Are Conservatives Rethinking Fox News’ Endless Outrage Model?

Media Matters for America [1] / By Eric Boehlert [2] published on Alternet.org, January 24, 2013

Excerpt

…predictable voices within the right-wing media, marshaled as always by Fox News, who freaked out over Obama’s inauguration addresses…Being outraged, and especially being outraged about made-up claims…has become a signature of the far right movement over the last four years. It’s also blossomed into Fox News’ entire business model. Fox News makes a pile of profits each year overreacting to imagined Obama slights. The question is, has the Fox model of the phony Outrage Machine damaged the conservative movement? Is it standing in the way of Republican progress and electoral success? …The amount of time and energy conservatives devote to utterly trivial bouts of phony outrage now seem to consume the movement, or at least the media portion of it…Of course, it was Rush Limbaugh who built a radio empire by mastering the we’re-all-under-siege-by-liberals shtick that conservatives love to wallow in…. it’s exhausting. And it doesn’t work. (Note the Republican Party’s 26 percent approval rating…

Full text

Responding to President Barack Obama’s inauguration address this week, Joel Pollak, an editor at Breitbart.com, wrote [3] about the president’s allegedly dastardly attack on the Supreme Court that unfolded during his address to the nation on Monday.

Pollak excitedly claimed that by mentioning his support for gay marriage in his inauguration speech, Obama was trying to bully Supreme Court Justices who were in attendance that day. By stating publically his belief, Obama was attempting to intimidate (to “attack”) the judicial branch of the government because the Supreme Court has before it a pending case about gay marriage and the president’s comment meant he was instructing the Court on how it “ought to rule.”

Alongside Pollak at the Breitbart site, Ben Shapiro, typing excitedly [4], wrote that Obama, via his address, had “attempted nothing less than an assault on the timeless notion of liberty itself.” (That sounds bad.) Shapiro separately attacked [5] Obama for the “brutal name calling” he used in his inauguration speech, even though Shapiro couldn’t locate any insults hurled by the president in his address.

Shapiro and Pollak were just two predictable voices within the right-wing media, marshaled as always by Fox News, who freaked out over Obama’s inauguration addresses. Going into Monday, readers, viewers and listeners weren’t sure exactly what conservative voices were going to be outraged about, but it was foregone conclusion, since the day featured Obama, that they’d find something trivial [6] to Get Very Upset About. (Answer: He was too partisan [7]!)

Being outraged, and especially being outraged about made-up claims, like Obama’s imaginary “name-calling” on Monday, has become a signature of the far right movement over the last four years. It’s also blossomed into Fox News’ entire business model. Fox News makes a pile of profits each year overreacting to imagined Obama slights.

The question is, has the Fox model of the phony Outrage Machine damaged the conservative movement? Is it standing in the way of Republican progress and electoral success?

Writing at his site RedState this week, conservative CNN commentator Erick Erickson beseeched [8] fellow partisans to drop the outrage shtick and to move into more substantial areas of debate. “Conservatives, frankly, have become purveyors of outrage instead of preachers for a cause,” he wrote. “Who the hell wants to listen to conservatives whining and moaning all the time about the outrage du jour?”

Erickson’s point is dead on. The amount of time and energy conservatives devote to utterly trivial bouts of phony outrage now seem to consume the movement, or at least the media portion of it. But it’s unlikely Fox News and its legion of copycat whiners in the press will heed Erickson’s wise advice. They’re too busy super-serving a radical niche and making money off the faux Outrage Machine.

It’s impossible to catalog every phony freakout that’s been staged during Obama’s time in office. It’s hard to even keep track of the ones that have been hatched [9] over the last week or so. The laundry list is annoyingly long.

Remember how Fox contributor Michelle Malkin led the hysterical [10] cries of exploitation [11] when Obama invited children who had written him about gun violence to attend a public White House event about gun violence? In Malkin’s eyes, only monsters incorporate kids in politics. (By the way, here’s Malkin’s column [12] this week where she incorporates kids into politics.)

And then there’s been the obsessive whining about how supposedly mean and nasty Obama is, a hollow cry that’s proven to be a right-wing evergreen. The Wall Street Journal editorial page complained [13] how “Obama demonizes anyone who disagrees with him,” while columnist Peggy Noonan whined [14] that Obama pushes “partisan rancor.” (That is, when Noonan wasn’t mocking Obama as the “Irritating Older Brother Who Got 750 On His SATs And Thinks He’s Einstein.”)  OnCBS This Morning, Newt Gingrich bellyached [15] about how the president’s “bullying” House Republicans, Karl Rove warned [16] darkly about the “unremitting war” Obama will soon launch on his foes, and Sean Hannitywarned [17] states might start seceding from the union.

As for Obama’s hopeful inauguration address, Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell went on Fox andcompared [18] it to the Civil War, claiming it was designed to rip the nation apart. Online, the address was angrilydenounced [19] as Orwellian “dreck.”

