The Paranoia Industry

by dday

I know that everyone is scratching their heads over why every conservative and their brother is freaking out over how Barack Obama is going to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine and kick Rush and Sean off the air, even though that was never part of his platform, no bill has been introduced in Congress to that effect since the Democrats got the majority, and the sum total of the "evidence" for this nefarious scheme is a couple off-hand comments made by two Democratic Senators. James Rainey writes about it today.

Now, you can argue out whether or not there should be a Fairness Doctrine. But the answer to why conservative hucksters keep harping on it, of course, is that this is how the conservative movement keeps flush with direct-mail cash during their years in the wilderness. During the Clinton Administration there were all sorts of crackpot delusions about what Bill Clinton was preparing to do to stick it to conservatives and bring about the second coming of Armageddon. But you always have to read to the end of these missives, when they ask for "just $5 or $10" to save the Republic and fight the efforts to silence their voices. Conservatives understood the sense of engagement that comes with small-dollar donations long before Democrats caught up to them. The difference is that conservatives basically use it as a con game, stirring up emotional furies to part unwitting folks from their money. Rick Perlstein has a phrase for this: Conservatives treat their constituents like suckers.

It's exactly the same with this run on gun sales. While the actual evidence of an increase in gun sales since the election is somewhat thin (although FBI requests for background checks are way up), it is clear that gun sellers are using the spectre of Obama taking away Second Amendment rights to hawk their wares.

Some gun sellers like Wild West Guns in Anchorage, AK are holding “Obama Sale” events to take advantage of their customers’ misinformed fears and news outlets from NPR to Fox News have produced reports documenting the gun buying binge [...]

What the major media outlets overlook is that the Obama gun sale boom appears to be the result of a multimillion dollar effort launched by the National Rifle Association last summer to misinform voters about Obama’s gun policy proposals. As Politico reported in June:

The National Rifle Association plans to spend about $40 million on this year’s campaign, with $15 million of that devoted to portraying Barack Obama as a threat to the Second Amendment rights. … This fall, NRA members will get automated phone calls, mail pieces and pre-election editions of the group’s three magazines making the case against Obama.

So the NRA whips up fear about the imminent loss of gun rights, leading to a run on gun sales that benefits gun stores and manufacturers. Quid, pro, quo.

Fortunately for them, there's a conservative born every minute. (though hopefully more liberals!)