According to Air America Radio late night host Jon Elliott, Rhodes was beaten up pretty badly, losing several teeth and will probably be off the air for at least the rest of the week. As of late Monday night we have not able to locate any press accounts of the attack and nothing has been posted on the AAR website.
Rhodes is one of the left’s most outspoken talkers; I’ve referred to her as “strident” before, although nine times out of 10 I find myself agreeing with her positions. Still, she’s controversial, she gets under people’s skin, and the righties hate her going back to an ill-advised comedy bit which used gunshot sounds to signify protecting Social Security.
With that in mind, I really hope thoughts like this are an over-reaction:
Pointing out that Rhodes was wearing a jogging suit and displayed no purse or jewelry, Elliott speculated that "this does not appear to me to be a standard grab the money and run mugging."
"Is this an attempt by the right wing hate machine to silence one of our own," he asked. "Are we threatening them. Are they afraid that we're winning. Are they trying to silence intimidate us."
Such speculation is premature, of course, but it’s worth mentioning because of the rash of true hate-speech coming from the right-wing echo chamber over the past few weeks. VoteVets’ Brandon Friedman read some of the hate mail he received after appearing on Rush Limbaugh’s show (you can watch the video here); this one is representative:
“Do us all a favor and shoot yourself, you’re a waste of human flesh.”
Last week the family of Graeme Frost got a dose “compassionate conservatism,” including choice comments like this:
“Hang ‘em. Publically,” [a Redstate] contributor wrote. “Let ‘em twist in the wind and be eaten by ravens. Then maybe the bunch of socialist patsies will think twice.”
Of course, we all say things we don’t mean on blogs; I know I’ve written some stuff in the heat of an argument that the righties take issue with. But some on the unhinged right seem determined to follow through with their threats:
Attacks on liberal talk radio stations and their hosts are not a new thing. About a month ago a gunman fired a shot through a window at the studios of KPFT, Houston’s, Pacifica station narrowly missing a DJ who was hosting music show at the time. There is currently a $10,000 reward offered to anyone who identifies the shooter.
This is not the first politically motivated attack on KPFT. More than 35 years ago, the Ku Klux Klan blew up the station's transmitters twice within the Houston station's first year on the air.
Also, according to a blogger on Democratic Underground, Thom Hartmann said on his Friday show that his auto repairman, after replacing his windshield, pointed out to him that he had three bullet holes in his car.
Apparently, some right-wing critics of lib talk aren’t happy that conservative talk only accounts for 90% of the programming on talk radio. These whack jobs appear determined to whatever it takes to silence the opposing point of view.
Not surprisingly, the only talk radio host killed for his political views was a liberal. In 1984, two right wing extremists gunned down Denver talk show host Alan Berg. Berg’s tragic murder was memorialized in a chilling movie Talk Radio.
Let’s hope this isn’t what happened to Randi Rhodes. And let’s hope this madness ends soon.
[UPDATE]: Atrios has a post up today that explains a lot about this issue. Check out Rush Limbaugh bragging about intimidating a journalist:
But there was a cover story on me coming out of one of the big news magazines, and it was going to totally mischaracterize me and what I do and how I do it. And we found out who was writing it and made a couple phone calls to the person writing it. And we said, "You know what? We're going to find out where your kids go to school. We're going to find out who you knocked up in high school. We're going to find out what drugs you used. We're going to find out where you go to drink and do -- we're gonna find out how you paid for your house.
I think we know where Rush's listeners get their ideas from.
[UPDATE 2]: Air America Radio has an update:
October 16-NEW YORK-On Sunday evening, October 14, Air America host Randi Rhodes experienced an unfortunate incident hindering her from hosting her show. The reports of a presumed hate crime are unfounded. Ms. Rhodes looks forward to being back on the air on Thursday.