‘Roy Moore Did Nothing Wrong’

Heartiste posts:

I’m glad Trump came out in support of Roy Moore. The man’s travails — stoked to an incomprehensibly vitriolic froth by Nasty Womanhood, Inc and the Jewish Interest Media — are emblematic of the man-hating culture that suffuses us. Do I think it’s a leetle weird for a 30 year old man to actively seek to date late teenage girls? Sure, but it’s not criminal (not as long as AOC varies state-to-state from age 14 to 17….I can’t take a statutory crime seriously if all it requires is a hop across the state border to decriminalize the charge), and certainly not worthy of national coverage knowing that it would hardly have made the local news in the 1970s (which really could have been a millennia ago given how much American culture has changed since then).

30-year-old Roy Moore’s preference for teenage love isn’t a radical aberration or departure from the spectrum of normal male sexuality. It’s out on the tails of normal male sexuality, but not off the curve into abnormality where actual paraphilias (e.g., pedophilia, necrophilia, bestiality) exist. NEWSFLASH: Men prefer young women, at minimum younger women than themselves, and men with power and social status that are naturally attractive to women will be better able and willing to fulfill their desire. At the margins, this means there will be HSMV older men who will date 17 year old Southern Roses, and some of those men will be actively pursuing a marriageable young woman with plenty of residual reproductive value to provide him with the large family he wants.

Roy Moore has four children with his wife of forty years. As far as we know, he has been faithful to her the whole time, and she adores him. His wife is fourteen years younger than him. This indicates that his youthful exuberance pursuing teen girls was part of a conscious desire he had at the time to find his One True Girl and marry her…

Roy Moore’s preferences were within the sphere of normal, naturally evolved male sexuality. To dumbly conflate his dating history with that of pedophiles and pervert potted plant masturbators cajoling actress whores with a bit of the ol’ quim pro quo, is a slanderous joke and reveals a deep-seated discomfort with and spite toward the Darwinian contours of male sexuality and male romantic longing.

FYI it’s not all that unusual or uncommon for an adult man to get tripped up by the apparent age of an especially voluptuous teen woman. Unless a man is in the habit of asking all 0.7 waist-hip ratio women for their IDs, there’s a chance one of them might conceal being a barely legal vixen.

Related, some men (maybe Moore) either physically age more slowly or retain a light-heartedness of spirit that belies their age, which both makes them more attractive to and more attracted to younger women. It’s not the rule, but it’s a fairly notable exception.

Say what you will about Roy Moore, at least his girls agreed to date him (even if they retconned a discomfort 40 years later). The Synagogue of Seediness doesn’t bother with the formality of mutual agreement, they just passive-aggressively jam tongues down throats “to rehearse our lines”.

In sum, if you believe every recollected detail of the ancient allegations, only one woman at the time was underage (barely) when Moore asked her out on a date, shared consensual 2nd base foreplay with her, and drove her home when she wanted to leave. The rest of his “accusers” — aka bitter aged cows who regret not being the woman Moore married, all of whom with shitty personal relationship histories and connections to thecunt’s #SheMenstruated cat lady symposium, retconning their bloom of youth trysts with Moore into criminal acts — were legal age at the time of the alleged May-December violation of the feminist code of acceptable intersexual conduct.

You may think it’s icky for a grown man to consensually date barely legal teen girls, but that doesn’t make it criminal. There was a time when, while not quite the social norm, such couples weren’t all that unusual and nobody much blinked an eye when they encountered one. We all know of our own or someone else’s great-grandparents with big age gaps who started popping out kids when great-grandmama was seventeen.

I doubt Moore’s janey-come-lately accusers really were all that scandalized by his come-ons in 1977. Here’s a rule of thumb I use to determine the validity of a woman’s sexual misconduct accusation: If she waits more than ten years to tell anyone about it, she wasn’t all that bothered by the infraction when it occurred. If she waits forty years, it’s a political hit job exploiting a radically changed anti-sex feminist cunt climate.

