With his new ClearChannel contract, Rush Limbaugh has for the second time broken the record for being the highest paid radio broadcaster in history. But because his show is disguised as news and political "discussion", this $400 million dollar payday may be rewarding America's most effective illegal propagandist.
Many of Limbaugh's critics in Congress and the blogosphere feel Limbaugh's obscenely one-sided broadcasts should be banned or regulated, perhaps even revisiting the Fairness Doctrine which vaguely mandated equal time and journalistic balance. I believe just the opposite. We need to hear more on his show, not less. Specifically, as a commentator on social and political issues in America, Rush has been foregoing basic journalistic balance by NOT covering news stories that are directly relevant to the issues he talks about, intentionally leaving his listeners without knowledge required to make informed decisions.
Mailing It In
Instead of challenging the best of his opponents in open discussion, Rush refuses to expose himself to any articulate representative of opposing views. Even number two neocon mouthpiece Sean Hannity occasionally mixes it up with some ideological rivals, but Limbaugh makes his airwaves a sanctuary for the like-minded "dittohead", carefully selecting callers that don't rock his boat. This cowardice, combined with a cherrypicked corporate reality comprise the worst complaints against Rush - that he is a shill for energy and defense interests, and is being paid for his expertise and warmth in conning low-income Republicans to believe economic policy should benefit the richest of the rich. Limbaugh recently announced unabashedly that his highest priority with respect to his political talk show was amassing profit "first and foremost".
Condoning Failed Journalism
By rewarding this modern-day "Tokyo Rose" ClearChannel sends the public message that swaying with passion is more valued then informing with perspective, discouraging independent critical thought. The average American youth spends 16,000-20,000 hours in front of a TV compared to about 14,000 in school, needing sound reporting to negotiate a fine-print world. Instead of buttressing listeners from the influence of advertisers that mold us into 24/7 consumer dupes, the largest broadcasting concern in our nation shirks it's responsibility to serve the broad public good, rewarding a strikingly unbalanced radio commentator with history's fattest jackpot.
But It's Legal, Right?
Real journalists, educators and parents who want Americans to be fully informed lament the state of talk radio. Following the days of yellow journalism, U.S. public discourse had been much improved after hard lessons learned by unraveling Hitler's mass mind-control schemes. U.S. radio had a considerable corporate taint for decades, resulting in licensing rules decided by back-room fatcats. But the modern era has never seen such blatant melding of political ideology with commercial for-profit radio punditry in daily, coordinated lock step. This leads to a troubling question. Has there ever been...
Coordination between our government and Limbaugh's staff?
Recent revelations made by former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan [audio clip: Fresh Air 6/2/08] confirm the White House was routinely faxing talking points to sympathetic right wing broadcasters, despite statutes banning propaganda on U.S. soil. With the White House already exposed for paying off broadcasters and disguising policy-praising infomercials as actual news segments, Mr. McClellan today stops short of identifying exactly who was receiving these faxes from the White House. Concerned citizens should make the effort today to get ClearChannel on the record - were any of it's broadcasters, most notably Limbaugh, on McClellan's fax list?This October, 2003 exchange on the occasion of Limbaugh's Donovan McNabb statements is typical of McClellan in "stonewalling" mode, which he now admits was his practice when he was cornered by the press.
Q What's the President's view of the comment that got Rush Limbaugh in trouble?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that Rush Limbaugh addressed the matter.
Q You know, Scott, when you click onto the White House website and you enter the word, "bigotry," the President has addressed this issue 136 times. Why would not -- why wouldn't you, on his behalf, want to address it in this instance, where someone has associated the selection of athletes on the basis of their race for certain positions on the field?
MR. McCLELLAN: I did answer the question, and I think that he addressed the matter -- I think that Rush Limbaugh addressed the matter.
Q Is it because Limbaugh is a political ally and often someone who supports administration causes and so forth that you don't want to address this yourself?
MR. McCLELLAN: You've asked the question, and I've responded to it.
Know All The Facts
Many still do not know the details of how the right wing radio complex came into being, a by-product of consolidation and deregulation which has made the U.S., armed with less accurate information and reporting, into a bitterly divided country. Learn how the landscape was tailored for Limbaugh and speak up - do you feel biggest radio firm in the country has a responsibility to report on a the full spectrum of major political news and information?
If you're a parent, you might feel embarrassed by the lack of integrity in America's #1 talk radio show, unrepresentative of most Americans, it pumps up the pro-war, pro-business rhetoric that best supports the neo-con hustle. Let them know today what you think about their lopsided, incomplete daily infomercial, and demand to know - has there been illegal collusion?
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