Talk Radio and the Conspiracy to Kill

Alternet, August 1, 2008

Would Jim Adkisson have killed without prompting from extreme right-wing talkers?

Now I know how the others feel.

Having written extensively about talk radio's right wing shock jocks and the hate speech they regularly use to tar opponents -- equating liberals with terrorists, homosexuals with child rapists and the Mafia, and political and media figures with the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan (even calling on air for assassinations, as Michael Reagan, son of the late president, did last month) -- it was only a matter of time until the smear merchants took aim at me.

Still, it was a little surprising to hear that "O'Connor's mentor in spirit, Josef Goebbels, must be laughing in his grave." And it was more than just disconcerting that the charge of Nazism was made as part of an attack on the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the award-winning tolerance group named for the late 'Nazi Hunter,' after the Center's New York office offered to host a launch party for my book "Shock Jocks: Hate Speech & Talk Radio."

The allegation that Goebbels is my mentor came in an email forwarding a post by former Boston Herald writer Don Feder, which originally appeared on ("Give Your Values A Voice".) Feder, the email said, "believes that the Wiesenthal Center supports deceptive fools like O'Connor to appease its wealthy leftist supporters. If that is true (and of course no offical [sic] at the Center would own up to it), it is shameful."

What's really shameful, of course, is trotting out the ad hominem "You're a Nazi" meme when confronted with ideas that differ from your own. Feder's "exclusive commentary" was headlined "Obama and the Conspiracy to Kill Talk Radio," another false meme being consistently bruited about by the right. Its opening made Feder's thesis clear: "Looking ahead, liberals are determined to derail potential opposition to their plans to accelerate the deconstruction of America. Consequently, they have targeted talk radio. Bringing back the Fairness Doctrine is just one facet of their scheme to eviscerate the only part of the media controlled by conservatives."

According to Feder & Company, "The jihad against talk radio" (I thought I was a Nazi, not an Islamofascist!) is this:

"The left will do anything to gag its opponents. From the college campus to the halls of Congress (think campus speech codes, think hate crimes legislation, think speech-suppression zones surrounding abortion clinics), liberals are the chief proponents of censorship in America.

On July 23, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's New York Tolerance Center will host the launch of Shock Jocks: Hate Speech & Talk Radio by Rory O'Connor, a book which indicts talk radio as "highly politicized, overly partisan and often factually challenged" -- unlike, say, The New York Times, AKA, Mainstream Media Hacks for Obama.

But that's not all. According to its cover, this penetrating analysis (endorsed by Walter Cronkite, the dean of liberal media manipulators) exposes the "dirty secret" of radio talk shows -- how "they use the guise of 'not being politically correct' to ratchet up their anti-gay, anti-woman and overtly racist language." In other words, they're against same-sex "marriage," reject feminist mythology and oppose racial quotas. Oh, the venom! Oh, the malice!

The left uses allegations of hate speech to set the stage for censorship. In its invitation, the Wiesenthal Center hyperventilates: 'Hate speech can lead to hate crimes. And hate speech has no role on the public airwaves.'

Apparently, the First Amendment doesn't apply to anything the left deems "hate speech."

FYI, a friend of mine -- a Jewish conservative -- noted the exquisite irony here: Conservative talk-show hosts tend to be the most outspoken defenders of Israel anywhere in the U.S. media, while their counterparts in the mainstream media are overwhelmingly anti-Israel. Like the Anti-Defamation League, the Wiesenthal Center carries water for the left in the guise of fighting anti-Semitism.

Shock Jocks is just the latest manifestation of the left's obsession with talk radio."

Feder's unoriginal jeremiad -- which he further promulgated on WABC's Sunday morning "Religion on the Line" program with Rabbi Joe Patasnick -- went to repeat what other right-wing media organs such as NewsMax and WorldNetDaily have already attempted to inject into the mainstream -- the ridiculous idea that there is a conspiracy afoot to "Hush Rush" and knock conservatives off the airwaves by requiring "fairness" and "balance" in our public discourse. ...

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