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Wednesday, August 25, 2010
MRC's Hypocritical Attack on Left-Wing Radio Hosts
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center has issued a report by Rich Noyes asserting that liberal radio hosts are "The Real Radio Hatemongers," as opposed to conservative radio hosts. Of course, the MRC has to overlook a few things to reach that conclusion.

First, Noyes complains:

For two decades, conservative radio hosts have been under assault from the establishment media as mean-spirited, divisive and a menace to civil discourse. After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Bryant Gumbel smarmily insinuated that conservative broadcasters were the real villains: “Never do most of the radio hosts encourage outright violence, but the extent to which their attitudes may embolden and encourage some extremists has clearly become an issue.” Then-CBS anchor Dan Rather smeared: “You can turn on your radio in any city and still dial up hate talk: extremist, racist and violent rhetoric, from the hosts and those who call in.”

A dozen years later, ex-NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw was still hammering away: “The problem with talk radio is they mock anyone else’s point of view, and they do it often in a mindless fashion....We’ve lost the ability to have civil discourse in America, and it’s a big cancer on our political system as well.”

When conservative hosts say something that liberals want to paint as out of bounds — or when the Left falsifies quotes to impugn them — the news media seize the opportunity to stoke the fires of outrage. Journalists also have no problem heaping epithets on individual hosts. Sean Hannity is a “conservative junkyard dog,” according to CBS’s Morley Safer. Mark Levin is an “angry voice” speaking to “the wingnuts,” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews claimed. Time’s Joe Klein blasted both Hannity and Glenn Beck as “poisonous helium balloons” who peddle “hateful crap.” When radio host Bill Cunningham dared call then-presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama by his full name in 2008, CNN’s Anderson Cooper branded it “sleazy campaigning” from “a two-bit radio host.”

Missing from Noyes' report is any attempt to disprove those criticisms, or even any specific quote from those conservative hosts. Noyes continues:

Yet the “news” media that have gone out of their way to demonize conservative hosts have had virtually nothing to say about the vile and vicious rhetoric that spills forth from the Left’s leading radio talk show hosts. MSNBC even gave Ed Schultz his own program in 2009, bringing his extremist rhetoric to an even wider audience.

And liberals like Bill Press don’t seem at all bothered by the vitriol emanating from his side of the airwaves. In the acknowledgments of Toxic Talk, Press went out of his way to praise his liberal comrades: “There may not be many national progressive talk show hosts, but the few who do broadcast every day are world-class. I’m proud to be in the company of Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann, Randi Rhodes, Ron Reagan, and Mike Malloy — and I’m in awe of their strong voices on the air.”

But the MRC has done the exact same thing -- demonize liberal hosts while giving conservative hosts a pass for their offensive words. As we've detailed, the MRC -- despite its own anti-obsenity agenda -- couldn't get worked up about Rush Limbaugh's repeated references to anal sex on his show.

Further, none of the liberal hosts the MRC is attacking has anywhere near the audience or corporate promotional backing of  the top right-wing hosts. The highest-rated hosts targeted by the MRC -- Ed Schultz and Thom Hartmann -- have only one-sixth the audience of the top right-wing talker, Rush Limbaugh. Their syndicator, Dial Global, has a much smaller presence than Premiere Radio Networks, the syndicator of the top three radio hosts, Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. The report's biggest target, Mike Malloy, self-syndicates his show.

The MRC seems to have overlooked that the reason liberal talkers get so little attention in the media is because their audiences are proportionally small. That, coupled with the MRC's refusal to hold conservatives accountable for their words -- or even to acknowledge that they make controversial remarks too -- shows that this report is too hypocritical to be taken seriously.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:53 AM EDT

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