Does The Left Need Its Own Rush Limbaugh Or FOX News?

Conor Friedersdorf thinks the left is better off without Olbermann and not having all the liabilities that come with inflammatory characters:

The left has its own malign influences on public discourse. Some are rich and successful. It no more makes sense for liberals to envy the right it’s talk radio hosts than it makes sense for the right to envy the left for Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright, or Michael Moore, which isn’t to say these people are perfect analogues – they’re certainly they’re less influential among liberals than Limbaugh is among conservatives, and it would be wrong to draw a false equivalence. But these figures were successful in gathering followers and driving stories. In the realm of politics, the pathologies that came as part of the package still resulted in a net loss.

The antidote for Fox News isn’t Keith Olbermann. It’s Jon Stewart. It isn’t a new left-leaning host who turns Glenn Beck-style destructive absurdity to different ideological ends – it’s someone who effectively demosntrates the absudity of blowhards.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Camus Dude

    I think the comparison of Olbermann to any of the people – conservatives or liberals, in that excerpt – is off. Olbermann is closer to Stewart than he is to Wright or Michael Moore, surely!

  • David E

    “The antidote for Fox News isn’t Keith Olbermann. It’s Jon Stewart.”

    I thought exactly the same thing when I read the title of this post.

    On a scarier note, does anyone else get the impression that Beck sees himself running for president in, say, 2016 or am I just paranoid?

  • Jim J

    I passionately hate pundits and cable news network debauchery. But for arguments sake MSNBC has made it apparent that it wants to serve the left. The left certainly needs a figurehead like El Rushbo but it doesn’t need the partisan hatred that many pundits on the right carry with them. It needs a figure to make his/her claim and not be afraid to back down when the Limbaugh’s strike back at them. Someone who can…oh I don’t know…reason! Someone that not only serves his beliefs but who’s argument can reach both sides. But that type of person is extinct in the world of Olbermanns and Becks. Many people will call out Jon Stewart but I’d be saddened if he let himself get caught up in the world of cable news, I’m sure he’s happy on his own soapbox.

  • David E

    I don’t think anyone’s suggesting he should go work for MSNBC. Simply that he’s the most popular and influential liberal voice right where he is on THE DAILY SHOW.

  • The Vicar

    I strongly suspect that this whole discussion is irrelevant — that there will never be a Rush Limbaugh of the left, at least as “left” is currently understood. You can’t be leftist — or even leftish — and have a blind faith in whatever a pundit tells you. The whole authoritarian “I agree with this person’s opinions on topic A, so I’m not going to question their opinions on topic B or check and see whether they’re making up facts to support their positions” mindset — which is needed to support Limbaugh or his fellow blowhards — has been a right-wing specialty for at least the last century. The number of lefties who respond to appeal to authority these days is miniscule — and I’m not sure they ever existed in large numbers.

    Plus, I think you can’t really get the necessary lack of self-awareness out of a real lefty. Even Olbermann occasionally stepped back and voiced some self-doubts, and he’s being criticized. I suspect there’s a link between the “I (and people like me) am worthy, anyone who differs is defective or even somehow subhuman” mindset — which lurks behind many right-wing policies — and the lack of self-awareness displayed by right-wingers.

    In short: the sort of person who listens to a Limbaugh is almost certainly going to be a right-winger, so there’s no point in a left-wing Limbaugh.