By Karl Frisch
It’s that time of year again. Some have vowed to hit the gym more often. Others are swearing off cigarettes. For some, coffee has been replaced with copious amounts of socialist green tea. Still others are signing up for community service projects to help improve the world around them.
Yes, many Americans have made their New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps the conservative media establishment should do the same.
Fox News’ tear-shedding golden boy Glenn Beck should give up the infamous chalkboard he’s used to illustrate wild conspiracy theories and invest the money saved — he must spend a bundle on chalk — on a team of full-time fact-checkers. After all, he’s become notorious over the past year for letting facts fall by the wayside in his non-stop campaign to tear down the Obama presidency. Such a resolution might even bring back at least some of the 80 advertisers Beck’s program lost in 2009 after he called the president a "racist."
Noted sexist (and radio host) Rush Limbaugh should learn from his embarrassing failed attempt to purchase the NFL’s St. Louis Rams and pull himself out of the Miss America pageant that he’s slated to judge later this year. Limbaugh can use the time he would have devoted to the pageant on some long-needed sensitivity seminars. Yes, 2010 could be a banner year for a reformed El Rushbo if he can manage to string together a few months of abstinence from further racially charged, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-Muslim and otherwise hateful remarks.
Serial misinformer Betsy McCaughey — who has been caught making patently false claims against health care reform time and again — should take some time off from "policy analysis" and enroll in a Learning Annex class to improve reading comprehension. I’m sure a medical company or the tobacco industry would be happy to foot the bill — it wouldn’t be the first time she’s lined her pockets with their cash. In no time at all McCaughey could nip her dirty little habit of making crazy claims about health care reform in the bud. Imagine what she could accomplish by focusing on what’s actually written in the legislation being considered — gone would be claims of "socialized medicine," euthanasia for grandma, and rationed care.
Andrew Breitbart, fedora-wearing internet gossip Matt Drudge’s protégé, should launch BigBreitbart.com to monitor his other online efforts — BigGovernment.com, BigHollywood.com and the soon-to-be-launched BigJournalism.com. This new website would serve as a one-stop-shop for correcting the factually challenged claims Breitbart and his minions regularly promote. From homophobic attacks on a gay Department of Education official to his shoddy attempts at undercover "investigations" targeting the community group ACORN, it wouldn’t take too long for such a venture to quickly publish volumes of material exposing his half-baked brand of pseudo-journalism.
The reigning king of prime-time cable news, Bill O’Reilly, should unleash his ambush-addicted producer goons on his employer, Fox News. Rather than waste time trying to find new progressive targets, O’Reilly can turn inward and dispatch his team to confront the Fox News producer who was caught on film rallying a crowd during the Fox News promoted 9/12 protests; Sean Hannity and various other Fox News personalities for repeatedly airing doctored video to undermine President Obama and other progressives; his boss Rupert Murdoch for claiming the president made a "very racist comment"; and the Fox News graphics department for one failure after another — remember that climate change poll trumpeted by the network in which the respondents added up to an astonishing and mathematically impossible 120 percent? Make no mistake, O’Reilly’s staff would be busy for months ambushing their conservative co-workers.
Perhaps he’s ingested one too many of his son’s Rockstar energy drinks, but Michael Savage (née Weiner), the number three radio host in America, could very well heal his inner child with some good group therapy and a few chill pills. The often-screaming, always outrageous radio talker has a penchant for offensive tirades targeting the gay community (he once said a popular gay blogger "hates women so much that he won’t have sex with them"), Muslims (he wants an "outright ban on Muslim immigration"), President Obama (he said "Obama hates" and "is raping America") — even autistic children (he claimed autism was "a fraud, a racket. … In 99 percent of the cases, it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out"). If he works hard in 2010, his radio program may just have a glint of sanity.
Perhaps I’m too optimistic to expect that these integral cogs of the right-wing media machine will take it upon themselves to change for the better in 2010. I guess I could always blame my New Year’s resolution to hope for the best when confronted with perplexing, stubborn absurdity.
Karl Frisch is a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog, research, and information center based in Washington, D.C. Frisch also contributes to County Fair, a media blog featuring links to progressive media criticism from around the web as well as original commentary. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube or sign-up to receive his columns by email.