Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The good folks at 2 political junkies reminded me of this gem of a story in the Post-Gazette this weekend. The piece is about Media Matters for America, the liberal media watchdog group which has labeled local talk-show host Jim Quinn as a "radioactive" media personality.
I've noted MMFA's critiques of Quinn a couple of times, and the P-G largely treads familiar ground -- like Quinn's relabeling of the National Organization for Women as the "National Organization for Whores." Ah, that rapier-like wit.
But what makes the P-G piece worth reading is that it shows -- almost accidentally -- that beneath his tough-guy exterior, Quinn is apparently a total wuss.
When a controversial talk host gets criticized, he's supposed to shrug it off. For bonus points, he should suggest the attacks actually help him by showing that the other side sees him as a threat. Quinn's boss, WPGB-FM program director Jay Bohannon, strikes the proper note in the P-G piece, calling Media Matters a "non-factor." While he acknowledges receiving "large numbers" of e-mailed complaints as a result of Media Matters attention, he contends the attention "probably helps Jim Quinn more than hurts him."
Leave it to Quinn, though, to turn the Media Matters criticisms into the stuff of right-wing paranoia:
"Media Matters is not just a bunch of liberal bloggers exercising their First Amendment rights," he tells the P-G. "Any critique of media speech by Media Matters for America carries with it the implied threat of government censorship."
Quinn invokes fear of the return of the "Fairness Doctrine," a long-discarded government policy of requiring equal time for diverse political viewpoints. The Junkies do a good job of showing how baseless the fear is, so I won't dwell on the fact that hardly anyone in Washington has shown interest in reviving the doctrine. But Quinn's hysteria on the subject is a perfect example of how right-wingers love to play the victim card. They have little patience when, say, blacks complain of racism ... but when they get back from the commercial break, they'll indulge in their own delusions of persecution, fantasies that would embarrass Minister Farakkhan.
Apparently, Quinn also fears Media Matters because it has a base of "wealthy liberal donors." Quinn is OK with bloggers having speech rights, it seems, provided they have no money or power whatsoever. But if they get even a bit of leverage, Quinn cries "oppression!"
On some level, I understand the response. I mean, wouldn't pay Quinn any mind at all if he were just some old coot in the park, spouting his nonsense into a couple of tin cans joined with a piece of string. Instead, though, he's an old coot spouting his nonsense into a microphone paid for by Clear Channel, one of the country's largest media conglomerates. (And before that, his mic was paid for by the same folks who own City Paper.) So naturally I take him more seriously -- his ideas are silly, but the money behind them is serious.
But even so ... who knew that a conservative would distrust the speech rights of rich people? What next? Will Quinn espouse the dismantling of Fox News? Start arguing for a more progressive income tax, to relieve the wealthy of some of the money they use to control our discourse?
It's just amusing to hear this guy, who styles himself as the pistol-packing Big Swinging Dick of the airwaves, jumping at his own shadow and shouting "oppression!" when he gets criticized by somebody else. But I guess being a right-wing radio host was more fun back in the good old days -- when you could pick on welfare queens, "Feminazis," and everyone else who had no way of fighting back.