The Right Wing Dives Under Its Rock
More than any other single influence the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 made possible the right wing’s accedence in U.S. politics. Many Americans never bother to learn how their government works; what it does for them. They blithely accept what Fox News, Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity et al, tell them: that government is a weight around their necks, and many of the elected officials who comprise the government are traitors, baby killers - immoral Godless cowards. Liberals, in other words. It’s easier for many people to listen to “The Limbaugh Show” than it is to make an attempt at unraveling the layers of deceit that today’s “news” comes wrapped in. Things have finally reached the point that Americans don’t bother trying to separate lies from truth, though sometimes they still manage to get a little piqued if the deceit is outrageous enough. The Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to provide equal time to alternate viewpoints on matters of public importance.
The nation’s university faculties are overwhelmingly liberal, and generally, the more elite the university, the more liberal are its faculty. More right wing professors are disappearing from the nations college campuses every year. Their boneheaded, cracked ideology, is presented as gospel truth, and usually accompanied with personal insult. (Bill O’Reilly comes to mind) The right wing eventually realized that to advance their whacko agenda they needed to dress it up and make it look like anything other than what it is. They hit upon “Think Tanks” as the solution to their problems. These “Tanks” would provide a platform giving them the appearance of intellectual credibility. They’d wear their thinking caps, and chomp their stogies while they hatched little bombs, or sound bites. These, they fed to the snapping, foaming at the mouth, conservative hosts of right wing radio and T.V.
It was a wonderful match. Think Tanks (Who but a conservative could have the effrontery, and the arrogance, to come up with a misnomer like Think Tank) such as The Hoover Foundation, The Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation, are all right wing organizations that manufacture the means to justify their ends. They share the same goals and contrive their studies to support an already determined outcome which they then present as concrete fact. ABC news, after harsh criticism from high ranking, congressional democrats, admitted that their documentary “The Path to 9/11” was largely fabricated and designed to smear the Clinton Administration. They conceded the film was a “fantasy version of history,” and reclassified the film calling it a dramatization, not a documentary. The right, while not thrilled with such retractions, nonetheless consider their distortions successful. Mark Twain said, “Making baseless accusations takes a second, and exposing them takes a month.”
Liberal academics don’t have the luxury of conjuring explanations to fit the facts. They are subject to peer review which keeps them honest by mercilessly examining their findings. If they wish to continue their careers they had better have a strong argument, backed by empirical evidence, to back up any claims they may make. The right’s Think Tanks are comprised of like minded conservatives who produce highly flawed studies that promote the wealthy interests that fund them. They have no review process, or checks and balances, to keep them honest.
Right wing talk show clones pretend to legitimacy. They seize upon “findings” and their cries go out over the airwaves, spreading falsities like manure in a bean field. The Heritage Foundation produced an oft repeated claim that the U.S. has spent $5.3 trillion on welfare. The Think Tank that produced this number wasn’t thinking clearly that day. It forget to mention that their quote included student loans, school lunches, job training, veterans pensions and Medicaid, most of which goes to the elderly and disabled. According to the Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. has spent only $700 billion on AFCC and food stamps since 1962.
Conservatives have lied so much and so often they believe themselves. This pathology is a part of the mental illness they suffer from. Right wingers don’t see anything wrong with presenting opinions as facts. Junior’s Iraq War was initiated from a constant repetition of the same lies, told over and over again, until a frightened public began believing them. To this day no weapons of mass destruction have ever been found in Iraq, but anyone questioning the Bush Administration’s true motives will be publicly savaged by the right wing media.
Rush, his fat jowls quivering with indignity, can be counted on to skew his answers, and or questions, further embellishing the lie. Any of the right‘s frontline motor mouths will dodge the lie by saying something like, “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and only a liberal would take the word of a murderous dictator over that of his own country!” Right wingers are good at altering the focus of a question by assigning it a completely unrelated answer; one that plays well to a certain audience. David Boylan, station manager for Fox Tampa Bay says, “We paid $3 billion for these television stations. We will decide what the news is. The news is what we tell you it is!”
Right wing radio and television requires an exceptionally ignorant audience for its success. Right wing criers will evince pseudo outrage over the sorry state of the union, and the liberals who have made it so, thus encouraging the mentally challenged who regularly watch to believe they understand the true state of the Union. The media will obediently parrot whatever garbage the right wing is selling.
Only a few years ago stations like Fox and the Limbaugh Show couldn’t exist. The irreparable harm they’ve caused the nation can be traced back to Ronald “The Gipper” Reagan whose FCC Chairman, Mark Fowler, began appealing parts of the Fairness Doctrine. In 1927, the Fairness Doctrine was an integral part of the Federal Radio Commission’s regulatory oversight. The FRC became the FCC and the Fairness Doctrine continued its regulatory role overseeing the public’s airwaves and requiring broadcasters to present an honest, equal and balanced response to issues of public importance.
In 1969 a broadcaster sued the FCC. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Fairness Doctrine under challenges that it violated the First Amendment. There have been several attempts to restore the Fairness Doctrine, but they’ve all been defeated by a republican veto. Conservatives believe the Fairness Doctrine has kept them from expressing their views, and has reduced their airtime by requiring alternative viewpoints. They’ve proved themselves irresponsible and reckless and they’ve had their way. Their way has divided the nation. Their way has reduced civility in government to its lowest level, ever. Their contrived lies and clumsy distortions have brought us across another nation’s sovereign border to wage war on a population that doesn’t possess the weapons our leaders swore they had; Iraqi’s are people who only want to live in peace. They’ve allowed the government they purport to despise unfettered access into our personal lives and private communications. The Fairness Doctrine would have forced a calm voice of reason into their madness, and made their lies and distortions much more difficult, if not impossible.
This year, legislation has been introduced to restore the Fairness Doctrine. If it is restored, Rush, Fox News, Sean and Hannity, the foulmouthed Ann Coulter, as well as the plethora of radio hosts who spew their poisoness bilge around the clock, will all be fading memories. They are not intellectually capable of intelligent debate, and any knowledgeable liberal will rip them up. The public will hear both sides of an issue, and if the right can’t stay on track a liberal democrat will be there to correct them. It’s criminal and treasonous for right wing broadcaster’s to lie with impunity about issues of great matter to the public.