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Shock Jocks: Hate Speech and Talk Radio: America?s Ten Worst Hate Talkers and the Progressive Alternatives Paperback – June 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


"Talk radio is one of America's most popular and influential media formats. In his book, Shock Jocks: Hate Speech and Talk Radio, Rory O'Connor reports on the shocking number of top radio talk show hosts who regularly spout hate speech over our public airwaves. This intriguing, eye-opening and hugely important work is a must read account of the dangers of blurring opinion, journalism and entertainment – at the expense of our democratic discourse and ideals."
Walter Cronkite, American broadcast journalist icon

"There is too much talk – imbecilic, often hateful talk – on much of talk radio, as this provocative book demonstrates. O'Connor and Aaron Cutler deliver a lively, well deserved punch in the nose to these powerful bloviators."
Ken Auletta, Journalist and Media Expert

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: AlterNet Books; 1st edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0975272438
  • ISBN-13: 978-0975272435
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,543,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


Rory O'Connor is an award-winning journalist, author and filmmaker whose work centers on the nexus of media and politics. For more than twenty years Rory has engaged the public with stories from Asia, Africa and the Americas told in print, film, television and radio broadcasts and via the Internet. Co-founder and president of the international media firm Globalvision, Inc, and Board Chair of The Global Center, an affiliated non-profit foundation, Rory's films and television programs have aired on PBS, BBC, NHK, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, and numerous other leading international broadcast networks. His broadcast, film and print work has been honored with a George Polk Award, a Writer's Guild Award, a George Orwell Award and two Emmys, among many awards. The author of three books, including "Nukespeak: The Selling of Nuclear Technology from the Manhattan Project to Fukushima" (Sierra Club Books, Second Edition, 2011), "Shock Jocks: Hate Speech and Talk Radio" (AlterNet Books, 2008), and, most recently, "Friends, Followers and the Future: How Social Media are Changing Politics, Threatening Big Brands, and Killing Traditional Media" (City Lights, 2012), he is also blogs for the Huffington Post, AlterNet, Salon and other prominent Internet news sites and posts regularly at his own "Media Is A Plural' blog, accessible at www.roryoconnor.org.

Customer Reviews

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25 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 23, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been trying to figure out the right wing these days. I've been reading a lot about its history, its roots, motives. One of the right's favorite fairy tales is of the "left bias" of the media. So I've been reading up on that and ran across this volume.

I didn't think I'd be that impressed with it. But first and foremost, I credit the authors with HONESTY. And that's something I don't often find on the right. For instance, they admit that Limbaugh--as much as I despise his hate language and utter nonsense--is good at what he does: radio. (Indeed, it reminds me of an argument I've had with some righties who argue that Air America's not doing so well business-wise is an indication of the strength of the left. I've argued that that's nonsense. My politics notwithstanding, I don't listen to Air America much at all. First, I don't listen to commercial radio at all unless I have NO alternative. Second, I don't want to hear, between shows worth listening to, infomercials on liberal cause investing and health food. Third, like my brother said, I don't want to trade a rignt wing rant for a left wing rant--and some of Air America's fair is rather preachy left wing stuff. I'd rather make up my own mind, thank you.)

The book starts with Don Imus. That I thought was a little of a mistake. Imus is clearly a "shock jock" more than a political commentator. But he made the news because of his suspension after a blatantly racist comment. The authors ask legitmate questions, e.g., why was he suspended for as short a time as he was. But the proceed into the Top Ten Shock Jocks and #1 is Rush Limbaugh. So they may have put a little more emphasis on him.

They admit, though, that, like him or not (I don't.), Limbaugh is good at what he does.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Garman Lord on June 25, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
America is changing, and not for the more beautiful, there's no way around that. In keeping with the general coarsening of the culture, a certain subculture that would have been totally relegated to the lunatic fringe mere decades ago has in recent years cropped up and managed to take over and stake out significant media turf and visibility. But of course that's all by comparison to a fundamentally different America, back in a day when a schoolkid's worst transgressions on campus might have been shooting spitballs or being late for class, rather than drug dealing, rape or murder, and his most dreaded punishment might have been a half hour of after school detention rather than half a lifetime in the joint.

I'm speaking here, of course, of the subculture of what has come to be known as "Wingnut AM radio," also including Fox News type "entertainment," right wing rant literature, the whole package, today consumed as the exclusive intellectual fare of a steadily dwindling but significant and important segment of the American general population. As is author O'Connor, who seems to think this intransigently dissident cultural hairball in our national gut is the greatest threat to America today. And perhaps it is, yet O'Connor's own decidedly leftist biases can't be disregarded in assessing his book, which comes down passionately hard on the right-wing crowd. To O'Connor's credit, his assessment, though somewhat alarmistly harsh, is fairer, more balanced, more responsible and more honest than most of the rhetoric currently bloviating in from the Right, yet it's still the kind of talk that, like that from the Right, more or less turns the Middle ground where most Americans actually live into a no-man's-land.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Washington on October 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
Although( thank God) we have no"shock jocks" in the UK,(they are more to be found in the press or TV than radio I think!), I have heard of them( esp Rush Limbaugh) even here. Whenever I am in the US I pointedly avoid listen to them
(I think the Rush soundalike in The Simpsons "Birch Barlow" is hilarious and was pleased when Michael "Whiner" Savage was banned from the UK) and think they represent the worst qualities in human nature, appealing to hate, fear and prejudice!

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14 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Zachary Pickens on July 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
I grew up in Ohio in a generally-conservative city where the people are not malicious, not purposefully wishing to crush the views of others, but have solid views on taxes, guns, and God. On the radio, Limbaugh is followed by Dr. Laura, is followed by Glenn Beck. You have to pick up Hannity from the next city over. When I listen to these "shock jocks" (ok maybe not Dr. Laura) today, I still think about how they are impacting my home city. I hear the half truths, major logical leaps, and hateful words that come out of El Rushbo's mouth and I'm baffled by the lack of outrage, by the lack of outcry. Sometimes I listen to see how far the man will go.

Thus the need for "Shock Jocks". This book is a handy, compact guide to these offenders and their offenses. It details statements by conservative radio talkers that surprise and inform even me, someone who knows full well what these (mostly) guys are capable of. When I find myself, someone who regularly reads Ann Coulter, surprised by the things that conservative talkers have said, I know this book is timely and a must-read for media critics and those who strive for a healthy democracy.

Most importantly, Shock Jocks highlights the reality that these talkers are distributing loads of news and (mis)information to a very large base of support. We cannot turn away and just say they are evil or that their listeners are sheep. We have to hold them accountable and fight against their missteps. This book will open people's eyes and act as a catalyst for change in the way we view shock jocks and how they spread their message of hate.
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