But it is fair to ask why Moore would, if reports based on memories of contemporaries from forty years ago are accurate to the tiniest detail (they’re not), pursue questionable if mutually consensual age-disparate relationships with teenagers to the exclusion of older women, and risk the specter of social ostracism. Some say it’s because Moore was emotionally stunted and socially awkward — a 1970s proto-sperg — who wanted a deferential and awestruck teenage woman for company unlikely to challenge his self-conception or strain his capacity for mature adult banter…

The most revealing quote from the Bezos Post exposé on Moore was this, “…episodes [the women] say they found flattering at the time, but troubling as they got older…”


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On Misogyny in the Alt Right

Spencer J. Quinn writes:

Recently, I had an experience at the bank which I will never forget. It has, in my opinion, special relevance to the latest controversy regarding certain high-profile women in the Alt Right, most notably YouTube sensation Tara McCarthy and Alt Right journalist Lauren Southern.

Really, it’s not much of a controversy given that an army of trolls have decided to gang up on these two and other women for reasons which are, frankly, unreasonable. In McCarthy’s case, one major charge is that she was trying to manipulate Alt Right men by calling on them to help ease the heat she was under from the aforementioned troll army. And in Southern’s case, the gripe was that she once briefly dated a half-black boy a few years ago. Other charges include these women being too successful, being frivolous with their money, being attention whores, being feminists who like to collect white knights, and being hypocrites who preach traditionalism yet have no children themselves. Petty stuff like this. Sadly, the abuse these women have endured from a large number of male viewers is not petty at all. In fact, it is vicious. It was also, in many cases, coordinated by people not on the Alt Right who wish to take advantage of the insecurities of many of us who are. Millennial Woes provides a thorough rundown of the affair, and Greg Johnson gives us all the reasons for remaining in the movement in spite of it. Like these two men, I lend my unconditional support to the women who have received this nasty and completely uncalled for harassment.

My trip to the bank about a month ago was somewhat unusual, and I knew it would require special attention from a teller. I estimated the transaction would take about fifteen minutes. Right away, I found my teller, and I couldn’t believe that this person was the person with whom I was about to interact. What I was seeing was a beautiful woman. She seemed in her mid-twenties, about five feet seven or eight inches tall. She had exquisitely smooth and lustrous brown hair, arresting brown eyes, and a classic movie-star beauty which reminded me of a young Ingrid Bergman. As I was preparing myself to deal with such a stunning specimen of womanhood, I asked myself, “Why is she here? Why is she not working for a modeling agency selling perfume or diamonds?” I asked this because in my line of work and the circles in which I travel, you don’t often find jaw-droppingly beautiful women who are just standing there waiting for you to come up and talk to them. During our encounter I had to look away from her a few times because I didn’t want it to seem as if I, a happily-married husband and father, were mooning over a girl practically young enough to be my daughter. (The temptation was there, believe me.)

Anyway, she was perfectly nice and professional, and our entire transaction took about ten minutes. I left the bank satisfied that I had completed that errand and was free to run the next one. Yet as I stepped into the parking lot, I experienced a thoroughly unwelcome emotion, one I hadn’t experienced in a long time: heartache. A nice, jarring stab of it, too. And this wasn’t even mature, manly heartache, the kind no one could really blame me for having. No, no, this was a return of the angsty, juvenile heartache that everyone over thirty wants to forget. This was the heartache that plagued countless lonely nights throughout my pretty goddamn pathetic youth. I remember them well.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.

Of course, I never once felt any resentment or anger towards the nice girl at the bank. But I knew she was the cause of this heartache. But how? Why? The answer came to me immediately: she never smiled at me. Not once. For me, she was nothing less than a vision, the epitome of what the human form can attain. For her, however, I was just another customer, deserving of prompt service and common courtesy and nothing more. This beautiful creature couldn’t even spare me a single solitary smile.

Realizing this made me feel so mean.

Thankfully, I have a lot of control over myself and my life, so I got over these doldrums in a matter of seconds. That girl was way out of my league anyway. Even if I were single and in my prime, a girl like that would have no business giving me anything more than the time of day. That’s just the way it is, and I accept it. Plus, it’s not like she did anything wrong. Her behavior as my teller that afternoon had been impeccable. If she had been any less attractive and behaved in the exact same way I probably would have forgotten all about her as soon as I left the bank like I have done countless times before with countless other tellers. But because this particular teller was beautiful, I inadvertently placed unreasonable demands upon her. Not fair, I know. But there it is.

