Viewpoint

Talk radio's relentless harangues

The WBT afternoon talk guy began one day by announcing that Barack Obama was a “communist” and “an American-hater.”

He wasn't joking.

It was typical of the unrelenting anti-Obama tirades that roil across the airwaves from WBT for six hours every weekday afternoon. The man with the middle name of Hussein is not just wrong on every single issue in the WBT World, he is out literally to destroy America, too.

Now don't get me wrong. I tend to lean left, but I enjoy listening to Rush Limbaugh and WBT's local fellow in the afternoon.

It's entertaining to hear how they manage to conclude – on every issue every day – that Obama is dangerous and disloyal to America. In WBT World, there is no gray. Only communists and American-haters.

But I usually find WBT's talkers entertaining, such as when Rush said the American people really don't want members of Congress to work together or when he said Obama, whose mother once fed him with food stamps, has had a “silver spoon” life. Sometimes I learn something. I think it's beneficial to listen to people who have a different viewpoint. When I was a newspaper editor, I used to tell readers that if they always agreed with our editorials, they should read another newspaper.

Predictable topics

Usually conservative talk show topics are as predictable as their legion of callers: Liberals and the news media are taking America down the road to perdition. Illegal immigrants, global warming, gay marriage, abortion, welfare, Bush-haters and bureaucrats are all wrong. Nuance and complexity are part of the liberal conspiracy.

What has been striking about WBT's afternoon subject matter is that most of those subjects have taken a back seat to the single cause of devilizing Obama. If he gets elected, listeners would do well to prepare for America's final days.

And we have almost three weeks of this before Election Day.

It makes me wonder: What is the impact of these unrelenting hate-Obama sermons? If you have already decided whom to vote for, nothing alleged on talk radio is likely to change your mind. But what about undecided voters who may not make up their minds until Election Day?

I wondered why a Charlotte radio station wouldn't feature liberals in their daytime lineup. Lots of Charlotteans must swing left. After all, Democrat John Kerry won Mecklenburg County. A majority of county commissioners are Democrats. So, why is WBT radio all-right all day?

I called the station's general manager, Rick Jackson. He explained: It's not politics; it's just business. “Two things drive me: the dollar for our shareholders and protecting our (broadcast) license,” he said. “We go where our listeners tell us they want us to go.”

Jackson said WBT tried some liberal talkers back in the 1990s. Listeners and advertisers bailed, so WBT switched back to all-conservative.

“(Rush) set the template for what a station could and couldn't do,” he said. “Listeners who come for Rush expect to hear conservative all day.”

Rightwing tirades

Now that I understand WBT's profit motivation behind its politics, I'm still troubled by the impact of its unrelenting rightwing harangues on the current presidential campaign.

No one running for the presidency is a “communist” or hates America. Both Obama and John McCain are intelligent, patriotic, honorable men trying to do what they believe is best for America.

It's undemocratic that WBT doesn't see it that way.

Did you hear? Obama has admitted to being a known thespian.

Must be true. I heard it on the radio.

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