“March Madness goes from 64 teams to 32 to 16 to 8 to 4 to 2 and then 1. It’s how Rush Limbaugh loses sponsors.” –David Letterman
Three quotes today from Bill Maher on Rush Limbaugh:
“I thought the election was gonna be all about the economy. But the economy started doing better. So Republicans went to plan b: calling women whores.” –Bill Maher
“This woman [Sandra Fluke] got a call today from then President. President Obama called her to thank her for her testimony. And then President Clinton called Obama to get her number.” –Bill Maher
“Rush Limbaugh: four wives he’s had – no children. Dude, you are birth control.” –Bill Maher
On the Friday News Roundup Diane Rehm responded to a listener’s tweet about Rush Limbaugh’s insults directed toward Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke. “I think what he did with Sandra Fluke is disgusting. I think he gave a weak apology. I think he ought to be repudiated by every single candidate out there, and I think his apology was pure cowardice,” she said. See the video for her full comments, which also address the other major problem with Limbaugh–the manner in which he spreads misinformation:
This was such a welcome change from the manner in which the mainstream media often treats far right wing sources as being equivalent in validity to liberal sources.
Update: Here’s a transcript of the segment in the video:
All right. And there’s a tweet from Lawrence who says, “Diane, please explain your comment two weeks ago that you listen to Rush Limbaugh. Why do you, and why do you now repudiate him? If not, why not?” I listen to Rush Limbaugh because as a person behind the microphone every single day, I want to hear how Rush reflects on what’s happening in this world. I’ve heard him take a single fact and turn it a quarter of a degree and create a brand new fact. I think what he did with Sandra Fluke is disgusting.
I think he gave a weak apology. I think he ought to be repudiated by every single candidate out there, and I think his apology was pure cowardice. That’s my reaction. Thanks to all of you for being here. Thanks for listening. I’m Diane Rehm.
We already knew that right wingers were out of touch with reality based upon their views, but who knew they were so out of touch with reality that they had no idea that antagonizing a group making up over 50 percent of the population could backfire. From Radio-Info.com via Think Progress:
When it comes to advertisers avoiding controversial shows, it’s not just Rush From today’s TRI Newsletter: Premiere Networks is circulating a list of 98 advertisers who want to avoid “environments likely to stir negative sentiments.” The list includes carmakers (Ford, GM, Toyota), insurance companies (Allstate, Geico, Prudential, State Farm) and restaurants (McDonald’s, Subway). As you’ll see in the note below, those “environments” go beyond the Rush Limbaugh show
“To all Traffic Managers: The information below applies to your Premiere Radio Networks commercial inventory...They’ve specifically asked that you schedule their commercials in dayparts or programs free of content that you know are deemed to be offensive or controversial (for example, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Leykis, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity).’
This is an even dumber move than Rick Santorum losing Catholic votes by attacking John Kennedy and the First Amendment.
Think Progress notes the comparison to Glenn Beck:
The advertising flight is reminiscent of Glenn Beck’s Fox News program. After major companies refused to advertise on Beck’s show in light of racially insensitive comments, he was left with just fringe businesses like survival seed banks and gold sellers. Not long thereafter, he left Fox, reportedly under pressure.
John Avlon has more at The Daily Beast:
This is big. According to the radio-industry website Radio-Info.com, which first posted excerpts of the Premiere memo, among the 98 companies that have decided to no longer sponsor these programs are “carmakers (Ford, GM, Toyota), insurance companies (Allstate, Geico, Prudential, State Farm), and restaurants (McDonald’s, Subway).” Together, these talk-radio advertising staples represent millions of dollars in revenue.
Valerie Geller, an industry insider and author of Beyond Powerful Radio, confirmed the trend. “I have talked with several reps who report that they’re having conversations with their clients, who are asking not to be associated with specifically polarizing controversial hosts, particularly if those hosts are ‘mean-spirited.’ While most products and services offered on these shows have strong competitors, and enjoy purchasing the exposure that many of these shows and hosts can offer, they do not wish to be ‘tarred’ with the brush of anger, or endure customer anger, or, worse, product boycotts.”
There are already tangible signs that the three dozen national and local advertisers that have pulled their ads from The Rush Limbaugh Show are having a financial impact.
While many major businesses want nothing to do with Limbaugh or other right wing extremists, there are still people out there who defend people like Limbaugh. Despite all the awful things Rush Limbaugh has said and done, at least he has done one thing of value. Thanks to Rush it is now possible to determine within seconds whether a person is a scumbag by seeing if they are defending Limbaugh on their Facebook page.
