He-e-e-y, Little Water Boys! The Shills of the Fourth Estate


The great "El Rushbo," waging mental warfare with "half my brain tied behind my back" (Obviously!), responded to the November 7th election returns by announcing the following day that he felt "liberated" by the Democratic takeover in Washington. He would no longer have to "carry water," he said, for certain Republicans who were no longer there to have their water carried and who were never deserving, anyway, of having it carried by talk radio’s number one water boy.

How pathetic is that?

There was Limbaugh admitting he has been a Republican shill. Perhaps he always has been. But once upon a time this brash, loud, uninhibited fat man’s William F. Buckley, Jr. was crudely and colorfully smashing liberal icons and breaking all the rules of polite society, including the rule that we should not speak ill of homosexuals, otherwise known, ironically, as "gays."

Liberals, of course, always were, and continue to be, fair game, though one seldom heard criticism of liberal or "moderate" Republicans like Senators Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. No, it was always Democrats in the crosshairs and now Rush has more targets than he has ever had.

Whatever misgivings Limbaugh may have had about the first President Bush and the "new world order" melted after an overnight stay in the Lincoln Room at the White House. He has abandoned whatever skepticism he may have once had about government’s ability to do good. He was, and remains, an unabashed tub thumper for the war in Iraq and whatever other wars the neocons want to wage in the Middle East and elsewhere. He swallows, without reservation, the Bush line that we can "rid the world of evil-doers" and put an end to tyranny in the world. Rush has the words and the Grand Old Party calls the tune. His only plea: "Play me!"

"Hawk" radio is loaded with Republican shills. The print media, though somewhat more restrained, have shills of their own. We need look no farther than the editorial pages of the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News, the former Loeb newspapers. The paper that used to hurl editorial thunderbolts at "Dopey Dwight," "Tricky Dick" and "Jerry the Jerk" now "carries water’ for Boy George, President Chameleon. Oh, there is occasional criticism of the middle-aged Boy President on the editorial page, but it is muted. You can still, on rare occasions, find some carping there over Bush’s LBJ-style spending, but you have to look for it. It is usually somewhere around the fifth paragraph in an editorial otherwise praising the Maximum Leader for his courageous leadership.

The Union Leader in 1990-91 opposed Operation Desert Storm to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. Back then Jim Finnegan was still writing the paper’s editorials. Finnegan was no sappy sentimentalist. When endorsing the solidly conservative Bob Monier for governor in 1982, Finnegan could not resist pointing out that the crotchety old state senate president often showed the disposition of "a Gila monster foraging for food." Today, it is a kinder, gentler Union Leader that mildly chides its friends when they spend too much of the taxpayers’ money.

The University of New Hampshire, in candid and grateful recognition of Judd Gregg’s bountiful raiding of the public treasury on the university’s behalf, a few years ago named a building after the state’s senior senator. The Union Leader weighed in at the time with a little mild criticism of the senator’s free-spending ways: "We like Judd Gregg, but…" "Senator Gregg’s a great guy, but…"

In endorsing U.S. Rep Charlie Bass for re-election this year, the UL used "mild-mannered moderate" as a compliment. In the pages of the Union Leader, it didn’t used to be. But then this is neither your grandfather’s New Hampshire, nor your father’s Union Leader. In fact, if you come from a large family, it is possible that it is not even your elder brother’s Union Leader.

It is Jimmy Olson (alias Joe McQuaid), Boy Publisher’s Union Leader.

Manchester, NH, resident Jack Kenny [send him mail] is a freelance writer.