Monday, June 26, 2006

The Gray Matter

By now, everyone's talked about the demise of The Leon Gray Show on WWTQ 680 AM. Of course, most have discussed it only in terms of speculating on why he was fired/quit, whether or not he slandered someone, etc...

So I'm going to do something kind of different here. Instead speculating on the reasons he's gone, we should think more about why he should have been gone a while back.

This is nothing personal against Leon. I've met him several times. In fact, during the runup to the 2004 election, I even played with his kids when he brought them to campaign headquarters. They're cute little guys, and it would be tough to find a better behaved pair of boys. Kudos to Leon and the Mrs.

Leon himself is a likable guy. He ran the transportation department for Election 2004. When someone called and said they didn't have a ride to the polls, Leon was the guy that dispatched a volunteer to go get them. He did a hell of a job on that. Again, my hat was off to him.

Of course, about a week and a half before the election, he had caused a pretty big stink that nearly led to a few people walking out of HQ.

The fellow that owned the property across from HQ on Poplar couldn't have been any nicer a guy. He was a Bush supporter, and across from his house, he had people protesting night and day, shouting, carrying signs, (At least in his mind) slandering the guy he supported. He was a great sport about it. The only thing he ever did about it was post a Bush/Cheney sign on the stone wall that he owned facing us on Poplar.

Leon, smart guy that he is, tore the guy's Bush/Cheney sign off of the wall. And if that wasn't dumb enough... He carried it into campaign HQ to throw it in the trash.

We that are "in the know" politically have a name for that. It's called "felony elections tampering" and can land you in the pokey, as felonies often do.

It took several people complaining to the not-yet-indicted chairwoman of the party to get him to go back and undo his felony. He grumbled. He cussed people out. But thanks to the very people he cussed out, Leon didn't have to face trial for felony elections tampering.

What do those people have in common? They understand politics and the electoral process. None of them got the Air America gig, though.

Now that we're through with the "inside baseball" portion of this, let's get to what he did on the air. After all, it's theoretically possible that he could have brushed up and taken a few classes between then and when he got his three hour show around May of 2005.

I was on a long car ride in May 2005 when I first heard the show. I remember it well because my father was dying in Harrisburg, Arkansas, and I was making the round trip nearly every day. I was on the way home, and I heard Leon. Leon was making the fair point that we're friends with many brutal dictators and chose to depose one. Of course, he made that point by insisting that France, Japan, and Russia were all dictatorships. When the caller correctly pointed out that was wrong, Leon insisted "Well they're all communists! It's all the same to me."

So how fitting is it that the very last time I listened to his show, he was still spouting misinformation? A right wing caller told him that any Social Security withholdings left over are applied to the government's general fund. That's not true. It's been illegal since 1991 to use Social Security accounts for general expenses. Reagan and Bush the Elected used it to make their deficits look smaller, and the late, great Daniel Patrick Moynihan stepped in and stopped them. The current administration has found a way around it by loaning the government money out of the Social Security Accounts--- But the money is still technically there.

Right wing radio hosts constantly misinform their audiences. They really know precious little about politics, instead praying to the cult of personality for a following. These people get a huge following by spreading misinformation on a regular basis, while corporate sponsors line their pockets for the misinformation. "Of course we don't need greater fuel efficiency! Now, a word from Chevron..."

When I first heard liberals were going to do talk radio, I had much higher hopes than anything that I've seen yet. I was hoping for competent people that knew what they were talking about.

I've been disappointed. If we're going to have people that don't know what they're talking about rambling for three hours a day, then how are we any different from them?

I'm not a perfectionist. And although I listed a few examples, I don't hold it against Leon that he didn't know those specific things (Although the dictatorship thing was humiliating). What I do hold against him is that every day, there was something he knew nothing about. And instead of saying "I don't know. Let me look it up", he faked his way through, pretending to know what he didn't.

He did do some things that impressed me. We did see what I believe to be a genuine shift in his beliefs as it related to homosexuality over the last year. I applaud that. We watched him grow up on that issue.

But the problem wasn't what he thought about anything--- It was what he knew about everything.

Or more accurately... What he didn't.


autoegocrat said...

Bush the Elected -- very nice. I haven't finished reading yet, but that one deserved a comment.

Freedonian said...

As opposed to Bush the Selected. ;)