Media Matters and the Canadian government: Nix Rush Limbaugh
Rush Limbaugh is banned in Canada. That's right, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-televison Tellecommunication Commission) has decided that Canadian ears cannot hear the voice of America's most famous broadcaster.
Rush Limbaugh--love him or hate him--is a deity in the pantheon of radio. My personal opinion of him varies from day to day. Sometimes he really hits hard with well thought-out points. Other days he can be the bag-of-wind that his critics accuse him of being.
Still, whether or not I like Rush Limbaugh is immaterial to whether I think he should be allowed on the airwaves. Fortunately, I'm not Canadian so I can listen to Rush Limbaugh by simply switiching on the radio dial. Or I can listen to Jim Hightower, Al Franken, Sean Hannity, car talk, Christian programming, NPR, Howard Stern, or anything I'd like to listen to. That's how we do things here in America. We call it freedom. Canadians tend to scoff at the idea that Americans are free, but if they don't believe me, I point to the existence of Canadian censorship as exhibit A.
A Canadian by the name of Peter Worthington called his cable provider in Toronto one day to ask why they didn't offer Fox News. He had become a fan of the news network after an extended visit to United States, and he didn't want to give up his Fox News Channel simply because he moved back to his native Canada. His cable provider's response? "Ask the CRTC or, better still, ask the CCTA (Canadian Cable Television Association)." At the time, the CRTC was still blocking Fox News in Canada, but allowed Euro News, the BBC, and CNN. Al-Jazeera would go garner Candian approval a full six months before Fox News was given the A-Okay (although no cable provider has yet to offer al-Jazeera).
The CRTC finally granted a license to Fox News in November of 2004, though there was some controversy. Some liberal Canadians wanted the CRTC ban on Fox News to continue. The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) opposed licensing Fox News. Others, like Globe and Mail
televison critic John Doyle, believed that Fox should be allowed so that "so that we can all take a look, and get a laugh."
I congratulate the CRTC for finally allowing some alternative viewpoints to penetrate the little bubble of Canadian culture. Still, I don't understand why Canada needs a government agency, that for all practical purposes, is a censorship commission. Yes, we in America have our FCC, which does indeed "censor" the airwaves, if you consider banning profanity and nudity to be censorship. But we don't have a commission that decides that a certain type of politcal speech, or a certain news network, cannot be broadcast anywhere within the country.
Can you fathom the outrage that would happen if the FCC acted in the same way as the CRTC? What if the FCC decided that lefty radio commentators like Al Franken and Jim Hightower, and left-leaning news networks like CNN, were simply not allowed? It would be the next chapter of "Bush's fascism comes to America". We would never hear the end of it. But that is exactly the way the Canadian government operates. To make matters worse, Canada is--according to liberal Americans and most Canadians I've ever met-- the model society that America should emulate. They aren't fascists like us.
The Canadians shouldn't surprise me. I've told a few liberals I know that Rush Limbaugh is banned in Canada, and I usually get a shrug of the shoulders, or a hearty "as it should be". Others accuse me of lying, and say "Not in Canada!" I've never seen a liberal react with, "That's horrible! As a liberal, I am a champion of free speech, and I stridently object to the blatant censorship of the Canadian government!" No, that never happens.
Liberals will tell you that they are the guardians of free speech, but I'm not buying it. I have reason to believe that the liberals would do the same thing in the United States, if they thought they could get away with it.
Besides the Canadian government, another self-appointed censor of Rush's program is David Brock at Media Matters for America. Brock's organization sent sent two letters and a petition of at least 25,000 signatures to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, asking him to remove Limbaugh from the American Forces Radio (AFR). Not surprising that 25,000 liberals don't want Rush's voice heard. "Not only is it unacceptable that our troops are being conditioned with this destructive propaganda, it is abhorrent that the American taxpayer is now paying for the broadcast of a reckless radio host who called the torture of Iraqi prisoners 'brilliant' and 'effective'," said David Brock. In his letter to Rumsfeld, Brock writes, "I ask you to consider removing Mr. Limbaugh from the radio network to protect our troops from these reckless and dangerous messages."
Less adamant about getting Limbaugh off of AFR is Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). Though he has frequently been misquoted as saying that he wants Rush Limbaugh's show booted from the AFR lineup, he has never said such a thing. He simply added an ammendment to the 2005 Defense Approprations bill, a "sense of the Senate" resolution, that stated that the Department of Defense should do a better job balancing political programming. The ammendment did not mention Limbaugh by name, but Senator Harkin immediately took to the Senate floor after his ammendment had been proposed, to give a rousing tirade against Rush Limbaugh.
I can't be entirely critical of Harkin here. Unlike David Brock and his organization, Harkin is not asking to gag Limabugh. He's only asking that AFR adopt an alternative liberal broadcaster to balance Rush. Al Franken might fit in here.
