Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The "Mob"

This isn't about Rush Limbaugh. Not primarily, anyway. Sure, on his program on March 24, 2009, Limbaugh thus portrayed a group of citizens:

That doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. None of this is all raw emotion. You can give people the facts left and right about the size of the bonus. In fact, it's even worse than that. You can say, "Yeah, $165 million in bonuses versus 700..." What is the other number that's being passed around? What was it, two or three billion for something or other. Anyway, 165 million sounds larger than two or three billion, because 165 sounds bigger than two or three or even eight or even ten. So you have a bunch of ignoramuses in this country whose emotions are being played, and they're being ginned up and they're joining these protests and so forth. Nobody is going to do anything to stop it.

Limbaugh regularly demonstrates contempt for his fellow Americans, as when on March 17 he breathlessly exclaimed "A lynch mob is expanding: the peasants with their pitchforks surrounding the corporate headquarters of AIG, demanding heads." Were it only the man who (in)famously has wished ill on his President working for the country, it would be of little significance.

But Rush is merely the most extreme example of an attitude that has infected the mainstream media. Interviewed by Contessa Brewer this afternoon, CNBC host Melissa Francis, commenting on the appearance of AIG executive Edward Liddy before the House Financial Services Committee, emphasized the "dangers of mob rule." Although Jon Stewart helped expose (video below) CNBC's on-air personalities as shills for Wall Street, Brewer's remark- notably on the most liberal of the three 24-hour cable news networks- that a 'mob' "leaves no room for dialogue" reflected the meme developing from the mainstream media: if you're protesting bonuses for Wall Street executives, you're part of an ignorant, populist mob. And it's a reminder that, whichever way the bulk of the media might go on cultural issues or international relations, on economic issues there is a predictable direction: right.

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