This past May, as part of my work with the Media Action Center (http://www.mediaactioncenter.net/), I had the opportunity to monitor and record two weeks of the Mark Belling show. Mark Belling is one of five (!) popular local right-wing talk radio hosts in Milwaukee, WI. If you've heard the nationally-syndicated guys (Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, etc), then you know the formula: Lies, distortion, hatred, hypocrisy, projection. Wash. Rinse. Repeat...ad nauseum.
(Belling is a particularly cretinous case. His voice drips with such smug, arrogant, venomous bile that even when he's waxing on his favorite sports teams he sounds like a pompous jerk. How anyone could stand to listen to him mystifies me. So the fact that he has a sizeable fanbase says a lot about the depths of right-wing hatred in today's Wisconsin)
At the time, I decided to kill two birds with one stone & make a Facebook page to document and debunk the specific falsehoods I heard on each day's show.
That was 6+ months ago. So to keep my work from falling permanently down the facebook memory hole, I've collected it together here.
If you're looking for good ammunition to use against common right-wing BS arguments (particularly in Wisconsin), then I hope you find this useful:
Wednesday, May 9
Today's show was pretty mild by Belling's usual standard, as a big chunk of the air time was spent analyzing the horse race aspects of yesterday's primary.
He complained of liberal media bias (I think they're contractually obligated to do this at least once a show) and, as always, used a pathetically weak example:
You see, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put a giant picture of Tom Barrett on the front
page today and no picture of Scott Walker. Waaaah!
The reason for this "bias" is blindingly obvious if you're not a right-wing hack:
Walker wasn't the story! Everybody already knew Walker was the GOP candidate, there was no GOP primary, so it's NOT news. The news was who would win the Dem primary.
Belling even found this out himself when he sent a belligerent email to managing editor George Stanley and got a polite response, which he read on air. But no, that's not enough to satisfy Belling. There must be some liberal media conspiracy here, facts and logic be damned.
He called the collective bargaining reforms "a resounding success" and said they were "working gloriously". Then had the audacity to crow that the "unemployment rate is down" while conveniently forgetting that that's only because more people dropped off the rolls and that WI's job losses are the worst in the country.
Is Belling smart enough to realize that there's a link between the collective bargaining "reforms" and the job losses? I think he is. But he hopes his audience is too stupid and won't make the connection. Because then that would prove Keynesian economics correct and we can't even entertain such a thought in right-wing disinfo world.
He repeated the nonsense that WI's terrible job climate "is because we had excessive taxation of business." There are so many things wrong with this, I don't even know where to begin. Hmm, let's start with an obvious one:
Then why are all the other states doing better, even though most have equal or higher taxes on business?!?
Then MB spends some time bashing Obama for his support of gay marriage. In this segment, he actually had the nerve to say that legalizing gay marriage was to "create a law that gives (gays) special treatment."
(yeah, the jackass actually said that)
No, you f#@*ing moron! The SAME rights as straights does NOT = "special treatment."
On what far-right ass-backward hellhole of a planet does equal treatment = special treatment?!?
Oh, but it gets worse. Then MB tries to paint Obama's approval of gay marriage as an example of his "elitism."
Allowing everyone to have equal rights is elitist now?
Uh, yeah, that makes perfect sense.
....if you're a hateful lying douchebag.
That was the end of Belling's 3 hours, but our hero wasn't done. He had to go 10 minutes over time so he could tell us about the latest in the imaginary war on Christians.
Why, oh, why, Belling wonders, "do people target and ridicule Christianity?"
Yeah, cuz Christians have nothing but the kindest words to say about Atheists, Pagans, Muslims, etc, etc. Christians have neeeeeeeeever persecuted any of them. And Christians have neeeeeeeeever tried to force their personal beliefs on others. So why would anybody in these other groups ever want to stand up for themselves?
Fortunately, Belling has the answer: It's their insecurity. "I feel deep down they feel they're wrong."
Project much, asshole?
p.s.- During today's show Belling claimed the "intensity of support for (Governor Scott) Walker is greater than the intensity of support for (Dem challenger Tom) Barrett", and that the "public likes these reforms."
