Archive for October, 2009

Stereotypical Radioactivity: Shock Jocks And The Armey Of Dick’s

October 4, 2009

D.C. Teabagged

Last month, I had a chance to hear Matt Allen interview RI teabag spokesperson, Doreen Costa, just prior to her group’s September 12th rally in Washington DC. I listened carefully, waiting in vain for the WPRO radio personality (and fellow Bristol native) to ask some penetrating questions of his guest:

  • Like how a group led by such a politically-connected right-winger as former House Majority Leader Dick Armey can be considered anything but “Astroturf” (i.e. fake grassroots) activists?
  • Or how they can complain about big government and out-of-control spending as if they were fiscally conservative, while remaining noticeably silent on the trillion dollar wars in the Middle East, handing out literature from the neo-liberal Heritage Foundation, and otherwise supporting the ideas of free-market capitalism – the radical theory most responsible for the global economic collapse?
  • Or why they have chosen to spread lies about public healthcare options, including death panels, rationed services, and government takeovers, without proposing a single (let alone single payer) solution to the nation’s healthcare crisis?
  • Or why they’ve showed up at rallies and town hall meetings throughout the country with guns and violent rhetoric?

Alas, these tough questions were never asked. In fact, the interview was little more than an info-commercial for the teabag movement, giving further credence to those who add zero to political debate besides anger and divisiveness. Of course, we shouldn’t be too surprised about all this. Over the past few years, our airwaves have essentially been hijacked by huge corporations with biased agendas.

In 2007, the Center for American Progress released a report on the structural imbalance of political talk radio in the US, revealing that over 90% of the news coverage of the top 5 station owners (CBS, Clear Channel, Citadel, Cumulus, and Salem) is conservative. The study’s authors mainly attributed their findings to the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which removed the national limit on the num­ber of radio stations a company could own. This resulted in a wave of consolidation with many conglomerates going from a few dozen stations to several hundred apiece. For example, WPRO’s parent company, Citadel Broadcasting, runs a total of six radio outlets in RI alone, while rival Clear Channel boasts four, including the equally narrow-minded news/talk station WHJJ.

Indeed, the removal of radio ownership limits has practically monopolized free speech. As more and more stations do the bidding of large corporations and cater to the lowest common denominator, it’s becoming increasingly rare to hear diverse voices on the air. All we seem to have nowadays are shock jocks serving as mouthpieces for wealthy political elites and their army of extremist allies. But you can help change that…

In an attempt to make RI residents more aware of the issues and provide them with consistent, quality journalism, the East Bay Citizens for Peace hope to get local TV and radio stations to carry the news program Democracy Now!

Please help them by contacting WRNI and RI PBS to request that they add Democracy Now! to their lineups.