The Wizard of Beck. David Brooks on the Influence and Power of Right Wing Talkers. (1 Viewer)

N.O.Bronco

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So what is the theme of our history lesson? It is a story of remarkable volume and utter weakness. It is the story of media mavens who claim to represent a hidden majority but who in fact represent a mere niche — even in the Republican Party. It is a story as old as “The Wizard of Oz,” of grand illusions and small men behind the curtain.

But, of course, we shouldn’t be surprised by this story. Over the past few years the talk jocks have demonstrated their real-world weakness time and again. Back in 2006, they threatened to build a new majority on anti-immigration fervor. Republicans like J.D. Hayworth and Randy Graf, both of Arizona, built their House election campaigns under that banner. But these two didn’t march to glory. Both lost their campaigns.

In 2008, after McCain had won his nomination, Limbaugh turned his attention to the Democratic race. He commanded his followers to vote in the Democratic primaries for Hillary Clinton because “we need Barack Obama bloodied up politically.” Todd Donovan of Western Washington University has looked at data from 38 states and could find no strong evidence that significant numbers of people actually did what Limbaugh commanded. Rush blared the trumpets, but few of his Dittoheads advanced.

Over the years, I have asked many politicians what happens when Limbaugh and his colleagues attack. The story is always the same. Hundreds of calls come in. The receptionists are miserable. But the numbers back home do not move. There is no effect on the favorability rating or the re-election prospects. In the media world, he is a giant. In the real world, he’s not.

But this is not merely a story of weakness. It is a story of resilience. For no matter how often their hollowness is exposed, the jocks still reweave the myth of their own power. They still ride the airwaves claiming to speak for millions. They still confuse listeners with voters. And they are aided in this endeavor by their enablers. They are enabled by cynical Democrats, who love to claim that Rush Limbaugh controls the G.O.P. They are enabled by lazy pundits who find it easier to argue with showmen than with people whose opinions are based on knowledge. They are enabled by the slightly educated snobs who believe that Glenn Beck really is the voice of Middle America.

So the myth returns. Just months after the election and the humiliation, everyone is again convinced that Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and the rest possess real power. And the saddest thing is that even Republican politicians come to believe it. They mistake media for reality. They pre-emptively surrender to armies that don’t exist.

They pay more attention to Rush’s imaginary millions than to the real voters down the street. The Republican Party is unpopular because it’s more interested in pleasing Rush’s ghosts than actual people. The party is leaderless right now because nobody has the guts to step outside the rigid parameters enforced by the radio jocks and create a new party identity. The party is losing because it has adopted a radio entertainer’s niche-building strategy, while abandoning the politician’s coalition-building strategy.

The rise of Beck, Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and the rest has correlated almost perfectly with the decline of the G.O.P. But it’s not because the talk jocks have real power. It’s because they have illusory power, because Republicans hear the media mythology and fall for it every time.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/02/opinion/02brooks.html

Kinda going further with what he said. I have always tended to think that they do have some undue influence on politics. It stems from the mere fact that those in power (on both the right and the left) PERCEIVE them to have such influence, and seeing as perception often times means reality to people, they inadvertently allow this niche group to influence decision making and occasionaly influence outcomes and discourse. Simply because people in power believe they command more power than they actually do.

It's sorta what he says and I think there is a lot of truth to what he says.

So whats the EEs thoughts on this one?
 

Mojomajik9

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Many of their listeners don't even like them, so to me it's kinda difficult to even quantify how many people actually take them seriously. Like in the Howard Stern movie, they mentioned how a large percentage of his audience couldn't stand him but listened just to hear what he'd say next or to get ****** off. Sure, there are those who take their word as gospel, but probably the same amount as liberals who believe everything Michael Moore or Bill Maher has to say. Most people want to be entertained and that's what those hosts offer: entertainment of some variety. If they were just droning on and on about politics chances are their listeners would flee so they have to package it up in some entertaining format which keeps people tuned in, but that doesn't automatically mean that every listener agrees with what they're saying.
 

blackadder

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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/02/opinion/02brooks.html

Kinda going further with what he said. I have always tended to think that they do have some undue influence on politics. It stems from the mere fact that those in power (on both the right and the left) PERCEIVE them to have such influence, and seeing as perception often times means reality to people, they inadvertently allow this niche group to influence decision making and occasionaly influence outcomes and discourse. Simply because people in power believe they command more power than they actually do.