Hmm, gee, if true, I think I know why that is: Because they're listening to shows like yours!
If they hear nothing but lies, distortions, and pro-Walker slant and demonization of his foes, never getting the other side of the story, then OF COURSE they will support sociopaths like Walker and his destructive policies.
Thursday, May 10:
Belling starts off today's show by bashing former DNR secretaries Tony Earle & Scott Hassett because they dared to criticize the agency's current Walker-crony leadership. But will Belling ever allow Earle or Hassett on his show to defend themselves? Don't hold your breath.
He then wastes no time in finding "liberal media bias" in the story, even though there is none.
He spent an hour or so elaborating on his logic-deprived musings on gay marriage from the previous day.
His pearls of wisdom included gems like, "Liberals say we shouldn't legislate morality but this is them legislating their morality."
So expecting to be treated equally is legislating morality now?
Oh, but our favorite afternoon assclown has more:
"The definition we've had of marriage since the beginning of this country has worked just fine."
Uh, unless you're gay.
Then a less-than-brilliant caller chimes in with "they're not tolerant of Christianity but we should be tolerant of them?" and Belling bellows his agreement with this absurdity.
Belling and fan arrived at this tortured logic by making the false analogy between gay marriage and the ban on organized school prayer. Conveniently forgetting that one is a private matter between consenting adults that doesn't force anyone else to participate and the other is the state forcing participation in a religion with public funds.
Yeah, totally the same.
In the following segment, MB goes into Walker-worshiping mode, reminding us just how much better off WI under Walker is than all the other states. "Illinois' state budget is a complete mess" and "a lot of states are really screwed up right now with their budgets out of balance", while "we have a surplus" and, I kid you not, "better than estimated growth in job creation."
Belling knows he's full of shit. He just talked about the BLS report last week. You know, the one that showed us dead last with the most job losses. How exactly is that "better than estimated"?
He spends a good part of this segment throwing around a bunch of great-sounding figures "proving" how much money Walker's saved WI but never says where he's reading them from. Why so shy about your source there, Mark? Hmmm, could it be because it's from one of the zero-credibility right-wing think tanks where you get most of your bullshit?
"Walker inherited a 3 billion deficit" but has "had such glorious success" eliminating it.
Rounding the home stretch, MB called Obama a socialist (yawn), proving yet again that he has no fucking clue what the word "socialist" means (or just hopes his audience is too stupid to know), then found another opportunity for some more "liberal media" whining, using,...wait for it... John Edwards as an example!
Yeah, I was just thinking that myself: Boy, the media's been way too easy on John Edwards. Unlike all those Republicans known for cheating on their wives that the media is reporting on every day... Oh wait, they aren't.
Friday, May 11
Today's show was a 3-hour exercise in tedium, proving that right-wing talk's greater market share is NOT due to superior entertainment value.
MB spent a good half of the show droning on and on about how mean and nasty all us liberals are and how the media lets us off the hook, but would never let those poor and innocent, not to mention upright and moral, conservatives get away with it if they were as mean and nasty as us.
Liberals are "out there trying to destroy lives", are "thugs who try to bully & intimidate", "are allowed to play by one set of rules that conservatives are not", and "don't have a press that will blow the whistle on them" because "the media really helps on the liberal side." "It's amazing what you can get away with when you're a liberal."
Guest Margaret Farrow later echoed this baseless talking point: "the liberals get away with anything they want."
There's a very good reason Belling and his fellow propagandists always push this paranoid fantasy version of reality: When they can convince their listeners that they are the persecuted victims of an evil liberal establishment it effectively inoculates them against any legitimate criticism. We call this cynical, manipulative ploy "Working the refs."
The inspiration for Belling's latest nearly 2-hour tirade? Apparently someone connected to the Obama campaign has dug up dirt on one of the GOP's biggest donors. And in Belling's feverish mind, it's somehow beyond the pale to want to know more about the powerful private interests bankrolling the destruction of government as we know it and what might be motivating them.
"We've seen them do this to the Koch brothers."
LOL! Ah, yes, those poor helpless Koch brothers. Those sweet innocent paragons of virtue and kindness, the Koch brothers. Us mean, nasty liberals should quit picking on them and let them carry on unchallenged in their noble & selfless mission to destroy the middle-class. How dare we ask any questions about the Koch brothers!
