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Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s Crusade Against Talk Radio Shows Contempt for Voters

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Posted on January 15 2011 5:00 pm
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee is leading a crusade against talk radio. His latest volley is a call for advertisers and consumers to join him in a boycott.

When talk radio hosts use harshly divisive language, “The advertisers should shut them down,” [Chafee] said [Thursday] morning.

Chafee said the solution to the vitriolic rhetoric – which some have linked to the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords [last] weekend – is for people to stop paying for it, including not buying books from people who use such language(…)

Chafee made national news earlier this week when he announced that he would not go on talk radio and would ban state employees from doing so.

The ban came because talk radio is essentially “ratings-driven, for-profit programming” that was not [an] appropriate use of state employees’ time, Chafee said.

Talk radio is merely a stand in for Chafee’s true bane, his constituents who listen to it. After all, the “for profit” nature of talk radio ensures that its content reflects the perspective of its audience. Otherwise, they wouldn’t listen, and the programming would either cease or be subsidized depending on the political interest it served. In effect, by criticizing the profit motive of talkers, Chafee is criticizing its consumers. By refusing to guest on talk radio, and enforcing a state boycott upon the medium, Chafee is denying a bloc of his constituents access to their public servants.

Chafee isn’t being honest about his motivations. Last time I checked, the vast majority of legacy media was just as “for profit” as talk radio. Newspapers, television networks, magazines, all are driven by circulation or ratings. All offer paid advertising. All have a bottom line. Clearly, profit motive is not the decisive factor in Chafee’s stance against talk radio. Neither is “the vitriolic rhetoric” falsely conflated with the crimes of Jared Loughner.

[Chafee’s] spokesman said [the ban] had been in the works long before the shooting in Arizona.

In other words, Chafee leveraged the tragedy to advance a premeditated political agenda. His attempt to cloak his ban as a reaction to the Tucson shooting is disingenuous, to say the least.

Chafee simply doesn’t want to be held to account. He doesn’t want to be asked tough questions, and he doesn’t want state employees giving unsanctioned answers. Chafee’s stance against talk radio is indicative of a profound elitism, a sense that he need not lower himself to talkers’ level or answer the constituents which listen to them.

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