The most interesting snippet from the lengthy cover story on Rush Limbaugh's empire by Zev Chafets in Sunday's New York Times Magazine was a brief quote from Karl Rove. "Rush is an intellectual-force multiplier," Rove told Chafets. "His listeners are, themselves, communicators." I found Rove's reference to "intellectual-force multiplier" pretty revealing because it is derivative of the Pentagon's "message-force multipliers," the phalanx of former military officers that infiltrated the corporate media in an elaborate psy-op against the American people to sell the invasion of Iraq. A "message-force multiplier" is Pentagon-Speak for a paid propagandist.
According to the article, Limbaugh received a seven-digit payout to sign a $400 million contract for the next eight years (about $38 million a year). He also controls five minutes of airtime for each hour of his show, which he sells to advertisers for undisclosed amounts, plus added charges if Limbaugh himself mentions the product, and even more hard cash if advertisers want him to work their product into one of his monologues. He owns a $54 million private jet, a dozen cars (the one he took Chafets for a ride in was valued at $450,000), plus he does lucrative speaking gigs at all of the Republicans' big events. He owns at least five homes including an opulent beachfront mansion. Life is good for Rush Limbaugh.
Limbaugh's show reaches about 15 to 20 million listeners each day, and he openly boasts that he is promoting "corporate America." He uses the public's airwaves to frame every issue so it cuts the Republicans' way.
Limbaugh's catchphrase should be: "And-Now-for-that-Woefully-Under-Represented-Rich-White-Man's-View-of-the-World!"
Too bad Zev Chafets didn't tell his readers what the average income of the average Rush Limbaugh listener is. But I'm sure Limbaugh makes more in an hour than the majority of his "Dittoheads" make in a year. He's a fabulously rich white man framing the political debate for working-class slobs he doesn't give a damn about. Limbaugh's shtick is simple: You got a grandma living in the basement? Throw her Social Security to Charles Schwab! You send your kid to public school because you can't afford anything else? Screw your kid -- break the teachers' unions! Global warming? Phewey! Lost your home? You shouldn't have signed the contract! Five-dollar gas? Let's drill everywhere especially in endangered species' habitats! Torture at Abu Ghraib? That's just letting off steam! Imprisoned without due process? You must be a terrorist! Parkinson's disease? Hell, Michael J. Fox was just puttin' us on!
And what is the biggest enemy facing America in Limbaugh's world? What's bigger than Al Qaeda? What's far more sinister than Islamo-Terrorism or Iraqi jihadis?
Why it's the Democrats of course!
But the "Left," and you can throw in all of Hollywood if you want to, and George Soros and Al Gore and Al Franken, and the rest of the liberal crowd, pool all of their muscle and influence in our society and they still don't add up compared to Limbaugh and his imitators. Add in the Rush wannabes like Sean Hannity, Mike Savage, Glen Beck, Neil Boortz, Michael Medved, Dennis Miller, Bill Bennett, Laura Ingraham, Bill O'Reilly, and so on to infinity -- plus the influence of Matt Drudge on the mainstream media, and Regnery on book publishing, and Fox News and the Murdoch empire on television -- and -- Wow! The "Left" is not even in the same league as these guys. Call it the "echo chamber" or the "vast right-wing conspiracy" or anything you want to -- but the fact is that progressive social change in this country is never going happen as long as this crowd is allowed to dominate OUR public airwaves.
Here in Sacramento we used to have an Air America affiliate, but we lost that a couple months ago, we were told, for "financial reasons." Now a city of 400,000 people with a Democratic Congressional Representative, a Democratic Assembly person and a Democratic State Senator, which is the capital of the largest "blue state" in the Union that never gave George W. Bush one electoral vote -- has ZERO progressive AM radio stations but two Far-Right Republican stations. How does that happen? A market consisting largely of liberals gets right-wing talk shoved down its throat.
I got to hand it to him, Limbaugh even managed to slip one over on Chafets by inserting some partisan lies about Barack Obama buried in a longer quote: "We... can't talk about his terrorist friends... We can't talk about bombers and mobsters who are his friends." Chafets might have at least asked Limbaugh to which "terrorists," "bombers," and "mobsters" he was referring. But he just quotes him and moves on.
Add to your Netflix queue when you get a chance the DVD entitled: "The Goebbels Experiment," (narrated by Kenneth Branagh from First Run Features). It chronicles the rise of the Far Right in Germany and how it worked hand-in-glove with huge corporations and a wealthy elite to win elections and bring down the Weimar Republic. Joseph Goebbels recognized early on radio's power to further his political party's agenda. When you watch the documentary if you substitute the term "public relations" or "P.R." whenever you hear the word "propaganda," you'll find some recognizable patterns. Goebbels had his own "message-force multipliers," among them former officers who served in World War I, and he also had a stable of "intellectual-force multipliers."
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