Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Air America

Today, while enjoying a delicious Schlotzky's sandwich after a long day of professional development, I read an interview with Al Franken in which I learned that Seattle now has an Air America affiliate. I dislike talk radio, but am liberal. (In fact, I just confirmed that I'm actually liberal through the Pew Research questionnaire. Take it. It's a worthhile pause to consider your beliefs.) I figured, what the hell, I'll give Air America a listen on the way home to see if I might be able to tolerate a little liberal yakking.

It takes about 4 minutes to get to my place from Schlotzky's, and in that course of time, I twice heard host Mike Malloy make breathtakingly inflammatory, disgusting, bating, uncivil, down-and-out shitty remarks. I exited the car feeling just as icky as I feel when my dial somehow lands on a conservative call-in show. Here are the two things he said:

THE VERY FIRST COMPLETE SENTENCE I heard Malloy say was this (paraphrased from memory): "If Jesus came back today, and told [Pat] Robertson and [James] Dobson that they were totally wrong, they'd kill him. They'd put ten bullets in Jesus' head." What the hell? I intensely dislike Robertson and Dobson, and feel they personify most of the dangerous conservative Christianity which is hurting our country. I even agree--and passionately--that many of their beliefs don't gibe with Jesus' beliefs. But I don't believe they'd put ten bullets into anyone's head. If it's wrong when a conservative commentator uses personal attacks and inflammatory rhetoric to make a point, why do liberals get to do it?

Right at the end, Malloy called Sen. Joe Biden a "thug" and a "punk" for voting for Bush's bankruptcy law. Gimme a break. Your point, that Delwarian Biden receives loads of money from the credit card companies whose Wilmington, DE postmark is on the five-to-ten credit card offers I get per week, is well taken. But how is your name-calling different from that practice by Karl Rove? And how will name-calling help produce any of the much-needed dialogue about any issue?

Speaking of name-calling, on his website, Malloy refers to President Bush as a "sociopath." Nice, Mike. "A personality disorder marked by antisocial behavior," says Dictionary.com. Um, where's the evidence of that? Don't get upset, Mike...I also asked for backing when the Clinton-haters called him nasty names. Do you want me to hold you to a lower standard? I won't do it, but is that really what you want?

I'm liberal, yes. But I am staunchly pro-civility, pro-discourse, and anti-asshole-behavior. In four minutes, Mike Malloy convinced me that both he and his radio network are on the wrong side of each of these three platforms. The net result is that I can't listen to Air America anymore. Through his create-heat-rather-than-light rhetoric, Mike Malloy has shown me that his network is gleefully contributing to the depressing problems of our political climate.


Alison said...

Having never heard an Air America broadcast (here in Central OH, we are lucky they let us have public radio), I am talking in hypotheticals, but here goes:

Much as I hate to admit it, this country may need the Mike Malloys of the world, and probably the Bill O'Reillys and Rush Limbaughs too. It gives those closer the middle something to agree on - a mutual enemy, if you will - and therefore a starting point for debate.

And for those of us who are pretty far out there on one side or the other, it makes us sound more reasonable when we can at least present our cases without resorting to ad hominem attacks.

tommyspoon said...

I count myself as an avid listener to AAR, but I hate Mike Malloy because I think he's a terrible radio host. Try the Morning Sedition show or Al Franken's show intstead. Funnier than Malloy, even though all three shows make similiar points.

I guess I'm not as bothered as you by Malloy's rhetoric (or lack thereof). Conservative shows spout bile that's easily ten times worse than the two examples you gave. I know that's not an excuse to engage in the same behavior, but sometimes you have to give as good as you get. It would be nice if most folks listened to reasoned political discourse. I'm afraid that most of them don't.

If someone punches me in the stomach, I'm gonna kick him in the 'nads, not try to debate him on the finer points of his bad behavior. I think we liberals need a steelier resolve these days, not better talking points. If shows like Malloy's help foster that resolve, then I'm all for it.

Joe said...

Apparently I'm an "Upbeat", which I don't quite get. I do notice that I didn't "strongly agree" with many options on that quiz. Somewhere I remember seeing a multi-dimensional quiz, which represented both right-left issues and authoritatian-democratic beliefs. Can't find it now, though.

As far as Pharisees like Dobson and Falwell... they'd choose Barabbas every time over a Jesus who disagreed with them. 3 nails, 10 bullets, call it what you will.

lemming said...

Once again I am a liberal, matching all parts of teh description except the ones with regard to religion.

I don't understand - I do, but I don't - why so few Christians are liberals as well. Christ came to teh wordl for everyone, not just a few, urged us to care for everyone, Pharasees included.. I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Mike Malloy's show is--like the Bible, like the Limbaugh show, like, uh, what else?--A mixture of fact and belief.

Approaching opinion like fundamentalists do the Bible can get you into trouble...

robert said...

sorry for the rude awakening "liberal" putz but bush, according to the definition you provide IS a sociopath. he is also a war criminal. malloy speaks out as others must but don't or won't. what do we have to lose that hasn't already been stolen?! the spineless, chicken shit, unprincipled sell-outs (of both parties) are in bed with big business and equally guilty of making the world safer for fascists. the pious terrorists who have seized power in this country should be tried for treason. air america is a crucial force countering all the lies, propaganda and censorship reigning in this land. they are doing the job others in media have abandoned--for what, bogus civility? this country's reputation is being defiled by a bunch of dangerous hypocrites with blood on their hands. do you think kerry and gore, were reasonable, upright gentlemen for conceding like good sports, in the last two disasterous "elections"? how dare they not have insisted that every vote be counted--no matter how many months we'd get bogged down in such an investigation. exercising that right might have saved our democracy from the ruthless thugs some call elected officials.
i'm tired of the fraud and bloodshed!

Murky Thoughts said...

Limbaugh I think used to do stand-up comedy, and obviously we accept hyperbole in such a context. e.g. Though I don't watch the Tonight Show, I imagine Jay Leno tells all kinds of derogatory lies about Bush. While I don't think members of the naive public should be allowed to wander accidentally into hateful satire without realizing it, and while I'll blame a show's producers to the extent they know this happens a lot and they don't care, I think in some subtle way most people realize Malloy is doing a kind of performance, and I think this calls for us to cut him some slack--like we cut newspaper columinists slack that we don't cut the straight news reporters. Jokes about "Jews" and "niggers" notoriously cross a line at times--because they encourage lynching or pogroms or subtler biggotry. But I'm not sure vitriol per se crosses such a line. There's a down side, in that I'm not likely to join a crowd in the street at the call of Mike Malloy, and so the town hall might burn to the ground for lack of water bailers. But he's not the only town crier, and so long as we all know a source we can trust for sober and informed opinion, a certain amount of village idiocy won't be disastrous or even necessarily harmful.

Murky Thoughts said...

That said, I can't stand to listen to the guy myself.