The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

06 December 2008

Host Tries To Pour Cold Water On Obama-Triggered Conservative Talk Surge


Talker Attacks Successful Conservative Counterparts

*** The Mainstream Media Vs Zimbabwean Dollar: Which Collapses Hardest? ***

With conservative talk radio expected to surge thanks to Barack Obama & Friends, can one moderate boost his sagging career by attacking right-leaning hosts and their listeners?

Positioning himself as the medium's version of Lincoln Chafee or Christopher Shays, two moderate (and equally bitter) New England Republicans who were voted out of office, syndicated talker Michael Medved has again gone on the attack. It's an obvious attempt at reviving a fading career.

In January, he tried the same approach (without much to show for the effort), but this time Medved seems especially mean-spirited. In a USA Today Op-Ed piece, he's accused conservative talk radio listeners of being "disgruntled" and "paranoid".

In addition, the Seattle-based host has smeared his colleagues, accusing them of "pre-emptive rage" regarding Obama and having "an odd obsession over Obama's birth certificate".

Left-wing websites and columnists have been quick to use his column to attack conservatives. Interestingly, in 2006, a left-wing book author came away from a visit with the impression that Medved may himself be a closet liberal.

From his piece:

Increasingly, interests of commercial talk radio in a fractured market diverge from the needs of a viable national movement. A radio show (locally or nationally) that draws just 5% of the available audience can achieve notable success in ratings and revenue, but a conservatism that connects with only a disgruntled, paranoid 5% of the public will wither and die.

Yes, the nation expects (and deserves) tough partisan battles in the years ahead, but it matters greatly who's viewed as initiator of the conflict. George W. Bush suffered throughout his presidency from perceptions that he never delivered on his "uniter not divider" rhetoric and that he and Karl Rove, not the Democrats, introduced the toxic atmosphere into Washington.

In the long run

If Obama repeats some of Clinton's mistakes and launches his administration with polarizing initiatives, then talk radio will fight back with appropriately fierce determination. That's particularly true if he tries to impose the "Fairness Doctrine" — empowering government bureaucrats to clamp down on controversial opinions by requiring federally defined "balance," thereby threatening the very existence of talk radio and politically engaged broadcast TV.

But if the new president makes credible efforts to govern from the center, then talk radio can't afford long-term marginalization as a sulking, sniping, angry irrelevancy. It makes no sense to react with pre-emptive rage (and an odd obsession over Obama's birth certificate) to a president-elect who has remained pointedly vague on policy.

Does Medved actually
listen to these hosts, however? If so, he might notice that Rush Limbaugh has continued his humorous approach to Democrats in Washington, calling it a "sitcom". Further, El Rushbo's actually angered and confused the left by complimenting Obama on his politically-shrewd choice of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

And the Obama birth-certificate issue has rarely been discussed on major conservative shows, it's largely Internet-fueled.

Beyond that, where has Medved led by example? In terms of ratings, he's been lucky to draw 1% of the audience beyond his home base in Seattle. Very few radio formats (including music) are able to surpass that percentage on a regular basis, yet talk has a handful that consistently maintain an audience of millions, regardless of the current political environment.

Since the election, some of these hosts have provided must-listen programming for Americans looking for guidance on our nation's highly uncertain future under Democratic Party rule.

Further, Medved has been fortunate to remain on the air anywhere. If not for the generosity of his syndicator, Salem Communications, his program simply would not have survived. Not only do they continue to distribute his show, but the company has purchased stations across the country for the sole purpose of providing an outlet for its long-suffering secular talk lineup.

That strategy has very nearly destroyed the company, by the way: Salem's shares currently trade for just 95 cents, compared to $33 just five years ago. SALM's entire market capitalization now stands at just $22m, about what it was paying for just a single station or two a few years ago.

Medved is lucky that Salem is willing to risk bankruptcy in order to protect a syndicated talk lineup that failed to generate ratings or revenue when other firms would have replaced this programming years earlier.