Critics of the Harkin ammendment claim that AFR already has plenty of liberal programming, due to the abundance of National Public Radio segments. Liberals scoff at this, saying that NPR is non-partisan, although I don't believe that for a second. NPR is anything but non-partisan, and NPR's Fresh Air
(which is broadcast on AFR) is a liberal opinion show. So when calculating the "balance" of liberal vs. conservative airtime, I believe that Rush's measely five hours per week should be compared to NPR's copious airtime. At very least, we should classify Fresh Air
as a liberal talk-show, because that is exactly what it is.
Another criticism of the Harkin Ammendment is that it will have the effect that the "Fairness Doctrine" had in previous years. Being forced to balance Limbaugh against a liberal like Franken, they will receive listener complaints, people will stop listening, and AFR will react by shunning all things political. In otherwords, Harkin's ammendment is a backdoor attempt to get Rush Limbaugh pulled from AFR airwaves. I'm not so sure that I buy this argument, but it's interesting.
But I do know that David Brock and 25,000 of his liberal friends want Rush off the air, or at least they did at the time that they submitted their petition. Why not open competition? Put your guy (Al Franken, the far-left Jim Hightower, the failed Mario Cuomo, the perpetually bitter Al Gore) up against our guy. See who the troops choose--the guy who's telling them that their mission is a fool's errand, that they can't win in Iraq, the guy who minimizes the accomplishments in Iraq in order to make room for the daily body count? Or the guy who tells them good news even if the liberals don't want them to hear it?
The military is disproportionately conservative. That's not to say that every American soldier is a die-hard ditto-head. Some are apolitical, and a few lean a little to the Left. In my experience in the military, however, I rarely if ever met a solid liberal. This isn't hard to explain--liberals have a certain distaste for the military that they carry with them from the days of Vietnam.
When I was in high school, I knew a girl who was thinking seriously about joining the National Guard. Was she a liberal? Oh boy, was she. She gave me two reasons why she wanted to join--first because she thought the recruiter was cute, and second for the college money. But there was no way she was going to be fighting in any wars, or anything silly like that. Eventually she ran the idea by her liberal father, who told her that no child of his was going to be joining the military
. Eventually she dropped the idea, and remarked "What the hell was I thinking?"
Flower children just don't want to put on the uniform. There's something inherently anti-militaristic in their thinking. It's no surprise that the military vote goes to the Republicans year in and year out. This a problem for liberals, who claim to be the ones who "really support the troops". It begs the question: if you support the troops so much, then why don't they support you?
It's a source of embarrassment for the Left that military folks keep voting for the Republicans.
So what can they do about it? Well, one thing they can do is to kick Limbaugh off the air. After all, there can be no good reason why the troops (or anyone else for that matter) would be voting Republican, unless of course, they are having their heads filled with brainwashing propoganda from the likes of that Limbaugh guy. In the eyes of liberals, the only reason you could possibly disagree with them is if you're either stupid or uniformed. Or both. Which is I guess what they think about our servicemen and -women.
According to Media Matters for America, it isn't enough to get another whole hour of left-wing commentary to balance Limbaugh's commentary from the right. Brock needs to "balance" AFR by getting Rush thrown off. Why? Because he knows that in a head to head competition, Rush would clean house.
Even in the domestic civilian market, Rush dwarfs all others. He's the most successful broadcaster in the history of radio. His success revived AM radio, and created an entire talk-radio phenomenon. In 2001, he signed a a $300 million contract, the largest contract for a radio personality in history. On any given day, he has twenty million listeners. Ever since his rise to power in the early 1990's, liberals have sought to find a liberal broadcaster who could match him as a so-called "Limbaugh of the Left". Many auditioned for the part--Jim Hightower, Mario Cuomo, Al Sharpton--but none have ever equaled Rush's success. Perhaps the closest thing the Left has ever had to Rush is Al Franken. He's still on the air, while most "Limbaughs of the Left" lasted all of about ten minutes a piece. Still, Franken is the shining star of a lackluster radio network, and his ratings have never even come close to Limbaugh's.
Now imagine Franken, the only "Limbaugh of the Left" to last more than the shelflife of milk, going up against the most popular broadcaster in history--competing for a market of disproportinatly conservative soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. Who do you think would win? Exactly. Franken doesn't have a chance, and Media Matters knows this. That's why they favored "balancing" AFR by exlcusion (removing Rush's program) rather than inclusion (giving a lefty a shot).
I don't believe that liberals really care about free speech. Oh they say they do, but they seem to define free speech to mean that anyone can say anything they want, so long as it's liberal. Offend a liberal, and you can be sure that David Brock and the Canadian government will try to put a muzzle on you.