This leads us to the current issue with the online abuse of Alt Right women. Yes, the victims are all women, but what’s more, they are attractive women, especially McCarthy and Southern. This, I believe, is the main reason why their male followers place unreasonable demands upon them, demands that they would not place on their male counterparts. This also explains why the emotional responses to their foibles or past indiscretions have been so heated and cruel. Through no fault of their own, these women have the tendency to make young, insecure men feel mean.

Here is a thought experiment to illustrate this point. What if Tara McCarthy or Lauren Southern were significantly less attractive. Suppose they did and said the same things they do now, wore the same kind of clothes and makeup, and comported themselves in the exact same manner, but all the while looking like Lena Dunham and Rosie O’Donnell. Would people still care as much that one of them dated a black guy once? I really don’t think so. Sure, we would disapprove and criticize, but there would be less vitriol behind it, fewer bad intentions. In general, the less attractive a woman is, the less emotion she will inspire in men. Conversely, the more attractive a woman is, the more emotion she will inspire in men. Again, that’s just the way it is.

I wish to impress upon you the irrationality behind the attacks upon these women. I believe they spring from the same place from which my heartache sprang that afternoon at the bank. We all want what we cannot have, and contemplating this hurts. So to ease the pain, we lash back at what we cannot have by placing them in damned-if you-do, damned-of-you-don’t situations. Really, we just want them to go away and to take our pain away along with them. Of course, I’m not talking about valid criticism or perfectly reasonable objections to feminism (for example, believing—as I do—that women should not have equal political rights as men in a white ethnostate). I’m also not talking about invalid or even sexist criticism as long as it remains somewhat civil (for example, a man has the right be dismissive of women if he wants to—haughtiness is not a sin, after all). One does not have to feel spite towards women or threaten violence against them in order to be this way. But incessant spite and threats are what these women have been receiving as of late. By any objective measure, do they deserve it in the same way a man would for doing the exact same things? Absolutely not. And yes, I am aware that many of these attacks were coordinated from without. But I simply cannot believe that none of the people piling on these women are part of the Alt Right. No, this is our thing, and we need to own it.

Like any other movement, the Alt Right—which is sort of an edgy, online clique within the greater Dissident Right and white identitarian and nationalist movements—craves to be taken seriously. In order for this to happen, its members must share certain values and ideas while remaining focused on winning. Repeatedly referring to Lauren Southern as a “mudshark” does not get us closer to winning. Threatening to break Tara McCarthy’s jaw does not get us any closer to winning. Even if these women were as guilty as people say they are, it still wouldn’t get us any closer to winning because it serves to repel people who are curious about or sympathetic to our movement and disgust those of us who are already in it. And this says nothing of how ugly and immoral it is in general to just trash the rights of these women who, like all of us, deserve to be treated with a certain level of civility online and everywhere else . . . even if they make you feel mean…

The trolls and abusers should realize that, by virtue of being successful media personalities, these women are just out of their league in the same way that beautiful bank teller was out of my league. Not every high school hotshot is going to make it in college, right? So instead of harboring bitterness for what we cannot have, we need to transubsume this personal ambition into something much bigger. For example, we can say, “Hey, the Alt Right is the best political movement around! Not only do we have the deepest thinkers and the wittiest writers. We also have the hottest babes!” Leaving aside the fine quality of their work (which I appreciate) this is the attitude I can’t help but take whenever I see Southern or McCarthy or the others on the internet. These are unquestioningly lovely girls, and I take pride in the fact that they choose to share a movement with the likes of me. The pain is still there, no doubt, but transubumification assuages it somewhat, perhaps even sweetens it, and turns me into a better person.

This is the reason why men have been painting beautiful women since forever. To behold a beautiful woman is equal parts agony and ecstasy, and instills in us a sense of breathtaking wonder. And when, on top of that, such women are righteous the way Southern and McCarthy are? That only makes me glad to be alive.

Dennis Prager has a similar problem. For people seeking a father figure, he fits the role so perfectly through his radio show and other work, that he inevitably raises in them expectations that he cannot fulfill, so they get angry.

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Most People Who Stand Up To Relentless Propaganda Are Anti-Social Oddballs

Comments at Steve Sailer:

* we have to reconcile ourselves to the fact that anyone even half willing to be on board with some alt-rightish agenda will be at the very least odd (and possibly worse) in some way.

