Thursday, December 1, 2011

Before Calling a Right-Wing Talk Radio Show...

by xaxnar
If you're not suffering enough yet, you can always turn on a conservative talk radio show. Rush, Sean, Michael - they're always ready to harsh your pin-headed Liberal Hippie mellow with lies, slander, and hate speech 24/7. It's what they and the rest of that crowd do. (It's what they're paid rather well to do, in fact. College degree optional.)

When they're not ranting about the Librul Menace destroying Ammurika, when they're not patting themselves on the back for being so brilliant and wise, when they're not trying to sell gold, some bogus health cure or other useless service, they occasionally take phone calls from listeners. You can have a very pleasant call - just agree with everything they say, thank them for the job they're doing, and join them in condemning everything on the left. Keep in mind that jumping-off point keeps getting farther to the extreme right every day. Richard Nixon is a flaming liberal by their standards, and Reagan is suspect, though they'll never admit it.

If you want to disagree with them though, good luck. Expect no mercy, and no respect. Patronizing sorrow over your obtuseness is the best you can hope for from them; screaming rage is very likely. If you've ever thought of calling in to try and inject some sanity, good luck - and be prepared. (more, including some talking points over the jump at the bottom.)

If you call in, remember this: they're not interested in the truth, the facts, or having an honest debate. They're there to create a world view in their listeners that reinforces their belief system, gives them an 'official' slant on everything that's happening in the world, and places the blame for everything that's going wrong specifically on their enemies: Democrats, liberals, the U.N., the liberal media, Big Government, Obama, socialism, etc. etc.

Enemies are critical to their understanding of the world - because they're never wrong about anything, things going badly can only be the work of bad people working against them. (It's an authoritarian thing - keep your followers under control by strictly drawing up Us versus Them lines - and make sure they toe that line.) Remember - if you call in and they sense you're not with them, they'll be against you.

Remember too that they're good at what they do: peddling lies, demonizing enemies, pushing propaganda. They can talk quickly and smoothly, without any hint of doubt or uncertainty. They'll talk rings around you, ridicule you, shout you down - and cut off your call if you seem to be scoring points. They're professionals and that is their job.

What can you do? Here's some basics if you're going to call in.

• DON'T call while driving, of course. You'll need your full attention. Plus Road Rage is never a good idea - and driving while talking on the phone is illegal in many places.

• Calls are screened. Getting on the air is a matter of convincing the screeners that letting you through is going to be good for them. Judging by some calls I've heard, they'll be glad to let you through as a liberal caller IF you sound semi-coherent, drunk, like one of 'those people' and so on. Anything to reinforce stereotypes in other words. It helps if you can identify the radio station you're listening to, and you can make them think you'll contribute something on whatever the diatribe of the moment is, though you may have to talk around it in general terms. Be polite and calm.

• Stay focused. If there are points you want to make on a specific issue, rehearse them if you can before calling, even keep them handy to refer to while you're on the line. If they realize where you're going on an issue, they'll try to throw you off stride by interrupting you or throwing some stock insult at your position. If they can make you look like an idiot or get you to contradict yourself, they will. And, they'll try to twist your remarks into their standard frame for that issue. Listen ahead of time, so you'll know how they're likely to respond. Don't make their job easy for them. It helps if you can cite sources they can't easily attack - like "If climate change is a hoax, why are insurance companies raising their rates to get ready for it? If there's plenty of oil out there, why is the Pentagon investing millions of dollars in alternative energy?" Then have specifics to back them up.

• Facts are good... IF they're short, simple, and can fit into the narrative you're trying to create. Facts alone are not enough to change minds or make points - you have to package them in ways that reach people's emotions, that they can see in terms of their own lives. On deficits for example, don't just talk numbers or percentages. Try something like: "You know, the only president in the last 40 years to balance the budget and start paying down the national debt was Bill Clinton. Maybe instead of trying to impeach him, the Republicans should have tried to learn from him, because they sure haven't been able to." (At that point, it might be a good idea to say thanks and goodbye, so you can end on a strong note.)

• Be prepared to be cut off at any moment. They won't hesitate to do so if you're getting your points across and making sense. Be short, be concise, be clear - because you may only get one shot. IF you can do it well enough, the radio host may well descend into an incoherent rage in any case. Rage is a reflex with them, so don't be rattled by it. If you think you've made your point, don't be hesitant to disengage and hang up. (Something along the lines of "Well, I think I've made my point here, so I'll hang up now while you try to talk your way around it. Thanks, and have a good day.)

• Be centered. If you're going to phone into the lion's den, try not to let them hear you sweat. Concede nothing unless your concession takes back more than it gives. Be polite - but don't take any B.S. in return. You can be angry or upset as long as you remain in control - regular listeners to the show will be used to self-righteous indignation; genuine indignation can work for you if you do it convincingly. Do NOT use profanity - but be prepared to laugh at their bluster. They love to ridicule, but they can't take it.

