I‘ve made no secret that I support a return of the old FCC rule called the “Fairness Doctrine” that was removed in 1987. I feel that the obscene conservative bias in talk radio is hurting the country more than the Fairness Doctrine would “hurt” people like Rush Limbaugh. Steve Almond had a good op-ed about it today in the Boston Globe.
Predictably, the abolishment of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 spurred a talk radio revolution. Why? Because talk radio’s business model is predicated on silencing all opposing viewpoints. If Rush Limbaugh and his ilk were forced to engage in a reasonable debate, rather than ad hominems, they would forfeit the moral surety – and the seductive rage – that is the central appeal of all demagogues.
Would talk radio’s bullies freak out? Absolutely. They know the Fairness Doctrine would spell the end to their ongoing cultural flim-flam. Besides, there’s nothing so intoxicating to a fraudulent moralist as the perfume of fraudulent martyrdom.
The real shock is that journalists haven’t supported the Fairness Doctrine. Then again, consider the state of “mainstream media” outlets. Increasingly, they dine on the same fears and ginned-up wrath as talk radio. Rather than wondering, “Does this story serve the public good?” they ask, “Will it get ratings?”
In case you missed it several thousand people gathered in Washington on Saturday to protest everything they hate about the current administration. The theme, egged on by their talk radio puppet masters, seemed to be that Washington was stealing money from middle-class Americans and giving it to undeserving people – ie. poor people. Glenn Greenwald writes that such thinking is peasant thinking.
It wasn’t the poor or illegal immigrants who were the beneficiaries of the Wall St. bailout; it was the investment banks which, not even a year later, are wallowing in record profits and bonuses thanks to massive taxpayer-funded welfare. The endlessly expanding (and secret) balance sheet of the Federal Reserve isn’t going to fund midnight basketball programs or health care for Mexican immigrants but is enabling extreme profiteering by the very people who, just a year ago, almost brought the global economic system to full-scale collapse. Our endless wars and always-expanding Surveillance State — fueled by constant fear-mongering campaigns against the Latest Scary Enemy — keep the National Security corporations drowning in profits, paid for by middle-class taxes. And even health-care reform — which supposedly began with anger over extreme insurance company profiteering at the expense of people’s health — will be an enormous boon to that same industry, as tens of millions of people are forced by the Government to become their customers with the central mechanism to control costs (the public option) blocked by that same industry. That’s why those industries are enthusiastically in favor of reform: because, as always, they will benefit massively from it.
If Fox News, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh were truly opposed to expanded government power, where were they when George Bush and Dick Cheney were expanding federal power in virtually every realm, driving up the national debt to unprecedented proportions, destroying middle-class economic security in order to benefit the wealthiest, and generally ensuring government intrusion into every aspect of people’s lives? They were supporting it and cheering it on.
Congress is in recess until September. At these times many go back to their districts and have town hall meetings with constituents to find out their views on issues the Congress member has been dealing with. It is one way to take the temperature of the electorate. During this recess and with health care reform on the table, conservative groups have been organizing so-called “grassroots” protests at the town hall meetings. They and their major insurance plan backers want to make it look like the “public” is opposed to reform and if the Congress person doesn’t agree then they shout them down and disrupt the meeting. These thug tactics by conservatives are un-American and give a false perception of major opposition to reform.
No one has a problem with right-wingers marching in protest of the health-care plans. That’s certainly their right. And no one minds that they choose to participate in these forums. But town halls were never designed to be vehicles for protest. They have always been about enabling real democratic discourse in a civil setting.
When someone’s entire purpose in coming out to a town-hall forum is to chant and shout and protest and disrupt, they aren’t just expressing their opinions — they are actively shutting down democracy.
And that, folks, is a classically fascist thing to do.
But before you say “well liberals have done it before….”, Paul Krugman had this to say:
Some commentators have tried to play down the mob aspect of these scenes, likening the campaign against health reform to the campaign against Social Security privatization back in 2005. But there’s no comparison. I’ve gone through many news reports from 2005, and while anti-privatization activists were sometimes raucous and rude, I can’t find any examples of congressmen shouted down, congressmen hanged in effigy, congressmen surrounded and followed by taunting crowds.
And I can’t find any counterpart to the death threats at least one congressman has received.
The fact is that polls show majority support for Obama’s ideas on health care reform (starts with question 37) and the people who show up and disrupt the town hall meetings are the same people who can’t stand a Democrat is President, who has been encouraged by conservative groups and pundit douchebags, and many who are horrified that an African-American is President.
Rush Limbaugh got it wrong when he claimed the President and Democrats were using Nazi tactics in the reform debate, it seems the conservatives are doing the Nazi tactics. Back in the 1920’s Brownshirts would invade and disrupt meetings of other political parties in Germany. Even the Nazis learned that thuggery wouldn’t win them the election so they ended up reducing the influence of the Brownshirts and stopping the meeting disruptions.
When are conservatives going to learn the same lesson?
After hearing about another right winger loon killing people in the name of “Amerirka”, I decided to put together an all star list of right wing pundits who don’t care what they say, don’t take responsibility for their words, and just hate America and what it stands for. Feel free to print out my poster and post around your community to warn them of these chowder heads because they help victimize everyone.
I really wish these people would be victims of the economic melt down.