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Horror From The Airwaves

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Horror from the airwaves photoTurn on The Big Talker WPHT any time of the day save a Phillies game, and you’ll hear what everyone’s talking about.

“You’re a great American,” afternoon talker Sean Hannity tells his pre-screened callers, most often put through to agree with the syndicated host on a dumbed-down issue concerning:

  1. Barack Obama destroying America.
  2. Liberal fascism/socialism/tyranny (they now all mean the same thing).
  3. How safe George W. Bush kept us for 8 years (9/11 is Bill Clinton’s fault).

If you were someone who got his or her news from conservative talk radio only, finding out about President Obama’s 60-70 percent job approval ratings and 90 percent personal positive ratings might induce a heart attack. Hosts Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and a number of other syndicated talkers have made a living mastering a character, sort of like an actor, and skillfully speaking as that character for up to three hours a day on Lowest Common Denominator talking points put out by the Republican Party.

And the scary thing is, Republican politicians are taking these entertainers seriously – even treating one of them as a leader.

Sean Hannity, a protégé of Limbaugh, is a shill for Republican talking points. He uses the term “enhanced interrogation techniques” when debating torture. In 2007, he excused some Republican politicians’ alleged involvement in a prostitution ring, insisting “there are some lonely people in this world that literally will call [a call girl] just to have company.”

Refusing to acknowledge President Bush’s failed economic policies as president, both he and Limbaugh baselessly referred to our economic downturn as the “Obama Recession” months before President Obama was inaugurated.

He has said it is un-American to criticize President Bush during a war, yet during Kosovo, he radically assaulted President Clinton, once claiming “innocent people are going to die for nothing.”

He, along with a host of conservative commentators, recently attacked President Obama for putting mustard on a cheeseburger.

Years before his addiction to Oxycontin landed him an arrest and rehab, Rush Limbaugh referred to the late Jerry Garcia as “another dead doper,” and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Arguing hypocrisy when it comes to these people is sort of redundant.

Much has been said over the past five months concerning Limbaugh taking over as the leader and only man with ideas in the Republican Party. And it’s not without merit.

Each time a national Republican political figure has said something negative about Limbaugh, he’s criticized them back, and they’ve in turn apologized. Among that long list: RNC Chairman Michael Steele, Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey, and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Steele actually called Limbaugh’s show “ugly,” then took his comments back within two days, saying, “My intent was not to go after Rush. I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh.”

As Rush Limbaugh takes the throne at the top of the Republican Party, politicians should consider this: Rush Limbaugh’s national approval ratings are 19 percent, yet he’s got die-hard fans all over the country, including Philadelphia, one of the bluest spots in a blue state. Clearly, his high number of listeners is not reminiscent of his influence. Pollster John Zogby concluded in 2007 that liberals drive conservative talk radio’s high ratings and also found that a much higher percentage of conservatives (22%) than liberals (7%) “never” enjoy entertainment that reflects values other than their own.

And to say Limbaugh is not entertainment demeans the idea of entertainment. I delivered The Evening Bulletin newspapers afternoons (circa 2006) throughout grad school and would not have survived without Limbaugh’s three-hour rants. At the time, Al Franken’s liberal show was syndicated on WHAT, but I felt no need to listen. It was boring and Franken – once a professional comedian – was too serious when it came to actual issues. He used facts and backed up what he said with things like stats. Limbaugh, it always seemed, backed up his statements without facts. What he said was so ridiculous, I was almost glad he didn’t use any research to back it up. That would have ruined it.

You’d imagine even talking about it seriously is ridiculous, because the whole thing is nonsense. Learning politics from Limbaugh and Hannity is like studying the intricacies of human interaction and psychology by observing ex-Poison lead singer Bret Michaels choose a stripper to fall in love with on “Rock Of Love.”

That’s not to say Limbaugh and Hannity are doing anything wrong. It’s entertainment and it’s meant to attract viewers.

But I am seriously concerned that real life politicians are bowing down to fictional characters created for the radio. When “War Of The Worlds” was exposed as a hoax, listeners didn’t continue believing aliens had conquered New Jersey. No one really believes WWE wrestlers Triple H and John Cena dislike each other to the personal extent they express before going head-to-head in the squared circle. So why does talk radio have a real influence?

It not only demeans our national character, but makes a mockery of intelligent thought and causes those of us listening to these programs for pure entertainment to question if, somewhere, enough people are actually taking these performers seriously. And it’s not a good feeling.

 


Comments


10:02 AM
Fri Jun 5 2009
Horror from the Airwaves or Voices of Dissent?

Hate to tell you Randy but a lot of folks do take talk radio VERY seriously (including those trying to shut it down with the Fairness Doctrine). With mainstream media so closely aligned with the Obama administration, conservative talk radio and Fox News Channel are the only alternatives for voices of dissent. And that’s why Fox News Channel's ratings have grown to more than MSNBC’s and CNN’s combined over the past year. Alternative media listeners are not necessarily misinformed, stupid or even conservative – many are simply seeking relief from the crushing conformity of politically-correct, pro-administration, mainstream media. If you don’t want them migrating to the likes of Limbaugh and Hannity, offer them some objective journalism – something they can’t find in mainstream media today.