The news is, once again, boiling over with claims of conservative anger or hatred. Those on the right are depicted as knuckle-dragging savages eager to pick up their guns to shoot police or attack others they disagree with.
But for all that poorly aimed commentary, it's actually liberals who have taken hate and turned it into a business model. From MSNBC's Mouth That Roared -- "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann -- to foul-mouthed gossip blogger Perez Hilton, liberals are making big bucks out of what the Clintons once called "the politics of personal destruction."
Take the recent attacks on Miss California after her comments opposing gay marriage. The left didn't just bash the comments, they sought to destroy her. Hilton called her a "bitch" but then went even further, saying, "She lost, not because she doesn't believe in gay marriage, Miss California lost because she's a dumb bitch, OK?" He followed up with a bogus apology: "I was thinking the c-word and I didn't say it."
Hilton turned his anger into a profitable tirade, boosting his own celebrity all the way on to "Larry King Live" where King treated him like an actual professional, not a hate-spewing idiot whose Web site is filled with twisted commentary and sexual graffiti on top of celebrity photos. But there, in the midst of the cartoon penises or doctored photos showing celebrities dripping semen sits an advertisement for Dove Go Fresh deodorant, which sponsors the TV show "Gossip Girl."
Hilton's crusade isn't just about gay marriage, it's about Perez Hilton making more cash while trying to destroy people. It's a business model that worked for the old-time Hollywood scandal sheets featured in the movie "L.A. Confidential." Hilton uses sleaze to become a pop paparazzi without ever taking a photo. But his Web traffic has been in decline for more than a year according to Alexa.com and he needed the boost his bigotry got him.
The chance to judge Miss USA gave him the air of respectability. Trying to destroy a young woman aided his fortunes even more. In reality, he's nothing more than something you might step in and eagerly wipe from your shoe.
But he is an accomplished marketer of hate. And the left has many of those now. Olbermann has turned his show into an hour-long marathon of vitriol. He has accused former President George W. Bush of "urinating on the Constitution" and told Vice President Dick Cheney to "leave this country" because "you terrified more Americans than did any terrorist in the last seven years." Every night the MSNBC hate-fest culminates with his list of the "Worst Person in the World" -- a daily dose of over-the-top Olbermann ranting about people daring to be conservative.
Such hostility might not win Olbermann points at a sanity hearing, but it is getting him ratings and lots of money. "Countdown" was No. 2 in first quarter ratings as MSNBC passed CNN for the first time. Olbermann, meanwhile, inked a new contract in November earning him as estimated $7.5 million a year for four years. That's about $1 per malevolent comment at the rate he spews.
Then there are his guests -- a parade of hateful has-been and never-were folks who sometimes even make Olbermann seem rational by comparison. Theoretical comedian Janeane Garofalo recently claimed tea party protesters were racist "rednecks" who "hate that a black guy is in the White House."
Village Voice entertainment columnist and acknowledged drag queen Michael Musto tried to outdo Garofalo with his savage assault on Prejean. Commenting that the pageant had paid for Prejean to get breast enhancement surgery, he added:
"They also paid for Carrie to cut off her penis and sand her Adam's apple and get a head to toe waxing. I know for a fact that Carrie Prejean was Harry Prejean, a homophobic man who liked marriage so much, he did it three times."
That daily drumbeat of hate might explain why conservatives were upset that the White House Correspondents' Dinner had devolved from humor into hostility. Comedian Wanda Sykes "entertained" the president (he of the "new tone in politics") and the media accusing conservative talk star Rush Limbaugh of "treason" and wishing he'd die. "Rush Limbaugh -- 'I hope the country fails,' -- I hope his kidneys fail, how 'bout that? Needs a little waterboarding, that's what he needs," she commented.
Yes, you might only know Sykes' career if you watch B movies like "Evan Almighty" or the lame TV show "Crank Yankers" where puppets act out prank phone calls. So a D-lister like Sykes needs the notoriety and eventual paychecks that come from such public hatred.
It doesn't matter who the conservative du jour is -- Prejean, Sarah Palin, Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher or Michelle Bachman -- the left will line up to try and destroy them. Oddly, liberals have discovered they like the free market -- with a hefty dose of venom.
As they say, there's no business like show business.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The FOX Forum and he can be seen each Thursday on Foxnews.com's "Strategy Room."