The Rise Of The New Right: MSNBC Documentary

by Ben Hoffman

Last night, MSNBC aired a documentary about the rise of right-wing extremism in America. You can watch it here.

People are angry and need a scapegoat. Even though the massive debt and deep recession began before Obama took office, right-wingers blame him. They hate Democrats and especially hate Obama since he’s black and has expanded entitlements for minorities with the recent passage of the health care reform bill.

Right-wing hatred is fueled by right-wing talk radio and of course, Fox News. Take a look at some of the headlines from thefoxnation.com: “Obama’s Manhood Questioned By Pundits”, “Obama Gives Back Major Strip of AZ to Mexico”, “Obama’s sham spill commission”, “Exasperated Jindal Smacks Obama”, “Obama=Carter” (video), “Obama Sends 17,000 Guard Troops To Gulf, But Only 10% Activated”, “Obama’s Radical Pick for Medicare”… And that’s just today.

If you look at the comments from those articles, you see mostly just hate. Fox “news” provides fodder for hatred and fear: the core components of the GOP. The Republican party is the party of emotion.

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50 Comments to “The Rise Of The New Right: MSNBC Documentary”

  1. Are you libs crybabies, or what? Your days are numbered !!!

  2. Ben – I was glad to see Matthews doing the doc, but honestly I found it poorly done. A lot of his info was pretty dated and he completely ignored the money behind it all. The Mellon-Schiafes, the Bradleys, the Olins, and all those terrifying Christan reconstrucitonists who tap into very big money. But at least he tried.

    • That’s true, he didn’t touch on the money from the church and their influence. It’s a big topic.

      Matthews should have done a comparison between the rise of the right in Germany during the 30s and the rise of the right here. There are many similarities.

      • I took a look at the msnbc page for the doc last night about an hour after the show. And there were 2800 comments. I didn’t have the patience, but i wonder what the consensus was?

  3. Chris Mathews never got over Reagan beating Carter. His exaggerations, where he takes small minorities and small incidents and uses them to smear the whole Right, shows that he cares far more about winning than he ever cared about the truth.

    And yet he is the most sane member of the evening anchors on MSNBC. He is also the Whitest of the White anchors on MSNBC. He is almost an Albino.

    These are the same people who complain about the lack of black faces at Tea Parties, yet MSNBC cannot find anyone of color to anchor any of their News shows from 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM.

  4. Ben – just remember – it isn’t FOX News anymore – it is Pravda-FOX. Pass it on….

    Someday, historians are going to have an interesting time writing about the effects of one political party having a major network as its personal propaganda organ…..

    — hp

  5. I thought it was fairly well done, and I particularly liked the comparisons with various right-wing movements in history. Matthews made the point that it seems to be the same movement over and over again, the same people complaining about imagined fears. But you’re right, it didn’t feel like a complete picture.

    And Ben, it would be interesting to see the similarities and differences between the “rise of the new right” going on now in America and the right-wing movement in Germany after World War I. Although Nazism is certainly more extreme and explicitly hate-based, both seem to be movements stemming from anger and the need to blame someone for their problems. Back in the 1920s and 1930s, it was Jews and Communists. Now, it’s all liberals and progressives. But both movements have ignored the realities of their situations, for instance, the fact that it was Republicans who doubled the national debt and got us into two wars we couldn’t pay for. Also, both movements were based on an imagined fear that “others” are destroying their culture and society, and that those “others” need to be feared and persecuted. Back then, again, it was Jews, Communists, and non-Aryans…today it’s liberals, minorities, Muslims, and immigrants. You can hear Glenn Beck railing on about “taking back our country from those who wish to destroy it.” I’m sure Hitler said something similar.

    /rant over

    • [Although Nazism is certainly more extreme and explicitly hate-based, both seem to be movements stemming from anger and the need to blame someone for their problems.]

      The psychology is the same. Hitler fed off people’s fears and anger and the right-wing movement today does the same.