It's sorta what he says and I think there is a lot of truth to what he says.

So whats the EEs thoughts on this one?
So, should Beck and Limbaugh be silenced, or should people be able to reason for themselves and recognize idiocy when they see it?

I think David Brooks is a slick charachter who works very hard to come across as thoughtful and balanced. He comes across as a voice of reason and logic and centrism on domestic affairs but he's also an apologist for liberal interventionism.

He often speaketh with forked tongue himself but he's much more sophisticated.
 

Jeff Miller

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Right wing talkers have absolutely no influence on me at all. The only reason i listen to them from time to time is because they already agree with me on most issues.
 

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I think that if anyone--conservative or liberal--gives a talking head the power to make his or her political decisions or who relies only on media slanted in one direction or another to come to a conclusion about anything is simply giving away too much. It's one thing to listen to people in the media or entertainment industry and to think deeply about the topics they raise; however, it's another thing entirely to say that Beck/SNL is "right" about a topic and not look any deeper into the subject being raised.
 
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So, should Beck and Limbaugh be silenced, or should people be able to reason for themselves and recognize idiocy when they see it?

I think David Brooks is a slick charachter who works very hard to come across as thoughtful and balanced. He comes across as a voice of reason and logic and centrism on domestic affairs but he's also an apologist for liberal interventionism.

He often speaketh with forked tongue himself but he's much more sophisticated.

Explain to me at what point I suggested they should be silenced? What does that even have to do with this topic? A topic about the real or imagined power of these talking heads.
 

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Personally I don't consider O'Reilly a member of the Axis of Idiocy that is Rush, Beck & Hannity.

I'm frequently not an agreement with many of his opinions and his leanings are obvious but he's much more open-minded than he's given credit for. I don't find his opinions to just be a negative reaction to what the "other side" has done or said. The fact is he could go full-bore conservative talking head and make 10x more money a la Rush and he doesn't. I have to give him respect for that much.
 

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People believe what they are going to believe. Very few people will have their mind change by anyone. When people change their point if view on something, it's usually because of personal experience. The right will vote right, the left will vote left, and the middle will vote their pocket books.

I think the only way talking heads influence an election is getting their base off the couch to go vote.
 
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People believe what they are going to believe. Very few people will have their mind change by anyone. When people change their point if view on something, it's usually because of personal experience. The right will vote right, the left will vote left, and the middle will vote their pocket books.

I think the only way talking heads influence an election is getting their base off the couch to go vote.

Ok but when people in power perceive them to have the type of influence they may or may not have, and act upon the assumption that they do, is that not in and of itself a form of power? Take the Glen Beck, Van Jones debacle.

If the Obama people didnt perceive Beck to have some form of influence they most likely would have shrugged off the silly remark Van Jones made and just told him to watch his tongue next time. The perception of Beck's power could be argued to have influenced the decision making process of the administration to fire him.
 

cdogg

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No difference in them and Al Sharpton or Olbermann.
 
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No difference in them and Al Sharpton or Olbermann.

If were talking about the level of perceived power these people have by those in high places of a political party, there is a huge difference. Nobody on the left seeks out agreements or support from Olbermann or Air America (as McCain did with Limbaugh) and nobody on the right thinks that Al Sharpton's base is a threat to turn elections away from their favor.

The same can not be said to be true when you turn those tables around.
 

blackadder

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Ok but when people in power perceive them to have the type of influence they may or may not have, and act upon the assumption that they do, is that not in and of itself a form of power? Take the Glen Beck, Van Jones debacle.

