Tim's Reviews > Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America

Wingnuts by John P. Avlon
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Jun 01, 2010

really liked it
Read in May, 2010

Obama’s a Nazi! Buy Gold! Who is ‘The Worst Person in the World?’

What has happened to the news media? It has become polarized in search of ratings, is what happened; at least according to John Avlon in his new book (and the first book from The Daily Beast) ‘Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America.’

Led by the radical voices of the far right wing (the ‘fright wing’ as Avlon calls them) this largely insane polarizing of the extreme left and right is driven by two factors according to the book – the electoral rejection of the right in November of 2008 as well as the declining ratings of talk radio and its reliance on a largely older, white demographic audience. In a world where die-hard partisans are perhaps the only reliable audience (P1s), talk radio (with an incubation assist from websites like WorldNetDaily, Redstate and others) has purposely rearranged itself into a forum for self-segregated narrowcasting. The more shocking, the better – at least for ratings.

The vocabulary of the extremists, both in the media and extremist politics, includes frequent references to Marxism, socialism, death panels, Obamacare, the birthers, the truthers and of course, the bedeviled Nazism. It seems the more radical the verbiage, the more popular the pontificator becomes, (Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, etc.) at least with the base.

Avion explains both in a historical (TR, FDR, JFK) and current day context (town hall meetings, Tea Party, etc.) how these factions began and evolved but concludes with a formula for the settling of these conditions through the emergence of a more vocal populist (i.e. centrist) movement. We’ll see.
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