On my way to my tax preparer’s office today (yes, I know, tax returns were due in April but I filed an extension and over-paid my tax liability) and – as I do a couple of times a week – tuned into WAML, radio 105.9 here in DC - to see what Rush had to say about the state of affairs in America today.  Although I did not hear the opening anti-liberal, anti-Obama commentary that Rush typically provides to all of his listeners, I joined his discussion midstream about how the Washington Post in an editorial a “few days ago” was blaming newly elected Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan for the mess that is Baltimore.

Rush was going on and on in his usual style about how the Post was ignoring that fact that Baltimore has been governed by Democrats since time immemorial.  (I don’t know when the city was last governed by Republicans but, hey, Rush is more or less correct since Baltimore is a Democratic stronghold in the State of Maryland and has been for as long as I can remember).  So I give him props for this one.

Rush was making bro-mance with Republican Larry Hogan who, indeed, was elected to the Governorship last November citing the Post’s June 1, 2015 editorial blaming Hogan – Rush’s words – for the poverty, crime and joblessness and riots in West Baltimore last month.  Now, Rush did not specify West Baltimore where in fact the riots did occur, but basically rendered all of Baltimore City into the trash heap of “What is wrong with urban America today after decades of Librul rule.”

I am a daily reader of the Washington Post – the print version is delivered to my front porch every morning – so I was in a bit of a quandary not recalling a Post editorial that slammed Hogan for the “mess that is Baltimore” (Rush’s characterization).  So in stereotypically liberal fashion, when I got back to my place I went to the WAPO web site to ferret out this offensive, anti-Republican-anti-Hogan editorial.  Now I’m not precisely certain which anti-Hogan editorial Rush was referring to but the latest one was a piece published on June 1, 2015.  (The previous one was May 25 and had nothing to do with Baltimore so I’m assuming that this is the piece Rush was blathering on about.)

The offensive words, according to Rush, begin thusly:

“Soon after the rioting in Baltimore ended in late April, the world’s media turned their gaze elsewhere.  This, as a petulant police force retreated to its station house, the real carnage began.”

It’s no secret, and it’s been reported on all the usual media outlets, that murders have skyrocketed in Baltimore since six of its officers were indicted at the behest of the Baltimore State’s Attorney, Marilyn Mosby.  The Post’s editorial is essentially about how Baltimore’s Police Department has instituted a slowdown to show their displeasure at the indictments following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. 

In the editorial, this is what the Post says about Republican Governor Larry Hogan:

“Gov. Larry Hogan(R), having spent a week in Baltimore following the riots, has had little to say about the city since, beyond his insistence on the restoration of public order.  Hogan Administration officials say that Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., an African American and a Democrat form Baltimore who is an aide to the Governor, will offer recommendations to promote jobs and opportunity in the city.  So far there is no indication of how and when this may happen.”

As far as I’m aware, Governor Hogan hasn’t said much (I would say “hasn't said a word” but I might have missed something) about what he intends to do about the poverty, unemployment and animosity towards the Baltimore Police Department nor, indeed, about the police slowdown there.  I don’t necessarily fault him for this lack of response since West Baltimore’s problems stem as much from the decimation of Baltimore’s once thriving industrial sector as anything else.  Not, in my mind, an easy set of circumstances to overcome. 

But the above direct quote is the sum total of the Post’s words concerning the offending editorial that is basically about the precipitous rise in murders since the indictment of the Baltimore Police officers and the lack of response to the underlying factors that illuminate the poverty and joblessness in West Baltimore.

But according to Rush, this editorial was an attack on Hogan, blaming him for the riots and poverty in Baltimore.  (He never distinguished the rest of Baltimore city which includes John’s Hopkins University and John’s Hopkins hospital two of America’s prestigious institutions nor the many spiffy residential areas that Baltimore proudly boasts of to say nothing of a prosperous, vibrant Inner Harbor and Downtown).  But in the Rush world I guess even what I would consider a fairly benign statement that Governor Hogan hasn’t publically addressed the current situation in Baltimore (which is true) is somehow a left-wing attack upon a Republican Governor. 

