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TYRRELL: High cost of free speech
Right pays dearly for intemperate words while left gets free pass
Question of the Day
For a couple of years now, I have been talking about the Kultursmog, the utterly polluted state of our political culture. Those who pollute it are liberals. Kultursmog is the only form of pollution they approve of, but they approve of it mightily, and, of course, they are the chief contributors to its noxious fumes. Now they are using it to kill off an American value prized by millions of Americans down through the centuries: free speech. As I say in another context, we are watching the death of liberalism.
Through Media Matters for America, MSNBC, Think Progress and various other outfits, liberals are trying to kill off talk radio. They have made feints in this direction for years, for instance in encouraging the return of the Fairness Doctrine, which is anything but fair. Now they are aiming at the heart of talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, and, as collateral damage, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and the whole conservative cabal. As I mentioned last week, Rush in the course of his 15 hours of dialogue each week made a joke of dubious jocularity about the felicitously named Sandra Fluke. All hell broke loose. To my surprise - and I suspect to Rush’s - it turns out that his joke was almost tasteful and indeed elevated in comparison with the tasteless scurrility directed at conservative women.
The clown Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a “dumb t—” and a “c—.” He jokes about Rick Santorum’s wife using a sex device. Ed Schultz has called Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut,” anticipating Rush’s reference to Ms. Fluke. Keith Olbermann is as foul, and doubtless there are others. This is the language regularly resorted to by the left, and one would think that these revelations would put an end to the orchestrated crisis over Rush, especially because it was a liberal, the admirable Kirsten Powers, who turned up these instances of garbagespiel. But no, the crisis continues.
I can understand why. Talk radio is almost exclusively conservative radio. For some reason, liberals cannot make it in the talk-show market. Even when they come up with heavily subsidized formats like Air America, liberals flounder. This, I suspect, is because they cannot talk about politics without assuming a grim voice and interlacing their dialogue with scatological references. Have you ever heard them? Have you read their blogs? They have sewers for brains.
My colleague Jeffrey Lord connected the dots Tuesday on the American Spectator’s Web site, Spectator.org. Using the indispensable Daily Caller, he pointed to the Caller’s evidence that Media Matters virtually writes the scripts for such MSNBC eminentoes as Al Sharpton and the dolt Mr. Schultz. Moreover, Media Matters does it with a vast mound of George Soros’ money. Most of what Mr. Sharpton and Mr. Schultz say is mendacious and infantile, and sometimes it is worse. Mr. Lord presented for Spectator readers some of Mr. Sharpton’s indigestible morsels. The morsels came from before he linked up with Mr. Soros and MSNBC, but that is all the more reason he should not be posing as a commentator on cable news. He has no claim to being a journalist. Perhaps he can claim to be a personality, but if that is the case, the way he became a personality is similar to how the late George Wallace became a personality. It was through racism, and as a personality, Wallace did not get far.
On our website, Mr. Lord has preserved the tapes of Mr. Sharpton inveterately using the N-word. He uses terms like “white interloper” and “cracker.” He refers to Aristotle - yes, that Aristotle - as “a Greek homo.” So far to the left has the Kultursmog gone that it finds Rush controversial but finds Mr. Sharpton a budding Walter Cronkite. In truth, as Mr. Lord has demonstrated, Mr. Sharpton made his way to national fame as a racist rabble-rouser.
Talk radio is afflicted by several thousand social isolates sitting around the house in their underwear tapping out irate messages to the sponsors of Rush and his cohorts. They do it on their digital tools, Twitter, Facebook and blogs. They rely on the same mentality as the Occupiers. Their complaints to sponsors amount to dirty tricks. They are not clients or customers. They are a pain in the neck but nothing more. Eventually, this too will pass, but in the meantime, things will be tricky for talk radio - unless it mounts a counterattack on Media Matters for America, MSNBC (whose owner is Comcast) and Think Progress. Just a thought.
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. He is author of the forthcoming “The Death of Liberalism” (Thomas Nelson).
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