* There may be something to this. I saw an interesting quote from a psychologist who debriefed Korean war prisoners who had been subjected to brainwashing techniques. He started out thinking that those who had not succumbed would be remarkable, heroic people. In fact he found they were consistently socially awkward, distrustful and unlikable. With hindsight it makes sense, since advanced brainwashing techniques play on our deepest social instincts. Sometimes it helps to be missing a few screws.

On the other hand it’s easy to point to Steve, Kevin MacDonald, Jared Taylor and many others as counterexamples. But I’m no sure how well any of them would hold up under the full treatment continually being dished out to Trump and Moore.

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A Field Guide to Thoughtstoppers

John Michael Greer writes:

A thoughtstopper is exactly what the term suggests: a word, phrase, or short sentence that keeps people from thinking. A good thoughtstopper is brief, crisp, memorable, and packed with strong emotion. It’s also either absurd, self-contradictory, or irrelevant to the subject to which it’s meant to apply, so that any attempt you might make to reason about it will land you in perplexity. The perplexity won’t do the trick by itself, and neither will the strong emotion; it’s the combination of the two that lets a thoughtstopper throw a monkey wrench in the works of the user’s mind.

Let’s look at some examples to see how this works. One commonly used thoughtstopper that found its way onto the comment pages of this blog a few weeks ago makes a good starting place. The context was a discussion of the problems with unrestricted immigration from nonindustrial countries to industrial countries, and one of the commenters dismissed all such problems out of hand by saying “I believe in people.”

You must admit that in that context, this is a distinctly odd utterance. I suppose that the logical response would be something on the order of “Why, I believe in people too; in fact, I’ve seen them repeatedly, so I know they exist.” Respond that way to somebody who says “I believe in people,” though, and you can count on getting a baffled or irritated response from the speaker. It’s clear that this statement—though it resembles in form such utterances as “I believe in UFOs” and “I believe in Santa Claus”—does not resemble them in meaning.

Translate that utterance in terms of its actual usage, by contrast, and it works out to something like this: “I prefer to feel warm fuzzy emotions about the abstract concept ‘people’.” Translated that baldly, though, it loses its force as a thoughtstopper, since others would be perfectly within their rights to say, “Fine, but why should your preference in emotional states be the basis of public policy?”—or, worse still, “Fine, but what about the people who are losing their livelihoods and being driven into destitution because of the public policies you prefer? Why should your feelings count more than their survival?” That’s why a thoughtstopper has to embody the absurdity, contradiction, or irrelevance mentioned earlier—it serves as protective camouflage for the emotional payload.

A great many other thoughtstoppers get their results by means of the same strategy. Consider that classic example, “Love is the answer.” (This one is especially common in American popular spirituality—in my experience, both the liberal end of Christianity and the New Age movement use it relentlessly.) Again, a logical response might be “Okay, what’s the question?” If you get the bog-standard comeback—“Love is the answer to every question”—you have my permission to make fun of it. “What’s the standard excuse for staying in really dysfunctional relationships?” and “What do religious zealots inevitably talk about while they’re tying you to the stake?” are two of the obvious questions for which love is the answer; I encourage my readers to come up with examples of their own.

Taxonomy, the art and science of giving useful names to relevant categories, is as necessary here as elsewhere. We can therefore assign “I believe in people,” “love is the answer,” and other thoughtstoppers of the same general type to the category of Vacuous Belches. A Vacuous Belch combines an absurd, contradictory, or irrelevant utterance with a warm cozy emotional state. It has exactly the same emotional content as the belch of contentment you’ll hear after a good Thanksgiving dinner, or some similarly over-the-top dining experience. It stops thought by replacing it with vague pleasant feelings.

The opposite of a Vacuous Belch is a Vacuous Shriek. Vacuous Shrieks replace the warm fuzzy emotional state with a cold prickly emotional state. Where Vacuous Belches are usually short declarative sentences, Vacuous Shrieks are usually single words—I’m not sure why this is, but it’s quite consistent—and they stop thought by replacing it with hatred, loathing, and fear. A good Vacuous Shriek combines irrelevance and hatred into the kind of hefty epithet that can be flung at someone like a brick.

