I was watching conservative cable news last night. Bill O'Reilly on Fox News Channel, Glenn Beck on CNN, Sean Hannity on Fox, and the others. They all spoke with the same voice. They all said and did not say the same things.
Here's what I heard - liberals are bad, Mexicans are worse and Muslims are the worst.
Here's what I did not hear - George W. Bush and facts.
It was like a dark comedy show. No facts, just invective and vile bile. Soros is the devil. Liberals lead to murder. Muslims terrorists work with liberals to oppose all that is good - conservatives, government and order.
It was pure, unadulterated propaganda. It will help historians study what happened here and what went wrong. I had not watched in a long time. I had forgotten how they were, what they were.
O'Reilly started by talking about a baby who had died in Colorado 14 months ago. It appears the baby was killed and he blamed the prosecutor for not going after the killers aggressively. This could have been an interesting point if he left well enough alone. But of course, he didn't.
He gratuitously threw in the middle of the story that Boulder, Colorado was filled with secular progressives, hippies and liberals. You see the real problem wasn't the killer or the prosecutor, it was the liberals!
Carefully put in the middle of a story about a dead baby is the evil liberals that somehow were responsible. If you broke it down, there is no logical connection at all. He doesn't even try to present one. But there it is. Masterful propaganda. No facts, just spin.
The next story was about George Soros. General Wesley Clark was the guest. O'Reilly grilled him for taking money for his political action committee from the evil Soros.
O'Reilly called Soros the most radical person in the United States. Flat out. Not any of the criminals we have locked up. Not the neo-Nazis. Not David Duke, who he also mentioned in the segment. But George Soros.
Why? Because he said so.
When General Clark pointed out that Soros had helped Eastern Europe escape the clutches of communism (you would think Bill would be impressed, Soros fought tooth and nail against communism), O'Reilly answered, "I don't care what he's done in Bulgaria!"
But here was my favorite part. General Clark accused O'Reilly of character assassination against Soros and Bill happily conceded, "You bet it is!" Then less than ninety seconds later O'Reilly turned around and said that Moveon.org is despicable because all they do is ... character assassination.
If you wrote it in a movie, it would be so over the top, no one would believe it. No one could be this boldly full of crap. The wild contradictions, ironies and hypocrisies. All masquerading as facts. You can watch it for yourself here and here.
Finally, O'Reilly had a guest on to talk about the conservative victory in France. O'Reilly asked him why the left worked with Muslim radicals in France. Piercing question. What is the factual basis of this question? None, but alas we are in the no spin zone.
His guest (some fake expert as is readily provided by all of the conservative "think tanks" meant to legitimize the illegitimate by cloaking it in the guise of intellectualism and credibility - the man is from a "think tank," hence he must be an expert) complied by saying that the liberals and the Muslim extremists like to work together because they are both united against -- conservatives, government and order.
You flip over to Beck and he is railing against Muslims. Come back to Hannity, Mexicans (known as "illegals" in the parlance of conservative talk). Hannity shows a clip of an illegal immigrant being shot in the head and asks Geraldo, didn't he having it coming? The "illegal" was about to throw something, possibly at a car and possibly at a border guard, hence he deserved being shot in the head. He was illegal!
Back to Beck, and he is on to the Mexicans (they are far too crafty to just say Mexicans or Hispanics, they always crouch it in terms of the "illegals" that we must all fear and loathe). Back to Hannity, he is on to the Muslims.
This is the M&M phenomenon. Conservatives in this country have played on fear for so long, they forgot all the other plays in the playbook. First, it was the Native Americans. They were called savages. Then it was blacks. They were called slaves. Then it was gays. They were called faggots. Now it is the Mexicans, they are called illegals. And it is the Muslims, they are called terrorists.
They have run out of all the other victims disguised as villains. So, they now have the M&M's - the Mexicans and the Muslims.
But what was not said was just as interesting as what was said. As we have already mentioned, nary a fact was mentioned. Were there numbers stated on the breadth of the illegal immigration problem (and yes, by the way, it is a problem, but there is a rational way to deal with it and there is the demonization we see from the right)? Was there a back and forth on what illegal immigrants give in and take out of the system? Was there a discussion of why our government allows US corporations to use these workers from foreign countries at lower wages? No, just vile bile. Illegals being shot in the head, and deserving it.
Was there a discussion of the root causes of terrorism? I know, you laughed out loud, didn't you? That is a lol moment. Terrorists are evil, there is no need to discuss why. God forbid you should understand the people you are fighting. Just shoot them in the head and ask questions later.
So much talk of Muslims, Muslims, Muslims. The adjectives "radical" or "extremist" are thrown in there every once in awhile, just to cover their bases. But there isn't a lot of talk about distinguishing the one billion Muslims in the world from the tiny amount of violent radicals in their midst. No, what the audience hears is a din of Muslims, Muslims, Muslims - they're coming to get you.
Finally, the one boogeyman they avoided all night was ... George W. Bush. Apparently, they have received the memo. The country can't stand him. As Republican Congressman Tom Davis explained to the president earlier this week, there are parts of Virginia now where Bush has a 5% approval rating! You didn't read that wrong. That's Virginia (unlike the conservative talk show hosts, I will give the facts, that's a part of Virginia, the northern part - does that make the president feel better?). That's a 5% approval rating.
So, be very, very quiet, we're hunting Mexicans and Muslims. Don't mention the president, it might spook the locals. The hate machine revs on. Respect for the president used to grease those wheels (respect for the president was trumpeted despite the instant and obvious hypocrisy of Fox trashing President Clinton for years on end). But now the president is throwing a clog in the wheels of propaganda. So, if you can't defend him, ignore him. He doesn't exist. Only the Mexicans and the Muslims, and the liberals do.
And they're out to get you!