God, Goats, and Misinformation on the Radio Part II
Over the course of the last sixty one years, the alt-right has been gaining massive traction on the “air waves.” Political Evangelicals have been exposing United States citizens and the world to ridiculous amounts of propaganda through programming and commercials aimed at “bringing people to Christ” and taking down the “evil government.”
One notable example is Rush Limbaugh who gained notoriety in 1988 after launching a successful radio broadcast syndicated with 56 other stations. Though he is currently deceased, his website still touts him as the “Doctor of Democracy.” According to the website, thirty-one years after he first broadcast, his conservative and fundamentalist views have reached 27 million people on more than 600 stations.
In February 2020, then-President Trump awarded Limbaugh with a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Trump would have a reason to thank Limbaugh, though, especially after helping to excite and entice voters during the 2016 campaign.
Limbaugh didn’t do it alone though.
It is no secret that the Republican Party has been eliciting support from Evangelical Christian communities for a very long time. Brinkley’s fundamentalist broadcasts left a major impact on the airwaves and many have followed his transmissions and footprints ever since.
Brinkley wasn’t the only broadcastor dolling out xenophobic, zealous, and facsist views on the radio during his day either. During the great depression, many voices began to broadcast their beliefs to listeners looking for a little hope.
Reverend Charles Coughlin followed in Brinkley’s footsteps immediately, and would join the fraudulent doctor on history’s radio walls of shame as “Radioactive.” Coughlin has been touted as the “Radio Priest of the Great Depression,” but he was just another example of a sheep in goat’s clothing — spreading hate and getting too close to political power. A white man exploiting the profit of God’s word.
But it was the tumultuous 1970’s in particular that provided political Evangelists with the perfect opportunity to zealously rise to new heights: taking over television.
The youth of the decade were growing up during uncertain times. They watched as many citizens suffered from war, inflation, unemployment, energy crises, and a major White House scandal. Secondary sector jobs declined as more and more people sought out service based careers and traded farm life for the “big city.”
Worker protests erupted as plants closed down forcing those remaining to seek out other jobs to avoid being jobless. As jobs changed, so too did the economy. Environmental issues were becoming a rising concern as scientific studies were published regarding the negative effects of modern living.
Societal norms were also changing as civil rights movements rocked the status quo.
Conservative and traditional viewpoints regarding sexuality, marriage, and the nuclear family were questioned. Civil rights advancements resulted in policy initiatives on gender equality, abortion, and gay rights. As those movements gained traction, upset Christians blamed governmental overreach and warned against declining moral standards spreading both fear and hate.
However all three—fear, hate, and uncertainty—when combined have been known to drive flocks of stray sheep back to the church. Some would call this response a rebirth, a renewal, or even a reformation and certain Evangelicals believed that this was truly their time to shine.
Out of the bleating chaos rose the Christian Broadcasting Network which grew in size due to the increasing popularity of the 700 Club. The network’s founder Pat Robertson, was a staunch born-again Christian and with his network, Robertson introduced audiences to the infamous T.V. Evangelists; Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.
The couple initially appeared on a CBN children’s show as puppeteers before Bakker became the first host of the network’s “700 Club.” Later, the duo parted ways with Robertson and CBN and formed their own network, the Trinity Broadcasting Network and subsequent program, the “Praise the Lord Club.”
Eventually though, their career as a couple ended scandalously with rumors of sexual misconduct, extra marital affairs, and investigations for fraud — a story that was so scandalous it was documented and turned into a Hollywood biography, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”
The 700 Club, however, continued on with Pat Robertson as host, joined by two new co-hosts Danuta Pfieffer and Ben Kinchlow.
Robertson, a born and raised Southern Baptist with extreme conservative views, used his influence and show for political gain. In 1988, he announced his intention to run for the republican seat for president but would only go through with it if three million people volunteered to support his campaign.
The same year, Pfieffer parted ways with the “700 Club.” After leaving the show, Pfieffer said she left her Pentacostal beliefs behind. In 2015, Pfieffer spilled the “secrets of the 700 Club” in a tell-all memoir titled Chiseled.
Currently, the former T.V. Evangelist spends her time on her sprawling Willamette Valley grape plantation as part owner of Pfeiffer Winery. In May 2021, she published a fictional book titled Libertas — a romance story about enslaved Black people and their journey towards freedom, redemption, love, and God.
In February 2022, Libertas was promoted by the Springfield Public Library as part of their local author series. As a fictional book, it is loosely based on factual history, and the fact that it was written by a white person… well, I think you can understand why this journalist vomits at the fact that it was promoted during Black History Month.
Robertson never did achieve his vision of being president. However, he remained with the network and continued the show well into 2021.
Another Brinkley protégé adding senseless bleats into the mainstream is aptly named Joe Rogan, which sounds a lot like Grogan.
Rogan joined the broadcast ranks with the likes of Robertson, the Bakkers, Limbaugh, and Pfieffer following directly in Brinkley’s footsteps. Rogan even invited the founder of the Proud Boys, Gavin McInnes, and other alt-right guests on his show including Milo Yiannopoulos, Charles C. Johnson, and Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad.