Consider the way that the word “Communist” was deployed as a Vacuous Shriek by the American right from the Palmer Raids in 1919 straight through to the collapse of the Soviet Union and, in some circles, beyond. It was standard practice, for example, for right-wing speakers in the 1960s to insist that Rev. Martin Luther King was a Communist. In any but a purely thoughtstopping sense, this was impressively absurd, as Martin Luther King was no more a Communist than Lady Gaga is the Tsar Of All The Russias.

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This blog post is not intended to condone violence or hate

I was checking out some Millenial Woes videos the other day and on each video description was this ridiculous sentence: “This video is not intended to condone violence or hate.”

What the hell? It seems to me that the only type of people who need to put such disclaimers on their videos and websites are people who are intending to condone violence and hate. And yet I’ve listened to more than 30 hours of Millenial Woes videos and none of them have produced in me an urge to hate or to be violent.

It reminds me of the time I directed a porn shoot in January of 1996. I didn’t know what I was doing. So when it was all done, all the actors spontaneously lined up before the camera and announced, “I was not under the influence of alcohol and drugs when I made this video.” And then they all showed their recent HIV-free tests.

It would never occur to me to put a disclaimer on my video and blog posts because there’s no way that they can be construed as promoting violence and hate.

If you listen to talk radio, and it is almost all on the right, there’s just this current of rage surging through it, even on moderate shows like the one conducted by Dennis Prager. For years I’d come away with a feeling of rage after listening to Prager. It had to be calculated.

I rarely after watching an Alt Right video or reading an Alt Right book or essay, but I always feel rage after listening to talk radio. Talk radio and Fox News are conservatism for stupid people.

Former right-wing talk radio director Dan Shelley wrote Nov. 17, 2008:

The former news director of WTMJ reveals how talk show hosts like Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner work to get us angry.

