I wrote this in July but never posted it…hence the “lost” article.
On the Monday of this last July 4th weekend, I was driving back from visiting my brothers family. I passed the time listening to the satellite radio, particularly both Left and Right political talk channels.
The talk shows on the liberal channels were very similar to the talk shows on the conservative channels. They were talking about the same topics, they had the same sponsors, the same sound bytes, the same timed commercial breaks, the same news at the top and bottom of the hour…for the entire seven hours. I couldn’t take it that long, but I did listen long enough to make some observations.
The liberal channel was making the following complainants:
- Obama isn’t doing anything on gun control
- Obama isn’t advancing gay rights enough
- Obama is putting more troops in Afghanistan
- Democrats in Congress aren’t adequately addressing health care
- Sotomayor is too moderate
The conservative channel was making the following complaints:
- Obama is going to take away your guns
- Obama expanded gay rights for federal employees
- Obama is pulling troops out of Iraq
- Democrats in Congress are pushing health care reform
- Sotomayor is a liberal activist judge
If you knew absolutely nothing about American politics, and listened to these shows, the listener would have to conclude that that Obama, Democrats in Congress, and Sotomayor are hopeless moderates that can satisfy no one; not by their actions and not by their inactions.
Pundits that deliver the news via a “commentary” format usually hold extreme views (the most successful pundits anyway). Yet, polls show that 80% of Americans agree 80% of the time (actually heard that on a left wing radio program). I have coined this political tactic ‘rubberbanding,’ a term used in racing games. They preach their extreme views to those leaning to right/left, in a effort to pull the listener away from the center.
At anytime of the day, I guarantee you can turn on the radio, scan a bit, and find a political pundit talking for hours on end; 4 hours a day, 20 hours week, with listeners numbering in the millions….and there are dozens of radio pundits. Joseph Goebbels did this. So did Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury repeats the same idea using television and drugs as the medium for of social political control.
Think “incrementalism”….on meth. As Rage Against the Machine says “weapon of sound above ground.”
I believe they do us a great disservice by keeping us divided. They talk about where we differ. And where we agree, they spin the issues and try to make us more divided.
Turn it off.