How can a minority as small as the radical religious right exert such influence on American politics?
For one thing, they're rich. Look at every major televangelist out there and not one of them is anything less than a multimillionaire. As much as we want to say that justice is blind and as much as we might want to believe that our system is "democratic", the simple fact of the matter is that money talks. Money is power in this country, much to the chagrin of those who realize such greed is the antithesis of the ideals our founding fathers held for this great nation. The love of money— and the power that goes with it— are indeed the root of the "evil" in this nation that has manifested in the form of the radical religious right and their control of the Republican party. But all the money in the world will get you nowhere (provided you're unwilling— at least at this point in the game— to use violent force) if you can't get the message you're selling to the masses. Money can however buy you lots of mouthpieces to go along with your nice collection of pocketed politicians.
It helps that Pat Robertson owns his own television station. It also helps that ownership of a large majority of radio and television stations as well as many of the major newspapers in the US now rests in the hands of about a dozen media giants. The vast majority of those have conservative leanings, like Clear Channel, which owns over 1200 radio stations across the US. As a result, conservative talk show hosts and columnists tend to have more opportunities to syndicate, larger "built-in" audiences and a broader base of support from corporate America in terms of sponsorships and advertising.
Much fuss has been made of the "liberal media bias" in this country. As a bumper sticker I have for my car says: "The media is only as liberal as the conservative corporations that own them." Polls among journalists show that they believe "increased financial pressure is 'seriously hurting' the quality of news coverage." Media Matters, a watchdog organization, shows that the news reports about a "liberal media" are highly inaccurate. Of course, the mouthpieces must decry the bias of the "liberal media" in an attempt to deflect attention from the facts about who really controls the media.
Now add to all this the fact that there is not one "mouthpiece" I will profile here that does not sink to personal attacks, speculation, fear-mongering, misrepresentation and/or out-right lying. (Maggie Gallagher, for all her narrow-minded beliefs, is by far the most respectful, and usually avoids the personal attacks, but is still big on fear-mongering, misrepresentation and speculation. Of course, as it turns out, she's also a paid writer for the Bush misadministration.) They all excel at hypocrisy— a benchmark of the radical religious right.
The "mouthpieces" with radio/TV shows are the "National Enquirers" of the airwaves— their stories contain a grain of truth but they put so much spin on the story that truth is often hard to recognize. They play on the fears of the people reading/listening and/or emotionally manipulate their followers by using "trigger" words and phrases designed solely to arouse anger and indignation and then they suggest who to aim that anger and indignation at, whether it is deserved or not. Unless, of course, it's aimed at one of them or one of the pocketed politicians of the radical religious right. Then they do everything in their power to show why it's not their fault. If they make a mistake, apologies are rarely forthcoming. Even if they do apologize, it's with the disclaimer that it's not their fault they made the mistake. The idea of personal responsibility for the information (or misinformation as the case may be) seems to be a foreign concept to these individuals and their bank-rollers.
Sadly, people in this nation seem to take great pleasure in seeing others lives in ruins, to hear gossip (particularly negative) about others (rather ironic given that gossiping is supposed to be a sin for Christians) and to learn the sordid details of others' lives. Even sadder, these mouthpieces are willing to give the audience anything they want— as long as the money keeps rolling in. Just like the televangelists and pocketed politicians these mouthpieces shill for, everyone of them is a multimillionaire.
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