The Toxic Right Wing Media

vote_republicanI get more magazines to my house than I’d care to admit, but one of my favorites is the Columbia Journalism Review.  The most recent issue contain this exceptional essay on the Toxic and Rabid right wing media.  Given how lefities were browbeat with charges of being unpatriotic by not supporting George W. Bush’s illegal war in Iraq and how we were admonished to respect the office of the president if not the man himself, I am not surprised that President Obama has no honeymoon at all with this people.

Some excerpts below:

Any inventory of the right’s media bombast must begin with talk radio. In reach and rancor, it had no equal. Leading the way was Rush Limbaugh. An estimated fourteen to twenty million people tune in to his show every week, and he treated them to nonstop character assassination, calling the Democratic candidate the Messiah, a revolutionary socialist, a liar, “Osama Obama,” a man with a “perverted mind” who wants to destroy America and the middle class, a front man for terrorists who wants to turn the country into a version of Castro’s Cuba or Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. According to Michael Savage (eight million listeners), “Barack Madrasah Obama” was “hand-picked by some very powerful forces both within and outside the United States of America to drag this country into a hell that it has not seen since the Civil War.” Laura Ingraham (5.5 million listeners) spent her nights fuming over Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Hamas, Hezbollah, Ayers, Wright, ACORN, and, in the campaign’s final days, the “racist-terrorist” Rashid Khalidi. She urged listeners to call a toll-free number with any information they might have about the “terrorist party tape” that showed Obama at an event honoring the Palestinian professor.

The noxious clouds emitted by these national windbags were further fed by gassy eruptions from scores of local and regional radio hosts. As documented in a recent report by the group Media Matters, these hosts harped on the notion that Obama is a Muslim whose true loyalties lay outside the United States. “Let’s ask Obama how many prayer rugs he has,” sneered Neal Boortz of Atlanta. “Gunny” Bob Newman of Denver called Obama a “blowhard, make-believe thug” and a “far-left terrorist-hugging politician” whose election would lead to “an invasion of Muslim terrorists.” Cincinnati’s Bill Cunningham stated that Obama wants to “gas the Jews,” while Minneapolis’s Chris Baker called him a “little bitch” who “won’t even stand up to a smoking-hot chick from Alaska.”

The vitriol circulating in the blogosphere was no less extreme. “Terrorist Bill Ayers Votes in Obama’s Neighborhood,” proclaimed the endlessly strident Michelle Malkin on her site on Election Day.


When it comes to Obama-bashing, however, Sean Hannity was in a class by himself. Consumed with a hatred for Obama that at times seemed pathological, Hannity waged a nightly campaign to depict him as a treacherous enemy of the people, who, if allowed to take office, would subvert every value and tradition Americans hold dear. The centerpiece of this effort was an hour-long special, “Obama & Friends: History of Radicalism,” that drew on a series of marginal and shadowy writers and researchers to offer up a series of allegations and half-truths about Obama’s supposed ties to Tony Rezko, ACORN, Louis Farrakhan, Muslim fundamentalists, black-power advocates, and, of course, Bill Ayers. In one especially lunatic segment, Andy Martin, a writer with a history of making anti-Semitic statements, claimed that Obama, in deciding to work as a community organizer in Chicago after college, had “probably” been recruited for the job by Ayers, who was seeking to test his suitability for joining his radical political movement, the aim of which was to bring about in America a “socialist revolution.” Martin offered not a shred of evidence to back up this charge. Nonetheless, the image of Obama-as-Ayers-front-man became a staple on talk radio and in the blogosphere.

After weeks of watching Fox, of listening to Limbaugh, and of surfing the Internet; after hours of hearing repeated references to terrorists and thugs, radicals and revolutionaries, Muslims and madrasahs, I came away feeling that these outlets were helping to foment such hatred and fear of Obama that some members of their audience might feel justified in resorting to violence to stop him. The climate seemed no less toxic than the one that arose in Israel in the months leading up to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

That climate still exists. The election of Obama has done nothing to diminish the frequency or zeal of the attacks against him. As I write in late November, you can turn on Sean Hannity and see him still raging about Obama’s ties to Ayers; you can tune in to Rush Limbaugh and still hear him decrying the radical socialist regime Obama is seeking to impose. These outlets have stoked the politics of personal destruction in America, promoting a mindset in which opponents are seen not merely as fellow citizens to be debated and persuaded but as members of a subhuman species who must be isolated and stamped out.


Read the whole piece for yourself.

