Thursday, July 21, 2005

Air America Radio

I've been listening to Air America Radio. You can listen on the radio or on the internet with live streaming audio or recorded show highlights.

What I've heard has been disappointing and discouraging. Instead of reasoned discussion of liberal views, I heard wild rants, distortions of truth, disregard for or ignorance of facts, and an unsettling amount of bigotry. Added to that are crude language and personal insults of a kind rarely heard in serious media programming. A few brief examples:

During the last couple of weeks, the focus on the Karl Rove controversy has been nothing short of obsessive, well beyond the generally intense liberal focus. The discussions are repetitive, hate-filled, and full of errors. Rove called Cooper--wrong. Wilson definitively resolved the issue of whether Iraq sought to purchase yellowcake in Africa--wrong. Rove is a criminal because he violated the law protecting the identity of some CIA employees--unproven and very likely wrong.

There's an unrelenting focus on treason, and it appears that no one at Air America has ever read the clear definition provided in Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution. Beyond that, they obviously haven't read other parts of the Constitution. Randi Rhodes said, "We have a Constitution that says we can impeach the President for treason! And here we have all this traitorous activity going on...." Wrong. No one with intact faculties can point to anything in this controversy that even comes close to meeting the constitutional test for treason.

Listeners who call in to the shows sometimes say silly and ignorant things, and they aren't corrected as long as what they say supports the Air America line. A good example, again, is treason. One woman called in and went on and on about Rove having committed treason, supporting her position by reciting what she found in a dictionary. Wrong, and not a word of correction offered.

References and comparisons to Hitler and Nazis, directed at individuals and whole groups of people, are common. So are other kinds of insults, some very profane, directed at Republicans, conservatives, Christians, and southerners. These include frequent use of words like bastard, son-of-a-bitch, asshole, and others.

And, perhaps most ironic considering that these people presume to speak for liberals, is the frequent negative reference to homosexuals. They often say that Karl Rove and Scott McClellan are homosexuals, without any proof, and charge that they had sex with Jeff Gannon. They say that Ken Mehlman is a homosexual, attributing his skill at arguing in defense of Rove to his experience of hiding his sexual orientation.

Most polls say fairly consistently that people in the U.S. identify themselves as about one-third Democrat, one-third Republican, and a bit less than a third Independent. A larger number identify themselves as moderates. In addition, the lead Democrats have enjoyed over Republicans in party identification has decreased to the point where they are almost even. A recent Harris Poll is a good example of these findings.

It's generally thought that some number of voters, maybe 20 percent, are going to vote for Democratic or Republican candidates no matter what. The remaining 60 percent, all those Independents and moderates, are up for grabs. To my hard-core Democratic friends I would say this: Don't recommend Air America Radio to anyone in that 60 percent. People are smarter than Air America gives them credit for, and the most likely result of listening is the loss of a lot of votes.

And please, no harangues about conservative talk radio. This is about Air America. I know that some conservative talkers, like Michael Savage, are also over the top. But the extremists aren't promoted as the saviors of conservatism, the voices in the wilderness delivering truth. Rush Limbaugh, on the other hand, is moderate compared to much of what you hear on Air America. His humor, optimism, courtesy, and concern for being factually correct put Air America to shame.

Give it a try. Listen to both Rush Limbaugh and Air America's political programs for a few weeks. You'll see the difference.


Blogger John Walter said...

Good to see you publishing again, Tom. I was a little worried.

Two things.

One: treason. Not only does an accused traitor need to fit the Constitutional definition, but it must be established that there was a specific intent to hurt the United States. This goes back to the treason trial of Arron Burr (1806 I think), when Chief Justice John Marshall won the dubious distinction of first writing an opinion which significantly changed the accepted meaning of a clause in the Constitution. Slight irony there. Bottom line, assuming Karl Rove has done anything at all wrong, he not only does not meet the constitutional definition of treason, but he comes nowhere even in the same county as the working definition.

That's also why nobody could ever hang an actual treason charge on Jane Fonda.

Second: the obsessive focus on Rove. It's a talking point issue. It's as if publishes an opinion and Dem partisans all over the country stick to their script no matter what. You have to admire the party discipline required for that but, at the same time, it has a creepy sort of Orwellian quality what with so many people abusing logic and language with such perfect confority.

3:21 PM, July 21, 2005  
Blogger MaxedOutMama said...

Tom, that is very interesting. Thanks for giving it a try and then reporting. I tried, but I got hit with such a fusillade of swearing and Bush-treason accusations I turned it off after 5 minutes.

I am beginning to think that the Democratic party needs to split. The country wants the less wild-eyed Dems, but it is almost as if the ranters are taking over. It's almost mainstream to claim that Bush slammed the planes into the WTC in order to extend his fascist arm over the US.

A national party has to be about something more than hating Bush. I'm not in love with the man myself, but he's not a traitor and he's not trying to destroy the US.

I'm very afraid that this sort of thing has gone pretty mainstream in the party. Maybe Vilsack can do some good. We'll see. I'm not looking forward to 2008 at all. If they don't field a reasonable presidential candidate they are sunk. I don't want to see a one-party US and I think this trend has gone far enough.

