I’m a progressive. Yet it’s painful for me to listen to Randi Rhodes, Air America’s equivalent of Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage. She’s an embarrassment for progressives.
Rhodes routinely is uninformed, shrill, and rude. This wouldn’t be such a problem for the progressive movement if there were a wide variety of appealing liberal radio voices. But there aren’t, for the airwaves are dominated by conservative talk show hosts.
The rantings of Limbaugh and Savage appeal to rabid right-wingers, just as Rhodes is the darling of unabashed lefties. On the right, Tony Snow and Sean Hannity are more moderate in tone. So are Ed Schultz and Al Franken on the left.
However, since Randi Rhodes is one of only a few progressive radio presences, her failings cast a considerable shadow over the entire Democratic/liberal side of politics. Plus, the Randi Rhodes show is broadcast in prime radio time, 3 to 7 pm.
I wish she were on from 1 to 5 am when hardly anyone would hear her. During the few minutes that I’m able to listen to her before my finger jabs another preset button, I worry that she’s driving moderates away from the progressive cause in droves.
Here are a few examples of Rhodes’ irritating incompetence:
(1) Last week I heard her blathering on about how great it was that Democratic governors were elected in Virginia and New Jersey because these were red states that didn’t elect Democrats. Except, Tim Kaine (Virginia) and Jon Corzine (New Jersey) succeeded Democratic governors.
I knew that just from glancing at election results in our (crappy) local newspaper. A national talk show host should be a lot better informed about politics than I am. But Rhodes wasn’t. That’s inexcusable.
(2) Even more inexcusable, before the election Randi Rhodes got Tim Kaine mixed up with his Republican opponent, Jerry Kilgore. As the “RaisingKaine” blog points out, Rhodes devoted quite a bit of air time on her show to trashing a Democratic candidate who was in a close race. The Kaine supporters were confused by a blog entry critical of Kaine that supposedly was written by Rhodes. The RaisingKaine folks said:
Well, my colleagues and I were totally confused and dumbfounded by this, so we listened to the August 10 show in the archives on your website. Unfortunately, it turns out that this WAS you, NOT an imposter, and that you actually read these comments and attacked Tim Kaine — who you must have confused with Jerry Kilgore, right?!? please?!? — ON THE AIR! Look, we can be charitable and say that you were busy, distracted, and totally confused, that you or one of your staffers thought this blog was pro-Kilgore for some bizarre reason.
Alternately, we can be less charitable and simply conclude that you attacked Tim Kaine without even knowing who he was, let alone the difference between a Democrat (Tim), a far-right Republican (Jerry Kilgore), or a hole in the ground. Frankly, though, it would be utterly shocking if a leading Democratic radio host hadn’t heard of the #1 Governor’s race in the country this year! With all due respect, have you been hiding in a cave the past few months or something?
I can only wish. In a cave off the air.
(3) Recently I heard Rhodes talking in her misinformed fashion about avian flu. She was musing that the avian flu scare had been fabricated by the Bush administration for some nefarious reason. Rhodes even suggested that avian flu might be generated in government labs to distract attention from Bush’s political problems.
Amazingly, she said that because Bush had just given a speech about the potential danger of avian flu, now she wasn’t going to worry about it because the truth is always the opposite of what Bush says. That’s flat-out irresponsible, given that independent public health experts from the World Health Organization and elsewhere consider that an avian flu pandemic is a real and present danger that could kill millions of people worldwide.
(4) Lastly, Randi Rhodes got my First Amendment hackles up when she started talking about Scooter Libby’s 1996 novel, “The Apprentice.” She said that it contains a scene where a young girl is raped by a bear. According to a piece in the New Yorker, “Scooter’s Sex Shocker,” this is true. Libby wrote:
At age ten the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons. They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest.
OK, that’s shocking and crude. But Libby wrote a novel, for christ’s sake. This is fiction, not reality. Yet Randi Rhodes screamed, “Libby is a child abuser! He should be put away!” (or words to that effect)
Yes, he should be put away. Not for his writing though. For obstruction of justice and perjury, assuming he is found guilty. You would think that a progressive would be championing free speech, as repugnant as it might be to some.
This is America. You can say what you want here. Randi Rhodes can too. I just wish she wouldn’t. For the sake of the progressive movement.