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Right Rage

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There is no liberal equivalent to Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or, certainly, to Ann Coulter. What national liberal media figure operates remotely in the style, and with the fury, of these personalities? Who would be the liberal counterpoint to, say, Michael Savage?

When it comes to talk radio — where conservatives are packed like sardines along a decrepit and unending strip mall of fuzzed-out call letters — liberals don’t even show up; they are invisible. Air America — notably a satellite, not terrestrial station — was at best lukewarm in its liberal righteousness. But Air America doesn’t even exist anymore because it lacked not the courage of its convictions but the shamelessness and pure rage needed to rally and recruit apostles — or, say, dittoheads — of angst and ignorance and fear, posses, in essence, ready at a moment’s bleating to brandish a phone or pen (if literate) and shake a local congressman’s tree.

Anyone who would coin the tasteless and dangerous phrase “femi-nazi” to dismiss and demean a perceived threat is someone who must be given wide berth, so to speak. In the case of Mr. Limbaugh that would be both figurative and literal. It’s like avoiding eye contact with a suspicious-looking figure on a street corner: it’s better to be safe than robbed or killed.

MSNBC’s liberal orientation, but for an exception here and there, withers in the face of Fox News and its discordant pack. Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow give good fight, but ultimately lack the intensity, the overheated fervor, and the sheer sense of absolute righteousness of Hannity and O’Reilly. And with Hannity you get audio and visual. Oh boy!

But ultimately the battlefield is talk radio, and it is unquestionably true that the language of the ranting hosts is incendiary — and almost always inaccurate and misleading, but that’s another issue. Liberals largely don’t, or can’t, play with the same intensity.

The conservative talk show horde is about fear and denigration and, of course, money. It thrives on the language of insurrection and revolt. It thrives on name-calling and innuendo. It basks in anger and misinformation. It calls the President “Hussein” or Barry. It places, or engenders the placement of, a bullseye over a map of the electorate.  Out of the miasma of talk radio’s blah blah blah is born the Tea Party, many of whom don’t believe the President is a U.S. citizen and, absurdly and without irony, want to abolish the very programs — Social Security, see Rand Paul — that they depend on and benefit from.  

And then conservative talk radio chastises the liberal media for daring to suggest that it bears some responsibility for this country’s political and social divisiveness. This is blatantly yelling fire in crowded school room and then just for the hell of it actually setting it to flame.  

And being indignant and accusatory about the whole affair at the end of the day.

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About Stephen Foster

  • Ruvy

    Sounds to me that what bothers you is the nature of bread and circuses in America. News has been replaced by “infotainment”, Stephen, or haven’t you been paying attention to the last 30 years of the collapse of TV news and the rise of talk radio?

    In the absence or real news (and I don’t mean the pseudo-intellectual shit served up by National Palestine Radio), people need something to take their minds off the perceived injustices of their lives. The screaming meanies of the right wing on radio, and the uninformed idiots of the left wing on TV are just the ticket.

    You don’t live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, Stephen; you live in the land of the guilitily comfortable and less guiltily ignorant. When history does actually happen to you all, you scream like chickens in a yard when the fox shows up. That is why your article has such a banjo note to it.

    Don’t worry, Stephen. History is about to happen to you in a real big way, soon…. Enjoy the bread and circuses while they last.

  • Clavos


  • Baronius

    I think it’s true that many in the left like their radicalism delivered with a veneer of respectability, PBS style. The rage-style hasn’t been successful for liberals on radio, but it’s easily found online, in unions, on campus, and among minority organizations. It’s out there; it’s just located in different places. Rosie O’Donnell, Bill Maher, Michael Moore, Al Franken, and Al Sharpton are selling something, and it sure isn’t love.

  • Wow…that’s two minutes of my life I’ll never get back…

    If you’re gonna whine about it at least whine correctly. The bullseyes came from the democrats, it was cross hairs from Palin…but of course, the left isn’t anywhere near as bad as the right because everybody knows that bullseyes aren’t for shooting, only cross hairs are for shooting.

    You really don’t have a clue do you? Tea partiers aren’t dittoheads…they aren’t Hannitty supporters…most of them are independants and they can’t stand either side! And no, I’m not one. Although, I am an independant whod can’t stand to listen ot Beck, or Hannitty, or Limbaugh, or Maddow, or Schultz, or Olbermann…especially Olbermann!

    But it’s quite obvious which side you fall on..anyone that would say that Olbermann and Maddow “lack the overheated fervor…blah, blah, blah…” is obviously biased. I personally can’t stand either one of them for more than a few minutes at a time…and Schultz and Lawrence O’Donnell are even worse!

    It also tickles me how upset liberals get when someone calls Obama by one of his given names. You don’t like people calling him Hussein, blame his mother! And Barry was what he went by until he realized how politically expedient it was for him to go by Barack…remember how cute it was for you libs to call Bush “Dubaya” ’cause you couldn’t just say it as double u, it was more entertaining to say it with that texas drawl…

    So really, what are you upset about? The fact that liberal talk radio can’t exist without public assistance? Or that people that spew that crap on the radio actually make people physically ill when they try to listen?

