damaging to the station’s and company’s reputation, particularly with the Dave Ramsey group.

Let’s pick this apart. Were Collins’ tweets “rude” and “derogatory”? Yes. According to this notice, Collins produced the the Dave Ramsey Show (“bite the hand that feeds you…”). Were Collins’ comments unprofessional? Yes.

But one of the more interesting parts of their statement is this: “…failure to follow instructions…” This suggests that Collins had – at one time or another – been reprimanded for a related incident. I know that Collins criticized Dave Ramsey for his support of former Congressman Zach Wamp in the Republican Gubernatorial primary in 2010, but I cannot confirm if that was an instance where Cumulus/WTN reprimanded Collins.

As far as the claims that Collins’ comments were “damaging…” I think they’re giving him way more credit than is due. This line feeds into Collins’ ego, which I’ll touch on briefly in a few paragraphs.

Dave Ramsey, who has several million listeners daily and has sold millions of books, probably couldn’t give a flying whatever that some no name radio producer insulted him. Collins’ dozens of comrades don’t hold a candle to Dave Ramsey’s media empire. Quite honestly, the research that went into figuring out who Collins was and then getting him fired happens because bored people have nothing else to do.

I’m not defending Collins’ criticisms or criticizing Ramsey’s actions. But I’ve seen what influential people can do when they get bored. Taking out pipsqueaks like Collins is a popular past-time.

In the wake of his termination, Collins called Ramsey an “egomaniac” and “megalomaniacal” in his rambly missive about his firing. In politics and business, it is not uncommon to meet people who have high opinions of themselves. After more than 20 years in a very successful business, I’d say Ramsey earned the right to have somewhat of an ego. It is that ego, I believe, that gives one the confidence to take risks and be successful.

Ironically enough, it is Collins’ ego that continues to be his downfall. In speaking with people involved in campaigns and who know of Collins (in a sort of “Your reputation precedes you” kind of way), they are quick to note he often attempts to take credit for much of the organization and success of the candidates he supports. Were it not for Collins, he might argue, we wouldn’t have a Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky, and Ron Paul’s 2008 Presidential campaign might never have gotten off the ground.

Ronald Reagan once said, “You can accomplish much if you don’t care who gets credit.” It is unfortunate that Collins wants his name to be front-and-center on anything he does.

The great irony of Collins’ firing is that his comments were actually seen by very few who hold very little influence, but Ramsey’s reasoning played right into Collins’ ego. The only damage Collins’ comments likely caused was a tangible strain in the relationship between WTN and Dave Ramsey, who broadcasts outside the studio in his own studio about 30 miles south of Nashville. To me, that’s enough of a reason to can the guy.

But he hasn’t learned his lesson. Collins has retired to Ron Paul Forums and his Facebook page to seek sympathy from his comrades. And they – like him – have offered destructive words of encouragement. The echo chamber Collins lives in makes it nearly impossible to learn from his mistakes, because his friends sympathize with his position. Here are just a few of their comments: (Pardon the language in some of them, these are copied and pasted verbatim.)

Jay B*****: Fuck that guy.

Sam H***: I remember a coffee mug that was in the cupboards when I was kid. I would always quietly snicker at it when I’d see it. It read “Don’t Let The Bastards Wear You Down.” I knew there was something I didn’t like about that guy. I’ve heard him completely BS callers before. Pretentious dick.

Alexandra W*****: Wow. What an insecure jerk!! Sorry to hear it. I hope this information goes around and humiliates him as he deserves for his spoiled, childish behavior.

Leigh S*****: You were fired because of Dave Ramsey? Dave is a freakin NEOCON. Hope you sue.

Doug S*******: It was funny, when I read that, my first thought wasn’t “who is this guy to seek out political retribution for someone disagreeing with him”. My first thought was, who the hell is Dave Ramsey. Guess he’s not as famous as he thinks :)

Missy W*****: Forgive and forget, Matt. Unless he’s a total asshole, then fuck that nigger.

Pat A********: Ha! Now you’re free to work on RP’s campaign….they should hire you now before someone else does! Chin Up!

Debbie S****: Mr Ramsey is having a book signing Thursday, May 12 at the Cool Springs Barnes and Noble in Brentwood, if you want to voice your opinion in person.

Christopher F******: How about we see about getting Ramsey fired?

Raymond R*******: Matt or some one else could please list the companies advertise during Dave Ramsey’s show, so we can boycott them until they pull their ads from Dave’s show.

Tim R*****: Once upon a time Dave Ramsey had a jaguar but could not afford to put gas in it. Soon he will have a nationally syndicated radio show with no listeners.

James S******: I’m maxing out a credit card today just to spite this fucker.

Daniel A*******: Matt Collins, do you want us to cause pain?

I say all that to say this: Matt Collins is a dedicated ideologue. And in several ways, that’s a compliment. From what I understand, he’s a hard worker. He’s committed to his ideals, and he’s willing to defend those who agree with him. These are all admirable things. But his refusal to “play nice” with folks in the Republican Party will only hinder his ability to help the candidates of his choice. I’m not saying he has to agree with all Republicans all the time (I certainly don’t.), but there’s only so long you can carry on Collins’ slash-and-burn politik before people stop taking you seriously.

And not only does it hurt his image, but it hurts the image of those he claims to support. In the long run, the benefits of his childishness are nil.

2 comments

1 John { 05.10.11 at 12:37 pm }

All I can say is, is that these people are turning me off on Ron Paul for president 2012….Those are some of most idiotic comments I’ve seen “Get Dave Ramsey Fired”…like he has a boss? “Maxing out a card to spite him”? Putting yourself into debt for spite? Oh brother.

2 Eric Travis { 05.10.11 at 2:32 pm }

I saw the original post from Matt Collins via Dave’s twitter feed, and after I read it, my initial reaction was “dude…breathe…” While I grant that Mr. Collins has mastered the art of the diatribe, the fundamental problem lies in the fact that, to an outsider, this is a ‘he said/he said’ argument. I’d never heard of Matt Collins before this week, and I certainly don’t claim to know what position he filled at WTN, nor any inside awareness of his relationship with the company.

But the moment someone seizes upon Victim Status and launches into vicious personal attacks, red flags go up. Even granting the benefit of the doubt, that the scenario played out precisely as Mr. Collins presents, it is the presentation itself that turns potential sympathy into open skepticism.

In other words, even if (and that’s a big if) the Lampo Group is in the ‘wrong’, don’t assume you’re in the ‘right’, Mr. Collins.

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