Remember during the movie, “The Wizard of Oz”, that when it became apparent to the Wicked Witch of the West that the game was pretty much over, she released a bevy of flying monkeys?
Many Americans who grew up with that movie as a life-changing event probably don’t know that L. Frank Baum’s series about Oz was an allegory, a progressive allegory, written at a time quite a bit like our time, a time when robber barons and all sorts of commercial “snake oil salesmen” thoroughly corrupted American society—until those like Baum, Upton Sinclair and many others known as “muckrakers” raked the muck, so to speak, and alerted the American people to horrific crimes committed in the name of money.
In 1987, when the dumb-bell president Ronald Reagan pushed the Federal Communications Commission to repeal The Fairness Doctrine, the dumb-bell president Ronald Reagan opened the door to the flying monkeys known as Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, Beck, and hundreds of other hateful spreaders of falsehood—all in the name of pushing America so far to the right that those who died in the 1970s wouldn’t recognize the “Nazism with a smiley face” America of 2012.
Rather than being fair purveyors of the news, the flying monkeys of right-wing hate radio are merely propagandists no more exceptional than Nazi Germany’s Hermann Goebbels. Like Goebbels, they conduct crusades against people, hound groups like ACORN, and most recently and in Limbaugh’s case, attack private citizens like Georgetown Univsersity student Sandra Fluke, a woman who was prevented by doctrinaire, right-wing American equivalents of political Gestapo from speaking before Congress on the subject of contraception—the latest in a thoroughly warped crusade against women, freedom, free choice and population control.
In the case of Limbaugh’s utterly reprehensible slander of Ms. Fluke, calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute” simply because she wanted the government to call off its plague dogs in the name of common sense and freedom and fairness, the American people—or at least those of us who are not thoroughly hypnotized by Limbaugh’s propaganda—have risen-up and called for boycotts against the commercial entities that sponsor such hogwash.
Limbaugh’s a veteran of the irrational controversies he engenders. In 2009, a few sensible legislators began calling for the reinstatement of The Fairness Doctrine, which compels the powerful mediums of broadcast radio and television to be fair, balanced and objective purveyors of fact—not fantasy!—and the hate-bred right-wing erupted in outrage. What? Remove propaganda from the radio? Freedom of speech!
Apparently, those fools never learned the lesson of the power of Adolph Hitler’s radio broadcasts in the 1930s.
Radio is a powerful tool that, like nuclear weapons, needs to be exercised with the utmost in rationality and responsibility. In the world of journalism, there is a concept called “the authority of print” that tells us that, when something appears in an officialized format like print or in a commercial broadcast, it carries with it an almost automatic sense of authority. This “authority of print” is a powerful tool indeed—and it’s been used the way some five-year-olds wield toy shovels in a sandbox by the conservatives in America.
I remember I once asked a prominent editor of The Dallas Morning News, perhaps one of the most conservative newspapers in America, why there weren’t left-wing versions of Rush Limbaugh on AM radio dials. His answer was a little smarmy: “There’s no market for that,” he said. But what he didn’t say was much more important: Because nearly all AM radio stations are commercial in nature, viewpoints that run against the self-perpetuating goals of the commercial sphere are ignored by—well, who else?—the commercial sphere.
Anyone who has suffered through a Limbaugh broadcast knows he’s all for business, unregulated business, the free market, no regulations and all that other vacuous rot purveyed by the conservative right. And the commercial sphere wants it that way. This is why we need to reinstate The Fairness Doctrine. Sometimes you have to force the so-called free market to embrace the concepts upon which freedom depends: fairness, justice, equality, objectivity in opinion and news.
Rush made an apology because he had to. As is typical for him, he insists he was merely an entertainer and that his blatant attack on a private citizen was a matter of humor. But there’s nothing funny in Rush’s vitriolic rancor against women. If the FCC had any respect for the American people, the FCC would ban people like Limbaugh, the flying monkeys of the wicked witchery of the right.