Of course, Orange County has no shortage of toic right wing media.  A daily visit to the Flash Report will only prove it.  Chuck DeVore’s latest YouTube ad urges the defeat of Barbara Boxer and Washington “liberals” as though the word “liberal” were akin to some derogatory label aplied to some racial or sexual sterotype.  And, the editorial page of the Orange County Register leans cetner/right, nary to give a voice to Lefties except for the occassional letter to the editor (this is not to say that the Register’s editorial writers never take our position — they do — but you will not find a center-left syndicated columnist on their pages while the “liberal” NY Times and LA Times do carry hard core right wing columnists. 

Liberals and Democrats were principled opposition to President Bush’s regime on a number of fronts; faulty intelligence and a dismissal of UN inspectors to the run up to the invasion of Iraq.  Torture in Gitmo and Abu Ghrahib in America’s name.  Warrantless wiretapping. Valerie Plame.  Moving the goalposts in punishing those responsible for leaking Plame’s name.  Katrina.  Politicizing the Justice Department.  The running up of masive debt and deficits.  The attitude from the right wing was “we won the election(s) and we have a mandate.”

Now, the same tactics from the Republicans are in full swing.  Obama is trying to fix a mess left behind by the Bush administration.  Rush Limbaugh as a running count of jobs lost since Obama took office as though he is personally responsible for it (like blaming the ER doctor for losing a patient who was shot in the head by a gangbanger.)  Rush Limbaugh is using his radio program to browbeat Republicans into united opposition and, rather than listen to the voters, Limabugh has the ear of the Republicans.  Locally, Jon Flieschman is using his position as a Republican Party official and his Flash Report website to browbeat Republicans in the State Assembly and Senate to avoid any compromise of the budget impasse than involves tax increases.  What both men have in common is they would rather see the nation and the state fail before working in the common interests of the people.  Party before State and Country.  And our elected Republican senators, congressional representatives, state senators and state assembly representatives are nothing more than lemmings.  And the right wing media are no more than hypocrites practicing do as I say, not as I do politics.

This must change. 

We need fillibuster proof majorities in the House and Senate in DC and we need to overturn the two-thirds rule in Sacramento.

  5 comments for “The Toxic Right Wing Media

  1. Reggie
    February 6, 2009 at 3:43 am

    We as progressives need to learn to stand up for ourselves when confronted with the noise that comes from the right. All too often, especially in Orange County, we stay quiet or temper our remarks in a "go along to get along" strategy. We may stay quiet rather than be shouted down.

    Building up our side of the media will help a great deal – we will then have a place both to discuss and move our ideas forward but also a way to get the word out about those who help us and those who are hurting us. This is something we all can work towards.

  2. Lil Truth
    February 6, 2009 at 5:16 am

    What you’re asking for is a one party system. Clearly that is NOT good for the state or the nation. Case in point the Dems have been in near total control of the State of California for how long now? They have certainly proved to be fiscally responsible haven't they!
    Both parties need to be responible, right now they both suck!

    • Dan Chmielewski
      February 6, 2009 at 5:02 pm

      But our side wasn't writing books about or advocating a "permanent Republican majority" a la Hugh Hewitt and Newt Gingrich. The Republicans were miserable failures in governing to their principles when they had control of the White House and the Congress for 6 years. Spending was out of control, the rule of law meant moving goalposts and government got bigger than anything LBJ envisioned in his Great Society. Nice try.

  3. Northcountystorm
    February 6, 2009 at 8:01 am

    Dan—I agree that there's more heat than light from the right, but the left has a good deal of vitriol. Its never really matched up well with the right on radio or even tv. But the left owns then the internet. Trolling down some of the Daily Kos threads was as toxic as most of what Rush and the Reds were putting out. Of course, the left leaves its most toxic hits for its own–witness the Nader Nabobs rants about Democrats or some of the outrageous anti-Hillary stuff on the Daily Kos comments.
    Even so, the right is King of the HIll when it comes to character assasination.

    As for Lil Truth, here's a truth: between the 2/3 vote requirement to pass a budget and Republicans occupying the Governor's seat for 12 of the past 17 years, Democrats have not been in total control in Sacramento.

  4. Li'l Truth
    February 7, 2009 at 4:06 am

    No, they have not been in total control. Nor should they be, the system is designed to be a balance, not that there has been a lot of it, but having either party in total control will be a total disaster. Remember your civics, it's the legislature that is in charge of all spending bills, the Gov can only sign or veto them, so far he has signed too many or we wouldn't be insolvent.
    I don't want the R's in total control either. What I would like to see is a return to civil discourse and compromise. I also want a govt. that can actually live with in a budget, just like all the rest of us have to.
    And Yes, Dan is advocating a one party system in his last two lines of this post.

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