    And now tell me how you’re not a lib….go ahead…I’m waiting.

  • Baronius is right about the left’s answer to Limbaugh and co. There also are their equivalents in talk radio, although their audiences aren’t nearly as big, which is why they don’t get as much attention. Randi Rhodes, when she gets up a head of steam (which is almost all the time) is most certainly as vitriolic as Limbaugh or O’Reilly, as is the obnoxious Ed Schultz.

    But it is true that liberals enjoy, on the whole, a calmer, cleverer talk radio experience. Stephanie Miller and the Young Turks are probably the best of the bunch. Not that I listen to much political talk radio anyway: it tends to be an echo chamber.

  • Baronius

    I’ve only seen the Young Turks on YouTube. I didn’t know they had a radio show. I wouldn’t have labeled them “calmer”. What strikes me most about the Left’s complaints is that they don’t notice the considerable differences in cleverness and calmness on right-wing talk radio. It also amuses me that no one ever talks about Sean Hannity (a guy who really isn’t worth talking about).

  • El Bicho

    Stephen, you appear to be either tone deaf or you don’t watch enough if you think Olbermann doesn’t get intense and overheated on occasion

  • It also amuses me that no one ever talks about Sean Hannity (a guy who really isn’t worth talking about).

    Baronius, if you look over my own humble oeuvre here on Blogcritics, you’ll see that I once wrote an article on Hannity. He said something that was worth talking about.

  • Baronius

    Dread, what I mean is that Beck seems to have stolen Hannity’s thunder. They have comparable TV ratings (both smaller than Bill O’Reilly’s), and Hannity has a larger radio audience, but in all these recent articles it’s been Limbaugh-Palin-Beck. I don’t know why, but Beck is the second-most-identifiable right-wing name in the center and left. I wonder how the Right ranks the various hosts – but then you get into a debate over who are the “real conservatives”.

  • Arch Conservative

    Olbermann, Maddow, Matthews, Mike Malloy Rhandi Rhodes, Ed Schultz, Marc Thompson, Stephanie Miller.

    The left certainly has their fare share of mentally unstable, detached from reality talking heads. They just aren’t as good as marketing the product.

  • Arch Conservative

    “It also tickles me how upset liberals get when someone calls Obama by one of his given names. You don’t like people calling him Hussein, blame his mother!”

    So true.

    Ronald Wilson Regan
    George Herbert Walker Bush
    William Jefferson CLinton
    Tricky Dick Milhouse Nixon
    William Jefferson CLinton

    I didn’t have to google any of those middle names because they were commonly used. The use of the middle name did not begin with Obama because of some racist intentions as the moonbats would like to claim.

    IS Carter’s middle name Earl? Also I have no clue what Ford’s was.

  • Arch Conservative

    Wow Stephen.

    I just reread all of the comments and it seems that everyone saw through the tired hypocritical bullshit that you were attempting to peddle.

    Do not pass go! Do not collect $200!

  • El Bicho

    “The use of the middle name did not begin with Obama because of some racist intentions as the moonbats would like to claim.”

    Right. There were no attempts by anyone to play up Arab/Muslim connotations to the name Hussein.

  • zingzing

    of course not, eb, it was just a reflection of the level of respect the office of the president must always be accorded. nothing at all to do with any other peoples or persons with similar names. nothing. there is a long history of using the middle names of presidents, and that’s all that was meant by it. no one on the right had any idea that there could even be a scrupulous political motivation behind it until that dastardly left pointed it out to them. they were completely and utterly ignorant and innocent of any such connotation.

    right, archie?

  • zingzing

    it is, however, curious that they were using it before he was elected president… i don’t really recall that many candidates being given such respectful treatment.

    what do you have to say to that, archibald?

  • Clavos

    There were no attempts by anyone to play up Arab/Muslim connotations to the name Hussein.

    You’re right, there were, and they were unnecessary.

  • Arch Conservative

    I’m certain that some were using the middle name to incite fear that he waa a an Arab/Muslim but that doesn’t mean all were.

    It’s sort of like the whole racist charge. There are no doubt those who oppose Obama as president because he is black. There are also those who oppose him because they disagree with his policy. Many on the left have just chosen to label both groups as racist though. Why not? It’s easier than thinking.

  • zingzing

    yes, archie, it is, isn’t it? you do see what you’re doing there, i hope.

  • Fifth Business

    Hey, Arch. You are nothing if not intellectually (I’m stretching using this word) dishonest. You know–and if you don’t you are shamefully naive and, frankly, silly–that suggesting Obama detractors did not use Hussein as a way of conflating him with Islam.

    You are either willfully ignorant or just plain ignorant. And it doesn’t matter which it is–ignorant is ignorant [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor].

    To borrow a quote: You can swim all day in the Sea of Knowledge and still come out completely dry. Most people do. [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]