On his show—and his stand up routines—Rogan is unapologetically crass, often over the top, and, sometimes, utterly bizarre. Though Rogan doesn’t consider himself to be alt-right and hasn’t publicly claimed to be a western chauvinist, he does share many traits in common with the Proud Boys.
And his audience eats it up, like little billies drinking mama goat’s milk. In one episode, Rogan and his co-host discuss the unfounded myth that Hitler had a testicle bitten off by a goat.
Interestingly, Rogan himself admitted that he was attacked by a goat during that same episode.
Nonetheless, Rogan is partly responsible for transforming the image of the goat, once again bringing the symbol back into the mainstream. Rogan is also a self proclaimed “mixed martial arts fanatic” and many of his guests are contenders in the arena.
Rogan constantly refers to these sportsmen and other people he admires as G.O.A.T.s, an acronym for the “greatest of all time.” In true whitewashing fashion, this acronym seems to be stolen from G.O.A.T. Inc. the company formed by Lonnie Ali, a tribute to her late husband, Muhammed Ali.
It’s important to note that the term goat was initially used in sports talk as a derisive term during the early 1900’s to refer to a player who ruined a team’s chances at winning the game.
Rogan also aids in spreading misinformation and bad medicine, just like Brinkley.
Throughout the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, Rogan fueled anti-mask and anti-vaxx followers through his podcasts by advocating against the vaccine for young adults and healthy individuals. Instead of getting vaccinated, Rogan chose alternative medicine to treat the virus once he had contracted it himself.
Whether or not Rogan received Ivermectin through a prescription from his doctor is neither here nor there. His alternative treatment and promotion has led many to follow in his hoofsteps seeking out medicine in forms that may not be intended for human consumption with potentially dangerous and toxic side effects.
Out of the state where Brinkley died—Texas—rose Alex Jones. Since 1996, Jones has left a massive mark on conservative radio and audiences with his show and subsequent website, InfoWars. Jones has even been a featured guest on Rogan’s show.
Though Jones appeals to a younger audience compared to Limbaugh, he uses similar rhetorical devices to attract listeners. Drawing on Brinkley, Jones knows how to keep his audience listening, excited, and paying.
Using InfoWars Jones spreads his own version of conservative fundamentalism wrapped-up in monumental conspiracy theories and bad medicine.
On his website, Jones promotes self-branded herbal supplements. Included in the line of supplements is a “penis pill” aimed at restoring male vitality, energy, and overall wellness, but is actually just a blue labeled tonic.
According to The Atlantic, the “Super Male Vitality” supplement is a mix of widely available herbs. However, any purchase comes with a disclaimer and indemnify clause stating that information on the website is not meant to substitute advice provided for by a doctor. This eliminates culpability by Infowars as the patron takes sole responsibility for any legal, medical, or financial liability that may occur upon purchase and use.
BuzzFeed even sent the supplements to a lab for testing. According to those tests, the supplements are consistent with the labeling, however, they may not do what Jones’s claims. One supplement is touted as supporting thyroid health, supercharging cognitive function, stabilizing hormone levels, and aiding with a healthy metabolism.
The test showed that it’s just simple iodine.
Iodine is used to aid in thyroid function but it can lead to poisoning when consumed in large amounts. Thankfully, though, the lab concluded that most of the supplements sold by InfoWars contain “less effective serving sizes” compared to “their less expensive counterparts.”
Recently, the New York Attorney General issued a cease and desist order to Jones, stating that he must immediately stop selling and marketing products as treatment for COVID-19.
Jones has been banned from YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Stitcher, Apple, Pinterest, LinkedIn, MailChimp, and Vimeo. Just like Brinkley, those sites removed his content for violating their terms of service. In other words, Jones does not serve the public interest.
Moreover, Jones, and his website InfoWars, are trying to claim bankruptcy due to the defamation lawsuits stemming from the conspiracy theories and lies he spread about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. A jury of his peers found Jones liable and awarded $45.2 million in punitive damages.
There are more lawsuits to follow that astounding ruling which will only help to ensure that Jones will go down in annals of history as one of the greatest podcasting conspiracy theorists of all time.
A true “Brinkley Goat Progeny,” if there ever was such a thing.
Adding to that echo chamber of bleating goats are individual Proud Boys and other fascist, white supremacist groups who use social media platforms in similar ways to spread hate, fear, and misinformation in efforts to increase their membership, egos, and pocketbooks.
Often, these groups mask their intentions as acts of charity and kindness, promoting Christian values, brotherhood, and service.
But in the end, though they claim to be protecting liberty and freedom with their conservative broadcasts intended mainly for white christian men—western chauvinists—they only spread fascist views, anti-Semitism and racism, conspiracy theories, and fraudulent medicine. All aimed at pleasing and treating dicks; scammers and frauds profiting in the name of God.
Honestly, it’s just Nuts!