"People who donate to conservatives get all sorts of hell & abuse."
Oh, like George Soros does for donating money to liberals?
"The attacks (by conservatives) on Soros are rarely personal."
And by "rarely", you mean always, right?:
"Our side should do the same thing with prominent liberal donors"
As the clips above show, you already do. And then some.
"But when we engage in these tactics, we get media criticism"
Where? Examples, please. I assume you mean the mainstream media. At least that's what you want your audience to infer. So where's all this mainstream media criticism of the right's relentless Soros-bashing? Answer: Nowhere.
Belling then found a chance to squeeze in mentions of "death threats against Walker that no one's done anything about" and that conservatives in Milwaukee are afraid to display pro-Walker signs out of fear that the "goon squad on the left, particularly the teachers and the public unions" will steal or destroy them.
1. Obama faces an average of 30 death threats a day that are never even reported!
2. I've talked to dozens of Democrats in rural Wisconsin who are afraid to put their anti-Walker yard signs out anymore because people keep stealing or destroying them.
Thus, nearly the entire show was an exercise in projection straight out of Karl Rove's playbook.
Oh, and he called Obama (who is further to the economic right than Republican Eisenhower was) a socialist again.
What about that devastating just released video where Walker is caught admitting what we suspected all along, that his strategy was to "divide and conquer" the working class?
Belling finally mentioned it in the 3rd hour (he had to, it's the elephant in the living room), but he conveniently ignored the context of what Walker meant by "divide and conquer", preferring to whine about the term "union busting" that a reporter used in describing Walker's comments, which he considers another example of lib bias. (It isn't) To whitewash and excuse what Walker was saying, Belling desperately spins it with "I think the unions ARE divided",and Walker considers "private sector unions his partners".
Uh, ok,...if they're his partners then why would he want to "conquer" them, you insufferable jackass?!?
First off, what is that ridiculously dated 80's intro music? It sounds like it's from one of those moronic sports movie training montages that South Park makes fun of.
After the cheesy synths and drum machines finally fade, Belling starts off today's show by inadvertently proving that what Walker meant when he said "divide and conquer" is exactly what Dems and liberals always knew he meant, despite the herculean efforts of Belling and his fellow propagandists to spin it into something more innocent.
Belling does this by employing the very same divide-and-conquer strategy himself. He's hardly an original thinker, as this is age-old GOP strategy. Get working-class people to blame each other for their problems instead of putting blame where it rightfully belongs: The top 0.1% who have pulled the ladder up behind them and rigged the system against everyone else.
He spends the first half hour getting his gullible listeners good and hopping mad at those damn teachers and all those retirement and pension benefits they get to have and you don't. They don't have to worry about falling on hardship in their retirement years like you do. They can enjoy economic security in their old age but "most people don't have that ability."
Hey, asshole! That's because they have a union!
You know, just like so many private workers used to have before your guys went on a 30-year union-busting rampage so that now public employee unions are almost the only ones left.
Basically Belling's saying: My union-bashing Republican friends fucked you, so now you should be mad at the people we haven't fucked yet, so it will be easier for us to fuck them too. And your dumb asses will cheer us on while we do it.
Belling's next segment included two big, fat, easily-debunkable lies.
He starts off by comparing this recession to previous ones and points out that it's taken so much longer for us to get out of this one. This time "We didn't have that big bounceback that we normally get."
But Belling conveniently ignores the reason for this: Unlike the recessions of the recent past, this time we tried to fix it by employing government-slashing austerity measures. And as history has shown us multiple times, and as Europe is showing us yet again, and as economists like Dean Baker, Ravi Batra, Jared Bernstein, Andrew Fieldhouse, Robert Frank, Austan Goolsbie, Paul Krugman, Ethan Pollack, Nouriel Roubini, Jeffrey Sachs, Joseph Stiglitz, etc have all been trying to tell us for years now (!!!!!),
AUSTERITY DOESN'T WORK!
YOU CAN'T CUT YOUR WAY OUT OF A RECESSION!
