Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Right Wing Radio Running Scared?

It’s almost sad how Right Wing Radio has been hunkered down in defensive mode for the past few months. Granted, they’re always in a perpetual state of self-appointed persecution, which is bound to happen when you spend the majority of your time insulting callers, smearing opponents, spreading misinformation, and downright lying to your audience. But lately, things are getting downright dangerous.

It all started back in April, when Imus bad mouthed the wrong black female basketball team and lost his job due to a sudden lack of advertising revenue. Racial slurs always guarantee you the most airtime (Just ask Kramer), and everybody gleefully ganged up on the sickly looking elderly cowboy wannabe in an effort to see who was more righteous and socially relevant.

Oddly enough, as soon as the words “Hate Speech” and “Talk Radio” starting cropping up, the world as a whole nearly gave itself whiplash looking over at the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, Coulter… the list is so long, it didn’t really take long to find a name whose angry ranting made Imus’ little ‘hoe’ slip up pale in comparison.

The spokespersons for Right Wing Radio, Right Wing Radio themselves, snapped into action by immediately blaming the ‘Left Wing Media’ for singling them out. They cried that they were the victims, and warned that the people criticizing them just wanted to control what you hear and think. They then held up the defunct Fairness Doctrine, warning that if the American public wasn’t careful, the LWM would bring it back. The warning backfired, however, as a rather large group of people shrugged and wondered why that would be an overly bad thing.

That’s where the waters get muddy, because they can’t tell the real reason the Fairness Doctrine sends a shiver down their spine. Forcing equal air time for these Right Wing Blowhards would essentially force them to debate their opponents. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but to people who have built their careers and reputations on a firm foundation of uncontested lies and misinformation, the presence of an educated opponent that you can’t shout over or cut the microphone on threatens the very fabric of their false cloak of legitimacy. The foundation on which the giant Talk Radio Empire has been built can be easily taken down by simply forcing it to adhere to the rules of an average high school debate team, and they know it.

Fortunately for them, the fires started by such minor racial slurs may blaze bright, but they burn out quickly. Things seemed to be getting back to normal recently, and Right Wing Talk Radio had settled back into its comfortable pattern of slandering Democratic Politicians and pretending that no one knows Lieberman is going to defect to the Right by 2008. Then, just when you thought it was safe to sing “Obama, the Magic Negro,” a report from the Center for American Progress titled "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio" told us what we already knew; 91% of the total daily talk radio programming is conservative. They also told us something that a lot of people probably didn’t know; 257 of the Right-leaning news/talk stations are owned by five organizations: Clear Channel, CBS Radio, Citadel Broadcasting, Cumulus Media and Salem Communications.

Lord Limbaugh and his Errant Knights quickly leapt into action and declared victim status for themselves yet again. But the role of underdog is hard to assume when your legion of mouthpieces are all leashed by the same handful of corporate masters, and the Fairness Doctrine is once again the bogeyman of the day. Only this time, instead of screaming Freedom of Speech, the fall back argument has become the Free Market. This is America, the eagerly point out, and the Free Market always works things out. If people don’t really like Hannity and his ilk, they can easily listen to something else. Of course, the ‘listen to something else’ argument tends to fall flat when your owners have a stranglehold on the market so there isn’t anything else to listen to.

The Free Market argument does hold some truth, but it’s a bitter pill to swallow when you consider that outrage and controversy trump substance and accuracy when it comes to ratings. The Fairness Doctrine may feel a bit heavy-handed, but maybe it’s a lesser evil than allowing our Nation’s political discourse to align itself with the same broadcast philosophies of Howard Stern and American Idol.

Maybe the Right Wing Radio focus is just another distraction from the true culprit here, which is that the institutions that were once dedicated to seeking out the truth and reporting it to the people are now more dedicated to ratings sweeps and shareholders, or even more frighteningly, media robber barons doing their best to deliver their own ideological message while sidestepping the long-forgotten monopoly laws.


Itty said...

Only this time, instead of screaming Freedom of Speech

Which is just ironic, considering that as much as Right Wing Media bitches and complains about not being able to exercise the above, they sure as hell don't confer the same right on the "Other Parties" Media...

moe wahby said...

BRAVO..... is it august? Let the local political mudslinging begin... it already did for me