• You'll never know who your words will reach, or where they'll end up. The whole point of the right wing media complex is to control the messaging on every issue, restrict it to the frames they've set up, and drown out any opposing voices. If you can break those frames, if you can make people stop and think, you're making a difference. The other side of that coin is, you can get cut to ribbons, and set your cause back. If you're going to try this, make sure you give it your best shot.

• Be ready to throw a few harpoons - bumper sticker rhetoric if you like. A few quick zingers and one-liners can go far, if they're good enough and pointed enough - and relate to your message. Here's a few off the top of my head.

Saying the rich create jobs is like saying the stork brings babies. It's a nice story with nothing to back it up.

Why is it the same people who insist government can't do anything right are always so eager to have it go to war?

Democrats try to have a record they're not afraid to run on while Republicans generally have a record they try to run from. (Insert names here if you wish.)

Comparing Bush to Obama and asking why things haven't gotten better yet is like an engineer handing off a train wreck to his successor and then complaining that the train's behind schedule.

When Republicans complain about job-killing regulations, they're really defending people-killing profits.

The simplest way to tell when a conservative radio host is trying to sucker you is to find out when their program airs.

A Republican is someone who believes you can never be too rich, too thin - or too stupid to be president.

Republicans hate the EPA because they believe in the right to dump their garbage over the fence into your yard.

Bush came into office out of disputed election with a budget surplus, a booming economy, and a country at peace. Obama came into office on a popular mandate facing two wars, an economic melt-down, and budget deficits bigger than Texas. This somehow proves it's a mistake to put Democrats in charge.

Letting Republicans run the government is like putting Atheists in charge of a church. They don't believe in it, don't care if it works - and they take no responsibility for the results.

FOX NEWS is to the truth what Kryptonite is to Superman.

A conservative is someone who fears the power of Big Government - but has no problem with the power of Big Money.

When it comes to the economy, the Republicans and the White House have been like a couple of guys on a two man bicycle. The guy in front has been pedaling as hard as he can to get them up a steep hill while dodging potholes. The guy in back's contribution has been to sit on the brake while complaining about the view.

What's the difference between conservative talk radio and terrorists? Both of them inspire fear and anger in their target audiences - but talk radio pays better.

Conservatives are shooting themselves in the foot when they try to stop the government from investing in clean energy companies. Where else are they going to get new jobs to ship overseas?

A conservative is someone who thinks it's a waste to spend a few hundred million to develop renewable energy - but perfectly sensible to give billions in tax breaks to highly profitable oil companies so we can spend trillions to buy oil from countries that don't like us.

The big reason China is spending billions to develop green energy technology is because they can no longer count on the U.S. doing it so they can steal it and sell it back to us.

Conservatives DO have a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security - work till you die, and if you get sick, die quickly.

The difference between Ayn Rand and Michael Moore is this - nobody goes to see her movies, and they have to give her books away. The market has spoken!

Republicans are pro-life until birth - then you're on your own. Shorter version: Live Free And Die!

Class Warfare is the charge the rich use to denounce attempting to defend the middle class from them.

Conservatives believe government should handle disasters like hurricanes and floods like any other act of God - with prayer, contrition, and robbing from Peter's college aid money to pay for Paul's FEMA trailer. As for disasters caused by corporations like oil spills, ditto. And why not? To conservatives, corporations ARE God.

The difference between the modern Republican Party and a religious cult is that cults generally have charismatic leaders, while Republicans have to make do with Grover Norquist and Karl Rove.

The Republican definition of voter fraud is ... voting for Democrats. They will do whatever it takes to make it impossible.

The Republican answer to prevent voter fraud is to rig the elections ahead of time.

Asking bankers to regulate themselves is like asking a hungry five year old to guard a cookie jar - they just can't help themselves.

Democrats worry about getting people into Heaven; Republicans worry the fires of Hell aren't hot enough.

How can you tell when a Liberal is making sense? The conservative talk show host cuts them off and goes into a hissy fit.

Republicans are always happy to give Democrats credit - IF they can sucker them into buying a bill of goods with it.

There has to be a better use for money than just letting rich people sit on it.

The only alternative energy conservatives believe in is snake oil.

That should give you some ideas. If anyone has anything else to offer, put in a comment. We have people at Kos who've called into talk radio with some success, some who've been interviewed on radio, host shows of their own, and so forth. If you've got relevant experience and advice to share, please do so. If you're not ready to take on a conservative radio show but would like to, one way to ease into it is to find a talk show without a preset bias. You may find them at college radio stations, public radio, and elsewhere. If people have shows they listen to that meet this description, please put them in comments as well.

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