I first got into journalism because I thought I could make a difference.
I wrote for the school newspaper and did “news” reports on a radio station a friend and I started at my high school in Springfield, Mo. I got my first professional job at age 20, while still in college, at a local radio station’s news department. Three years later, I became a news director, and 12 years after that, in 1995, I was recruited to move to Milwaukee to become news director at WTMJ, one of the largest and most successful news/talk radio stations in America.
That was where my real education occurred.
I worked for three years as news director, and then, in 1998, gained the additional title of assistant program director, a role I held until leaving the station in July 2006. From that position, I worked closely with our talk show hosts and became intimately familiar with how they appeal to listeners and shape their vision of the world. Let me tell you some of the lessons I learned.
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.
To succeed, a talk show host must perpetuate the notion that his or her listeners are victims, and the host is the vehicle by which they can become empowered. The host frames virtually every issue in us-versus-them terms. There has to be a bad guy against whom the host will emphatically defend those loyal listeners.
This enemy can be a politician – either a Democratic officeholder or, in rare cases where no Democrat is convenient to blame, it can be a “RINO” (a “Republican In Name Only,” who is deemed not conservative enough). It can be the cold, cruel government bureaucracy. More often than not, however, the enemy is the “mainstream media” – local or national, print or broadcast.
Sometimes, it can even be their own station’s news director. One year, Charlie targeted me because I had instructed my midday news anchor to report the Wimbledon tennis results, even though the matches wouldn’t be telecast until much later in the day. Charlie gave out my phone number and e-mail address on the air. I was flooded with hate mail, nasty messages, and even one death threat from a federal law enforcement agent whom I knew to be a big Charlie fan.
In the talk radio business, this concept, which must be mastered to be successful, is called “differentiating” yourself from the rest of the media. It is a brilliant marketing tactic that has also helped Fox News Channel thrive. “We report, you decide” and “Fair and Balanced” are more than just savvy slogans. They are code words signaling that only Fox will report the news in a way conservatives see as objective and truthful.
Forget any notion, however, that radio talk shows are supposed to be fair, evenhanded discussions featuring a diversity of opinions. The Fairness Doctrine, which required this, was repealed 20 years ago. So talk shows can be, and are, all about the host’s opinions, analyses and general worldview. Programmers learned long ago that benign conversations led by hosts who present all sides of an issue don’t attract large audiences. That’s why Kathleen Dunn was forced out at WTMJ in the early ’90s and why Jim and Andee were replaced in the mid-’90s by Dr. Laura. Pointed and provocative are what win.
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.
Opponents are far more likely to get through when the producer is confident Charlie can use the dissenting caller to reinforce his original point. Ask former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Publisher Keith Spore, or former Police Chief Arthur Jones. 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.
But the worst fate comes for those who ignore Charlie when he asks on the air why they did or didn’t do something, and they never respond. That leaves him free to make his point unabated, day after day. The most frequent victims of this were Journal Sentinel Editor Marty Kaiser and Managing Editor George Stanley.
Charlie knew they would rarely call or e-mail to answer his criticism, so he could both criticize decisions they had made and blast them for not having the guts to come on his show and respond. What little credibility they had among Charlie’s audience would decline by a thousand cuts. It would have been far better for them to face Charlie head on and take their lumps so he would move on to the next victim – I mean, topic.
One entire group that rarely gets on the air are the elderly callers – unless they have something extraordinary to say. Sadly, that doesn’t happen often. The theory is that old-sounding callers help produce old-skewing audiences. The target demo is 25 to 54, not 65 and older.
Talk radio, after all, is in the entertainment business. But that doesn’t mean it has no impact on public policy. Quite the contrary.
The stereotyped liberal view of the talk radio audience is that it’s a lot of angry, uneducated white men. In fact, the audience is far more diverse. Many are businesspeople, doctors, lawyers, academics, clergy, or soccer moms and dads. Talk show fans are not stupid. They will detect an obvious phony. The best hosts sincerely believe everything they say. Their passion is real. Their arguments have been carefully crafted in a manner they know will be meaningful to the audience, and that validates the views these folks were already thinking.
Yet while talk show audiences aren’t being led like lemmings to a certain conclusion, they can be carefully prodded into agreement with the Republican views of the day.
Conservative talk show hosts would receive daily talking points e-mails from the Bush White House, the Republican National Committee and, during election years, GOP campaign operations. They’re not called talking points, but that’s what they are. I know, because I received them, too. During my time at WTMJ, Charlie would generally mine the e-mails, then couch the daily message in his own words. Midday talker Jeff Wagner would be more likely to rely on them verbatim. But neither used them in their entirety, or every single day.
Charlie and Jeff would also check what other conservative talk show hosts around the country were saying. Rush Limbaugh’s Web site was checked at least once daily. Atlanta-based nationally syndicated talker Neal Boortz was another popular choice. Select conservative blogs were also perused.
A smart talk show host will, from time to time, disagree publicly with a Republican president, the Republican Party, or some conservative doctrine. (President Bush’s disastrous choice of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court was one such example.) But these disagreements are strategically chosen to prove the host is an independent thinker, without appreciably harming the president or party. This is not to suggest that hosts don’t genuinely disagree with the conservative line at times. They do, more often than you might think. But they usually keep it to themselves.
