Friday, June 13, 2008

Talk Radio's Last Stand?

By Rory O'Connor, AlterNet
Posted on June 11, 2008, Printed on June 13, 2008

Editor's note: Make sure to check out Rory O'Connor's new book, "Shock Jocks: Hate Speech and Talk Radio" (AlterNet Books, 2008).


The email alert read "Breaking from," the conservative online news site that also publishes Newsmax Magazine. One item in particular caught my attention -- "Special: Will President Obama Ban O'Reilly, Rush?"

One click, however, reveals this "breaking" news is simply old wine poured into a "special" new anti-Obama bottle: a ridiculous recycled report titled "Talk Radio's Last Stand," offered with a subscription to Newsmax magazine and a "Dynamo Emergency World Band Radio" -- all for just $35!

Leading hard-right conservatives, led by their talk radio "shock jock" troops, have been worrying aloud about the supposed return of the long-defunct Fairness Doctrine ever since their stunning success last year in defeating bipartisan immigration reform. The latest salvo is the Newsmax report, headlined "Battle for Talk Radio: Powerful Foes Want to End the Gabfest," which cleverly combines the usual talk radio tropes of pugnacity and victimization. The text of the "special offer" supplies the details:

"The 2008 election has yet to be decided, but one thing is clear: If the Democrats win the White House, expect an all-out attack on talk radio. Political talk, as we know it, could end. If they win, Rush, Imus, Savage, Beck, and dozens of other major hosts will be muzzled by using federal regulations to control political talk. So, what's their plan of attack?"

As Newsmax sees it, "leading liberals in Congress, the Democratic presidential candidates, and even some Republicans speak openly of their plans to end conservative talk radio using federal regulations. Their weapon: a revived Fairness Doctrine, which would once again require stations to air divergent points of view -- a clever ruse that makes station owners leery of airing controversial talk-radio hosts, fearing lawsuits and federal sanctions. With a new Fairness Doctrine, you could see many top conservative radio hosts canned."

As further evidence, Newsmax offers "an exclusive interview with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly," assuring us there is "no question" a plan is being hatched. "The far-left kooks will try, but they will fail," O'Reilly says.

Well, the far-right kooks like O'Reilly are certainly succeeding once again in ginning up outrage and false controversy -- while simultaneously pushing up their ratings. As detailed in my new book, "Shock Jocks: Hate Speech and Talk Radio," this putative threat to the First Amendment simply isn't real -- nor is the far-right's existential fear that conservative talk radio will somehow be wiped from the media landscape.

What is real is that the Reagan-era demise of the doctrine was in fact "the decision that launched a thousand lips," as Los Angeles Times reporter Jim Puzzanghera once phrased it. ...[Open in new window]


I think all the right wing snarling heads should be taken off the air waves.

Then we should make public stupidity illegal.

Anytime someone says something stupid in public they should be summarily executed by the Seven Liberal Arts Special Police Force.

We'll get the over-population problem fixed real quick. It'll practically depopulate some states over night. Those states can be returned to wilderness.

Ah, dreams...


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