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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: What I Have Learned From Air America:Radio Right vs. Radio Left

Friday, April 22, 2005

What I Have Learned From Air America:Radio Right vs. Radio Left

Part I

I decided to take a break from my normal talk radio schedule. I start my morning drive listening to Bruce Jacobs on my local station, 550 KFYI in Phoenix. Once I arrive at work, I tune into Neal Boortz followed by Larry Elder and Sean Hannity via the internet. Occasionally during my busy business day I am required to drive from one location to another and I have the opportunity to tune into Rush Limbaugh. On my drive back home is anyone’s guess who or what I’ll listen to.

So why would I take a break from this particular schedule to listen to Air America of all things?

Three reasons:

  1. I am sick to death about hearing about this nonsense about ‘judicial activism.’ Take your pick of any of the more conservative hosts on my play list, they all make the same tiered arguments; I’m to the point to where I can finish their arguments before they do (i.e. ‘they are legislating from the bench,’ ‘these judges are ignoring the will of the people,’ ‘the courts are usurping the powers of the elected branches,’ etc. etc.).

  2. I am a very curious person that is not afraid to be challenged by views different from my own (I am increasingly noticing that many of the views of conservative radio are different from mine as it is so this is not really all that different). I am very comfortable with my political philosophy and my philosophy in general – perhaps too comfortable. Challenging one’s views is the best way to make one’s arguments stronger. By forcing oneself to consider new arguments and overcoming these arguments through reason, if one’s arguments are sound, he or she should not be afraid to be challenged by contrary opinions.

  3. I planned on listening to Air America for 2 weeks so I could report in this blogpost and write my analysis of the common arguments the hosts of that network makes and other observations comparing radio Left to radio Right and Radio Libertarian (i.e. Elder and Boortz).

I did not completely change my radio schedule, however. I decided to continue to listen to Jacobs, Elder, and Boortz, listen to Air America the rest of the time except for when I’m driving and catch some Rush and Hannity here and there.

Air America vs. Conservative Talk
One of the things I noticed right away was the similarities between Air America and conservative talk radio. From a stylistic standpoint, there is very little difference. The creators of Air America evidently studied the methods conservative talk hosts use to get their points across. Air America similarly uses humor, popular music for rejoinders & bumpers, and has many of the same advertisers. I also learned that at least some of the programs are carried by the same media corporations such as Clear Channel. Kind of shoots down the theory that President Bush’s oil buddies who own Clear Channel give all their hosts talking points for their shows doesn’t it?

I also notice how hosts on both sides treat their political party as a religion of sorts. As long as it is one of their guys, he can do no wrong. A perfect example of this is the controversy surrounding the nomination of John Bolton for U.N. ambassador. On the Randi Rhodes Show, Randi argues against Bolton’s nomination in part because of accusations that he harassed people within his department and threatened a female aid worker. The very next day, I heard Rush’s perspective on Bolton. Rush pointed out that this aid worker also had an axe to grind as a Democratic activist who was working very hard to defeat President Bush’s reelection efforts. Interestingly, Randi failed to bring that up (for what its worth). Rush also pointed out that many of the same senate Democrats had no problem with how Clinton harassed and threatened people to get his way. After all, what did it have to do with how he governed as president? I don’t know very much about John Bolton, but a little more inquiry into his conduct could not hurt; what’s the rush? While I understand Rush’s point and agree the Democrats are being hypocritical, that does not excuse Mr. Bolton or anyone else for any bad conduct if the allegations are true.

What Does ‘The Left’ Believe?
I want to try to be as accurate as I can in describing the beliefs of those who host and listen to Air America. I’m restricting my comments only to the hosts I actually listened to. My understanding of their views may be somewhat distorted because I have only been listening for two weeks but this is my understanding of the hosts and some of their arguments:

The Randi Rhodes Show
-The war in Iraq has nothing to do with a war on terror but a war to enrich oil companies, enrich contractors in the rebuilding effort, and satisfy President Bush and his NeoCon cronies’ blood lust.

-Saddam Hussein was no threat to us, neither is Iran. Saddam disarmed himself prior to the war and the inspections were working.

-Not only is the Bush administration lying to the American public, he and his cronies are trying to keep everyone stupid from grade school children to senior citizens. How? The educational system and (are you ready for this?) the Right Wing Media. Why? To better control the public and scare the electorate into voting Republican. Those who support Republicans are uninformed or have otherwise been deceived.

-The reason North Korea has nuclear weapons is because of John Bolton’s temperament toward North Korean diplomats.

-We should negotiate with terrorists when they take hostages.