      • My criticism of many of Fox’s broadcasts is that they talk of where we COULD be heading as though it’s where we ACTUALLY ARE heading, and I think there’s a big difference. As I said in another post, if these threats were that real, Canada would be a communist nation already, and it isn’t.

        I think it can be argued, however, that the left plays off fears and angers just the same. Not the same fears and angers, but fears and angers nonetheless. Every single network out there (and politician, for that matter) knows those two things are what motivate people the most.

      • Vern said…. My criticism of many of Fox’s broadcasts is that they talk of where we COULD be heading as though it’s where we ACTUALLY ARE heading, and I think there’s a big difference. As I said in another post, if these threats were that real, Canada would be a communist nation already, and it isn’t.

        That is an interesting observation. I think a lot of what FOX does is plant suggestions – suggestions that some time later are remembered as facts.

        There was a particularly egregious example back in April. Obama was hosting a nuclear summit. The logo for the summit looked a bit like a crescent moon. FOX reported on this – suggesting that the crescent design might have been a secret signal sent to Islamic nations for whom the crescent is an important symbol.

        Here is a blog making the same claim:

        http://theopinionator.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/04/muslim-crescent-forms-logo-for-pres-obamas-nuclear-security-summit.html

        In actuality, the crescent design is a stylized depiction of an electron whirling around an atom – which gosh gee makes a lot of sense for a nuclear conference, doesn’t it? But, FOX doesn’t report that – they leave their innuendo hanging out there in hopes that people will see it as evidence that Obama is a “secret Muslim.”

        Not only is it bad journalism, it is downright dangerous.

  6. hippieprof,

    It’s a real shame you lefties keep changing history . Pravda was Soviet, which is left wing, which means truth, which it ain’t. Just as TASS was news. There was no Pravda in TASS and no TASS in Pravda .

    I know what you guys do. You copy phrases from the right because you are not original and then relabel them to use against the right .

    Ms. Holland,

    ” not to mention 70 or so hours of talk radio every week. ”

    Lets see, who uses talk radio? Obama’s opponents. Who threatened talk radio, Democrats. Did Bush ever threaten to shutdown the NY Times or MSNBC ? Did Bush ever threaten his political enemies ? Did Bush ever have his enemies audited by the IRS ?

    It’s kinda funny how many right wingers were audited when Democrats are in power and yet so many Democrats are tax cheats . Coincidence, I guess.

    • Alan said: It’s a real shame you lefties keep changing history . Pravda was Soviet, which is left wing, which means truth, which it ain’t. Just as TASS was news. There was no Pravda in TASS and no TASS in Pravda .

      I am well aware of the history of Pravda and TASS in the USSR, thank you. I lived through that era. I wonder, in fact, if you did – because if you had I suspect you would have understood my analogy.

      Pravda was a propaganda organ for the Communist Party. Indeed, little or anything it said was “truth.”

      Fox News is a propaganda organ for the Republican Party – and now the Tea Party (which in fact it helped to create). Like Pravda, very little of what is said on Fox is truth.

      During the cold war, citizens of the Soviet Union rarely questioned Pravda – because it was their only source of news.

      It is frightening that many US citizens are not questioning FOX – perhaps because it is the only “news” they listen to.

      — hp

    • Alan – as Reagan said “there you go again”. Pray tell what in the world are you talking about when you say Democrats threatened talk radio? What does that even mean? And what Democrats?

      Echo – you put it exactly right when you remind us of the age old tactic to exploit the “imagined fear” of the other. Fear them, make them the enemy, persecute them – and, of course, blame them for everything that’s wrong.

      Those who exploit the fear, who use it for short term political gain, they are the lowest of the low.

  7. hippieprof,

    ” It is frightening that many US citizens are not questioning FOX – perhaps because it is the only “news” they listen to. ”

    I say you are amazingly uninformed. As I always say when typing to Liberals, ” Prove me wrong “.

