Sunday, August 3, 2008

That's Entertainment!

McIlheran has a column in this morning's paper in which he congratulates Rush Limbaugh for twenty years of national airtime. He goes on to crow about just how wonderful he thinks talk radio is. He goes on and on about how he thinks squawk radio is entertaining and then some. He even quotes the other half of the McSykes comedy show:

For many of us, it spared us from losing our appetite for news, as well. Sykes, a journalist before taking to the airwaves, describes Limbaugh as water on parched earth when conservatives first heard him. “It was the first time they heard someone espousing their beliefs, showing some respect instead of being condescending,” said Sykes.


“If you’re a liberal,” said Sykes, “you have no problem encountering liberal ideas. You swim in a sea of liberal ideas, liberal assumptions, liberal commentary.” What talk radio did was provide an alternate frame for those who aren’t liberal, letting listeners know they weren’t alone in thinking liberal premises were a load of deep-tunnel overflow. Talk radio laughed at things that deserve mockery but weren’t getting it. It made current affairs a sport, not a chore.

McIlheran points to the success of Limbaugh by saying he as "something like 20 million listeners" Whoopee. Given that the current population of the United States is over 303 million people, that means that Limbaugh draws 6.5% of the people. Not exactly a large share of the market, is it?

And what are these beliefs that talk radio espouses, that supposedly sooooo many people agree with? That women that stand up for themselves should be considered Nazis? That women should be owned? That it's OK to insult other religions? Other races? To call autistic kids spoiled brats?

You name it, they've insulted it. Yeah, that's what I want people to think of when they think of America...a bunch of racist, sexist, lying pigs. And we won't even get into their hypocrisy, trying to preach morality, when they have several issues of their own that shows their duplicity.

Bruce Murphy wrote a column just after McBride managed to hasten her departure from TMJ radio. That article sums up local squawk radio very accurately:

For Belling and the other radio squawkers, image is everything. They can’t afford to be regularly exposed as wrong because it demeans the franchise, and the franchise’s entertainment value depends solely on their personality. Thus, they screen callers to decide what points of view they can live with, ones that won’t undercut them too badly.

By contrast, a journalistic enterprise like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel runs corrections on an almost daily basis, prints letters that disagree with editorials, and disciplines or even fires reporters who make egregious errors. Yes, the paper can be self-serving or slow to correct errors, but over time, a good newspaper will always prove itself bigger than any one person, even the editor. It can afford to admit errors and should even be admired for doing so, because this serves the entire community of readers.

Belling and Charlie Sykes make no pretense of serving the entire community. Belling’s longtime slogan, “Standing Up for Milwaukee,” generally meant he was standing up for every city but Milwaukee – namely all the suburbs surrounding Milwaukee. Sykes’ slogan, “Standing Up for What’s Right,” ripped off Belling and suggested a similar bias.

Both are smart, savvy media junkies who often sound like reporters but are actually entertainers who don’t abide by the rules of journalism. Day in and day out, they have to make outrageous statements that anger people, most of whom will never get a chance to respond. This builds ratings, but also builds up enemies they can’t afford to let on the air because the host’s image is at stake.

Squawk radio has absolutely nothing to do with the news. They take a news story, removed the facts that they don't like, and endlessly repeat the facts that they do like. Such as the myth of the "liberal mainstream media" or that it is Obama that is naive, when McCain repeatedly has shown and even admitted he doesn't know what he's talking about.

This explains why they have to spend so much money to keep squawk radio going, and why they're so deathly afraid of the Fairness Doctrine. Because what they say can't hold up to the light of the truth, and their rantings aren't as popular as being hopeful and positive. Look at the current Presidential campaign. The squawkers are besides themselves with Obama's popularity, and the fact that no matter how much mud they try to throw, they are the ones that always come out looking the worst for it.

If one wanted to be generous, one could call squawk radio the verbal form of blogging, presuming that the blogger isn't a very good one. (Then again, none of them are very good at blogging either.)

A more accurate term would be "Propaganda."

ADDENDUM: Isn't it ironic that these "entertainers" dismiss any celebrity that espouses a position different from theirs, questioning their qualifications to have an opinion, but then call themselves entertainers?

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