If the Obama people didnt perceive Beck to have some form of influence they most likely would have shrugged off the silly remark Van Jones made and just told him to watch his tongue next time. The perception of Beck's power could be argued to have influenced the decision making process of the administration.
Is it the "power" of Glenn Beck or the weak mindedness of most of the electorate.?

The fact that people act on what Glenn Back says backs up most of my cynical points and is cause concern about the direction of the country.

There's no easy fix for stupidity.

It takes time and some willingness for this country to self-examine, and since we are perfect already, what's the point of self-examination?

If so many can't see through a clown like Glenn Beck, or even through David Brooks' more user friendly packaging then what is the White House to do? Reason and logic do not matter.
 

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Ok but when people in power perceive them to have the type of influence they may or may not have, and act upon the assumption that they do, is that not in and of itself a form of power? Take the Glen Beck, Van Jones debacle.

If the Obama people didnt perceive Beck to have some form of influence they most likely would have shrugged off the silly remark Van Jones made and just told him to watch his tongue next time. The perception of Beck's power could be argued to have influenced the decision making process of the administration to fire him.
Obama continues to make rookie mistakes.
These talking heads love it when the administration calls them out. It's free publicity.

Who needs 70 Czars? These people were not vetted and put into dead head positions. Why to we need a Californian water czar. What's next a Louisiana crawfish Czar? It's a rookie mistake he let his ego cause these problems. These Czars and appointees are like shooting fish in a barrel for the talking heads.
 

blackadder

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Explain to me at what point I suggested they should be silenced? What does that even have to do with this topic? A topic about the real or imagined power of these talking heads.
Well, if they have such power, then what do you want to do about it?

I would assume that would be the next step.

I hear a lot of gnashing of teeth about pundits but I like to look at problems from all angles. If we had politics and media that weren't so infantile, if people had better information and willingness to think, then they would be able to see these people for the demogogues and attention whores that they are.

But pretty much a majority of the nation is now susceptible to their drivel. That's the story, to me. Not that we have morons and demogogues who get air time, or that the government and media lie. It's that the public is such an easy mark for it. Fix that and the pundits would have to find a new line of work, like used car salesmen or televagelists or con man.
 
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Obama continues to make rookie mistakes.
These talking heads love it when the administration calls them out. It's free publicity.

Who needs 70 Czars? These people were not vetted and put into dead head positions. Why to we need a Californian water czar. What's next a Louisiana crawfish Czar? It's a rookie mistake he let his ego cause these problems. These Czars and appointees are like shooting fish in a barrel for the talking heads.


I think unjustly believing the Right wing talkers have more power than they actually do goes well beyond Obama. Was it not McCain that believed that winning the right wing radio and commanding the daily news cycle would win him victory? as it not George HW Bush who considered Limbaugh to be one of the biggest forces in politics. This perception is not isolated to Obama.

As for your czar thing. You sound as ridiculous as Limbaugh. The concept of czars(or that which serves the same function) has been around since FDR and Obama's number isnt unprecedented. Bush had 34 people either directly named czars or indirectly serving the same function with only a different title name. This uproar of czars is one of the silliest things to be leveled at Obama yet.
 

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So, should Beck and Limbaugh be silenced, or should people be able to reason for themselves and recognize idiocy when they see it?

I think David Brooks is a slick charachter who works very hard to come across as thoughtful and balanced. He comes across as a voice of reason and logic and centrism on domestic affairs but he's also an apologist for liberal interventionism.

He often speaketh with forked tongue himself but he's much more sophisticated.

I thought this is america? You can watch sex on TV, and after 12 oclock on certain televsion stations, its no hold barred on cursing and even nudity. But we cannot have the choice to listen to whomever we want to on the radio? Noone is forced to listen to Rush, Beck or Michael Savage. If you do not like what they say, then do not listen. This is America, and they have the right to free speech just as we do, and to silence them, is to piss on the our founding fathers who built this country and instated the right that we all have the right for free speech. It's part of what our soldiers die for, its part of why we are most hated, because we are aloud to say whatever the hell we want to. If you let the government silence Conservative talk, then its only a matter of time before we are all silenced.
 

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