Savagery I worked in Silicon


I worked in Silicon Valley during the glory days of the mid/late-90s, and every evening as my car and I crawled along Route 101, perhaps the nation’s least enjoyable and most constipated roadway, I would listen to the right-wing hate-mongers on KSFO, San Francisco’s right-wing, hate-mongering radio station.

I’m not sure exactly why I subjected myself to this torture. I’ve always believed that it’s important to know what all sides are saying, not just the side you believe is right.

To many, reading the news (or listening to it on the radio or seeing it on TV) is like getting into a nice, warm bath. You choose the media with which you most agree. As you open the page or adjust the settings, you know that you are about to have your own ideas and perceptions confirmed and validated. You know there will ensue that unique sense of comfort that come to us by way of agreement.

All of us are wired to love agreement. For some, it is, in and of itself, the purpose of life. I love it too; it feels good. Every day I read Mark Kleiman and Orcinus and Josh Marshall because I pretty much know in advance what they are going to say and that I will be in total agreement with them.

But then I am also careful to read Andrew Sullivan (social liberal, but conservative in every other way), Instapundit (I can’t bear to type down the link, it’s so ubiquitous) and even Ann Coulter and the like. When I lived in the States I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh. It keeps me on my toes, gets the adrenaline flowing and helps me hone my arguments.

Seems I’ve wandered off-topic. Back to Route 101: I would listen to KSFO every night during my commute, and while it got my blood pressure up I could at least deal with it. But when Michael Savage’s program came on, I became physically agitated. I would shout back at the radio. I would imagine Savage tied up in a chair, and me holding a stick with a long nail at the end of it. I would curse and clench my fist.

Never heard of Michael Savage? Then check out this article. To read that this foul-mouthed, hate-filled, lying sleazebag has actually been signed on to pontificate on MSNBC makes me truly sick, and makes me realize just how desperate the dot-com-era network is to win publicity and ad dollars. (Controversy sells.)

Listening to Savage reminded me at times just how stupid some people are, for he had a faithful constituency that hung on his every word. Had they exercised the slightest bit of critical thinking, had they been able to remember what this demagogue would say from one night to the next, they would have seen that his “arguments” amounted to inane, jingoistic, racist and foul rubbish — worse than rubbish, evil and intentional lies. But they couldn’t do that, and I was always amazed. As some famous person once remarked, “No one ever lost any money underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

This was years ago, but one example burned me up to such a degree that I’ve remembered it as though it were today. Savage would often cite figures from polls that reflected poorly on Democrats. He loved it, proving how despised they were. And then someone intelligent called during the height of the Monica craze, and said that Savage had to face the fact that the president, whom he slandered endlessly and joyfully, was still enjoying record popularity according to the polls. I will never forget Savage’s reply, which I’m paraphrasing, but pretty accurately: “How can you believe in those polls? Do you know how they do polls? They go to some bath house and they ask questions to a guy with an earring in his ear. And that’s your poll.”

This still gets my heart racing. Never mind the obvious anti-gay hatred and stereotyping. The sheer hubris and hypocrisy of forgetting everything you’ve said the day before in order to effectively and treacherously smear your enemy today — it was, for me, simply unprecedented. It went too far. I expect Limbaugh and Tony Snow and Cal Thomas to stretch the truth and play shamelessly on people’s emotions under the rubric of patriotism. But to so grossly and obviously (to anyone with minimal grey matter) contradict yourself and so brazenly assume that your listeners are retarded — I never really got over my shock.

Anyway, now you can hear and see Savage for yourself on MSNBC. It is an affront to journalism and a sign that the network is on its way down the drain.

The Discussion: One Comment

Just to say hellow!

September 16, 2005 @ 2:05 pm | Comment

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