But Salem's party is just about over and that's why Medved is in quick need of an attention-generating career gimmick. But can bashing Rush and others who have achieved bona fide success really succeed as a strategy?

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  • I don't know where anyone got the impression that Medved is a closeted liberal. I've listened to his program many times and though I don't always agree with everything he says, I'd never call him anything but a conservative. I wouldn't even call him a moderate.

    As far as conservative talkers bashing Obama in his transition to the White House, I really haven't heard a lot of it. Most of it has been more mocking and ridicule in his choices - choices that seem to be contrary to his positions during his campaign for president.

    The most critical voice of his choices that I've heard is Mark Levin, who mostly has said, hey, these people he's picking that so many are lauding as centrists and reasonable aren't what they appear to be - and then he brings empirical evidence of what they actually are and believe.

    By Blogger John, at 06 December, 2008 02:45  

  • Michael Medved is such an odd bird. I tried listening to his shows, but it gets very boring after just a few times.

    Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager at Salem Radio have a much more logical and thought provoking presentation.

    Medved on the other hand just flitters from one sanctimonious subject to another just like a butterfly. His ratings must be terrible.

    By Anonymous jbenson2, at 06 December, 2008 09:44  

  • Where did Medved say anything about Rush? Medved loves Rush, & he always talks about how great Rush is. This is silly.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 06 December, 2008 12:16  

  • Medved is the one Salem broadcaster other than Savage that I won't listen to. What exactly is the point of being a lukewarm moderate? I can hear what he says anywhere. And isn't it funny how the people who support Rush (like Hugh Hewitt) seem to do well?

    By Blogger John F Not Kerry, at 06 December, 2008 12:17  

  • Hi:

    Here's what's driving the real and perceived paranoia...... It's not that Mr. Obama has surrounded himself with people from the Clinton Administration, it's that he's surrounded himself with only the far-left radicals from The Clinton Administration.

    There is a good chance the entire Constitution and all Amendments will be under attack from almost minute one of the new administration.

    That will occur while Muslim terrorists are gearing up for (as Joe Biden put it) 'a test', the response to which a major amount of Americans have zero confidence in Mr. Obama to handle at all, let alone as an American and a leader who is supposed to believe in our country, our laws and what we stand for as a people.

    Cheers !

    Kenny Solomon
    South Florida, USA

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 06 December, 2008 12:35  

  • That's the way to rationalize it: equate Michael Medved with Lincoln Chaffee. The guy is actually quite conservative - and he may also have a point.

    I don't think Rush or Hannity, etc should go, simply because there's no alternative for conservative voices besides some opinion magazines and Fox (maybe). I don't really even have a problem with them, but they're not exactly an ideas factory. They're much more comfortably criticizing Democratic initiatives (which is fine) than coming up with alternatives. Hannity has repeated ad nauseum since the election that "the way to win, what we're going to do is go back to our conservative principles." Well, that's fine, and it's true, but repeating that line over and over is hardly going to lead us out of the wilderness.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 06 December, 2008 13:40  

  • Michael Medved is probably the best conservative radio talker going today. He says what he thinks.

    Is anything wrong with saying what you think, or have conservatives gone so far off course that they no longer recognize nor honor free speech?

    As far as panning Rush, Medved's respect for him is quite the contrary.

    I've gone from being an infrequent listener to his show to a subscriber who is rather addicted to his common sense approach to the world.

    We need more Medveds.

    SJ Reidhead
    The Pink Flamingo

    By Blogger SJ Reidhead, at 06 December, 2008 15:36  

  • Medved's show is a nice change from the standard format of talk radio - he keeps liberals on the line and rationally take apart their arguments. He's not hot-headed or bombastic, but he's far from being liberal.
    He also frequently credits Rush for being a genius and groundbreaker. I think he was probably referring to some of the smaller, more radical hosts out there, like Drudge (a dim hack who replaces substance with fury).
    In short, I think you've got nothing to write about here. Attempting to resurrect a failing blogging career?