    First of all. Since you obviously are not a Foxnews fan, how do you know that the ” many US citizens are not questioning FOX – perhaps because it is the only “news” they listen to. ” only listen to Foxnews ? Did you take a survey of people you have nothing in common with ?

    I give myself as a relevant example . I frequently go on many Liberal sites and listen to Liberal news TV shows. What your narrow views prevent you from considering is that FoxNews wins the credibility contest with viewers who scan the whole news market place . And it is a market place, as it should be .

    I truly love to discuss the cold war with you but, I believe you are wrong when you say ” During the cold war, citizens of the Soviet Union rarely questioned Pravda – because it was their only source of news. ”

    I believe that Soviet citizens probably did not believe much of what Pravda said, particularly in the post Stalin era. They just had no power to express it. Many would have caught the domestic lies just from their every day experiences. They also had Radio Free Europe Radio to learn the truth about foreign affairs.

  8. Ms. Holland,

    ” Pray tell what in the world are you talking about when you say Democrats threatened talk radio? What does that even mean? And what Democrats? ”

    I am surprised that you are unknowing about what your own folks tried to do. First let me give you background. AM talk radio is not right wing because, or just because the owners of the stations are right wing nuts. It’s a business. To stay in business, unlike public radio, they have to make a profit .

    AM radio long ago lost the music business to FM. They actually did not look like a viable business model . Talk radio, originally Rush, pretty much saved them. Liberal talk radio failed, not because the evil AM radio owners conspired against them. No because in ” the market place ” of ideas they could not attract anyone who cared .

    However, the stations also have to keep the Feds off of their backs. With Obama and the usual suspects in power, a few Democratic politicians threatened the stations with the fairness doctrine. This said that if they continued to broadcast right wingers over the public air waves, they had to give left wingers equal air time.

    Since that meant that AM radio would have to give liberals valuable commercial air time for which they would lose their shirts because liberals cannot attract an audience that anyone would pay for, talk radio would die . Fortunately your heroes backed down.

  9. Alan said… With Obama and the usual suspects in power, a few Democratic politicians threatened the stations with the fairness doctrine.

    What you fail to understand about the Fairness Doctrine, Alan, is that the PUBLIC airwaves are indeed PUBLIC. They aren’t owned by the commercial radio stations – they are owned by you and I and Ben and Moe and everyone else – the PUBLIC.

    Does it not seem right that a PUBLIC resource should indeed require multiple views to be aired? It certainly does not seem to be serving the public if only one side gets time.

    BTW – Cable TV and Satellite Radio and the Internet are NOT public entities – so the fairness doctrine does not apply to them.

  10. Your case against Fox Nation and its headlines can stand on its own, but to say that the right “hate(s) Obama since he’s black and has expanded entitlements for minorities with the recent passage of the health care reform bill” is not only completely irresponsible, it’s also demented.

    Playing the race card again and again has been the cheapest and most convenient way for the left to feed their self-righteousness and justify any actions of a President they feel can do no wrong.

    Calling everyone on the right “racist” is as ridiculous and irresponsible as someone calling you a radical feminist or an eco-terrorist because you stand left of center. Your words here yet again are only meant to polarize and in my opinion, are completely shameful.

    • [Your case against Fox Nation and its headlines can stand on its own, but to say that the right “hate(s) Obama since he’s black and has expanded entitlements for minorities with the recent passage of the health care reform bill” is not only completely irresponsible, it’s also demented.]

      I noticed you didn’t say it wasn’t true. 😉

      • I shouldn’t have to – it’s never been true. Furthermore, no one on this blog right or left has ever expressed or supported a racist opinion, and you know it. Your comment was not only irresponsible it was shameful.

        I’m on the right. If you think I’m a racist then instead of taking cheap shots like that, have the cahones to flat out call me one and then back it up. If you can’t, then I suggest a retraction.

      • I didn’t say “all” right-wingers are racists. Many are. Some just hate Democrats.

      • Some also just hate America and want it to be a totalitarian right-wing state.

