James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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Catholics and conservatives campaign against mythical threats

Posted by James McPherson on February 19, 2009

You might think that with various economic crises, a housing crisis, worsening unemployment, rampaging monkeys and race issues, there would be enough to fear in America today. Obviously if you thought that you’d be wrong. A couple of days ago I wrote about Sarah Palin (who apparently pays taxes as if she were a Democrat) grabbing a bit of face time on Fox News (the sort of time she has billed Alaskan taxpayers for in the past)  to warn against the Fairness Doctrine. Now Time reports that Catholics are waging a lobbying effort and national postcard campaign against the Freedom of Choice Act.

The problem, of course, is that there is no such Freedom of Choice Act, just as–despite the wails of right-wing fear-mongers (including some who cloak themselves at “think tanks“–there is virtually no chance of the Fairness Doctrine ever returning. So why the campaign against them? Mostly, in my view, to keep “the base” (particularly the more ignorant parts of the base) constantly fearful. The Fairness Doctrine and the Freedom of Choice Act seem to be just the latest monsters under the conservative bed, keeping key parts of the base shivering under the covers.

As I wrote in my most recent book, conservatives gained power in part because they were so effective at engaging in scare tactics. Fox News and conservative talk radio often get the credit for bringing Republicans to power, but in fact direct mail was the most important medium in the conservative resurgence. Direct mail was most effective because, like the Internet today, it could reach people one-on-one and scare them with threats of what they feared most, even if the scaring often veered into exaggeration or outright dishonesty. It also was largely ignored by Democrats and by the mainstream media (and scholars of media and politics, for that matter), which is why so many of them were surprised by increasing conservative influence that often seemed to run counter to what most Americans said they believed.

Apparently one can’t have too many threatening bed monsters, so I’ve decided to do my bit to help conservatives in their cause. With my blessing, they can now start warning their followers about the following seven fictional threats that Congress may consider:

The First Peoples Trump Trump Act: Now that Native Americans have proven to be better at business than Donald Trump, all gambling properties in America–along with the entire states of Florida, Nevada and Arizona–will be given back to the Indians. Texas, New Mexico and California will be given back to Mexico. The non-gambling portion of New Jersey will be given to anyone willing to take it.

The Workers of Color Act: If two people want the same job, that job will automatically go to the person with the darkest skin. The exception is in the case of a conservative black person, who will be treated under this act as if s/he were white.

The Make Up for Slavery Act: Once promised “40 acres and a mule,” the descendents of slaves will finally be granted those awards, with interest. Because of the state of the economy, the interest will include the entire states of Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, both Carolinas, and any part of Virginia ever owned by George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.

The Congressional Clone Act: Any clone created from the DNA of a member of Congress will automatically be entitled to claim that Congressional seat when the original holder dies. Once Republicans have lost the remaining seats they now hold in Congress, the CCA will be the only means by which a new Congressman or Senator can be appointed, except via normal elections.

The ACORN Elections Act: Since normal elections will still take place, this bill will do away with the Federal Elections Commission and put ACORN in charge of all electoral activities at the federal and state levels.

The Test-Tube Voter Act: Any person who develops out of an implanted embryo that might instead have been used for stem cell research shall be denied all voting rights on account of selfishness.

The Happy Cheerful Gay Marriage Act: No person shall be allowed to marry unless both parties seem appropriately happy. Any two creatures judged to be appropriately happy can marry, regardless of sexual orientation, race, age or species. “Appropriate happiness” will be judged by a Congressional subcommittee chaired by Barney Frank–or his clone.

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11 Responses to “Catholics and conservatives campaign against mythical threats”

  1. Ginny said

    Ah, exposing ignorance … you are good at that.

  2. Gabrielle said

    People keep invited me to anti FOCA groups on Facebook. I had no idea. *is slightly amused*

  3. James McPherson said

    Thanks for the comments, both of you. Gabrielle, that’s funny–somewhat. Maybe we could get an anti–TTVA or anti-HCGMA going on Facebook, as well. Of course it’s also somewhat sad if those invitations are coming from college students. I don’t much care what views people hold, and I’m definitely all for people getting excited and working for a cause, but their views and efforts should be based on reality.

    I’m also frequently amused when I check out the links that are automatically put at the bottom of one of my posts. In this case, two were separate warnings from the same blogger about the Fairness Doctrine and the Broadcaster Freedom Act that would “prevent” FD implementation. One uses conservative nitwit Michelle Malkin as a source, while the other cites CNS news. One link was to the same Time magazine story that I had linked to in the text. And the fourth was from a blogger encouraging Obama to repeal the Patriot Act–which would be a good idea, if the president had the power to just start overturning laws previously passed by Congress (which, as those of us who just survived the Bush years appreciate, he doesn’t).

  4. Gabrielle said

    If it makes you feel any better, I think the majority of the invites were from a friend of mine who goes to Gonzaga 😛

  5. […] “join the fight” against the Fairness Doctrine (a fictional threat, as I’ve noted here and […]

  6. […] up” with liberals in their use of technology. And always mindful of the benefits of fear-mongering paranoia, Fox also warns of a potential “liberal backlash,” leading one story with this: […]

  7. […] Catholics and conservatives campaign against mythical threats […]

  8. […] God Bless America: Land of the Great American Conspiracy Loon Posted in History, Journalism, Media literacy, Personal, Politics, Religion by James McPherson on September 27, 2009 Moammar Gadhafi got some attention (his apparent primary goal in life) this week with a rambling United Nations speech in which he alleged a number of weird conspiracies. It’s good to remember, however, that most of the nutball conspiracies that Americans deal with are hatched right here at home, by the likes of “birthers,” “deathers” and “truthers,” among others. […]

  9. […] July 7, 2010 · Leave a Comment Today offers more evidence of why media literacy is so important in this country–and, sadly, why many people who rely on one-sided blogs for information are so politically ignorant. […]

  10. […] For evidence of the “conspiracies” he links to one of his own posts that has links to another post with maybe 3 readers. The Fox News evidence? A link to Media Matters for America. Perhaps our new Ph.D. friend should follow some of his own advice: Today offers more evidence of why media literacy is so important in this country–and, sadly, why many people who rely on one-sided blogs for information are so politically ignorant. […]

  11. […] truthers, gun nuts, Islamophobes, homophobes, Rush Limbaugh, the Texas Board of Education, PUMAs, lying Catholics, David Horowitz, flag fetishists, Pat Robertson, “Christmas warriors,” Michelle […]

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