To add insult to the already preposterous assertions of Rush, he also stated that it was the Department of Justice who was managing the Baltimore Police Department, thus the reason for the horrific spike in murders.  Of course this slides neatly into Rush’s meme that the Federal Government is nothing more than a cover for the stripping of the American public’s liberties and freedoms. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.  When the Justice Department conducts an investigation into the activities of a police department, it does not “take over the daily operations of the department.”

But this is precisely the kind of hyperbole, propaganda and mis-information that Rush feeds his listeners on a daily basis.  If you haven’t partaken of this sort of Rush-ism, you really should. And it doesn’t matter what time you may tune in, what day, or what the topic under discussion might be.  This is exactly the kind of information, “all factual,” according to Rush, he intones every single hour of every single day of his broadcasts. 

Look, I’m no longer a fan of the Washington Post who still characterizes itself as a “liberal” media outlet even though they have published dozens of articles about whether or not Obama is a secret Muslim  (What? Is it because he has a Muslim sounding name?  And this is a paragon of liberal reportage?) and continue to feature the harebrained musings of the country’s right wing contingent, I guess in the spirit of “fair and balanced reporting.”

But never mind. My quarrel with the newspaper who brought down a President is irrelevant to the issue. 

What’s at issue is Rush’s and the right wing media’s total disregard for factual data and information and the constant misleading of the American public.  Sure, I know that Rush and company see the Washington Post as the personification of liberal evil, but the three sentences in the Post’s editorial about the mess that is West Baltimore are nothing more than asking what Governor Hogan intends to do about trying to rectify this situation.  Nothing more.  Nothing less. And this is some sort of liberal attack?  There could not be a more innocuous demand for response to a serious crisis imaginable.

Yet Rush characterizes this forgettable divergence as an attack on Republican governance and as a wholesale indictment of Democrat rule in Baltimore.  His listeners?  Of course they are predisposed to distrust anything and everything the Washington Post publishes so Rush adroitly yet duplicitously keys into the right wings suspicion of anything and everything that smacks of even the most benign of liberal comment.  Do Rush’s listeners have the ability to ferret out Rush’s lies?  Probably not.  They seem to be ensconced in a cocoon of conservative inviolability and are, therefore, immune to factual information that doesn’t comport with their view of the world. 

And that is the problem.  While it’s one thing for Timothy McVeigh to believe that the government is evil and out to strip him of his freedom, it’s quite another kettle of fish for an entire segment of the population who believes the mis-truths and outright lies that right wing media personalities feed them.  There can be no justification for Rush’s misleading of his listeners with the kind of propaganda that he spews forth daily to a segment of the American population.  If we value the truth, if we as a nation want to get to the bottom of any situation (whether the real genesis of the spike in Baltimore murders or the real situation surrounding the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi) then we must call-out the purveyors of lies, mistruths and propaganda that infect our society on a daily basis. 

I used this example of how Rush manipulates his audience with propaganda only because it is so transparent and so egregiously erroneous.  But the problem is that such “errors” are the daily fodder of the right wing propaganda purveyors and it is corroding the very fabric of American society. 

On to the 2016 elections. 

POSTSCRIPT:  As a service to its readers the Post published three letters to the editor this morning castigating the newspaper for daring to blame Republican Governor Hogan for the police slowdown.  This morning too there were the very same comments by commentators that Rush made on his radio program yesteday on a piece about Baltimore.  

See what I mean? Thank you WAPO for making it seem - once again - that there is some validity to the dumb-ass argument that you blamed the Governor for the mess in Baltimore.  What you did by publishing the three letters is basically legitimize Rush Limbaugh's warped view of the world.  Thanks a lot.  



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