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by Steve Young

Steve Young columns

The rightwing echo chamber (rightwing radio and Fox News) is a junkyard dog. It grabs on to an issue, a soundbite, a rumor, sometimes, even a fib -- anything that might damage the image of an opponent -- and doesn't let go until it rips it, and the Democrat intended to smear, into unrecognizable shreds.

But why has that junkyard dog become a credible source of news for, what used to considered, credible news outlets. The so-called mainstream media

I decided to ask a few friends who are fairly well-versed in what's happening and who are, for the most part, sane.

Bob Y, a television showrunner, said that it may not just be the right who is devouring the Wright minutia. His wife is a very bright, Obama-fan. This past week MSNBC ran a one hour special on the Wright scandal with good chunks of all the crucial speeches, as well as numerous comments from news people, ministers and everyone else who had an extra two cents to toss in. Mrs. Y was riveted by it, watching the entire hour.

Was she watching because it's the mountain you climb only because it's there? Or do we all pay attention because it's a captivating story (which deserves the repetitive nature of the coverage).

The psychodrama -- Shakespearean perhaps -- being that Obama lost his father early on. Wright took him into his congregation, married him, advised him, baptized his children. There is a very real surrogate father/son relationship there. When the father was attacked and the son made his speech about the father, the father felt that the son had not properly defended him, had not fully taken his side, had not shown proper respect. So the father lashed out at the son, slapping him down, sort of. Then the son disowned the father. It's classic drama -- like the first two acts of a Greek tragedy. And we sense that it almost could end with one of them putting a sword through the other's chest. It's very human and it's fascinating.

Another issue -- for white people -- is the look-see behind the curtain of the black church. It's the same thing as men wondering exactly what it is that goes on in with women when they talk to each other in women's bathrooms, or baseball fans wondering what the infielders gathered at the mound are whispering about. Are the black people in the black churches saying bad things about white people and America when they think we're not listening?

Of course there's the always fascinating aspect of watching a formerly powerful, crazy and charismatic guy self-destruct right before your eyes. And you're watching it play out, wondering if he's going to pull Obama down with him.

Or, it could be that this is the first thing we've really found out about Obama, the man -- and what we found we don't like? We ruminate; is there more we won't like?

For all that, Bob said, the Right doesn't need to keep the story alive. It has a life of its own.

Rick O, a brilliant standup comic, doesn't give anyone much of a pass. He says that the Rightwing Smear Machine is loud and shiny, like an American hot rod. Made to be noticed, and coveted by morons. Designed by bitter, morally weak people FOR bitter, morally weak people. It gives them infantile and easy targets to deflect their own shortcomings onto. Why should we believe one single word from an entity that is wrong about everything else?

Only a dull witted coward would think that Howard Dean's scream is why he should not be President. The same applies to the treatment they give any high profile threat -- it's assassination by a thousand paper cuts. There's a reason they call a think-tank the "skunk-works;" these are not humans in that room, regardless of how clever they are. The corporate media is an enemy to the human species. A cancer to man. They take the lowest form of us and lower them even more, making them into something not unlike the Orcs in "Lord of the Rings." A biped that cannot be reasoned with. Incapable of being taught, they can only be trained like a dog. An attack dog.

But fox (No CAPS for them, they have lost the right to it) and the others are part of the machine that crushes good. It eats honesty and shits out vicious lies. It hates love and loves hate. It is our TV and radio. It is funded by killers. They believe the worst news first. I pity them for the day when they see what they have helped to make so. I can almost forgive a conservative for buying this garbage, but for a Democrat, a Liberal, a Progressive to buy the corporate line is to me, inexcusable. I have nothing but contempt for their betrayal. One side is not supposed to know, but the other is. Of the two groups, only one is the traitor -- the morally lazy "Progressive." The other is the Enemy Combatant, in full uniform.

Bottom line: Some people want Hillary, simply to put McCain in office. Others want her because they're female as well (Hey, I'm bald, but I don't want McCain in office). These are adolescent reasons for putting someone at the wheel of a nation. It says that we file our lax standards for our leadership under the convenient heading of "Pragmatism."