But no, Mark Belling lives in Opposite World, where the recovery would have happened by now if Obama hadn't "farted it all away with his stimulus."
And then MB drops this whopper: Obama's stimulus "hasn't produced any gain in employment at all."
Busted! Smoking gun proof that Mark Belling is a lying sack of shit. But wait, there's more!
Our amnesiac asshat then has the audacity to claim only private workers have been losing jobs in this recession while public employees have skated by unharmed, "almost none of them lost their jobs." Are his knowledge-challenged listeners really dumb enough to fall for this one?
"The current recovery is the only one that has seen public-sector losses over its first 31 months,"
"The August jobs report shows that the 17,000 public sector job losses last month completely wiped out the private sector's 17,000 job gains"
"the public sector has declined since Obama took office (down 590,000 jobs)"
Even the right's beloved Wall Street Journal admits it:
That was all in the first hour. The 2nd hour was entirely given over to a bunch of horse-race analysis of the upcoming Republican Senate primary. Boring.
Then nearly a whole hour of inane nonsense about some guy who refused to pay his bill when an all-you-can-eat restaurant ran out of fish. Really? They thought it was a good idea to spend an hour on that? By the end I suspect I was the only listener left.
Have you ever noticed how often Belling rudely interrupts the news guys when they try to give the traffic and weather breaks? What a pushy, inconsiderate ass. Every single day he butts in and cuts them off in the middle of their report. Multiple times! So he can bleat on with whatever nonsense pops in his head. I bet everybody at the WISN office hates his guts.
Today, lots more whining about the non-existent liberal media bias. Yawn.
Here's some articles to help debunk this ridiculous lie that we have a liberal mainstream media:
Then he goes on a predictable anti-gov't rant. "In government there's never any accountability when you don't do a good job." He even argues that in gov't jobs you're encouraged to be lazy, nobody wants to excel at their job, and if someone does work hard the other gov't workers will resent them.
Hmm, I've never worked for the gov't. But the situation he describes sounds EXACTLY like almost ALL the private workplaces I worked at in my teens and twenties. All the restaurants, record stores, and construction sites (none of them union, btw). Laziness and lack of motivation were endemic. The most common cliche I heard from my slacker co-workers: "They don't pay me enough to work hard." But in Belling's fantasy universe, that kind of attitude only exists in gov't jobs.
Then a caller chimes in with: "It can be done cheaper in the private sector."
So you've never heard of Blackwater, aka XE, aka Academi? (they have to keep changing their name after every scandal)
Or the fact that our private Healthcare system costs roughly twice as much as the government-run Healthcare most other industrialized countries enjoy?
Later, MB fills airtime with some good old reliable Obama-bashing. Belling "knew he was a radical all along" and that he would "govern from the far left."
If you think Obama qualifies as "far left", you have a profound ignorance of history.
Nixon was further left than Obama is! Hell, by today's Republican standards (and Belling's), even Reagan was a leftie:
And according to the analysis of the non-partisan Political Compass website, Obama is on the Authoritarian Right of the global political spectrum. Right next to Mitt Romney, in fact:
Then we get some bashing of our "liberal" education system:
"Almost all our institutions of thought are dominated by liberals", "your kid goes to a public school they're indoctrinated by liberal teachers", "liberalism is jammed down your throat from the point you are born", etc.
I'm reminded of a great bumper sticker I used to have: "Reality Has a Liberal Bias." Another common variation: "The facts have a notorious liberal bias."
In other words, if, like Belling, you're operating from an extreme-right perspective, any teacher or textbook that tries to present facts in a balanced, impartial, and fact-based way is going to appear to you as liberal because it doesn't slavishly conform to your own dogmatic far-right bias.
So Public Education can't win with these assholes. Until the school curriculum is dictated by like-minded extremists, they're always gonna find "liberal bias" there.
In the final hour, Belling talks elections and includes amongst his inanities, the observation that "Democrats have all their cheating."
Of course, he gives no example of what this cheating might be. That's because it's pure paranoid fantasy.
And of course, he remains strangely silent on the mountains of evidence of Republican cheating.
(continued in Part Two...http://www.dailykos.com/...)