SCENE: The studio at the National Public Radio Twin Cities bureau. Mitch BERG is sitting, in headphones, in front of a microphone. Around the corner of the table is Cat SCAT, designated “fact checker” at the (possibly fictional) progressive blog “”MinnesotaLiberalAlliance.Blogspot.com“, she is the office manager at a small phrenology practice. Through the glass, an engineer, an assistant engineer, an editor, an editorial assistant, two associate producers, a producer, a digital producer and an executive producer sit, listening intently. Across the table from SCAT and BERG sits MyLyssa SILBERMAN, reporter for National Public Radio’s Saint Paul bureau, covering the “Fake News” and “Diversity” beats.
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER 1: “Aaand we’re rolling”.
SILBERMAN: (Reading from a script). Thanks, Kathy. That dress is adorable, by the way. Now, we look at America’s large and growing political divide. With us today are Cat Scat, Executive Fact-Checker at the journalism site “”MinnesotaLiberalAlliance.Blogspot.com”, a source of journalism and news for Minnesotans since 2008.
SCAT: Hello. Is this thing on?
SILBERMAN: And Mitch Berg, blogger and talk radio host.
BERG: Uh…yeah, hi.
SILBERMAN (Still reading from script) Since 2016, concerns about the rise of authoritarianism have swept the nation…
BERG: Er, MylLyssa? That’s not true – on either side. People on the left were concerned about a rise in populism in Europe in the early 20`0s, when, rightly or wrongly, they fretted about the rise of the Volkspartei in Germany, and Victor Orban’s Fideš party in Hungary, as well as some pretty potent Polish nationalism. In the meantime, conservatives in the US have been concerned about the politicization of the state bureaucracy, with Barack Obama weaponizing some of the tools of excessive power that George W Bush instituted during his administration’s control over the War on Terror…
(BERG stops, noticing that SILBERMAN and SCAT are glaring at him).
ASSOCIATE ENGINEER: Take two?
LEAD ENGINEER: Rolling.
SILBERMAN (Still reading from script) Since 2016, concerns about the rise of authoritarianism have swept the nation. As right-wing anti-science theocrats took charge, fomenting boog bang… (stops). we’ll cut that in the edit. (deep breath) book bans, restrictions on saying “gay”, bans on reproductive rights, and a rise in hate from the right…
PRODUCER: (breaking in on the talkback): MyLyssa – read that as “skyrocketing racial hatred from red America directed at people of color and LGBTQ+ Americans.
EDITOR: …and “women and their children”.
PRODUCER: Love it. Got that, MyLyssa?
SILBERMAN: (scribbline on script) Got it.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Take it from “As right wing…” (SILBERMAN nods)
ASSOCIATE ENGINEER: Three, two, one…
SILBERMAN: As right-wing anti-science theocrats took charge, fomenting book bans, restridctions on saying “gay”, and skyrocketing racial hatred from red America directed at people of color, LGBTQ+ Americans and women and their children, we want to get the views of our guests – Cat Scat, progressive journalist and activist, and Mitch Berg, right wing hatemonger.
SILBERMAN: Ms. Scat, what’s your take?
SCAT: The problem entirely started in 2016, when hatemongers took over the White House, ushering in an era of hatred for people of color, for LGBTQ+, for women’s reproductive choice, for transgender and queer folk, for demoracy itself, and replacing it with a paranoid neo-nazi ammosexual delusions of a bunch of red-state trailer-park dwelling cousin-f**king high school dropouts, which studies show the majority of red America are…
BERG: I’m gonna break in, here. Your statement is the kind of lie that gets legs of its own if you let it fester. It’s a preposterous slander of tens of millions of millions of Americans; we almost invariably are motivated not by hate, but by concern over the trashing of the parts of Western Civilization that have made us not only the free-est and most prosperous society in history – one where for the firs time ever, obesity is a bigger problem than starving to death – but more humane, especially for gays, people of color, LGBTQ+ and whomever you’re concerned about, and don’t support authoritarians, ever, in any way.
PRODUCER: What can we do with that last bit.
ENGINEER: Wait one…
(freantic computer editing)
ENGINEER: OK, here’s what we got:
(BERG’s voice, edited, in the playback): “I’m gonna break…Your…legs …we… hate… the trash…of Western Civilization…obesi…gays, people of color, LGBTQ+ and whomever you’re concerned about and…support authoritarians…in any way.
SILBERMAN: So you hate people of weight as well as POC, LGBTQ+ and Latinx people…
SCAT: You’ve been fact-cjhecked!
BERG: I did in fact record the original unedited exchange on my phone and this digital recorder.
PRODUCER: Chilling effect on journalism!
EDITOR: Why do you hate the free press?
Based, loosely but not nearly loosely enough, on an MPR piece I caught last week.