By conventional measures Mitt Romney looks like he should run away with the nomination. His victory remains in doubt because the current Republican Party is no longer a conventional political party. The domination of the party by far right wing extremists raises questions as to whether a candidate opposed by the far right can actually win. There was another setback for Romney today as the unofficial spokesman for the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, declared that Romney is not a conservative:
The reason is simple: Romney is not a conservative. He’s not, folks. You can argue with me all day long on that, but he isn’t. What he has going for him is that he’s not Obama and that he is doing incredibly well in the debates because he’s done it a long time. He’s very seasoned. He never makes a mistake, and he’s going to keep winning these things if he never makes a mistake. It’s that simple. But I’m not personally ready to settle on anybody yet — and I know that neither are most of you, and I also know that most of you do not want this over now, before we’ve even had a single primary! All we’ve had are straw votes. You know that the Republican establishment’s trying to nail this down and end it. You know that that’s happening, and I know that you don’t want that to happen, and neither do I.
Now, as for Romney — and you should know, by the way, that I’ve met Romney. I’ve not played golf with him but I’ve met him, and I like all of these people. This isn’t personal, not with what country faces and so forth. I like him very much. I’ve spent some social time with him. He’s a fine guy. He’s very nice gentleman. He is a gentleman. But he’s not a conservative — and if you disagree, I’m open. The telephone lines are yours. Call and tell me what you think it is that makes him a principled conservative, what exactly is it. Is there something that he has said that shows conservative, principled leadership? What did he say? I’m open to it.
As a sign of how rapidly the conservative movement has been moving to the right, back in 2008 Rush Limbaugh endorsed Romney. Jame Joyner has a post on the changing definition of conservative, using this as one example. He also cited David Frum’s decision to leave NPR’s Marketplace, no longer feelling he could represent the current conservative movement:
He made his name as a conservative opinion writer at The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the The American Spectator. His first book, Dead Right (1994), was described by William F. Buckley as “the most refreshing ideological experience in a generation.” A speechwriter to President George W. Bush, he penned the infamous phrase “axis of evil.” And he was a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute from 2003 until he was fired last March.
But now he’s so far outside the American conservative mainstream that he’s routinely vilified as a Republican in Name Only and a traitor to the movement.
Joyner had another example of a former conservative hero who no longer fits in:
As many have noted, while conservative politicians constantly reference Ronald Reagan’s legacy as the gold standard, it’s arguable whether the Gipper himself would pass tea-party muster. After all, he signed a huge amnesty bill for illegal aliens into law and his signature tax cut left the top marginal rate at 50 percent. As we all know, anything above 35 percent is socialism.
While the Republican move to the right has been more rapid in recent years, this has been occurring for quite a long time. Even Barry Goldwater considered himself a liberal in his later years, appalled by how far right the Republicans had moved in his lifetime.
Conservative talk show hosts claim support for the free market. Ignoring for a moment the degree to which the right wing actually undermines our market system while promoting plutocracy, there is one market they are strongly in favor of–a free market in selling endorsements. Politico reports:
If you’re a regular listener of Glenn Beck’s radio show and you wanted to contribute to a political group that would advance the populist conservative ideals he touts on his show, you’d have plenty of reason to think that FreedomWorks was your best investment.
But if you’re a fan of Mark Levin’s radio show, you’d have just as much cause to believe that Americans for Prosperity, a FreedomWorks rival, was the most effective conservative advocacy group. And, if Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity are who you listen to, you’d be hearing a steady stream of entreaties to support the important work of the Heritage Foundation.
That’s not coincidence. In search of donations and influence, the three prominent conservative groups are paying hefty sponsorship fees to the popular talk show hosts. Those fees buy them a variety of promotional tie-ins, as well as regular on-air plugs – praising or sometimes defending the groups, while urging listeners to donate – often woven seamlessly into programming in ways that do not seem like paid advertising.
“The point that people don’t realize,” said Michael Harrison, founder and publisher of the talk media trade publication TALKERS Magazine, “is that (big time political talk show hosts) are radio personalities – they are in the same business that people like Casey Kasem are in – and what they do is no different than people who broadcast from used car lots or restaurants or who endorse the local roofer or gardener.”
This returns the the question I’ve often wondered about the right wing talk show hosts–do they believe any of the nonsense they say or are they just saying what makes them the most money? Both Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have provided reasons to question whether they believe what they say on air.
