Category Archive 'Talk Radio'

23 Sep 2007

Breaking the Information Monopoly

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Ed Driscoll, Jr. explains how the consensus of the MSM originated, and how talk radio and the rise of the blogosphere re-opened public debate in the United States.

Prior to the 1920s, American newspapers and pamphleteers had a long, diverse history of vigorous, partisan debate. Which is why there are still newspapers with names like the Springfield Democrat and Shelbyville Republican.

That began to change with the rise of competition from the broadcast media. In the 1920s, because radio frequencies were finite, their allocation became heavily regulated by the federal government. As Shannon Love of the classically liberal Chicago Boyz ( economics blog explains, the federal government “took the radio spectrum, and instead of auctioning it off like land, essentially socialized it. And then they made the distribution of the broadcast spectrum basically a political decision.”

That, combined later with the FCC’s so-called “Fairness Doctrine—which required broadcasting networks to give “equal time” to opposing viewpoints—compelled broadcasters to maintain at least a veneer of impartiality in order to get and keep their licenses. A de facto political compromise was reached, Love says, “that the broadcast news would not be political—it would be objective and nonpartisan, was basically the idea. And then that carried over from radio to TV,” and eventually to print media. (That conceit continues to this day, as the media toss around words like “unbiased” and “objective” as easily as Dan Rather tosses off hoary, made-up Texas-isms.)

Completely dependent on the federal government, the broadcast industry’s most urgent priority became “don’t rock the boat.” And aping their broadcast competitors, newspapers began to adopt the mantle of impartiality, as well. A mass media that increasingly eschewed vibrant political debate helped FDR win four presidential elections handily, and Ike’s refusal to dismantle the New Deal in the 1950s only perpetuated its soft socialism. That era’s pervasive desire for consensus was symbolized by the ubiquitous Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and his centrist politics.

By the early 1970s, mass media had reached its zenith (if you’ll pardon the pun). Most Americans were getting their news from one of three TV networks’ half-hour nightly broadcasts. With the exception of New York, most big cities had only one or two primary newspapers. And no matter what a modern newspaper’s lineage, by and large its articles, except for local issues, came from global wire services like the Associated Press or Reuters; it took its editorial lead from the New York Times; and it claimed to be impartial (while usually failing miserably).

Up until the Reagan years, Love says, “definitely fewer than one hundred people, and maybe as few as twenty people, actually decided what constituted national news in the United States.” These individuals were principally concentrated within a few square blocks of midtown Manhattan, the middle of which was home to the offices of the New York Times. The aptly nicknamed “Gray Lady” largely shaped the editorial agendas not just of newspapers but of television, as well. As veteran TV news correspondent Bernard Goldberg wrote in his 2003 book Arrogance, “If the New York Times went on strike tomorrow morning, they’d have to cancel the CBS, NBC, and ABC evening newscasts tomorrow night.”

Love calls this “the Parliament of Clocks”: creating the illusion of truth or accuracy by force of consensus.

19 Aug 2006

Scary Hatred, Characteristic of the Right or the Left?

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Jerry Jackson, the Chicago Sun Times’ Wednesday conservative editorialist, responds to Lanny Davis’ recent Wall Street Journal editorial which expressed surprise at finding so much “scary hatred” (aimed at Joe Lieberman) emanating from the left. (Lanny is a red-diaper baby, named after Upton Sinclair’s “progressive” agent Lanny Budd.) Scary hatred, in Lanny Davis’s view is a natural monopoly of the political right.

When I discuss Rush (Limbaugh) and others with some of my liberal friends, they all repeat the same worn out phrases. He (Rush) is full of hate, cuts people off if they disagree and in general spews vitriol against liberals. I then ask them if they ever listen to Rush, and to a person they always answer “of course not, but I know all these things because I read about him and hear these comments from my friends”.

Rush maintains an audience of somewhere between 20-25 million people because he delivers a quality program with lots of good humor and bases his comments on considerable research. He encourages calls from those that disagree and some days takes calls only from those who have a different philosophy.

Does Rush make fun of the liberals and make their immature ideas sound ridiculous? Absolutely. Does he do research to prove their talking points are without logic? You bet! Does he use vulgar phrases and emit hate in every word? Never.

For years now the progressives have tried to offset Rush with their own left leaning performers, and they went through a number of lefties that bombed on the air. Those have included Mario Como, Hightower, Al Gore and many others.

A few years ago the lefties thought they had the answer, and with enormous financial backing from such stalwarts as George Soros, created a whole network to feature the left and called it Air America. This network is 24 hours a day of Bush bashing, hate, vulgarity and out and out stupidity. Since I criticize the Limbaugh bashers who have never heard his program, I felt it was my duty to listen to Air America. I have done so over a period of about three months and here are some comments from just two 90- minute sessions:

1) “The entire Bush crime family should be executed.”

2) “George Bush is a g.d. lying s.o.b.” (by the host) There was no use of initials in this quote.

3) “Bush and Cheney are gleefully causing gas prices to go sky high to benefit their big oil friends.”

4) “Why didn’t Cheney turn the shotgun on himself after he wounded his friend?” (by the host)

5) “The Bush Administration planned and executed 9-11.”

6) “Rumsfeld should be hung by his thumbs and subjected to all the torture that was given to the alleged insurgents.”

7) “The Bush government purposely did not capture bin Laden because they wanted an excuse to go to war.” (by the host)

8) “We can hope that the insurgents will get information on Bush’s travel plans so they can shoot down his airplane.”

9) “Bush and the government planted explosives in the World Trade Center and that’s why the Twin Towers collapsed.”

On this latter point one of the hosts asked how this could be so since we all saw the airplanes fly into both towers. The answer to this was simple. One of the listeners explained that this was a conspiracy between Bush and the major TV networks. Through trick technology they transposed these airplanes onto the TV screens to fool all America – and on and on and on.

So these are all the peace loving, tolerant, well educated and so informed progressives and liberals that are trying to redirect America. If the subject wasn’t so serious, it could be great comedy. If you want something to keep you up at night, these patriots with their brilliance and liberal elite-ness vote in all the local and national elections.

The good news is that Air America is having a very tough time staying afloat. They have lost their radio outlets in New York and several other major markets. This network cannot raise enough advertising dollars to promote this brand of vicious propaganda. Eventually George Soros and other sponsors will no doubt tire of funding such trash and they will be required to compete in the free market.

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