The New Rules
Last night on The Ed Show on MSNBC, guest Heidi Harris, a Las Vegas-based hate radio star, explained it all for me. You see, people like Dr. Laura can run around shouting “nigger” eleven times on the air, an act of which Heidi primly disapproves, because they’re syndicated, national, and make “millions of dollars.” It would violate Heidi’s Randian code of ethics to kick up, when everyone knows that in her business one only kicks down. She seemed rather proud of this odd version of morality, too. Her incessant barking became almost wistful when she said, perhaps too honestly, that if only she were on Dr. Laura’s “level,” she would be free to criticize her publicly. Tomorrow is another day.
It’s sad, sort of, to see yet another righty gasbag admit, publicly, that personal beliefs have nothing to do with it; it’s not the principle of the thing, it’s the money. How can such galling admissions of rank careerism and lack of conviction sit with their audiences, who must go on believing them anyway? Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, and all the rest have repeatedly admitted that their paycheck and fame is all that matters to them, which is fine if you’re, say, Lindsay Lohan, but considerably more problematic when your demented vitriol is absorbed, and increasingly acted upon, by millions of Americans every day.
When Ed points out that despite having 95% of the radio dial in the places where they don’t have 100%, not a single one of the thousands of righty blabbermouths has criticized Dr. Laura, Heidi ducks the question by invoking the magic of the market. Really. She thinks, or at least says, that this right-wing imbalance has something to with what advertisers want, when any fool could see that bloated, once-illegal media monopolies benefit substantially from pounding audiences with such rich-fellating nonsense as Heidi’s, whether or not GoldLine coughs up a few bucks to subsidize it. When Rush Limbaugh comes right out and says that one’s vote ought to be proportional to one’s wealth, it’s easy to see how and why Heidi has a recession-proof job.
The same “market” mentality also shows why Rupert Murdoch was willing to flush hundreds of millions of dollars down the toilet to launch Fox News, and billions to buy the Wall Street Journal in an era when national print media outlets can be had for a dollar. Right-wing journalism doesn’t need advertising, it is advertising. What it sells, all day long, is the propaganda of top-down class warfare, and that takes some doing in the most unequal democracy on earth, so this kind of demonization of lessers and exaltation of betters must be ladled out to the lower orders with every syllable spoken on the once-public airwaves.
Sadly, but obviously of no concern to Dr. Laura or Heidi, a lot of innocent people whose only mistake in life was to be black, brown, Muslim, poor, gay, liberal, working class, middle class, unemployed, or worse than all that, not even nationally syndicated, must now endure the slings and arrows, and even legal or violent repercussions of the loose and ill-willed talk of a bunch of mendacious money-grubbers who are laughing all the way to the bank.
If anyone could make a better argument for the breakup of media monopolies and the return of the Fairness Doctrine than Heidi Harris just did, I don’t know what it would be.