Carlin Demonstrates Again That Glossing Over Negatives Only Good For Liberals

As I've documented here before multiple times, when it comes to profiles in the Fish Wrapper, they have to make liberals look as good as possible, even if it means conveniently "forgetting" to mention things that might be negative. But, if you're a conservative, nothing is too small or too negative to be included.

Today's demonstration of this is a profile of Thom Hartmann, a talk show host on KPOJ, the Portland affiliate of the liberal (now bankrupt) Air America radio network.

From the beginning, Carlin does his best to paint Hartmann in a glowing light.

He's eating his breakfast in a houseboat. And when Hartmann and his wife, Louise, carpool to work, they ride in one of those 1,000-miles-a-gallon Prius hybrids.

There's nothing wrong with any of this. Far from it. A lot of Portlanders live exactly the same way, give or take the raw oatmeal. That's one reason Hartmann's blazingly liberal talk show on KPOJ-AM, the local affiliate of the Air America radio network, now stands with longtime market leaders KEX-AM and KXL-AM among the top-rated morning talk shows in the competitive morning drive time slot.

Hartmann's success extends far beyond Portland's politically blue borders. His nationally syndicated talk show -- a separate three-hour show that begins at 9 a.m., just after his local show ends -- is heard coast to coast every day by more than a million listeners. And starting today, when Hartmann's national show moves into Air America's midday slot (though it will continue to air locally at 9 p.m.), recently abandoned by political comic turned U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken, his audience will nearly triple.

So though he's already a well-known radio voice and an author with more than a dozen books to his credit, Hartmann is girding for a whole new kind of acclaim. Portland's leading on-air liberal may well become one of the most prominent liberal voices in the United States.

"He's just so damn smart," says Air America Chief Executive Scott Elberg. "And he's tireless when it comes to putting the best product on the air. Our affiliates love him. Everywhere he goes he gets ratings. In some markets the growth is exponential."

And even though he's angry about a lot of things, gosh darn it, he's just sooo polite.

Now Hartmann's in the KPOJ studios, gearing up for another segment. The commercials are over, so he has the headphones on, listening to a snippet of the Dixie Chicks' hit "Not Ready to Make Nice." Which is a perfect lead-in, and not just because the tune (and album) raked in all kinds of Grammy awards the night before. The song -- written in response to the outrage in the country music community that greeted Chicks singer Natalie Maines' onstage criticism of President Bush a few years back -- also describes Hartmann's world view.

"I'm not ready to make nice, I'm not ready to back down, I'm still mad as hell . . ."

Hartmann sounds pretty steamed about things. A recitation of the previous day's carnage in Iraq inspires a gusher of ridicule for Bush's new strategy to add more troops. Then he's onto a riff about health care, roping former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., (and Frist's father, for good measure) into a hideous cabal of "blood-sucking leeches" who earn billions while millions of Americans suffer from inadequate health care.

Not making nice, indeed.

Still, Hartmann's outrage comes in relatively measured tones. He's unfailingly polite to callers and interview subjects, even when he's picking apart their political positions.

He's so nice, even his enemies like him.

"He does have an interest in letting you articulate your point of view," says the American Conservative Union's Lisa De Pasquale, who makes semiregular appearances on Hartmann's show. "He could learn a little more about our movement, but he's good at letting his guests get a word in."

But wait, that's not all. The glossing over treatment gets even better.

Born in 1951, Hartmann was raised to be a Republican by his father, Carl, a tool-and-die worker who sent his son to ring doorbells for Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign in 1964. Off to Michigan State University in 1967, the academic surroundings and the shadow of the Vietnam War pushed young Thom -- a precocious student -- leftward.

"I realized Lyndon Johnson wanted to kill me," he says.

Still, Hartmann joined the Air Force in 1968, thinking he could work as an engineer, thus avoiding dangerous duty. Quickly realizing he was wrong, Hartmann managed to flunk an end-of-basic-training physical, earning a quick ticket back to civilian life.

So let's examine this for a minute. Lyndon Johnson wanted to kill him specifically. The word paranoia comes to mind here, doesn't it? Then, he goes into the military hoping to get an easy job so that he doesn't actually have to fight, but when he realizes that he might actually have to do what the military does, he purposefully fails the physical. Talk about a gutless chicken.

