Newsweek's Thomas Dubious About Talk Radio's 'Anger' Now Centered on Immigration

Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas, who in March condescendingly charged on Inside Washington that opposition to the UAE ports deals was a “classic for talk radio" since "it's something simple idiots can understand,” on this weekend's edition of the panel show again ridiculed talk radio -- this time as a caldron of “anger” on illegal immigration. But Thomas was dubious about whether the anger is really about immigration, or just where talk radio listeners have parked their incessant anger. He asserted that “in conservative talk radio there's this constant anger and it attaches itself to different issues. It sort of moves around. And right now, or for some months, it's been attached to immigration. What's not clear is whether that moveable anger will just find some other issue if Congress does nothing...”

A transcript of the relevant portion of the June 23 Inside Washington, a half-hour weekly panel show produced by Washington, DC’s ABC affiliate which carries it on Sunday morning after This Week. Before that, it airs on the affiliate’s all-news cable channel, NewsChannel 8, and Friday night at 8:30pm on DC’s PBS station, WETA channel 26.
Evan Thomas: "Here’s what’s interesting to me about this. There is always a, in talk radio, in conservative talk radio there’s this constant anger and it attaches itself to different issues. It sort of moves around. And right now, or for some months, it’s been attached to immigration. What’s not clear is whether that moveable anger will just find some other issue if Congress does nothing, or whether it will really maintain its place-"

Host Gordon Peterson: "I'm glad you brought that up because we have a psychiatrist on the panel. What gives rise to that anger, Charles? And how do we deal with it?"

Charles Krauthammer: "I think it’s an invention of liberals, of the liberal imagination. Remember in the mid 1990's when the Republicans won the House, what was the mantra? The angry white voter, the angry white male. I looked at all of the studies on that election. There wasn't a single survey that showed any empirical evidence in support of this invention...."
An early March NewsBusters posting, with video, “Evan Thomas: Ports 'Classic for Talk Radio' Since 'Simple Idiots Can Understand' It,” recounted:
Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas condescendingly charged, on this weekend's edition of Inside Washington, that opposition to the UAE ports deals resonated with the public “because it's something that simple idiots can understand.” After a bit of snickering from the other panelists, especially NPR's Nina Totenberg, Thomas zeroed in on talk radio, even though the most popular talk radio host, Rush Limbaugh, supported the deal. Thomas called the subject matter “a classic for talk radio” because “you can get it on a bumper sticker.” Expressing his support for the UAE's purchase of the company operating several U.S. ports -- “We need Dubai as an ally. On balance, it would be better that the deal went through” -- Thomas proceeded to lament how “it was an easy one to demagogue on talk radio." As if much of the mainstream media didn't pile on too.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center