One of the things that makes a talk show host good – especially hosts of the caliber of Sykes – is that his or her arguments seem so solid. You fundamentally disagree with the host, yet can’t refute the argument because it sounds so airtight. The host has built a strong case with lots of supporting facts.
Generally speaking, though, those facts have been selectively chosen because they support the host’s preconceived opinion, or can be interpreted to seem as if they do. In their frustration, some talk show critics accuse hosts of fabricating facts. Wrong. Hosts do gather evidence, but in a way that modifies the old Joe Friday maxim: “Just the facts that I can use to make my case, ma’am.”
Hint: The more talk show hosts squawk about something – the louder their voice, the greater their emotion, the more effusive their arguments – the more they’re worried about the issue. For example, talk show hosts eagerly participated in the 2004 Swift Boating of John Kerry because they really feared he was going to win. This is a common talk show tactic: If you lack compelling arguments in favor of your candidate or point of view, attack the other side. These attacks often rely on two key rhetorical devices, which I call You Know What Would Happen If and The Preemptive Strike.
Using the first strategy, a host will describe something a liberal has said or done that conservatives disagree with, but for which the liberal has not been widely criticized, and then say, “You know what would happen if a conservative had said (or done) that? He (or she) would have been filleted by the ‘liberal media.'” This is particularly effective because it’s a two-fer, simultaneously reinforcing the notion that conservatives are victims and that “liberals” are the enemy.
The second strategy, The Preemptive Strike, is used when a host knows that news reflecting poorly on conservative dogma is about to break or become more widespread. When news of the alleged massacre at Haditha first trickled out in the summer of 2006, not even Iraq War chest-thumper Charlie Sykes would defend the U.S. Marines accused of killing innocent civilians in the Iraqi village. So he spent lots of air time criticizing how the “mainstream media” was sure to sensationalize the story in the coming weeks. Charlie would kill the messengers before any message had even been delivered.
Good talk show hosts can get their listeners so lathered up that they truly can change public policy. They can inspire like-minded folks to flood the phone lines and e-mail inboxes of aldermen, county supervisors, legislators and federal lawmakers. They can inspire their followers to vote for candidates the hosts prefer. How? By pounding away on an issue or candidate, hour after hour, day after day. Hosts will extol the virtues of the favored candidate or, more likely, exploit whatever Achilles heel the other candidate might have. Influencing elections is more likely to occur at the local rather than national level, but that still gives talk radio power.
By the way, here’s a way to prognosticate elections just by listening to talk shows: Except in presidential elections, when they will always carry water for the Republican nominee, conservative hosts won’t hurt their credibility by backing candidates they think can’t win. So if they’re uncharacteristically tepid, or even silent, about a particular race, that means the Democrat has a good chance of winning. Nor will hosts spend their credibility on an issue where they know they disagree with listeners. Charlie, for example, told me just before I left TMJ that Wisconsin’s 2006 anti-gay marriage amendment was misguided. But he knew his followers would likely vote for it in droves. So he declined to speak out directly against it.
This brings us to perhaps the most ironic thing about most talk show hosts. Though they may savage politicians and others they oppose, they fear criticism or critiques of any kind. They can dish it out, but they can’t take it.
One day during a very bad snowstorm, I walked into the studio during a commercial break and suggested to Charlie that he start talking about it rather than whatever conservative topic he’d been discussing. Charlie assumed, as he usually did in such situations, that I was being critical of his topic. In reaction, he unplugged his head phones, stood up and told me that I might as well take over the show because he wasn’t going to change his topic. I was able to quickly strike a bargain before the end of the break. He agreed to take a few calls about the storm, but if it didn’t a strike a nerve with callers, he could return to his original topic.
The snowstorm was the topic of the rest of his show that day. And afterward, Charlie came to my office and admitted I’d been right. But we would go through scenarios such as this many times through the years.
Another tense moment arose when the Harley-Davidson 100th anniversary was captivating the community – and our on-air coverage – in 2003, but Charlie wanted to talk about school choice for seemingly the 100,000th time. He literally threw a fit, off the air and on, belittling other hosts, the news department and station management for devoting resources to Harley’s 100th coverage. “The Green House” newsman Phil Cianciola countered that afternoon with a joke about Charlie riding a Harley wearing loafers. Charlie complained to management about Phil and wouldn’t speak civilly about him in my presence again.
Hosts are most dangerous when someone they’ve targeted for criticism tries to return the fire. It is foolish to enter into a dispute with someone who has a 50,000-watt radio transmitter at his or her disposal and feels cornered. Oh, and calling a host names – “right-winger,” “fascist,” “radio squawker,” etc. – merely plays into his or her hands. This allows a host like Sykes to portray himself as a victim of the “left-wing spin machine,” and will leave his listeners, who also feel victimized, dying to support him. In essence, the host will mount a Hillary Rodham Clinton “vast right-wing conspiracy” attack in reverse.
A conservative emulating Hillary? Yep. A great talk show host is like a great college debater, capable of arguing either side of any issue in a logical, thorough and convincing manner. This skill ensures their continuing success regardless of which political party is in power. For example:
In the talk show world, the line-item veto was the most effective way to control government spending when Ronald Reagan was president; it was a violation of the separation of powers after President Clinton took office.

