Yes, they get White House talking points. Yes, they purposely echo other wingnuts. Yes, they play the 'victim' card. And above all: yes, yes, yes, IOKIYAR.
WTMJ is host to the wingnut Charlie Syke's show. The ex-news director, Dan Shelley, spills the beansabout how the wingnut radio format works.
No news here - except here it is black and white, from the trenches. Reading this article made me yearn for the Fairness Doctrine.
This long article in the Milwaukee Magazine confirms what thinking people have said all along. Here's the talk radio formula.
Rule #1: Appeal to perceived victimization
"To begin with, talk show hosts such as Charlie Sykes – one of the best in the business – are popular and powerful because they appeal to a segment of the population that feels disenfranchised and even victimized by the media. These people believe the media are predominantly staffed by and consistently reflect the views of social liberals. This view is by now so long-held and deep-rooted, it has evolved into part of virtually every conservative’s DNA."
Rule #2: Host always wins
"There is no way to win a disagreement with Charlie Sykes. Calls from listeners who disagree with him don’t get on the air if the show’s producer, who generally does the screening, fears they might make Charlie look bad. I witnessed several occasions when Sen. Russ Feingold, former Mayor John Norquist, Mayor Tom Barrett or others would call in, but wouldn’t be allowed on the air."
My blood pressure rises.
Rule #3: Dissenters face personal attacks
"How can Charlie do that? By belittling the caller’s point of view. You can always tell, however, when the antagonist has gotten the better of Charlie. That’s when he starts attacking the caller personally."
He goes on in great detail and there's lots of juicy reading. He mentions that "the more talk show hosts squawk about something ... the more they’re worried about the issue" and cites the Swiftboating of Kerry as an example. We've always talked about wingnut cognitive dissonance here, and he lists up several examples that were gratifying.
• Perjury was a heinous crime when Clinton was accused of lying under oath about his extramarital activities. But when Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s top aide, was charged with lying under oath, it was the prosecutor who had committed an egregious act by charging Libby with perjury..
Shelley finally got out when Katrina hit, when the attacks on the residents of NOLA were too much for even him to handle. No sympathy for him - he helped feed and grow the beast. It's interesting that he's 'coming out' now, after the country is make the first signs of turning away its addiction to hate and negativity that talk radio feeds on. Maybe it was a heavy weight.
In short, it's too little too late, but it does make a handy piece of material for your "I told you so" file.
Rec list! I am humbled. It seems the Fairness Doctrine remark set off a spirited discussion. To all the anti-FD commenters, I appreciate your points - I'll read up more on that side of the issue. For now, it's almost 4am where I am - off to slumber land!