When liberals are out of power, their slogan is: “Dissent is patriotic.” But when liberals are in charge, they do not seem especially inhibited about discrediting and demonizing conservative critics, especially when conservatives are winning the battle of public opinion. With the Obama administration and big government liberals now facing potentially devastating midterm elections, conservative talk radio once again finds itself alongside the Tea Party at the top of liberals’ 2010 hit list.
This is nothing new. 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.”
The fiercest attacks have been aimed at the leader of the pack, Rush Limbaugh. CNN’s Jack Cafferty took to the airwaves to slam Limbaugh as “that corpulent Oxycontin aficionado of right-wing talk radio,” while MSNBC’s Matthews disparaged him as a “human vat of vitriol.” New York Times
online columnist Judith Warner indicted the supposedly intemperate language of conservative hosts for the Holocaust museum shooting: “You can’t accuse Beck or Limbaugh of inciting violence. But they almost certainly do stoke the flames.” In October 2009, both CNN and MSNBC jumped to attack Limbaugh as a racist after the Left circulated a made-up quote of the host supposedly praising the merits of slavery.
The impression left by such “reporting” is that conservatives are befouling the nation’s airwaves while liberals seek only to enlighten. This spring, longtime CNN and MSNBC political commentator Bill Press (who now hosts his own morning radio show) detailed the critique of conservative radio in his book, Toxic Talk: How the Radical Right Has Poisoned America’s Airwaves
. Press charged that conservative radio has “an extremely corrosive impact on our public discourse: engaging in personal attacks, spreading lies, fanning the flames of bigotry, and slamming the door on legitimate differences of opinion....The genie of right-wing talk, unleashed by Limbaugh and his compatriots, is destroying our democratic process.”
Instead of talk radio dominated by “ugly name-calling” from “today’s ministers of hate on the right,” Press suggested an uplifting liberal version: “I believe talk radio should inform, not inflame. I think it should entertain, not demean. I think it should elevate political discourse, not debase it.” The thought echoed Mario Cuomo, who attempted a radio show of his own after losing the New York governorship in 1994: “We [liberals] believe in subtlety. We believe in telling the whole truth. We don’t want to exaggerate. They [conservatives] write their message with crayons. We use fine-point quills.”
So liberal talk radio elevates discourse, using fine-point quills? The Media Research Center has recorded and tracked the radio shows of several top national liberals since late 2007. In that time, left-wing hosts have: wished for the death of top conservatives; called Republicans and conservatives “terrorists” responsible for the 9/11 attacks; and charged that conservatives want to kill President Obama.
Host Mike Malloy — a onetime CNN news writer and producer — has “joked” that conservatives feast on the blood of children, and wished for Rush Limbaugh to “choke to death on his own throat fat.” Ed Schultz called Dick Cheney “an enemy of the country” and hoped he would die: “Lord, take him to the Promised Land, will you?” Randi Rhodes accused Republicans of “acts of treason” and of wanting to “let people drown in hurricanes.” Montel Williams (whose program ceased in early 2010 with the bankruptcy of the Air America network) invited Republican Representative Michele Bachmann to slit her own throat: “Start right at the collarbone.”
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.”
It’s hypocritical for liberals like Press to attack conservatives for supposed poor behavior on the airwaves while applauding “progressive” hosts who act far worse. And it’s journalistic malpractice for news reporters to tout the virtues of civility on the airwaves and say nothing about the vicious rhetoric spewing from left-wing media.
What follows is a listing of some of the most outrageous quotes from radio hosts that the MRC has collected since late 2007. And, unlike the Left’s concocted smears against Rush Limbaugh
, every single one of these quotes have been documented: The report that follows includes an audio clip (or, in a few cases, a video clip) of each quote cited.Previous: Executive Summary
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