      • [I didn’t say “all” right-wingers are racists. Many are. Some just hate Democrats.]
        Well in the spirit of your last comment, you didn’t say “many” or “some”, either. 😉 Your post easily insinuates that we’re all racists, which is wrong. I even challenge that “many” are.

      • [Some also just hate America and want it to be a totalitarian right-wing state.]
        And many on the far left want it to be a totalitarian left-wing state, in which case I would argue that either side has no clue about what America is supposed to be.

  11. hippieprof,

    ” What you fail to understand about the Fairness Doctrine, Alan, is that the PUBLIC airwaves are indeed PUBLIC. They aren’t owned by the commercial radio stations – they are owned by you and I and Ben and Moe and everyone else – the PUBLIC. ”

    You can spin it all you want . It is nothing more than You people trying to silence your opposition . I wonder if Hugo Chavez uses your arguments every time he shuts down another radio station that dares to criticize him .

    By your logic, when my side takes over in the next election cycle we should be able to silence any music station that plays music we hate . You know,, public airwaves and all that rot. How about we tell the three broadcast TV networks not to criticize Republicans so much. You know,, public airwaves.

    ” BTW – Cable TV and Satellite Radio and the Internet are NOT public entities – so the fairness doctrine does not apply to them. ”

    Be careful what you wish for son. Getting the Internet declared a public entity is not that far out. Even Cable TV has regulation. Are you also telling me that the FCC does not tell Satellite Radio what frequencies it can operate over the public air space ?

    Think that’s a stretch ? Not really. You guys pioneered the interstate commerce clause. Which basically says Government can do anything, because anything can affect interstate commerce.

    Go ahead ” Professor ” show me where I’m wrong .

    • [You can spin it all you want . It is nothing more than You people trying to silence your opposition .]

      No, you’re spinning this issue because there was never a serious effort (or need) to bring back the fairness doctrine.

      There was, however, a serious attempt to politicize PBS by the Bush administration. They (the Bush administration) believed that the facts had to be balanced by the right-wing spin on the facts. We saw that in much of the mainstream media. Take global warming. Even though the vast majority of scientists believe man made pollution is affecting the climate, right-wing skeptics have been given equal time to balance the argument, even though it’s hard to find a legitimate scientist who doesn’t take the threat of anthropogenic climate change seriously.

    • You can spin it all you want . It is nothing more than You people trying to silence your opposition

      Alan, I am not trying to spin anything. I am trying to describe the logic behind the law (the former fairness doctrine). Instead of trying to understand my argument, you instead throw up a red herring like Chavez.

      Ben is right – there is no serious attempt to bring back the fairness doctrine – but this seem important to you, so I will try once again to correct your misunderstanding.

      Lets use a simple analogy.

      Suppose there is a public park in your city. Everyone should be allowed to use the public park, yes?

      Suppose, however, that the park is too popular, and the city feels it needs to sell tickets. It contracts out with a local business to sell the tickets.

      The business starts selling the tickets to the park – but as it turns out they only sell tickets to their friends. People like you and me – who are not particularly close to the business – aren’t allowed to get a ticket and can’t get into the park.

      I would suggest that we would have every right to complain – loudly.

      Now, let me spell out the analogy for you. The public park is the public airwaves. The business selling the tickets represent commercial radio stations. The practice by which the business only sells tickets to friends is directly analogous to commercial radio stations only allowing certain viewpoints to be expressed on the PUBLIC airwaves.

      And yes, I have every right to complain about that.

      Capice?

      — hp

  12. hippieprof,

    Your public park story ain’t half bad. It’s wrong as rain but, I’m mildly impressed .

    Let me see if I can correct your story, shouldn’t be all that hard.

    Since you did not specify the business, I will. I’ll take a few liberties with your analogy because it did not fit the case.

    Now lets say that you and I are food vendors. And the FCC graciously allows each of us and 9 of our friends to sell hot food out of push carts in your public park. It is a big park .