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.

“Activist judges” are the scourge of the earth when they rule it is unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the rights heterosexuals receive. But judicial activism is needed to stop the husband of a woman in a persistent vegetative state – say Terri Schiavo – from removing her feeding tube to end her suffering.
To amuse myself while listening to a talk show, I would ask myself what the host would say if the situation were reversed. What if alleged D.C. Madam client Sen. David Vitter had been a Democrat? Would the reaction of talk show hosts have been so quiet you could hear crickets chirping? Hardly.
Or what if former Rep. Mark Foley had been a Democrat? Would his pedophile-like tendencies have been excused as a “prank” or mere “overfriendly e-mails?” Not on the life of your teenage son.
Suppose Al Gore was president and ordered an invasion of Iraq without an exit strategy. Suppose this had led to the deaths of more than 4,000 U.S. troops and actually made that part of the world less stable. Would talk show hosts have dismissed criticism of that war as unpatriotic? No chance.
Or imagine that John Kerry had been president during Hurricane Katrina and that his administration’s rescue and rebuilding effort had been horribly botched. Would talk show hosts have branded him a great president? Of course not.
It was Katrina, finally, that made me truly see the light. Until then, 10 years into my time at TMJ, while I might have disagreed with some stands the hosts took, I did think there were grounds for their constant criticism of the media. I had convinced myself that the national media had an intrinsic bias that was, at the very least, geographical if not ideological, to which talk radio could provide an alternative.
Then along came the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. Journalists risked their lives to save others as the storm hit the Gulf Coast. Afterward, journalists endured the stench and the filth to chronicle the events for a stunned world. Then they documented the monumental government incompetence for an outraged nation. These journalists became voices for the voiceless victims, pressing government officials to get help to those who needed it.
Yet, while New Orleans residents were still screaming for help from the rooftops of their flooded homes, journalists were targeted by talk show hosts, Charlie and Wagner among them. Not the government, but journalists. Stories detailing the federal government’s obvious slowness and inefficiency were part of an “angry left” conspiracy, they said. Talk show hosts who used e-mailed talking points from the conservative spin machine proclaimed the Katrina stories were part of a liberal “media template.” The irony would have been laughable if the story wasn’t so serious.
I went to Charlie and Jeff and told them my concerns. They waved me off. I went to Program Director Rick Belcher and told him I thought Charlie and Jeff had things terribly wrong. He disagreed. I was distraught. I felt I was actively participating in something so inconsistent with reality that even most conservative talk radio devotees would see this. But in a way, it was merely a more obvious example of how talk radio portrayed reality selectively.
I was a dedicated program manager. I helped the hosts at my station do show prep by finding stories I knew would pique their interest and fire up their constituencies. I met with Charlie Sykes daily, about a half-hour before show time, to help him talk through topics before going on the air. Charlie is one of the smartest people I know, but he performs at his best with that kind of preparation.
I often defended Jeff Wagner from upset moderates and liberals in the community. Jeff’s a very good talk show host whose brilliance is overshadowed only by his stubbornness.
I helped our program directors try to find the right role for Mark Reardon, who, in my opinion, was always miscast (he wasn’t as right-wing as Sykes or Wagner and his job was switched several times). Ultimately, that miscasting helped his career, because WTMJ laid him off, after which he became a talk show star in St. Louis, a much larger market.
I worked with news and sports hosts, too – Robb Edwards, Jon Belmont, Ken Herrera, Jonathan Green, Len Kasper, Bill Michaels – to help them craft ways to sound human and “real” behind the microphone without violating the separation of church and state that existed between the station’s talk and news programming. Sometimes I succeeded. Sometimes I didn’t.
And we were successful, consistently ranking No. 1 among persons 12 and older and in the top five in the advertiser-coveted 25 to 54 demo. Yet I was often angrily asked, once by then-Mayor John Norquist, why we just didn’t change our call letters to “WGOP.” The complaints were just another sign of our impact.
I left WTMJ with some regret, attracted by an offer to work in the cutting edge field of digital media at one of the nation’s largest news and entertainment conglomerates. By then, I had worked more than 26 years in radio news and more than 23 as a news director. In the constant push for ratings, I had seen and helped foster the transformation of AM radio and the rise of conservative hosts. They have a power that is unlikely to decline.
Their rise was also helped by liberals whose ideology, after all, emphasizes tolerance. Their friendly toleration of talk radio merely gave the hosts more credibility. Yet an attitude of intolerance was probably worse: It made the liberals look hypocritical, giving ammunition to talk show hosts who used it with great skill.
But the key reason talk radio succeeds is because its hosts can exploit the fears and perceived victimization of a large swath of conservative-leaning listeners. And they feel victimized because many liberals and moderates have ignored or trivialized their concerns and have stereotyped these Americans as uncaring curmudgeons.
Because of that, there will always be listeners who believe that Charlie Sykes, Jeff Wagner and their compatriots are the only members of the media who truly care about them.

Posted in Censorship, Radio | Comments Off on This blog post is not intended to condone violence or hate