With the right wing being dominated by people who express views which are ignorant at best and often morally repugnant, it is hard to believe that any educated, intelligent people would actually believe what the right wingers say. It is often suspected that many right wing politicians and pundits are too intelligent to believe the right wing talking points. They continue to use them as they excite the ignorant masses (including Tea Party members) help elect them them to office and provide a source of income. Both Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have provided reasons to question whether they actually believe the nonsense they say, or if they are primarily saying what works best to build an audience. Over the last few days we have now had a couple additional reasons to question whether right wingers really believe their own nonsense.
The Des Moines Register recently reported on a Republican inadvertently saying what he really thinks about a gun law he is supporting when he didn’t realize a microphone was live:
A snafu during a legislative debate where a microphone was turned on captured banter between two Iowa GOP leaders, who also joked about a “give-a-handgun-to-a-schizophrenic bill.”
Republicans this week revived a proposal that would allow Iowans to carry weapons in public without permission from a sheriff, without background checks and without training requirements.
The legislation, House Study bill 219, is known as “Alaska carry,” which is law in Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming. Rep. Erik Helland, R-Johnston, is listed as one of the three legislators on a subcommittee assigned the bill.
We see here how a Republican will back a bill that they realize is insane, presumably to both receive the votes of right wingers and to receive contributions from the NRA.
During the 2008 campaign, and even into last year’s midterm elections, most conservatives acted as if Sarah Palin was a legitimate conservative voice. Most ignored all the evidence that Palin is ignorant of the basic facts underlying public policy, and lacks the intelligence to utilize the limited information she is aware of. If the base, which thrives on such ignorance, was supporting her, conservative leaders were generally willing to go along. Now, as it appears she might be planning to run for the 2012 nomination, many conservatives are expressing their fears both that she would be a disaster to the country if elected, and a disaster to the conservative movement if she continues to open their mouths.
There have been many conservatives criticizing Palin over the past few weeks. Daniel Larison summarized the more honest conservative view of Palin which as been emerging at The American Conservative, also conceding that the conservative movement has become more interested in shallow talking points than in being the “party of ideas.”
It’s true that Palin relies on shallow talking points, but where do these come from? They come from the institutions and leaders of the movement that is supposedly so concerned with ideas. Palin is disinterested in ideas, and she has flourished in the conservative media for years. She does rely on shallow talking points, and legions of conservative pundits have repeatedly defended her against charges that she is ignorant and incurious. Everything about her public persona since she received the VP nomination has been built up around tapping into resentment, grievance, and identity politics, all of which are in one way or another antithetical to critical thinking and substantive discussion of policy, and for a while most of her new detractors said nothing or gushed about how wonderful she was.
As long as she was useful prior to the midterms, the institutions, magazines, and leaders of the movement not only tolerated her, but actively promoted her and gave her typically glowing coverage. Those that couldn’t bring themselves to praise her went out of their way not to criticize her. Now that Palin may represent a political threat to Republican chances of regaining the White House, they are suddenly very concerned about her impact on the quality of conservative argument. Their concern would be interesting if it weren’t so belated and narrowly focused on Palin. When Moynihan made that statement about Republicans 30 years ago, it was true. Thirty years later, the label “party of ideas” has simply become another slogan that Republicans trot out in lieu of any policy ideas.
Bill Maher responds to right wingers who are attacking Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program as part of their attitude of attacking everything.
“The blizzard was three hours of howling wind — kind of like Rush Limbaugh’s radio show.” –Conan O’Brien
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, conservatives who fail to understand the arguments from liberals about right wing hate speech act as if Jared Loughner lived in a vacuum and acted with absolutely no external influences. This is despite multiple reports indicating Loughner’s interest in fringe politics. NewsOne reports on yet another connection, alleging that Loughner is a fan of right winger Alex Jones.
I find it curious that conservatives have been attacking liberals this week who have expressed concern about speech and internet postings which could inspire violence. They apparently see nothing wrong with this, but many of the same conservatives went ballistic over a joke by David Letterman a couple of years ago (which they proceeded to distort in their attacks on Letterman). Certainly calling on supporters to “reload” while linking to a picture of members of Congress in crosshairs is of greater concern than a late night comic’s joke, even if the claims conservatives made about it had been true.
