Attention Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and your fellow right-wing practitioners of stalk talk – wacko time is over. While you might still draw an audience from the white supremacist, ignorant, fear-mongering fringe, that headwind you felt on January 20 was a nation pushing back against your rhetoric. No doubt, you’ve had a good run, become celebrities and pocketed some cash; all the while spouting off on subjects on which you have no substantive knowledge or expertise. Well, it looks like the electorate has come to its senses and the good news is that there is a generation of young voters who think as little of you as this almost fifty year old.
One of the most positive and powerful outcomes of the November 4 election is that there is a new generation of forward thinking voters who are using new technology to extend their reach far greater than the talking heads on the right. The Obama campaign’s masterful use of technology, built upon the foundation Howard Dean laid down four years earlier in his aborted run for the White House, created the space for an Internet network that dwarfs the audiences of the conservative shills. It took a while but it appears that time has finally caught up to the conservative mouthpieces that have been driving the partisan divide in our country by scapegoating Blacks, Latinos, immigrants, the poor and any other group they deem “liberal” or to the “left.” The sea of faces in Washington, D.C. to witness the swearing-in of the new President, a virtual kaleidoscope of race, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity, was replicated in towns big and small across the nation. In many ways a different America emerged on the morning of January 20 than the country in which we lived over the last four years.
To be sure, conservative pundits will still have their fans, and may gain a few new ones in white supremacist groups angry over the fact that a Black man is occupying the Oval Office. There will also be those displaced white workers who succumb to the racially coded rhetoric of right-wing punditry, and will gain comfort in pointing the finger at others for their predicament rather than blame a predecessor administration for its outright failure to regulate the excesses of capitalism. The talking heads will not disappear completely but their voices will be marginalized as many more Americans will treat their silliness as nothing more than what it is – entertainment.
It could not happen at a better time. The country is experiencing an economic crisis and we have little time for the nonsense that fills the airwaves on the outlets that carry these mouthpieces. We cannot afford their divisive rhetoric when there is so much on the line. There is certainly room for robust debate about the policy choices facing the Obama administration, and we expect as much. What we can ill afford is the type of innuendo driven, mudslinging that has become a tool of the conservative right. The time wasted on such nonsense distracts us from the serious work that must be done to turn this country around.
While I do not advocate the forced cancellation of these programs, except in extreme cases such as that I encountered with conservative radio host Bob Grant years ago, I do hope the FCC under the Obama administration will impose stricter regulation on outlets that engage in lies and deception, and only seek to incite. Our nation will be better served when the airwaves, both radio and television, are cleared of the garbage that has masqueraded as news. After all, they are the public’s airwaves, and there should be some responsibility on the part of the media to advance the nation’s interest through thoughtful, intelligent and balanced programming.