by A. Lidden Pate, Jr.
Popular commentators have figured out how to attract large audiences, as have the four named below, two extremists on the Far Left and two on the Far Right. When measured by the size of their audiences and the amounts of income they bring in for themselves and for the stations and newspapers that broadcast and publish their work, they are "successful" to the extreme.
But do they tell the truth? Sometimes. But in the main, they talk or write about issues and state their opinions in ways that are pleasing to their audiences. For that reason alone, most of what they say should be ignored or, at the very least, examined with great care to determine what is accurate and what is not. Their chief aim is to be popular and earn money and gain fame, not to tell the truth.
It is most informative as well that each of the four has neither formal training nor formal education concerning the topics they address frequently. Mostly, each is self-educated and each has what we sometimes call "the gift of gab."
Ordinarily, I steer away from using divisive phrases like "far left" and "far right. But I use them here to sharpen the dialogue, fully realizing that most Americans do not consider themselves extremists. We do, however, need to identify weaknesses in the arguments and opinions that are so loyally adhered to by many Americans simply because they are associated with certain popular figures.
The biographical information on these individuals collected below has been obtained, for the most part, from Wikipedia articles.
On the Far Left...
Michael Francis Moore was born in Flint, Michigan, at that time the home to many General Motors factories, where his parents and grandfather worked.
Moore was brought up Catholic, and has Irish, Scottish, and English ancestry. He attended parochial St. John's Elementary School and later attended St. Paul's Seminary in Saginaw, Michigan for a year. He then attended Davison High School, where he was active in drama and debate. He attained the rank of Eagle Scout as a Boy Scout. At the age of 18, he was elected to the Davison school board and, at that time, the youngest person elected to office in the U.S. He dropped out of the University of Michigan after his first year there.
Thom Hartmann was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan to Jean and Carl Hartman. He lived in Detroit at age two and later grew up in Lansing. Interested in politics from a young age, he was raised in a conservative, Midwestern household. He campaigned for Barry Goldwater in 1964. He was expelled from high school during tenth grade and later earned a GED. He then enrolled at Lansing Community College and transferred to Michigan State University majoring in electrical engineering. In 1968, Hartmann opened his first business, an electronic repair shop located next to Michigan State University and became a part-time disc jockey at local country music station WITL-FM. Hartmann protested against the Vietnam War. In 1971 he was ordained as a Minister with Coptic Fellowship International. He has been a keynote speaker at many Coptic Conferences.
On the Far Right. . .
Sean Patrick Hannity was born in New York City, New York, the son of Lillian (Flynn) and Hugh Hannity. Lillian worked as a stenographer and a corrections officer at a county jail, while Hugh was a family-court officer. He is the youngest of four siblings. All of his grandparents immigrated to the United States from Ireland. He grew up in Franklin Square, NY.
Hannity attended Sacred Heart Seminary in Hempstead, NY, during his middle school years and St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary high school in Uniondale, NY. He attended New York University, UC Santa Barbara and Adelphi University, but did not graduate, dropping out due to financial issues.
Rush Limbaugh Jr. was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. His father was a lawyer and a U.S. fighter pilot His mother was a native of Searcy, Arkansas.
Limbaugh began his career in radio as a teenager in 1967 in his hometown of Cape Girardeau, using the name Rusty Sharpe. Limbaugh graduated from Cape Girardeu Missouri Central High School in 1969. He enrolled in Southeast Missouri State University but left the school after two semesters and one summer. According to his mother, "he flunked everything," and "he just didn't seem interested in anything except radio."
Limbaugh's daily broadcasts have more than 13 million listeners.