Most of the overwrought claims stem from the fact that Obama disagrees with Republicans and has said so publicly. The hysterical cry of partisan bullying just represents phony outrage being ginned up for feel-good attention among Obama critics.

Of course, it was Rush Limbaugh who built a radio empire by mastering the we’re-all-under-siege-by-liberals shtick that conservatives love to wallow in. But whereas Limbaugh’s plaintive, defenseless wail of the oppressed once represented one note in the right-wing media chorus, in recent years as it’s been adopted ad nauseaum online, on the AM dial and on Fox News, it’s to the point where that whiny, abrasive howl has become the only note in the conservative chorus.

The utter sameness of the fake outrage programming (i.e. We can’t believe Obama did/said that) now defines most of the conservative media message in America. Concocting things to be outraged about [20] and oppressed by (Hitler [21]!) is no longer a by-product of the conservative press, it’s become the entire purpose of the conservative press.

But it’s exhausting. And it doesn’t work. (Note the Republican Party’s 26 percent approval rating [22].) That, plus the fact that the perpetual outrage approach is now entering its second four-year cycle with Obama. If politically, the tactic didn’t work the first time, why is it being adopted again and reprised for the second term?

The bad news for Erickson is not only is the conservative movement purposefully trapped inside the phony Outrage Machine, but the machine’s stuck on a replay loop.

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/media/are-conservatives-rethinking-fox-news-endless-outrage-model

Links:
[1] http://mediamatters.org/
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/eric-boehlert
[3] http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/01/22/Obama-Bullies-Supreme-Court-For-the-Third-Time
[4] http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/01/21/Second-Inaugural-Address-Obama-Declares-War-on-Liberty-As-We-Know-It
[5] http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/01/22/Obama-inaugural-insults-name-calling
[6] http://michellemalkin.com/2013/01/21/inaugural-lunch-menu/
[7] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323940004578256060684444322.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
[8] http://www.redstate.com/2013/01/20/the-loyal-opposition/
[9] http://www.salon.com/2013/01/16/right_wing_press_happily_allows_itself_to_be_trolled_by_made_up_video_game/
[10] http://mediamatters.org/video/2013/01/17/foxs-malkin-claims-it-was-child-abuse-to-have-c/192298
[11] http://mediamatters.org/video/2013/01/18/rush-limbaugh-defends-human-shields-comment-the/192324
[12] http://michellemalkin.com/2013/01/21/mlks-unfinished-legacy-and-the-fight-for-school-choice/
[13] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324235104578242121666374116.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop
[14] http://online.wsj.com/article/declarations.html
[15] http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/newt-obama-bullying-house-gop-86206.html#ixzz2I3OSArxk
[16] http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/20/prepare-for-long-nasty-four-years/
[17] http://mediamatters.org/video/2013/01/11/hannity-says-states-may-secede-if-radicalized-a/192198
[18] http://newsbusters.org/blogs/ken-shepherd/2013/01/23/bozell-hannity-review-medias-over-top-praise-obama-second-inaugural
[19] http://patterico.com/2013/01/21/obama-social-security-and-medicare-are-what-make-us-strong/
[20] http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/01/14/the-return-of-right-wing-pro-gun-insurrectionis/192216
[21] http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2013/01/fox-news-hitler-guns.php
[22] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/17/republican-party-approval-rating_n_2499934.html
[23] http://www.alternet.org/tags/fox
[24] http://www.alternet.org/tags/breitbart-0
[25] http://www.alternet.org/tags/right-wing
[26] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

 

How Conservative Radio Creates an Echo Chamber of Hate

Arturo Garcia, AlterNet, August 16, 2012 

By itself, Pamela Geller’s May 2010 appearance on the “Sean Hannity Show” was par for the right-wing talk-radio course. The conservative blogger was brought on to rail against the conservative raison d’outrage of the moment, what she habitually called the “Mega mosque on Ground Zero [3]” (SPOILERS: the whole building really wasn’t a mosque, but that wasn’t going to stop her) that was being planned inNew York City around that time. But a recent study places the Geller-Hannity encounter in a bigger, more dangerous context that observers have noted for years.

The study, released last month by the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, used Hannity’s radio show and four programs – the “Rush Limbaugh Show,” the “Glenn Beck Program,” “Savage Nation” and the “John & Ken Show” — as the focus of an investigation of the influence and confluence of specific interests in ultra-conservative radio programming. The results, as you might imagine, were not surprising.

“The findings reveal that the hosts promoted an insular discourse that focused on, for example, anti-immigration, anti-Islam and pro-Tea Party positions,” the study concluded. “This discourse found repetition and amplification through social media.”

Geller’s appearance was part of that amplification. The study notes that her “Mega Mosque” rant became a gravy train for her during 2010, as it garnered her an “exponential” growth in appearances on the talk-radio circuit, thus presenting her as an authoritative source to the conservative audience Hannity and the like cater to. When you add in the fact that four of the five shows featured in the report were syndicated nationally, it became really easy for a microphone in Geller’s hand to become a megaphone – or a pipe bomb.