    By Anonymous K Kepler, at 06 December, 2008 16:03  

  • Medved is not a closeted liberal, he is an ex-liberal. He is very open about it. Back in his college days he was one of "those" left-wing democrats; in fact, one of his college roommates was Al Gore. But along life's path he realized that liberals are not what they claim they are and came over to the enlightened side of conservatism. He is not a right-wing Republican but he is a conservative. I love to listen to him on Thursday's when his format is called, "disagreement day".

    By Anonymous Mary, at 06 December, 2008 16:06  

  • Michael Meved's biggest fan is himself. He recently attached the thiord party candidate for Senate in Minnesota on the radio by saying he hoped something horrible happened to both him the candiadte AND his family. Whe a caller challenged him on that horrble comment he dennied making until his prodicer verified that he indeed did sat that.

    He also riducled a caller during the comprehensive immigration reform debate when she challenged as to whther he had read the bill. His retort was it doesn't matter what the bill says just support it as it will change somehwere along the line.

    he also had an author ona hios show a few weeks ago who wrote a book claiming how dumb the americamn people are and how the need the intellctulla in washington to govern them. Medved was agreeing and kiising his ass so much you would have thiought they co-wrote the book.

    Medved is a smarmy, pompous , self-absorbed, name-dropping, insider wannabe horse faced nerd...

    The sooner they drop his show the better...

    It is a good thing he is married to a psychologist because he needs constant, close, and consistent daily therapy...

    He is a pompous , smam

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 06 December, 2008 18:16  

  • I listen to Medved and I read his recent article. He is a long standing Class A appeaser and attention seeker. As such, he's doing what's all the rage these days. Persons who claim to be or have been known in the past to be 'conservatives' are getting all kinds of headlines by making snide and derisive remarks about certain people who actually have conservative principles. As if the world wasn't filled with enough mean and negative people, Medved's breed now gets invited on tv shows to spew their soundbites. Perfect for today's short attention span voter. In twisted desperation Medved says McCain's losing proves talk radio is dying. As if McCain was their choice or even the majority of Republican Americans' choice. Medved wasted a great deal of his own time campaigning for McCain--doesn't that prove Medved is the loser? In another desperate attempt for love from the left, Medved asserted last week that one of talk radio's biggest features is "it changes peoples' minds.' That is the exact opposite of what it does. It's a tiny outpost for people to hear articulated those things they already believe in. The 'changing peoples' minds' angle is what the left likes to think--that was their belief about Air America from the start, as listeners know and was mentioned in their documentary. They believed it would win Kerry the presidency. This is much more time and space than this vile man deserves.

    By Blogger susan mullen, at 06 December, 2008 23:38  

  • Medved has become a typical political hack whose principles come and go as needed. He claims to believe in small government but he never supports any candidate whose platform would actually reduce the size of government.

    Like everyone who claims that "winning is everything", Medved is a consummate loser. He can't bring himself to condemn Bush for the vast increases in both executive power and government spending and insists that Bush is a "near-great" president. That's a hack talking, a pure, unadulterated hack.

    His uncritical support of Bush and his choice of McCain has cost Medved what little credibility he had as an intellectual force on the right.

    The theme of Medved's show is the "intersection of politics and pop culture" which, for real small government individualists, is an intersection that shouldn't take place. The government should never be involved in culture but Medved insists that tax advantages be given to people who live certain kinds of lifestyles. He also supports keeping drugs illegal and talks longingly about Prohibition and how it curbed drinking (which, in fact, it actually made worse).

    Medved has made himself irrelevant and he will likely drift into oblivion.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 07 December, 2008 10:38  

  • Brian, what's the matter with you? I'm as conservative as they come, and I absolutle love Medved's contributions. And he has touched on some points that my fellow conservatives need to be careful about.

    I have heard several callers who said they are flying their flags upside down in protest. Other callers question Barack Obama's Christianity. And a whole bunch of callers have bought into this Obama-wasn't-born-in-America theory. For crying out loud, Medved has a valuable contribution to make to the conservative cause. Listen to his arguments.

