Know Your Right Wingers
SOURCE: August Pollak
Laura Ingraham is nearly as well known for posing in a leopard print mini-skirt for a 1995 New York Times Magazine cover story on young right-wingers as she is for her seething hatred of “Elites” (aka liberals) and her grueling struggle against the oppressive liberal media. Strangely enough, this oppressive liberal media seems to be failing miserably at keeping her down.
Ingraham has gained notoriety for being one of the few women syndicated in the male-dominated world of talk radio, though how she manages to keep rambling on endlessly about next to nothing is hard to fathom. As Center for American Progress media analyst Eric Alterman wrote: “this woman was more full of shit than just about anyone I had ever met.” Also unclear is where this sassy pundette developed her extreme distaste for the Elites, having herself grown up in posh Glastonbury, CT, where the median family income, according to the 2000 Census, was about $94,978.
Ingraham got her start in journalism at Dartmouth, where she was the first female editor of the ultra-conservative Dartmouth Review. Already tarnished by its reputation for bigoted, homophobic, and sexist reportage, Ingraham took the Review to new levels when she
Ingraham worked briefly as a White House speechwriter for President Reagan before heading to law school at the University of Virginia. After graduation, she quickly rose to a job in uber-con heaven, clerking for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. As a member of the anti-feminist Independent Women’s Forum, Ingraham had assisted in the “Women for Judge Thomas” campaign that supported her future boss’s appointment to the Supreme Court and promoted attacks on Anita Hill’s testimony.
Apparently in search of a more visible professional field, and capitalizing on the new vogueishness of young rightists, Ingraham went to work simultaneously for both CBS as a commentator on the nightly news and for MSNBC as a regular pundit. She was neither “a careful thinker” nor “a knowledgeable analyst,” but her youthful vigor, pretty face, and outlandish observations made her a television success.
Today Ingraham is best known for her nationally syndicated radio show broadcast on 325 stations across the country. Remarkably, she has garnered quite an audience, most likely made up of “true Americans,” who according to Ingraham are “white, southern, Christian, and Republican.” Whoever they are, they’ve been roped in by Ingraham’s sophomoric humor, her rambling tales about her dog, her epic search for a husband, and of course, her endless rants and raves condemning the evil Elites, the evil U.N., and the evil Europeans. She is the author of two long-winded meandering books: Shut up and Sing: How Elites from Hollywood, Politics, and the UN are Subverting America and The Hillary Trap: Looking for Power in all the Wrong Places.
Ingraham remains a steadfast defender of the Bush administration’s most disastrous and failed policies. In late 2004, when 380 tons of explosives were discovered missing from a munitions site in Iraq, Ingraham was among several conservative pundits to blame the troops and not the Pentagon. Earlier in the year, in response to the suggestion of Today show host Katie Couric that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld apologize or resign in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal, Ingraham said: “How about Matt and Katie apologize for that lame show they put on every day?” (While CampusProgress.org, and particularly our Grade This! feature, reserves the right to agree with Ingraham that the Today show sometimes indulges in lameness, in discussing an ongoing war we would not deflect critical questions with a spazz attack.)
Ingraham’s hard-line crusade against elites and celebrities has elevated her to her own elite celebrity post in conservative social circles. Though she seems not to see the hypocrisy, she revels in her own fame while shamelessly poo-pooing the success of others.
On liberal “elites”: “Terrorists, and their facilitators and friends, aren’t jealous at all. Like our own self-hating elites, they genuinely detest democracy and the principles enshrined in the constitution.” (Shut Up and Sing, p. 73)
More on liberal “elites”: “Elites are … fundamentally anti-American.” (Shut Up and Sing, p. 74)
More on Elites: They "live in palaces invisible from the road outside, and fly in private jets, while their managers and assistants tell them only what they want to hear." (Shut Up and Sing, p. 17)
On the Media: “I don’t mind if we’re all twisted up about how the cable news is so awful, or it’s for the stupid people. I’m happy for that debate to go on, because Republicans will continue to win, as long as that’s the focus.” (Remarks, Feb. 12, 2005)
Illustration: August J. Pollak