3:54 PM, July 21, 2005  
Blogger Dingo said...

I'll agree with you the Randy Rhodes and Jeannine Garofialo (sp?) are way over the top and spout off stuff that is both insane and insincere and are an embarrassment to those of us who are proud liberals. But to say that Rush Limbaugh is a moderate makes me laugh. It is just that your perspective is probably more in line with his, but a moderate he is not. I, in fact, do not hate America and love terrorists. I don not want to destroy my country. I do not want to persecute Christians.

4:40 PM, July 21, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

John and MOM, I agree with you completely. I'm often accused of "bashing" the Democrats, and maybe I do to some extent. The main reason is that I want a strong, viable, respectable Democratic Party. It's essential to our body politic.

Dingo, I did not say that Rush Limbaugh is a moderate. I said that he is "...moderate compared to much of what you hear on Air America." That's absolutely true. Put in enough time listening to him and Air America political programming, and I suspect you'll come to the same conclusion. Limbaugh is an unabashed conservative, usually in agreement with Republicans but not always, usually in disagreement with Democrats but not always. I doubt very seriously that liberals who condemn him have ever listened long enough to get a clear picture.

6:14 PM, July 21, 2005  
Blogger Dingo said...

ok, I'll agree somewhat and make a distinction. I have listened to hours of Rush and hours of Air America. Randy Rhodes and Jeannine are more obnoxious than Rush. I will give you that. I would put them more in the catagory with Savage. But there is more than just those two shows on Air America. You could never get me to agree that Al Frankin is any worse then Rush. And Kennedy is farily good also.

9:02 AM, July 22, 2005  
Blogger profmarcus said...

yes, it's a shame... aa's right up there with rush, michael savage, bill o'reilly, ann coulter, howard stern, and all the rest of the shock jocks... the testosterone-fueled rhetoric borrows heavily from wwe (world wrestling entertainment) trash talk and does little but further erode any basis for civil discourse...

10:26 AM, July 22, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Dingo, I agree that Franken isn't nearly as bad as Garofalo or Rhodes. The worst of all is Mike Malloy, who probably makes Savage blush. Of course, there are some news and entertainment industry shows on AA that are pretty good--we're talking about the political programming, which is most of AA.

Profmarcus, I agree with you, in general. The talking heads on all sides often generate more heat than light. However, they're not all bad. I like listening to the more reasonable people, those who openly state their political views and make an effort to get their facts right. It's a pretty good way to understand what both liberals and conservatives are thinking. If you ignore the idiots, you can actually learn a lot and make comparisons based on knowledge rather than knee-jerk ideology.

I wish more liberals would listen to conservative ideas and more conservatives would listen to liberal ideas. That's the only way to overcome the divide between the loudmouthed extremists on both sides.

11:52 AM, July 22, 2005  
Anonymous jello said...

what would rush say if a clintonite had outed a cia agent?

how many public hearings would congress have held to investigate the matter had a clintonite outed a cia agent?

8:24 AM, July 24, 2005  
Blogger Fred said...

I'd agree on the franken comparison to Rush, that they're both more moderate than savage/rhodes et al. But who's funnier? I've liked some of Franken's stuff in the past, but don't think he's quite as sure a radio personality as Limbaugh for now.

Also, does anyone have an idea how the ad revenues are comparing?


7:50 PM, July 25, 2005  
Blogger RPM said...

Rhodes is an idiot and Al Franken may not be funny on Air America, but he thankfully puts the self-righteous like O'Reilly over the barrel when they deserve it. Check out Norm's video:

The Rove coverage may be obsessive, but anytime a strong political figure gets caught with a hand in the cookie jar, the press and politicians on the other aisle pounce. That's nothing new, Republicans have mastered the art of the talking points. Part of the fascination is likely the fact that McClellan has had to squirm so much based on his comments in 2003.

3:51 PM, July 28, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've listened to Air America Radio, Rush, and Fox's O'reilly and Hannity. There's more lies and distortions per hour of brodcast from Rush and Fox's crew than anything I've heard on Air America Radio. The language may not be that great but most of AAR's folks are closer to the truth. As an independent voter I feel shame for my country as a whole when confronted with foreign questions about any of them.

1:43 PM, August 11, 2005  
Blogger Brad said...

Why does this critique sound so familiar?

Oh, that's right. It's the EXACT same thing as right-wing radio.

Sucks having your own tactics used against you, doesn't it?

8:54 PM, September 23, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Brad, the leading (and just about the only) major source of liberal talk radio is Air America. The leading conservative source is Rush Limbaugh. Listen to both, and do some critical comparison. It won't support your opinion.

Most of the other conservative sources I've heard, aside from a few wackos like Michael Savage, will lead you to the same conclusion.

9:56 PM, September 23, 2005  
Anonymous baster said...

I suppose that there were lineup changes occurring across the Air America Network that were reflected onto XM 167, such as Mike Malloy and Janeane Garofalo's departures, the end of Morning Sedition, and the hiring of The Young Turks customized research papers

6:37 AM, December 21, 2011  

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