Of course this problem is not limited to Sarah (Reload) Palin. There’s Sharon Angle and her calls for “Second Amendment” remedies, Glenn Beck who holds a gun in one picture while opposing violence on an adjacent portion of his web site, and many other conservatives. Andrew Sullivan points out this billboard advertising Rush Limbaugh’s show right in Tuscon:
Liberals are not saying that Palin, Angle, Beck, or Limbaugh is directly responsible for the recent shootings, regardless of how often conservatives make this claim. We are saying that their conduct is, at very least, far worse than jokes from David Letterman, comments from the Dixie Chicks, and many other items which the right wing regularly goes berserk about–and actually does contribute to acts of violence. We have yet another example today of right wing violence with an arrest for threatening a member of Congress.
Other than distorting the argument to falsely claim that liberals are directly blaming Palin for the shooting, the other common bogus argument from the right is to claim that the poisonous atmosphere is not being created by conservatives. They claim that liberals do the same. I already responded to this claim in this post, but their is another quote from George Packer which deserves to be added to those in the previous post:
But it won’t do to dig up stray comments by Obama, Allen Grayson, or any other Democrat who used metaphors of combat over the past few years, and then try to claim some balance of responsibility in the implied violence of current American politics. (Most of the Obama quotes that appear in the comments were lame attempts to reassure his base that he can get mad and fight back, i.e., signs that he’s practically incapable of personal aggression in politics.) In fact, there is no balance—none whatsoever. Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side’s activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods. Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can’t stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous.
Sarah Palin, incidentally, who regularly dodges the media due to an inability to answer questions, has agreed to a television interview. It is to be conducted by Sean Hannity–hardly a challenge for Palin.
While we don’t know for certain what Jared Loughner’s motivation was in the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords, there is an increasing consensus among reasonable people that the hate-speech which has been common on the right is dangerous to civil discourse and our democracy. This has become a turning point in the career of Sarah Palin, who prefers to pander to the far right than to speak to the concerns of mainstream Americans. Most likely this week will mark the end of any possibility of Sarah (Reload) Palin becoming a politician who is acceptable to decent people.
We might also see the end of any possibility for respectability for those in the right wing noise machine who incite hatred and increase the risk of violent behavior. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who himself is becoming the target of right wing hatred, noted the negative influence of Rush Limbaugh:
“The kind of rhetoric that flows from people like Rush Limbaugh, in my judgment he is irresponsible, uses partial information, sometimes wrong information,” Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said today. “[Limbaugh] attacks people, angers them against government, angers them against elected officials and that kind of behavior in my opinion is not without consequences.”
Then there’s Glenn Beck, who has previously been accused of inciting violence. The right wing has long used hate speech to fire up their supporters. The insincerity of statements of concern about violence from many on the far right can be seen in this screen grab from Beck’s web site where he takes a stand against violence while holding a gun:
I was just out driving and scanning through the am stations, looking for the Wisconsin-Northwestern game. I wound up hearing Rush Limbaugh for a couple minutes. At first he was babbling about the TSA searches turning us into a police state, as if he wouldn’t be cheering them on if Bush was still in office. Then Rush became more delusional.
He avoided outright making thisabsurd prediction himself but he clearly was pushing this attack line to see if it will stick. He spoke of how “people are saying” that this is all a prelude to the federal government taking over the airline industry. He went on to say it wouldn’t be surprising considering everything else which has happened.
This would only make sense to those sheep brainwashed by the right wing line that Obama is a socialist. Is Rush speaking of the auto industry, where Obama has placed General Motors on a path towards restoring itself as a private corporation? For a supposed socialist, Obama’s record so far has only been to keep the country out of a depression and strengthen capitalism. Like other delusional right wing pundits, Limbaugh would prefer to stick to the false attack line which was decided upon before Obama even took office as opposed to paying any attention to Obama’s actual postions.
When Barack Obama first took office many conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh spoke about their hope that Barack Obama did not succeed. They have done everything possible to stifle progress and economic recovery in the hopes of achieving this goal. If they retake control of the Senate will they now make fixing the economy their top priority? No. Mitch McConnell admits that their top priority remains the pursuit of power–in this case improving their party’s prospects of winning the White House in 2012:
MCCONNELL: We need to be honest with the public. This election is about them, not us. And we need to treat this election as the first step in retaking the government. We need to say to everyone on Election Day, “Those of you who helped make this a good day, you need to go out and help us finish the job.”
NATIONAL JOURNAL: What’s the job?
MCCONNELL: The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.
At least nobody can accuse the Republicans of flip-flopping on this.