Friday, June 12, 2009

Thursday talk radio update

In the aftermath of the latest fatal assault by a right-wing conspiracy nut, conservative talk radio hosts this week were somber and reflective, wondering whether their relentless attacks on Barack Obama, Democrats and liberals in general might in any way be endangering the republic.

No, wait, that was in Bizarro World. On this planet, they were blaming liberals.

Yes, liberals. Please don't ask me to explain.

Look, I wouldn't try to stop anybody from speaking out freely. And I don't think we ought to be prosecuting, or even persecuting, talk show hosts just because some nut gets carried away.

But still.

If I hosted a talk show that reached an audience of millions every day; and if I believed that my show influenced opinion and the political culture, as all of these guys seem to think; and if I spent three hours every day attacking the president's patriotism and honesty and competence; and if I spent a lot of that time suggesting that the president is a socialist or a fascist or worse; and if I had suggested that he might even be deliberately undermining the country's economic well being in order to promote his one-world goals; and if all of that was followed by a string of attacks by gunmen who question the president's patriotism and think he is a socialist and believe that he wants one-world government -- then I might be moved to reflect, at least for a moment, on the possibility that my words might be making this planet a little more dangerous than it really needs to be.

Which may be why I will never host a talk show like that.

Thursday's shows were singularly lacking in reflection not only upon that topic but also upon others that seemed worthy of serious contemplation:

1. The transfer of Uighurs from Guantanamo to Palau and Bermuda. To the extent this was mentioned at all, it was only to point out that it would have been cheaper to keep them locked up in Cuba, although they haven't done anything wrong. Better to imprison innocent people, apparently, than burden taxpayers.

2. The election in Iran. NPR played this big all day, but the talk shows barely touched it. Hannity did say that he had no confidence the election would be honest. Fair enough. But the fact that the election was drawing so much enthusiasm within Iran, and was so closely contested, sounded like big news to me. Why not to Hannity? I suppose because he has spent so many years branding Ahmadinejad as a brutal dictator. We can't have brutal dictators losing elections. It damages the narrative.

3. The Abu Ghraib photo release. Hannity actually had a segment on this, interviewing John McCain, who pretty angrily opposed Democratic opposition to a bill that would forbid release of additional incriminating photos. Good topic, yes? Nobody wants to endanger American soldiers, but do we really want Congress blithely passing bills aimed specifically at suppressing evidence of government wrongdoing? Nice topic for debate. Of course, we got none. Instead, we got a screed.

4. Reading Miranda rights to terrorists. Fred Thompson and Hannity both went on at length about this, and you would have thought Obama had issued orders commanding G.I.s in the field to read a Miranda warning before aiming their rifles. Not quite so.

So what did we get instead of thoughtful discussions of these important topics? Um, we got an interview with the deposed California beauty queen. And we learned that Letterman went too far in poking fun at Sarah Palin.

And that shooting at the Holocaust museum? Liberals did that.


Anonymous said...

I have told you before that you should choose something more soothing to listen to! If you insist on punishing yourself, so be it.
On the other hand, if you don't think David Letterman went too far with his "joke" then I think you have incredibly bad taste, too. A grown man doesn't need to say that about a young girl whether he means the 14 year old or the 18 year old. I don't think it is funny and I am no particular Palin fan. It wouldn't be funny if someone said it about a Kennedy, a Carter, a Clinton or an Obama. It was plain crude.

David said...

Anonymous 415, I have no intention of defending Letterman. Politicians' kids should be out of bounds, period.

But let's face it: He, and many other comedians, make their living pushing against the line every day. Some days they are bound to cross it. I realize that it is important that some people stand up and holler when that happens so comedians will be reminded where the line is. But I don't want that to be my job. I just don't watch Letterman.

Chuck Rightmire said...

What did Letterman say? Seems to me that her children became fair game when she brought her pregnant daughter along on the campaign trail and the boy who later bailed. Why conservatives have let her get away with her own seventh month oldest child and her pregnant daughter is beyond me. And the people who make the rabid comments on television and radio and written in newspapers and magazines really don't understand that racist, sexist, political and antigovernment screeds do trigger their nuttier constituents to take violent action. It might be well to understand that they copy each other as well.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, Mr. Rightmire, it doesn't look to me like the Palins have "gotten away with anything." They seem to be taking care of the children which they have produced. That they chose to have them, rather than abort them should be their choice, right?

Most of the candidates took their children on the campaign trail....does that make all the children targets for Letterman?

Keep in mind that the older girl was home in Alaska when he made his ugly suggestion and the 14 year old was the one in NY with her mother.

Chuck Rightmire said...

Yes, anonymoose 129, she has gotten away with something: she became the vice presidential candidate of a party that doesn't believe (supposdely) in pre-marital sex. The nuts in that party are so smitten with her, they don't seem to see the beam in their own eyes.

Anonymous said...

Okay, the older daughter must have certainly had pre marital sex. But she obviously didn't get "away" with it. She has a baby that she is taking care of.

You are implying that Sarah Palin also had pre marital sex. I really don't know about that BUT
if she did, I don't know that that disqualifies her from running for or being vice president.

But if it does, then why ever would the democrats have nominated and elected Barak Obama? He readily admits using illegal drugs. Surely the Democratic party doesn't condone the use of illegal drugs?