Thursday, May 26, 2005

The jackal pack

Rush Limbaugh is whipping up a frenzy over Bill Moyers’ recent speech at the National Conference for Media Reform, informing his 20 million listeners that the veteran PBS broadcaster is “unhinged” and “literally insane.”

Moyers defended public broadcasting against recent partisan attacks and called on journalists to revive serious inquiry, question egregious public behavior, and tell the truth when they see it. He didn’t mention Limbaugh by name, but he did say, “The more compelling our journalism, the angrier the radical right of the Republican Party gets. That’s because the one thing they loathe more than liberals is the truth.”

William Hare has written a thoughtful piece at Political Strategy about the jackal pack – which now has PBS in the crosshairs - and their patented technique of substituting epithets and insults for serious commentary. He compares Bill O’Reilly’s “childishly vitriolic pseudo interviews” and temper tirades to the kind of reasoned, courteous inquiry Moyers used to conduct with people of all political stripe. Then he turns to Limbaugh:

…O’Reilly at least engages in discussions. Chicken hawk Rush Limbaugh, who opted out of Vietnam service due to an anal cyst while his father had served in World War Two with one, and who saluted Ronald Reagan as the premier political figure of his generation but somehow never found the time to vote for him, does not engage in one on one discussion with guests. With the Federal Communications Commission under firm control of the corporate right Limbaugh engages in vitriolic character assaults that no more embody serious political commentary than Ku Klux Klan cross burnings exemplify sober religious discussion. …

Rush Limbaugh is far from a Bill Moyers. He lacks the intellectual courage to invite Moyers on his program to state his case, with Limbaugh questioning and seeking to rebut views he opposed. Limbaugh’s style is that of the immature schoolyard bully who fears to engage in a full discussion of the facts and instead fills the air with vacuous insults ….

In place of engaging Moyers on his ideas the bombastic talk show host alleged that the liberal commentator had come “unhinged” and that “The things coming out of his mouth today are totally insane.” Such an emotional charge necessitates corroboration. To Limbaugh corroboration to his audience known as dittoheads is equated with repetition. In short, if Limbaugh calls Moyers “insane” enough times then his faithful minions of dittoheads will accept the unsupported charge without any discussion or explanation being necessary.

Less bombastic, perhaps, but equally reliant on repetition and bereft of intellectual courage, we have “fair and balanced” Fox News endlessly repeating Bush position papers on WMD and Iraq. Or Bush telling us freedom is on the march in Iraq. Or Bush telling us how tax cuts will fix everything. Or Bush telling us we have a crisis in Social Security.

As Bush himself remarked yesterday at a Bamboozlepalooza™ Social Security event in Greece, NY, "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."

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