As rhetoric heats up on the airwaves, the double standard used to judge “offensive” comments becomes more obvious than ever. These days, not even sports-talk radio is a safe haven from polarizing “identity” politics.
Take Boston sports-talk radio host Fred Toettcher. Describing Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow’s NFL draft party, Toettcher said Tebow’s family and friends were all “so lily-white” that the gathering “looked like some kind of Nazi rally.”
Toettcher apologized the following day, and the matter was closed.
Compare that to what happened to Dallas sports-radio producer Mike Bacsik.
“After the Spurs’ win against the Mavericks Sunday night,” reported a local news outlet, “Bacsik sent out a message on Twitter that read, ‘Congrats to all the dirty mexicans [sic] in San Antonio.’”
For making that equally racist remark, Bacsik also apologized profusely – and was suspended indefinitely from the station.
The new Arizona immigration law was the talk of the airwaves this week, and Rush had by far the best take.
First, he joked: “I can understand Obama being touchy on the subject of producing your papers.”
Then he unveiled a new skit and parody song by his in-house songwriter/impressionist, Paul Shanklin, mocking Al Sharpton’s plans to protest the law. Shanklin’s work is always excellent, but he’s outdone himself with these creations (FREE audio).
One of Rush’s most successful rhetorical tools is “rejecting the premise” of his political enemies. It was on display when he struck back at Obama’s opposition to the Arizona law – by using the President’s own words (FREE video below):
Rush discovered an unlikely ally, when a senior editor for Reuters defended him on one of the Sunday shows against Bill Clinton’s charges that the talk show host had somehow inspired the Oklahoma City bombings.
Meanwhile, Roger Kimball called Rush a “patriot” after reading Limbaugh’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last Friday:
“I know, I know: To hear [liberals] tell it, Rush Limbaugh is a barely articulate (or is he a demonically super-articulate?) Neanderthal, one of those ‘bitter’ chaps addicted to ‘guns and religion’ that candidate Obama warned about on the campaign trail,” Kimball writes. “Yet here he is on the editorial page of the nation’s most serious newspaper sounding like a cross between James Madison and George Orwell. How can that be?”
Sean was away with food poisoning at one point during the week, but was back just in time to help listeners understand the Arizona immigration law. As usual, he was helped by a great array of guests including Susan Estrich, Dick Morris and blogger-turned-CNN-commentator Erick Erickson.
“Sean Hannity isn’t the most incendiary conservative talker on the radio dial. That honor goes to Michael Savage, with Mark Levin coming in a distant second on nights when a ‘lib’ caller gets under his skin,” Toto writes. “And Hannity certainly isn’t the funniest. Rush Limbaugh’s blistering song parodies would be deemed dangerous – in a positive way – in elite comedy circles had they not targeted the left.
“Yet few eclipse Hannity as a conservative warrior, someone whose direct, no-apologies embrace of small government helped him rise to the top echelon of today’s talkers,” Toto concludes.
In a similar vein, R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. compared the top hosts to each other in his new book “After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Victory” – with one lesser radio personality bearing the brunt of his criticism:
“Whereas Limbaugh, Hannity and Levin sell conservative principles, [Joe] Scarborough uses conservative principles to sell himself,” Tyrrell writes. “Limbaugh, Hannity and Levin are examples of what the conservative writers and policy experts ought to be: colleagues in a cause.”
After being accused of “wingnuttery” on the subject of global warming, Mark Levin hit back at the National Review’s Jim Manzi:
“Knowledge is something you can acquire,” Levin writes. “Class, apparently, is not.”
This week, Levin interviewed a number of up-and-coming Republicans running in November’s elections, including Michigan’s Dr. Dan Benishek – although Levin conceded that he “would support an orange juice can” over Benishek’s incumbent opponent, Bart Stupak (FREE audio).
When the President declared, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money,” Levin – who has spent months calling Obama a Marxist – wasted no time saying, “I told you so” (FREE audio).
Levin also read an excerpt from his father’s forthcoming book about the Gettysburg Address (FREE audio).
Internet commentator Andrew T. Durham posted a tribute to Michael Savage this week, which Savage himself proudly read on the air.
Durham pointed out that “Savage has a long history of nailing issues that no one else really covers,” then listed the many controversial issues on which the talk radio host has been proven correct, time and again.
This week, Savage wondered on the air “whether or not Obama is trying to start a race war,” and took on a self-described liberal professor in Chicago in a memorable exchange that ended with Savage declaring, “I nailed you to a cross, you rat bum, you!”
On Wednesday, Laura delivered a powerful monologue asking why Democrats demonize anyone who tries to make a profit, as the Goldman Sachs hearings continued on Capitol Hill.
This week, Ingraham also spoke to the sponsor of the Arizona immigration law, State Senator Russell Pearce, to debunk the many misconceptions of what it does and doesn’t empower authorities to do (FREE audio).
G. Gordon Liddy
During a typically wide-ranging week’s worth of shows, Liddy said he wanted a certain meat-processing plant owner “sentenced to death,” talked to guests like Larry Pratt of the Gun Owners of America and Linda Chavez, who believes standardized tests may actually be hurting kids rather than helping them.
A particular highlight was Liddy’s chat with Brandon Darby, a former left-wing radical and community organizer in New Orleans, who informed authorities about his former colleagues when he learned they’d planned to bomb the 2008 Republican National Convention (FREE audio).
Beck’s most colorful guests this week was rock star and gun rights activist Ted Nugent, who wanted to “toughen up” the citified radio host:
“Glenn, you know I love you. You feel the love through this big window, don’t you? You know love is inescapable. But you have the softest hands of a man I have ever seen,” Nugent said. “We need to get you to the ranch, and you need to milk an ox” (FREE audio).
Beck also did his best to explain the Goldman Sachs CCX carbon trading scheme; premium subscribers got to watch the creation of a chalkboard chart of all the “players” (FREE webcam).
Time magazine placed Glenn Beck on its list of 100 most influential people of 2010, and Sarah Palin wrote a tribute to the man she called “an inspiring patriot” and “like the high school government teacher so many wish they’d had.”
And now: on the left side of the dial
Last week, I told you that many of Al Sharpton’s African-American listeners have told him in no uncertain terms that unlike him, they support Arizona’s stricter laws against illegal aliens (Sharpton’s audience understandably resents having to compete with non-citizens for jobs in a recession).
Sharpton took the air this week with a sarcastic, patronizing response to African Americans who dare to disagree with him on this issue, criticize him for going on TV too much, and otherwise don’t seem to “appreciate” all that Sharpton has done for them out of the goodness of his heart:
“So, I mean people that get angry at people that are out there representing their interests, you’ve got to ask yourself, ‘What’s wrong with them?’” Sharpton asked. “Why would I get mad if someone is speaking up for me unless I got a problem with my own self-esteem?
“So, let me get this right,” he said, “we should all stay off so you could watch reruns of ‘Sanford and Son.’ That’s much more constructive for you. I got it. I’m clear.”
As Radio Equalizer blogger Brian Maloney commented, “If Sharpton’s goal is to be hated by his own political base, he’s accomplishing the task with flying colors.”