Friday, October 10, 2008

Liddy's Radio Shtick

More from Howie the Putz's book Hot Air: All Talk All The Time (pgs 267-8, HB edition):

The boundaries of what is acceptable on radio have changed radically... A quarter century ago, G. Gordon Liddy was a Nixon White House aide who moved to the president's reelection campaign, where he masterminded the Watergate break-in. An eccentric former FBI agent, he hatched other preposterous schemes -- such as a secret plan to kill columnist Jack Anderson -- that proved too much even for the lawless Nixon gang. Liddy refused to talk to prosecutors and served nearly five years in prison, longer than any other Watergate conspirator.

That resume turned out to be perfectly suited to a '90s talk culture that thrives on criminal celebrity. The convicted felon who would not talk to the authorities was soon talking to a radio audience four hours a day. Liddy's shaved head, deadpan wit, and hand-over-the-flame intensity quickly won him a cult following. Since going into syndication in 1992 from a nondescript Virginia office building, the G-man has been picked up by two hundred sixty stations.

Liddy's "Radio Free D.C." program, which he bills as "jamming the signal of the liberal establishment," focuses on guns, law enforcement, and personal safety. Liddy tells listeners he can "cut the heart and sever the spine" with one thrust of his two-edged stiletto.

"Mr. Liddy...how many techniques do you have to kill a person with your bare hands?" asks Dave from Fairfax.

"How do I kill thee? Let me count the ways," Liddy says. "Let me see. I have never gone through my martial arts repertoire for lethality and counted, but I can assure you they are numerous." Asked about concealed weapons, he exults: "I like a revolver. A semiautomatic takes much longer to get into operation than does a revolver. A .44 special. Rossi makes a nice five-round one."

Liddy's number one target is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which he says has "run amok" and is conducting a "terror campaign" against gun dealers. Day after day, he repeats the same alleged horror stories about bureau agents: Slamming a pregnant woman against the wall and causing her to lose her baby. Stealing the medicine of a cancer patient and stomping his cat to death. Federal officials flatly deny these allegations, but no matter. Liddy tells his listeners what to do if attacked by these agents. "Head shots, head shots -- kill the sons of bitches!" he says. And if one has insufficient marksmanship to hit the head, "shoot them in the groin."

This sort of ugliness is way beyond the pale of civil discourse. Yet Liddy insists he is only counseling people in self-defense and does not actually advocate "hunting down" federal gun agents. While he speaks of using pictures of the president and First Lady for target practice, "I accept no responsibility for somebody shooting up the White House," he says. Liddy seems to willfully disregard the notion that his violent fantasies might encourage crazed listeners to take the law into their own hands. It's little wonder that Clinton has denounced him by name, or that Al D'Amato, having chosen to honor Liddy at a Republican fundraising dinner, abruptly disinvited him after a storm of criticism.

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