Daschle’s desperate denunciation of talk radio

By Les Kinsolving

On Wednesday, at a news conference on Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who is soon to become Senate minority leader, lashed out at talk radio, in general, and Rush Limbaugh, in particular.

In one of the most incredibly preposterous statements ever made by a U.S. Senate majority leader, the Associated Press reported what Daschle said:

Threats have increased against him and his family, and he blamed talk-show host “Rush Limbaugh and all of the Rush Limbaugh wannabes” for an increasingly negative tone in politics.

Ladies and gentlemen, has this U.S. senator seen none of the TV-commercial mudslinging political spots purchased by so many Democrats and, admittedly, by some Republicans?

The A.P. also quoted Daschle as telling reporters:

What happens when Rush Limbaugh attacks those of us in public life is that people aren’t satisfied just to listen. They want to act because they get emotionally invested. And so, you know, the threats to those of us in public life go up dramatically, on our families and on us, in a way that’s very disconcerting.

Is it now? Sen. Daschle: How many members of Congress have ever been assassinated by listeners of talk radio? I know of not one. But is South Dakota so far from Denver that you have forgotten the assassination of talk-show host Alan Berg? All of us in talk radio get death threats at one time or another.

What I strongly suspect is that this preposterous Daschle outburst is an attempt to malign and defame one of the only two major mediums that are not dominated by his fellow Democrats: talk radio and the Internet.

These two mediums are wide open to the expressions of public opinion. As compared to the 1 percent in newspapers (in letters to the editor) and approximately one-tenth of 1 percent of the public who are ever allowed to express themselves on television.

The AP reports: “Daschle was the target of an anthrax-contaminated letter sent to Capitol Hill last year, although he did not mention that incident on Wednesday.”

Possibly the senator concluded that he simply cannot offer any evidence that this anthrax attacker was motivated by talk radio.

The AP also reports that Sen. Daschle: “Did cite an incident last year when Republicans labeled him an obstructionist. ‘There was a corresponding very significant increase in the number of issues that my family and I had to deal with. And I worry about that.'”

In other words, any talk-show host who dares to criticize Sen. Daschle is, according to Daschle, to be held responsible for “a very significant increase in the number of issues my family and I had to deal with.”

Sorry senator – that just won’t sell. If you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. And I suggest that among that “number of issues” is the issue of your party’s sustaining the most disastrous midterm results of any new president since FDR so trounced the Republicans in 1934.

The AP also reports: “Daschle will be stepping down as majority leader now that the Republicans have won back control of the Senate, blamed the problem on the disappearing divide between politics and entertainment. ‘If entertainment becomes so much a part of politics and if that entertainment drives an emotional movement in this country among some people who don’t know the difference between entertainment and politics, and who are then so energized to go out and hurt somebody, that troubles me about where politics in America is going,'” Daschle said.

“Limbaugh, during his radio show Wednesday, called Daschle’s comments ‘a well-thought-out strategy by the Democrats to counter the influence of this program.'”

This is the incredible claim that because Daschle named only him, Limbaugh’s program was the only target!

Come now, Rush, fight conceit! You are big – but you are not that big!

But, while not acknowledging any other talk-radio host by name, Limbaugh did include our audiences, in saying:

“It’s not just against me, but it’s against you folks, the entire audience,” Limbaugh said. “You all now are being characterized as unsophisticated barbarians. You don’t know the difference between politics and entertainment.”

But then, Limbaugh broke down and conceded that he is not all of this nation’s talk radio!

“This is the continuation of a pattern every time the Democrats lose, either elections or a major issue, they blame me, they blame talk radio and they blame you,” Limbaugh said.

With that last Limbaugh statement, I’m in agreement.

So, apparently, does the Washington Post’s media critic, Howard Kurtz, who wrote:

Has Tom Daschle lost a couple of screws? … We can understand that Daschle is down, having just lost his majority leader’s job … What we can’t understand is how the South Dakotan can suggest that a mainstream conservative with a huge radio following is somehow whipping up wackos to threaten Daschle and his family.

Has Sen. Daschle heard about the behavior of one of his fellow Democrats, Mayor Martin O’Malley of Baltimore?

This muscular mayor, when he took exception to something said on one Baltimore talk-radio station, drove to – and invaded – the station, challenging two talk-show hosts to “step outside and I’ll kick your a–!”

While this was widely reported, there was no expressed concern from Sen. Daschle about Baltimore’s violence-threatening mayor.