My Father's Clouds Hannity, Limbaugh, O’Reilly & Savage wear asbestos pants! by John Borowski
Children sing out, “liar, liar pants on fire!” when a playmate lies. Yet talk show pundits get a free pass for their daily distortions, fabrications, omissions and outright lies on television and radio.
The air waves are filled with the likes of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage & Bill O’Reilly while their brethren, Cal Thomas, Mona Charen, Linda Chavez and other pompous windbags litter our daily newspapers. Their common theme? Hammer “leftists”, “socialists”, “the liberal press”, “heavy- handed government” and “radical environmentalists”. These daily diatribes of specious “facts” often enrage their audience, whose fluency in everyday issues runs a mile wide and a micron deep. For example, if Rush Limbaugh claims volcanoes create ozone loss, listeners are left with the lie, because he won’t invite the scientists who know that it’s manmade CFC’s, not volcanoes, that destroy ozone. Absent any attempt to offer objectivity on their shows, our “air wave prophets” fill the air with hate and misinformation.
- The issue of the “liberal press” is a favorite target. Fact is, the press is far from liberal. In her book Global Spin, Sharon Beder sheds light on the demise of the free press and the creation of a PR press owned by corporate America. “In 1995 a study of major newspapers, radio and television transcripts found the media referred to the Heritage Foundation (an ultra-conservative think-tank) more than any other think-tank. Altogether there were 7,792 citations of conservative think-tanks, 6,361 of centrist think-tanks and 1,152 of progressive think-tanks.”
- If the media is so “liberal”, where are Ralph Nader, William Daly, Noam Chomsky, David Korten or other progressive voices?
- Is there a free press? No. And you can’t just “change the channel” if you don’t like it. Most “news” outlets, from talk radio to magazines, are advertising vehicles, searching for ever more corporate advertisers. Editorial content is held hostage to advertising.
- The press isn’t corporate? Sony, GE, Seagrams, Viacom, Disney, Time Warner, AT&T and Newscorporation own the media.
- Most “liberal” media’s daily newspaper endorsements (16 of 18 last elections) have gone to Republican presidential candidates.
The time is ripe for the 130 million Americans who didn’t vote last election to hold the collective feet of the “talk show circus” to the fire. They must be called on their outrageous claims. Michael Savage of the “Savage Nation” recently suggested we use “small tactical nuclear warheads” in the war on terrorism! Rush Limbaugh called those who care about the environment “socialists”. Alan Caruba referred to environmentalists as the “Green Taliban”. When will corporate owned channels have the courage to open a dialogue instead of these ranting monologues from transparent demagogues?
It is high time for the American public to reclaim the moral high ground. Call Michael Medved, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly shows and demand that they take on the tough questions and tell the truth.
Second, start using words for what they mean. Liberal: tolerant & broadminded, one who favors progress or reform. Conservative: tending to conserve, moderate and cautious. The drone of the radio and newspaper shills is neither liberal nor conservative. No, their monologues are self-serving, they are servants to a corporate master, where the truth is for sale and the public is damned.
Lastly, we must speak out. Demand our newspapers carry various opinions. We must write opinion pieces and dear editor spots. Schools must teach that economics has a down side, where “true costs” are hidden, where ecological damage is recorded as positive growth and that the gap between the haves and have-nots is greater than any time in our history.
The cherished backbone of democracy, the free press, must be returned to its original roots. The airwaves of the country are not to be owned by massive multinationals, these corporations weren’t given that right by the American public. More public broadcasting stations must be funded to provide a counter to the drumbeat of lies and omissions now filling the airwaves and editorial pages.
Hannity, Limbaugh, Savage and company are neither the “right” nor “conservative”. They are a sad phenomenon that hopefully will be looked upon with disdain in future history books: an uncharacteristically un-American time when money and power almost bought democracy and freedom. May that history record that, despite the spin, the deep pockets of the corporate puppet-masters and the manufacturing of consent, their lies ultimately ignited a temperature their “asbestos pants” could not withstand.
John F. Borowski, Environmental and Marine Science Teacher, His pieces have appeared in the N.Y. Times, UTNE Reader, Alternatives Magazine, Z Magazine, PR Watch, Liberal Slant, Commondreams.org and the Forest Voice. He can be reached at [email protected]