    I and my friends sell tacos. You ( I do this in honor of Anthony Wiener ) and your Progressives sell hotdogs . Now over the course of time my tacos do really well. Over time, your rancid hotdogs do not sell. Over time we taco vendors control the park. We sell to anyone. The public has chosen us. You guys are gone.

    But now, your political party just won the White House and Congress. You make a call and a timely contribution and suddenly the FCC growls that in a Public Park it’s not fair that the Public cannot buy a hotdog . It tells us that we must buy rancid hotdogs from you and sell one for every delicious taco we sell. Of course we will go out of business, then you guys move back into the Public Park. After awhile the public builds up a tolerance to the salmonella in your wieners and you guys get rich .

    • Alan said: Your public park story ain’t half bad. It’s wrong as rain but, I’m mildly impressed

      Right back atcha – you managed to rewrite my story to get to a different conclusion – but in doing so you changed a critical aspect of the story. You don’t get to do that….

      😉

      The problem with your analogy is that you can go to the public park and enjoy it and not have to eat anything. You can bring food in with you. So, what food is offered might impact your enjoyment a bit – but it would not keep you out of the park.

      My analogy intentionally talked about selling tickets to the park such that only those on the favored list got in. That isa very different scenario.

      Let me alter my scenario slightly, though, to make it a little bit more like the public airwaves actually work. It also incorporates the “market forces” aspect you have introduced.

      Suppose the city decided to have an auction for tickets to the park. Well, it turns out that the biggest richest guy in the city has enough to buy all the tickets – and then only gives them away to friends. Once again, you are excluded from the PUBLIC park – this time because you couldn’t outbid the rich guy.

      This is of course EXACTLY what has happened after the deregulation brought on by the Telecommunications Act.

      — hp

      BTW – your analysis seems to assume that there is no market for liberal talk radio. That isn’t the case. Indeed, it is probably not as big a market – but there is a market.

  13. hippieprof,

    ” but in doing so you changed a critical aspect of the story. You don’t get to do that… ”

    Sure I do. But, something you said confused me. You can perhaps tell me what the Telecommunications Act and Deregulation have to do with AM radio.

    ” your analysis seems to assume that there is no market for liberal talk radio. ”

    I am no expert on radio, but I think that you guys on the left put too much emphasis on the radio part of talk radio. You see the power of talk radio and you think, if only we had something to match it.

    Talk radio is only a distribution form. Like all media. I’ve asked myself why I as a Conservative listen to talk radio. Some of it’s demographics. Some of it’s because I work out of a vehicle all day and AM radio is convenient.

    My guess is that Liberals merely make more use of other media. They typically would not listen to radio during the day. This is why Liberal radio will always be small. But then you guys are bigger in print and broadcast TV media.

    The good news for you is that over time you guys will do well with the younger Demographic who don’t listen to AM radio. They go to sattelite radio and the internet, which is your strength.

    • Here I go agreeing again with something Alan has said. It must be the meds.

    • [You see the power of talk radio and you think, if only we had something to match it.]

      Right-wing talk radio uses emotion to attract listeners. The Republican party itself is the party of fear and anger. Pundits like Limbaugh, Beck, O’Reilly, and Hannity get paid such enormous salaries because they appeal to peoples’ emotions. Plus, what comes out of their lying mouths is what right-wingers want to hear. Their narrative supports the conservative ideology, and that’s more important to right-wingers than facts.

      Liberal pundits don’t have to lie since Republicans and right-wingers provide enough ammunition that they don’t have to. Plus, progressives generally don’t base their opinions on emotions.

  14. Alan asked: But, something you said confused me. You can perhaps tell me what the Telecommunications Act and Deregulation have to do with AM radio.

