"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Michael Graham Gets the Boot

Michael Graham, an author, political commentator, National Review contributor, and since last year, host of the 9 am to noon slot on the larger of Washington DC's two talk-format stations, WMAL, has been fired for comments he made on a show which aired three weeks ago, comments that were taken from a column he had written for Jewish World Review. Andrew McCarthy over at National Review has a good review of the facts.

There's a lot about talk radio I don't like, and there's more about it I dislike now than five or ten years ago. I think one of the worst trends, from the audience point of view, is the relentless homogenization of the airwaves. Yes, Rush is a force unto himself, and the premier talk outlet in each market has to carry him. But more and more stations, which used to have local talk for at least two or three of the remaining morning drive to 9 pm slots, eased out their local talent and replaced it with Sean Hannity, Michael Reagan, G. Gordon Liddy, et. al. When WMAL hired Michael Graham, it reversed this trend, replacing the anemic Sam Donaldson (who at that point was carried by about four stations, I think) and a couple hours of the by now unlistenable Dr. Laura show with a guy who was covering local news from a local angle.

Dr. Laura aside: I never understood conservative fascination with this woman. Sure, it was refreshing to hear a psychologist call for personal responsibility. The first couple of times. After that, you started to notice that a lot of Dr. Laura's idea of personal responsibility consisted of living your life exactly like Dr. Laura did, including details that had nothing to do with morality or uprightness. She completely lost me the morning she chewed out a woman for moving to a farm, because it was irresponsible to deprive her children of having friends across the street. She also seemed to think our armed forces should be manned entirely with 22 -year-old celibates, since she scolded more than one military family for contributing to the nationwide Army Brat crisis.

At any rate, I am disappointed in WMAL and their parent Disney for firing Michael, because I think they have caved in to a vocal minority who dislike having the light shine in certain dark corners. I admire Michael's humor and professional skill, and hope he will find another home on Washington's AM dial. If he doesn't, there's always the iPod. A lot of commuters and school moms will miss him.

14 comments:

Hunter Baker said...

Conservatives have been getting the boot for verbal excesses for a long time now. The only difference is that the blogosphere catches a member of the other team every once in a while.

Jay D. Homnick said...

This is a brilliant one-paragraph review of Dr. Laura's waxing-and-waning appeal to conservative intellectuals. But she had me for five or six years.

I think I got tired of her, and for about the same reasons, conterminously with the local program director. She was pulled off the air just at the right moment, some three or so years ago.

As for conservatives losing jobs for misspeaking: what else is new? The toxic cocktail of liberal intolerance and conservative finickiness gets 'em every time.

Tlaloc said...

"Sure, it was refreshing to hear a psychologist call for personal responsibility. The first couple of times. After that, you started to notice that a lot of Dr. Laura's idea of personal responsibility consisted of living your life exactly like Dr. Laura did"

Kathy, that's exactly the case with all "moralists." They expect, want, demand, or whatever that everyone live as they see fit because in their hubris they somehow think their moral code is superior to everyone elses.

Remember the next time you want to wax philosophic about morals how annoying it is to listen to Dr. Laura and how pretentious she sounds. It's a clue you really should internalize.

Jay D. Homnick said...

If you find the writers here to be a moralistic bunch, Tlaloc, you are suffering from some serious paranoia.

On the other hand, if you find them to be an unpretentious but moral group, then your ear is finally getting in tune.

P.A. Breault said...

Lovely thing about talk radio and blogs: if you don't like what you're listening (or reading), there are other places to visit.

That said, Mr. Graham is nowhere in the league of a certain jock who called up the (defunct) Air Florida airline, asking how much a ticket would cost from National Airport to the 14th Street bridge in D.C..

Tlaloc said...

"If you find the writers here to be a moralistic bunch, Tlaloc, you are suffering from some serious paranoia."

Most or all of the writers here have professed and argued according to their belief in a one true morality which governs everyone and hence are "moralists." And yet when Dr. Laura does the same you have no porblem seeing how patronizing it is.



"On the other hand, if you find them to be an unpretentious but moral group, then your ear is finally getting in tune."

Moral people follow their own morals, and I have no way of knowing how moral any of you are. Moralists on the other hand try to apply one moral code to all.

Kathy Hutchins said...

They expect, want, demand, or whatever that everyone live as they see fit because in their hubris they somehow think their moral code is superior to everyone elses.

Certain types of human behavior lead those people into misery -- for themselves and other people. It is simple blindness to deny this. Your so-called "moralists" do a service to others by pointing this out. These morals are not even necessarily anchored to religious belief, although when they become unmoored they gradually lose first their philosophical, and then their practical, authority.

To point out that a popular "moralist" has fallen into the all-too-human error of failing to make essential distinctions between truly universal morality and her own personal preferences does not negate the existence of universal moral principles, nor does it erase the pain caused by denial of those principles.

It's a clue you really should internalize.

You have no idea how funny it is to read a man who rejects all references to universal morality treating the detritus of pop psychology as if it expressed some universal truth.

Tlaloc said...

"Certain types of human behavior lead those people into misery -- for themselves and other people. It is simple blindness to deny this."

I don't deny this but it's equally blind to assert that the list of misery causing actions is identical for everyone.



"To point out that a popular "moralist" has fallen into the all-too-human error of failing to make essential distinctions between truly universal morality and her own personal preferences does not negate the existence of universal moral principles, nor does it erase the pain caused by denial of those principles."

There is a distinction: universal morality doesn't exist while individual morality does. Thus anytime you try to force your "universal" morals on another you are doing exactly what you dislike about Dr. Laura.



"You have no idea how funny it is to read a man who rejects all references to universal morality treating the detritus of pop psychology as if it expressed some universal truth."

Which pop psychology are you referring to? I have to ask because you have such a strange habit of believing things about me I've never said.

Hunter Baker said...

T is ideologically blindspotted. He thinks you have to believe in a universal morality to be a moralist. Try hanging out with a serious vegetarian sometime. Even is he/she claims to be a relativist. Ditto with the save the whales crowd, etc.

Jay D. Homnick said...

Hunter, as I recall Tlaloc's stand in "right-to-die" cases, I got the impression that he is anti-vegetable.

Tlaloc said...

"T is ideologically blindspotted. He thinks you have to believe in a universal morality to be a moralist."

Most moralists will fall into the universal morality fallacy because the other explanations for trying to force your beliefs on others are even more obviously hypocritical.




"Try hanging out with a serious vegetarian sometime."

My brother's vegan, you don't get more serious a vegetarian than that. But he's never tried to tell me I have to be vegan (and I'm not) so I'm having trouble locating your point.

Hunter Baker said...

Guess your brother is just one of those "not pushy" vegans, T. Doesn't mean you should have any trouble locating my point, because there are "not pushy" conservative Christians out there, too.

Kathy Hutchins said...

Vegan, shmegan. Try negotiating a downtown DC sidewalk through a claque of anti-fur activists sometime.

Tlaloc said...

"Guess your brother is just one of those "not pushy" vegans, T. Doesn't mean you should have any trouble locating my point, because there are "not pushy" conservative Christians out there, too."

Indeed there are and I respect them much more than moralists. My wife's brother is very christian. But he's never tried to push his faith on anyone or forced them to follow the dictates of his religion. He's moral and not a moralist.

Wanting to make abortion illegal is an example of a moralists action. Not getting an abortion yourself and assuming god will deal with those who do as he sees fit is a moral christian action.

The funny thing of course is that moralists are almost never moral because the vast majority of moral systems they use clsim pride is a sin and yet hubris is the foundation of moralism.