The Al Franken Show
-The government should set café standards for automobiles to 40 to 50 mpg

- We should stop using oil as an energy source within 10 years

- Franken encouraged listeners to call their congressmen to stop the bill that would permanently eliminate the inheritance tax (death tax). This legislation was to thank the rich donors to the Republican Party.

- Those who want to end illegal immigration are racists.

Morning Sedition with Marc Maron & Mark Riley
-The rich owe it to society to pay more taxes because of their fortune was made in this society.

- The gap between the rich and the poor is growing larger and larger; therefore the rich have an obligation to pay more taxes to help the poor through welfare programs.

- Praised a wealthy woman named Elizabeth Letzler who is part of an organization called Responsible Wealth. The purpose of the organization is to donate the money they got back from the Bush tax cuts to charity. Letzler donated all of her $100,000 rebate to charity. Maron and Riley call Letzler a ‘true American’ for making this pledge.

-The Fair Tax benefits the rich too much (does anyone see a theme emerging here?).

As I expected, listening to Air America would give me a lot of topics to discuss on my blog. To more fully examine these and other arguments, I will conclude my thoughts on Air America, its hosts, and talk radio in general in my next post. Until then, feel free to respond to my findings so far.

6 Comments:

Blogger Eric Grumbles said...

I'm trying to figure out how the Fair Tax benefits the rich too much. Those of us with upper middle class and above spend much more on consumption of goods as a percentage of our income than our less well to do countrymen. Maybe I'm confused about how this would work?

3:18 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Good stuff. I’ve become disenchanted with “right-wing” talk shows for the same reasons that you mention. I do, however, listen to Boortz regularly, as he is informative as well as entertaining…also, he’s my hometown news-jock. He’s kept me in stitches for the better part of the last decade.

I think that the lefties have finally realized how influential radio has been thus far. I just hope that they don’t seduce too many middle-of-the-roaders before the next election.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Stephen Littau said...

Eric,

The guys on the Morning Sedition seemed to dismiss the Fair Tax idea out of hand. I don't think they have even looked at the proposal. They don't like the idea of eliminating the death tax or corporate taxes. They seem to be of that group that wants to 'stick it to the rich,' a completley emotional argument. You aren't confuesed at all, they are just close minded.

Robert,

I just discovered Boortz recently...he's great. I think he is the fairest host on the radio. He will not pull any punches for those on the Left or the Right. He really lives up to his tagline "Broadcasting in the red states and the blue states and insensitive to both."

11:17 AM  
Blogger Brad Warbiany said...

I've been listening to "America Left" on my XM from time to time... I tend to get a little disgusted when they talk about our contractors in Iraq as "mercenaries", but that's just me. It's got a lot of the same folks on it. I listened to Jerry Springer the other morning, which gave me the impetus for my post Was Jesus a Liberal?

And I gotta say I'm a huge fan of Boortz and Elder as well. Hannity is on his knees for the Republican party all the time, which gets a bit tiresome. I still listen to him at work on the internet, but he has the partisan blinders on. Although, I do have to thank him for always recommending Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. That place rules!

8:10 PM  
Blogger Stephen Littau said...

Brad,

"I tend to get a little disgusted when they talk about our contractors in Iraq as "mercenaries", but that's just me."

That's the first time I've heard anyone say something like this...it's not just you, I find that to be very disgusting as well. What these contractors are doing is very brave and dangerous; they deserve a little extra cash for their trouble. You couldn't pay me enough to do what they do.

I read your 'Was Jesus a Liberal' post; very thought provoking. I heard a promo on Air America for the Jerry Springer (radio) Show,and in that promo Springer makes that very point. When you look at his philosophy, he certainly wasn't a capitalist and probably not a conservative. I tend to think of him as more of a collectivist or socialist, though I'm not sure he would have wanted this philosophy to be forced with the heavy hand of government.

On Ruth's Chris, I've always wanted to eat there. I know its a very high class establishment. There's a location right by where I work. I understand that its menu is very pricy. I suppose if your Sean Hannity you can eat there as often as you want.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Brad Warbiany said...

Yeah, I kind of figured that Jesus would be an anarcho-socialist. Which is odd, because I think that's about the least likely type of state to ever sustain itself.

Ruth's Chris is very pricy. It is one of those special-occasion places. To sit down for a nice dinner with my wife, where we each order a drink or two, will lighten our wallets by about $150. It's not something we can normally afford, but it's the best steak I've ever had. Better than Morton's.

Regarding Hannity, I remember hearing a while ago while listening to Neal Boortz that Hannity tips 50% at every meal. EVERY MEAL. Whether you like him or not, that's pretty damn cool.

12:12 PM  

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