Beyond the echelon of widely known conservative radio hosts with national audiences lies a vast network of lesser-known syndicated and regional radio hosts who have become key components of an echo chamber for conservative talking points and falsehoods. Like their better-known counterparts, these syndicated and regional radio hosts have played active roles this election season in promoting falsehoods and smears in an all-out effort to foment hate and distrust among their listeners for President-elect Barack Obama. While the hosts vary in the degree of vitriol they spew and in their ratio of rebuttable falsehoods to unbridled smears, Media Matters for America and Colorado Media Matters have identified common themes that many, if not all, have promoted over the past year.
Numerous conservative radio hosts, including Chris Baker, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Jim Quinn, Michael Savage and Brian Sussman, echoed the false claim, originating on the Drudge Report, that Sen. Barack Obama said in a 2001 interview that he regretted that the Supreme Court has not addressed the redistribution of wealth. In fact, the "traged[y]" Obama identified during the interview was that the civil rights movement "became so court-focused" in trying to bring about political and economic justice.
KSFO's Lee Rodgers falsely claimed Sen. Barack Obama "admits in one of his own books" that "in case of a confrontation between the Western world and the Islamic world, he will stand with the Muslims." Rodgers' assertion recalls a similar allegation in a chain email that has been previously debunked. As FactCheck.org documented, while discussing "my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans" in The Audacity of Hope, Obama wrote: "[T]hey need specific assurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."
Rush Limbaugh and KSFO's Lee Rodgers repeated a variation of the claim that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gave "5 million illegal aliens" subprime loans that they have not paid back. Quinn & Rose's Jim Quinn also cited the 5 million statistic without citing a source for the figure. None of these radio hosts noted that HUD has reportedly stated that this statistic is false.
On KSFO's The Lee Rodgers Show, Jerome Corsi asserted regarding his detention and departure from Kenya: "I think the story here is really the suppression of the press. ... I hate to think of what the First Amendment is going to mean. If you write a negative book or criticize [Sen. Barack] Obama, I think you're now going to have to risk being thrown in jail or killed." Rodgers said, "I'll tell you what's scary about this, to make the connection here. These are friends of Barack Obama in Kenya, who are trying to intimidate a journalist."
On his KSFO radio show, Lee Rodgers claimed O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder because of a "racial vote" by the jury and said of polls that show "98 percent of black voters voting for" Sen. Barack Obama: "[A]re we to assume they all agree with him on all his principles? Or could there be a hint of racial brotherhood in that vote? Come on, we know the answer to that." Rodgers also declared, "If any white person, for whatever reason -- because they think he consorts with terrorists or communists, or believes in all the things that black racist preacher said for 20 years votes against him for that reason -- no, no, no, no. If you're a white person voting against Obama, you are a racist."
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KSFO radio hosts Lee Rodgers and Brian Sussman repeated the falsehood that a 1995 memo written by then-deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick prohibited intelligence-sharing between the FBI and the CIA, thereby causing the intelligence failures that led to the 9-11 attacks. In fact, the Gorelick memo merely clarified long-unwritten restrictions on the sharing of information between the FBI's intelligence arm and the Justice Department's criminal division, and had no impact on communications between the FBI and the CIA, Department of Defense, or any other agencies.
Lee Rodgers baselessly claimed that Penny Pritzker, the national finance chair of Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign, is "throwing a fancy reception" for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "at one of the Hyatt hotels in New York," owned by Pritzker's family. Rodgers offered no evidence for the claim, and Rush Limbaugh has said, "I'm told there's no evidence that Penny Pritzker knew about" the dinner.
Returning to a previous claim he has made, KSFO's Lee Rodgers asserted: "I believe that the reason a bunch of puckered-butt Democrat women hate Sarah Palin is because her idea of choice was choosing not to have an abortion." Guest Steven Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute responded in part by saying: "[T]here is that very vocal segment of feminist opinion that celebrates abortion as a positive good in the same way that, you know, Southern slaveholders 150 years ago celebrated slavery as a positive good."
On his KSFO radio show, responding to a Media Matters item documenting his comments that "the female leadership of the Democratic Party" consists of "ugly skanks" who "hate" that "Sarah Palin's good-looking," Lee Rodgers stated that "one of the little left-wing websites" "inferred that I had said that these women, prominent women in the liberal movement, are prostitutes. And of course I didn't say any such thing as that because I am a gentleman." Rodgers also said that "left-wing bloggers ... are men in their 30s and 40s who are single and likely to stay that way" and are "[s]till living at home with one or both parents." He added: "And, of course, handwriting analysis has revealed that ... they have to use tweezers to masturbate."
On his KSFO radio show, Lee Rodgers said that "the female leadership of the Democratic Party" is made up of "ugly skanks." He also stated: "Sarah Palin's good-looking and they hate that." He also declared: "I think we have to ask: Would you like Sarah Palin better if she got pregnant again and did have an abortion, because it's obvious, with a lot of liberal women, killing babies is the main priority they have."
Since the release of an Obama campaign ad asserting that Sen. John McCain "admits he still doesn't know how to use a computer, can't send an email," several Fox News figures and talk-radio hosts have claimed that McCain doesn't use a computer or email because of injuries he sustained during his service in the Vietnam War. But the McCain campaign itself did not make this claim in response to the ad, reportedly responding that "John McCain travels with a laptop."
San Francisco radio host Brian Sussman suggested that "[Sen. Barack] Obama believes" the September 11 attacks were "an inside job." In fact, Obama has repeatedly noted that Osama bin Laden and other members of Al Qaeda were responsible for the September 11 attacks and are still at large.
On The Lee Rodgers Show, a caller suggested that Sen. Barack Obama's remark that "you can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig" was directed at Gov. Sarah Palin and said: "[I]t's a little indicative of a Muslim attitude towards women that's creeping up, you know, and he just can't help but say it, how he feels." Brian Sussman responded: "Well, there's no question that Muslims, at least the religious ones, look at women as second-class citizens. ... I don't know if it was his father's genetic DNA welling up inside of him or not, but I'll tell you something: It was stupid."