Using hateful rhetoric, these hosts have cast immigrants as disease-ridden, equated pro-immigrant organizations with neo-Nazis, called Islam an ‘evil religion,’ claimed the Obama administration is promoting ‘race riots’ and made fun of the ethnicity of Asian-American politicians,” Salvatore Colleluori wrote at Media Matters, [4] one of several sites that has been keeping tabs on the homogenous culture and conversations on this section of the dial.

These shows create this kind of social (or anti-social) network, the study says, like any other radio station would: with a tight rotation. In the six weeks measured for the studies, nearly every guest was white (89%) or male (81%). Nearly a quarter of the guests were identified as Fox News talent. And nearly all of the politicians who appeared as guests were either Republicans (93%) or Tea Party members (89%).

Similarly, the topics on the table were usually centered around a few hot-button topics: Undocumented Immigrants Are Bad, Islam Is Evil, etc.

What’s interesting, for a report talking about media influence, is that this study hasn’t gotten much attention in regular media circles. Google “talk radio study UCLA 2012″ and you won’t get any hits on CNN, MSNBC or even Current. The most prominent outlet to offer up a post about it seems to be Fox News Latino, which posted a wire report [5] discussing the anti-immigration rhetoric the study measured.

“It doesn’t surprise me that this type of dialogue is continuing on the radio waves,” Jorge-Mario Cabrera from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles says in the piece from the Spanish news agency EFE. [6] “In theUnited States we tend to greatly protect the right to expression, albeit at the cost of some of the words being said on the air being greatly harmful to certain populations.”

Cabrera can attest to that firsthand. After the “John & Ken Show” released his cellphone number on the air, inviting listeners to complain about a proposed bill that would have offered financial help toCalifornia’s undocumented immigrants, he said he received more than 450 angry calls, including threats against him personally.

The study also mentioned a tragic consequence of Geller’s rhetoric; a New York Times story on Anders Behring Breivik, [7] the man behind last July’s massacre in Norway that left 77 people dead, reported that he “frequently cited” Geller’s own “Atlas Shrugs,” the platform from which she launched onto the airwaves. Naturally, Geller accused the “liberal media” of drumming up hateful sentiments – around her. [8]

And as Crooks & Liars’ David Newert asserts [9], the situation hasn’t been getting better this election season. As Republican rhetoric grows ever bolder in its implications, “what emerges is a discourse that remains insular rather than open and that finds alignment, repetition, and amplification through social media,” the study says.

That might explain why, in the wake of the Oak Park gurdwara shooting, [10] even Republicans have begun calling for people like talk-radio favorite (four appearances during the survey, including three on the Savage show) Michele Bachmann [11] (R-MN) to tone down her efforts to “expose” Muslim influence in Washington.

Yet, the radio element the study examines will not take these kinds of suggestions in stride.

“It is our right and our duty to criticize the people who have put the fate of our country in peril,” Rush Limbaugh told the Times [12] after the Gabrielle Giffords shooting last year. What he fails – or refuses – to consider is whether he needs a mirror to do that.

See more stories tagged with:

study [13],

chicano [14],

media [15],

fox [16],

news [17],

beck [18],

hannity [19],

geller [20]


Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/revealed-how-conservative-radio-creates-echo-chamber-hate

Links:
[1] http://www.alternet.org
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/arturo-garcia
[3] http://www.alternet.org/story/148296/what_the_hell_was_that_ground_zero_’mosque’_uproar_really_about,_anyway_the_future_of_the_conservative_movement
[4] http://mediamatters.org/blog/2012/08/03/study-conservative-talk-radio-promotes-echo-cha/189110
[5] http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/lifestyle/2012/08/01/conservative-talk-radio-contributes-to-more-hate-minorities-study-says/
[6] http://www.efe.com/principal.asp?opcion=0&idioma=INGLES
[7] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/25/us/25debate.html?_r=2&pagewanted=2
[8] http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/08/01/284011/pam-geller-race-mixing-breivik-right/
[9] http://crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/study-demonstrates-how-right-wing-me
[10] http://www.alternet.org/hot-news-views/wade-michael-page-wi-terrorist-was-neo-nazi-who-led-racist-skinhead-band
[11] http://www.buzzfeed.com/johnstanton/new-violence-prompts-criticism-of-anti-muslim-lawm
[12] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/11/us/11radio.html
[13] http://www.alternet.org/tags/study
[14] http://www.alternet.org/tags/chicano
[15] http://www.alternet.org/tags/media-0
[16] http://www.alternet.org/tags/fox
[17] http://www.alternet.org/tags/news
[18] http://www.alternet.org/tags/beck
[19] http://www.alternet.org/tags/hannity
[20] http://www.alternet.org/tags/geller-0