    It used to be that corporations were not allowed to multiple radio stations in the same listening area. The telecommunications act removed that restriction. As a result (quoting from wikipedia):

    “The Act was claimed to foster competition. Instead, it continued the historic industry consolidation begun by Reagan, whose actions reduced the number of major media companies from around 50 in 1983 to 10 in 1996[19] and 6 in 2005.[20] An FCC study found that the Act had led to a drastic decline in the number of radio station owners, even as the actual number of commercial stations in the United States had increased.[21]”

    Note that this period of time also corresponds to the rise of conservative talk radio. Part of the reason for this is that many of the remaining radio station owners have a conservative agenda. They are thus able to flood the airwaves with conservative programming.

    My guess is that Liberals merely make more use of other media.

    I think you are right here – and as I remember there are some studies that have shown liberals tend to seek news information from multiple sources, while conservatives are more likely to utilize a signle source. This is one reason FOX is so much more effective than MSNBC.

  15. [An FCC study found that the Act had led to a drastic decline in the number of radio station owners, even as the actual number of commercial stations in the United States had increased.]

    It also resulted in more commercials on FM radio. These big media conglomerates paid a lot of money for some of the independent stations and to become profitable, they had to increase the amount of advertising. Once again, the general public suffers from conservative legislation. (Clinton had many conservative tendencies and signed the ill conceived bill, possibly to appease Republicans).

    [This is one reason FOX is so much more effective than MSNBC.]

    Fox viewers are generally older, less educated, and watch more TV than your typical progressive. They are also more loyal towards their sources since Fox gives them the “news” they want to hear.

  16. guys,

    I still think you don’t grasp the economics of it. All old media is struggling to compete against the new media. The consolidation of ownership is probably the only way for terrestrial radio to survive at present. I doubt your hero Barak will bail them out, although I hear Liberals advocating for him to bail out print media.

    ” I think you are right here – and as I remember there are some studies that have shown liberals tend to seek news information from multiple sources, while conservatives are more likely to utilize a signle source. This is one reason FOX is so much more effective than MSNBC. ”

    I [wretch] partially agree. Liberal viewership is diluted among a host of outlet competitors. Conservatives, we only have Fox, talk radio, Wall Street Journal, and a bunch of mini sources like National Review. As far as MSNBC, the problem there is they have few opposition guests to dispute their lies. O’Reilly, Limbaugh, Hannity all have people on that tell them they are full of crap. O’Reilly sometimes even lets them get a word in.

    When did Olbermann ever have anyone on that did not tell him he was brilliant?

    • O’Reilly, Limbaugh, Hannity all have people on that tell them they are full of crap. O’Reilly sometimes even lets them get a word in.

      I agree – Olbermann would be far better off if he had someone to disagree with him from time to time.

      I am not sure it is any better than what FOX does, though – where they put up a straw man to voice the opinion of the opposition – and then shout him/her down.

      I rather liked the old Crossfire on CNN, where everyone shouted everyone down.

    • [O’Reilly, Limbaugh, Hannity all have people on that tell them they are full of crap]

      Limbaugh doesn’t have guests. It’s not his format. It’s been one of the points htat his critics have pointed to for years.

      Olbermann has become FOX, which in my book, means he just doesn’t count anymore. He was great when he first came on the air, but it’s all gotten a little tired.

  17. Ms Holland,

    Rush does take calls from disagreeable callers. I’ve listened as he had great patience with people who would do you proud. Hannity loves people who call in and call him names . They do defend the positions against Liberals. MSNBC has a few token Conservatives, usually with Mathews. Mr. Ed and Olberdork always play it safe.

    In fairness, Mr. Bill is not as good as he was. He seems more interested in appearing fair than fighting the battles anymore. He will get Liberals on his show. I hate to say it but he is getting up there in years. He doesn’t need the money, so I don’t know why he hangs on .

    • “Taking calls” is not ‘having guests”. Big big difference.

      And I’ve heard the ‘liberals’ Rush’s Mr. Snerdley lets through – they are the most ignorant, the dumbest, the socially inept – they are chosen to give us all a bad name.

      Guests – callers – not the same thing at all. DRush does not have guests.

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