One of the biggest faults I find with talk radio most often is that the hosts resort to overly simplistic explanations for what's going on in the world. For the right, the hosts blame everything on liberals and liberalism. On the left, the hosts blame everything on conservatives and conservatism. Sometimes they're right, but most of the time they're wrong.
And boy was Air America's Jon Elliot wrong.
After Air America host Randi Rhodes fell in Manhattan, Elliot went on the air Monday and...blamed conservatives.
Is this an attempt by the right wing hate machine to silence one of our own? Are we threatening them? Are they afraid we're winning? Are they trying to silence intimidate us?
I don't even have a radio show and I'm beating Air America in the ratings, so it's not fear. But go on left-wing blogs and websites after the incident and you couldn't convince the majority of the posters that it wasn't a conservative hit job.
At least, until the NYPD, Rhodes's lawyer, and Air America said it wasn't a mugging, but rather an accident (or as Air America called it, an "incident"). Oops.
To his credit, Elliot apologized for his faulty reporting of the situation...kinda. In a written statement, Elliot said the following.
I shouldn't have speculated based on hearsay that Randi Rhodes had been mugged and that it may have been an attack from a right wing hate machine. I apologize for jumping to conclusions based on an emotional reaction.
Wellllll...I'm not sure that's gonna cut it. Are there conservative whack-jobs out there that would do something like this to Rhodes or any Air America host? Absolutely. But more often than not, conservatives don't do something like that and when it happens, they're some of the first people to chastise the whack-jobs. And when you consider New York City is lacking in the conservative population, which in turn limits the conservative whack-job population, it's highly unlikely that it was a "right wing hate machine" that made Rhodes fall.
But it's pretty damn easy to accuse them of it if you're an Air America host, isn't it?
After staying pretty much under the radar for a while, an incident like this can only hurt them in the short run and the long run. In the short run, jumping to conclusions in the post-Nifong era that don't pan out makes them look foolish and untrustworthy. In the long run, it doesn't get much better. They're already in a ratings hole and with Don Imus coming back, it puts more pressure on Air America to perform. Given their track record so far, that's a Yao Ming-sized order.
And all because someone tried to make political something that wasn't.
No wonder I call them Err America.