What's even better is this; what if he had been a Republican and word of this had gotten out? What if this has been Ruch Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, or even our own Lars Larson? Can you imagine the firestorm that would have erupted? Look at all the crap that was spouted about George Bush and how he had supposedly avoided actually fighting in a war, even though he completely fulfilled his responsibility to the National Guard. But because he's a conservative, that's okay. No bias here...

On and on the article goes, painting a picture of a perfect liberal. However, interestingly enough, there are a couple things that Carlin conveniently leaves out. First, Air America is in bankruptcy (it is mentioned very briefly towards the end of the article). Part of the reason is the absolutely huge salary that was paid to Al Franken (who has now left AA to run for congress in Minnesota). In addition, two men illegally diverted money from the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club in New yoirk to Air America, which cause the club to have to shut down some of it's programs.

Now, let's compare this article with an article that was written about Lars Larson back in 2003. Here are some sample quotes from the article.

Radio justice Critics say the problem with radio justice is that Lars Larson uses his control panel and select facts to ambush opponents, hammer government and divide Oregon over taxes, school spending and war.
In a state paralyzed by politics, he is pouncing on and gaining in popularity from the divide.

"The greatest damage he does to Portland is to convince the rest of the state that we're a bunch of pot-hooked, terrorist-loving, transit-crazy tax-and-spenders," says Sam Adams, chief of staff for Mayor Vera Katz.


He lives in the "house that talk built," a two-story $325,000 floating home on the Columbia, where the new walls rose with his ratings.

Inside are the Dish network satellite television system and king-size Select Comfort bed he advertises. Outside are his Dodge Durango and wife Tina's Mercedes.

His license plate: "YAKYAK.'

Hers: "GOLARS."


"How am I not a reporter?" Others find it easy to say no, especially after a bruising visit.

Oregon's largest public employee union no longer offers guests for the show. Gov. Ted Kulongoski, former Gov. John Kitzhaber and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., all decline.

As a newsman, Larson used to meet Blumenauer for breakfast and to exchange books. Today, the man Larson now calls "Bow Tie Blumenauer"
icily says: "I don't do yelling radio. I deal with journalists."

Larson insists he is a journalist.

"I'm not a daily reporter," he says. "But if being a reporter means gathering information and disseminating it, then how am I not a reporter? I'm held to the same truth standard; in fact, it's higher."

Larson says that truth emerges because hundreds of callers alert him to misinformation or broadcast mistakes.

But some of his work goes unchallenged. In a January column for Brainstorm Magazine, Larson lambasted Kitzhaber for taking 24 years before doing anything about the state's policy of forced sterilizations until his apology in 2002. In fact, as a state senator in 1983, Kitzhaber was on the conference committee that wrote the language to abolish the 1917 law and made the motion for its repeal.

Multnomah County Chairwoman Diane Linn says she appears frequently -- if only to balance his broadcasts.

"I don't have a daily show to talk about what he does. I'm held accountable for every single thing I do, and he's not. It's ratings for him; it's commercial."

Coming from Diane Linn, one of the worst politicians in the history of Mutnonmah county (and who was defeated more because people voted for anyone but her and not necessarliy for her opponent), that's laughable. This is the same person who along with the Mean Girls of the Mutnomah County Commission, decided allow gay marriages in Mutlnomah County, and then could do nothing but offer weak excuses when challenged. Her best line was that if she had to do it over again she would have gotten more input, but she still would have made the same decision (Hey Diane, what's the point of getting more input if you already know ahead of time that your decision wouldn't change? It's called putting on a show.). But I digress...

Others blast Larson for his practice of dominating news conferences, as he did when confronting Kitzhaber or challenging Katz about recent antiwar demonstrations. Katz refused to respond, saying, "Lars, when you become a reporter, I'll answer your questions."

Larson says officials can't make those distinctions. But others have made the same point. "Is he an advocate, a journalist? A commentator?
Does he get to do everything? I had to give up my credentials when I became an advocate," says former Willamette Week reporter Patty Wentz, spokeswoman for the Yes on 28 campaign.

Now when you go back and look at the article on Hartmann, you don't see a lot of the other side, do you? Apparently there is no other side when you're talking about a liberal. Who would ever disagree with a liberal? When you're talking about the Dead Fish Wrapper, apparently nobody.

No bias here, is there?



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