Rick hates this process and what the Cancervatives have done to it with the Digressive's help -- (A classic bully and weakling scenario). We are social abuse victims, raped by our symbolic parents. The memory of it is slowly coming back to us. Too slowly for his taste.

Subtle, but that's Rick.

Right in the middle is "B.," a TV talk show executive producer and writer.

His recollection is not that the Rev. Wright story "stuck." Yes, some inflammatory videotaped remarks from the pastor who was a decades-long friend and associate of the Obamas, who married the Obamas, and who baptized the Obama children were dug up and spliced together out of context. B. concedes that, initially, it was the "right wing echo chamber" that ran this story up the flagpole to see if anyone would salute. But Obama responded gracefully and appropriately and this all but went away. (NOTE: I'm guessing B. doesn't watch nor listens to near the cable news/talk radio I do). We moved on to Hillary and sniper fire in Bosnia, McCain not knowing the difference between a Shiite and a Sunni, bowling in Pennsylvania and whether some frustrated rural voters "cling" to their guns and their religion. This story was one of many, like the picture of Obama in a turban or the picture of Obama not putting his hand over his heart during the national anthem, that was destined to flare up (probably with some stoking by right wing media) and all but die out (despite some harping by right wing media). The problem was REV. WRIGHT CAME BACK. He threw gasoline on the extinguished embers of this fire. Because the right never completely let this story go, you may have the impression that they somehow kept this story alive or revived it. No, it was fading like so many other of their distraction stories. There is the fallacy of logic that if one thing follows another then the first thing must have caused the second. In this case, Fox News et al, harping on this story didn't cause it to "stick." The story spiked and receded like all do until the good Reverend and his ego sought out a bank of microphones and said, "Hey, remember me? I'm even more batshit than was advertized!"

Psychologist, and all-round lefty intellect Howie D, goes the lefty intellect route:

He wondered how it came about -- in terms of actual concrete steps taken along the way -- that the debates devolved into the shameful SNL bizarro group tabloid x-ray from the League of Women Voters-sponsored occasion that people watched with the usually- fulfilled expectation of learning something. It reflects the same faults in the viewership/voters and the media and the relationship between them. Capitalism has a lot to do with it, because what gets an audience is what makes money, and the right-wing approach has succeeded, framing the argument through very intentional, intensive, extensive, persistent investment of resources over decades, which has created a political culture that was originally receptive to the anti-government, angry white man perspective. Of course there's the intentional and strategic for corporate gain, some of it pivoting on personalities and on the changing nature of journalism in the electronic information age. The government-military-industrial complex -- look at that recent story about the (ab)use of Pentagon staff to disseminate propaganda -- is a part of the story..

There ya go. Four opinions, all different. Not what I was hoping for. All I was asking for is that the right's noise machine are dirty rotten scoundrels and we keepo falling for it. Damn this investigative reporting. In this case, the mainstream media is tapping into a right-winded machine that is running on all cylinders. And if it can't be stopped, you can only try to deliver your own media message machine.

What is on the left that equates to that?

MSNBC? Have you caught the last month of Chris Matthews? Hardball has become Hard-on for Jeremiah Wright and the Big O.

Olbermann? Stewart? Maher? Talk to the ratings. Liberal radio? Really? C'mon.

The fact is, the Wright story has not gone away, and if the right has anything to do with it, it will continue to ride with the fury of a runaway swift boat through November 4. And unless the left starts rocking soon, they will be rolled right into four more years of George W. the guise of John "Thank You Jeremiah, Sean, Rush, BillO, Fox" McCain.

Which if we let it, we deserve it.

Award-winning television writer and author of Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" (, Steve Young, is a former talk show host, writes ad finitum on talk radio. His "All The News That's Fit To Spoof" appears in L.A. Daily News opeds every Sunday (

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Albion Monitor   April 28, 2008   (

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