Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Stop the Lies!

A few weeks ago in the newsletter I was raked over the coals for mentioning that Mike Huckabee said, wrongly, that Barack Obama grew up in Kenya, and for a swipe at Sarah Palin, arguably undeserved. The following email came in around that time, but was buried in my spam filter. I have no desire to reopen the debate in the newsletter, but I think the email, and my response, deserve an outlet. And this is it.

The Letter

I read your explanation of the Huckabee dust-up in this week’s newsletter and I think that many of the readers of your publication feel that you do have a political position that you have eluded [sic] to many times in your past newsletters.

The comments about Palin were not the first time that many of us “dumb hick conservatives” have sensed a certain leaning towards the Left by you. Maybe you aren’t aware of it, but many of your past editorial comments have made sly references to the fact that you think guys like Rush or Hannity are bad for radio. I personally don’t care what part of the political spectrum you reside in, but for hundreds of small stations like mine who serve very rural and VERY conservative parts of the country, we are rather tired of being branded as unsophisticated or backwards for believing in some of the principals of conservative politics like a smaller government and not spending more money than you make.

We discussed this point once before when you wrote negatively of the state of today’s talk radio and I stated that if it weren’t for guys like Rush, we would have been off the air years ago. And with our demise would have disappeared local weather every hour, local news every hour, live coverage of the local sports teams and the only information outlet that is focused on just our small community.

I graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Journalism from the Henry W. Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia - one of the most prestigious journalism programs in the country. I’m not some country bumpkin with a transmitter and a tower in the collard patch out back. If that is the kind of broadcaster you think of when you picture the guys who air Rush, Hannity, Boortz, Levin, Beck, etc. on their stations, then you are sorely mistaken.

There is a real fight for ideology in the U.S. right now not unlike the Civil War. The two Americas are very polarized. And because of this, we have to have public discourse that is sometimes not very pretty. But I would rather us shout at each other instead of shoot at each other.

Jeff Lovett
President /General Manager
WGRA Radio

My Reply


Your email got buried ... I just found it tonight ... and wanted to let you know I didn't deliberately not publish it.

You make some good points about perceptions vs. "reality" (whatever that is). I have never, would never, and don't think it's right to, think of anyone as a "dumb hick conservative." I've heard that reference before, and I think it's a label that some people think is being applied to them, more than people actually apply it. (At least I'd like to think so.)

Unfortunately, as you point out, we live in an era of extreme intolerance ... and it greatly annoys me when the Ed Schultzes and Bill Mahers and Keith Olbermans talk about conservatives like it's a dirty word, in tones dripping with disdain ... just as it annoys me when the Limbaughs, Hannitys and O'Reillys refer to liberals the same way.

By the way, who came up with those terms, "conservative" and "liberal"? They are inherently prejudicial to begin with.

Hey, I owned radio stations in small markets, so I know first-hand how people in those communities think and feel - how I think and feel. But there's a big difference between the world we live in and the world occupied by the aforementioned radio/TV people, plus the Boehners, Pelosis, etc.: We could never get away with telling lies to our neighbors. When we see each other every day - at Rotary or Kiwanis, the Chamber meeting, the Friday-night games - we would be called out, if not outright ostracized, for the kind of shameless, obvious whoppers that our national talkers and political leaders feed us every single day.

I have www.factcheck.org, www.politifact.com and www.snopes.com bookmarked on my computer and whenever a politician says something I wonder about, I check it out. (FactCheck, for one, is from the Annenberg Foundation, and nobody would ever accuse them of being liberal!)

Okay, so I don't take anything at face value. Does that make me a liberal? I hope not! Especially since everybody lies.

By the way, my stations did not carry Rush, not because of his politics but because (a) he cost a lot of money and (b) businesses shied away from advertising on his show because he was too controversial - including those who agreed with him. We did, however, carry nearly every other conservative host ... and I can't think of one liberal.

Sorry to take up so much of your time, probably beating a dead horse. Whether "conservative" or "liberal," if everybody would listen for the lies and half-truths instead of maintaining that "all conservatives are always right and all liberals are always wrong," or vice-versa, we could have meaningful, respectful discussions that could really move our country forward.

Best wishes,