Remember the facile, early-'90s notion that Michael Moore was the left wing's answer to Rush Limbaugh? True, both used humor to attack their political adversaries, and both were fat, and...well, that was pretty much it. Still, the comparison was popular for a while, at least until Rush lost a lot of weight at about the same time that Al Franken started to make Limbaugh-bashing a cottage industry.
Whatever lefty author/columnist/blogger Eric Alterman thought of the old Moore-Limbaugh formulation back in the day, he certainly doesn't care for it now. As far as he's concerned, the leftist counterparts to the likes of mainstream conservative figures such as Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Jonah Goldberg aren't Moore or Noam Chomsky, but rather hardcore, fringe ideologues. From Alterman's Tuesday MSNBC.com blog post (emphasis added):
Ann Coulter is the honored guest of NBC News [and] CNN and like her fellow haters, and hysterical fantacists [sic], Rush Limbaugh, Jonah Goldberg, David Horowitz, Andrew Sullivan, etc., [is] a mainstay of MSM discourse and Republican attack-style politics. There is simply no corollary on the other side; not Michael Moore, who is after all a filmmaker and who pays a great deal more attention to truth than any of the above -- even though his politics are well to the left of mine. Not Noam Chomsky, whose politics I hate but who can document most of what he says, however wrong-headed. Perhaps Alexander Cockburn is comparable. Perhaps Ward Churchill.
Cockburn is the anti-Zionist co-editor of the newsletter CounterPunch. Churchill is the professor who called the 9/11 attacks a "natural and inevitable response" to U.S. policy in the Middle East, and described those who worked in the World Trade Center as "little Eichmanns."