    Man, you blew it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 08 December, 2008 00:15  

  • This is fantastic. The implosion of the Republican Party is more than alive in these comments. You people can't agree on anything anymore, which makes me laugh. Ask yourselves this question - Is Medved's op-ed piece really the biggest concern facing our party? If it is, continue with your bickering. If not, quit being so petty and focus on the problems facing conservatives.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 08 December, 2008 09:46  

  • Medved also wants to amnesty 20 million illegals making them new Democratic voters.

    What do you expect from a liberal Jew?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 08 December, 2008 16:00  

  • What is Sad with me hearing this about Michael Medved rant on Rush is . I really liked his Book
    10 Liberal lies about America .
    It is a real Eye opener .
    In fact I gave several copies of his great book to some of my close friends .
    I saw him on C-SPAN Book TV last night in fact with Mona Cheren and it was a wonderful and very interesting hour ,
    In truth is very hard for a practicing Orthodox Jew to be a devout Conservative .

    By Blogger Sam, at 08 December, 2008 17:23  

  • Give us a Brake Anonymous.
    The Democrat party is composed of Warriors and Pacifist , Mid West Democrats . Southern Christian Conservatives , Atheist ,Anti Americans , Liberals , racial Socialist , Progressives , Small and Large C Marxist and Nuts like Code Pink .
    Rich white men and those that HATE rich with men .
    Not to mention Catholic that are against abortion and Blacks that are against Gay Marriage .
    that is why you on the left lost 9 out of the last 13 Elections because the only thing You could agree on was to disagree .
    The Conservative movement is either headed back to our devout very Conservative Regean winning roots or God forbid North Eastern Centerist Rockfellow losers

    By Blogger Sam, at 09 December, 2008 07:55  

  • Michael Medved is an opportunist that would change back to liberalism, and may, when it becomes convenient. We are still close enough in time to the Reagan era such that conservatism is still tolerable to Medved, but it appears that our country is slowly slipping back into a somewhat liberal era.

    To survive, commentators like Medved will need to slowly move more and more to the left of center to maintain his listeners, as contrasted to Rush who plows full speed ahead and risks the consequences, even when pretenders like Medved stray.

    Medved is a typical establishment hack; he'll invite and have on, all to frequently, authors and opinionators, that propose such things as 100% drug legalization, pedophilia, gay marraige, etc., but screams, yes literally screams at the microphone at anyone who opines, say, that state secession might be a natural right, or that a third party may serve a purpose other than getting Democrats elected, or that illegal immigration is just that --- illegal.

    He gets petulant and snotty and over the top vocal when anyone calls in, say as a Ron Paul supporter (for the record I am NOT a Paulista, just that if you're going to listen to pedophiliacs, maybe Paulistas should be given a second or two) literally screaming at the caller.

    But he can almost be imagined to be cuddled up on a comfy sofa with extreme leftists, in apparent attempt to show the "establishment" that he is sooooo enlighted.

    Can you imagine Rush tolerating such double standard?

    Regarding Medved and Rush, Medved got his big break in radio by Rush graciously having Medved guest host his show a few times years ago.

    While Medved doesn't DIRECTLY criticize Rush, he makes snarky insinuations about how eduated HE (Medved) is whilst poo-pooing others that suggests aren't at his level of brilliance --- regardless of the ratings of his show compared to Rush's.

    Finally, the proof is in the pudding: In recent elections, Medved loudly supported such squishy Republicans as McCain and Gramnesty and other sitting Republican senators that new-wave "Tea Partiers" were challenging, with the explicit reasoning that we just need to get/keep them elected. In otherwords, forget principle, it's only about the winning.

    He crapped all over Christine McDonald (who made some gaffs, but President Ford once said that "Poland is not dominated by the Soviet Union" [how's THAT for a gaff?]) and similar political rookies instead of supporting them in the face of withering mainstream media thrashing.

    Not so with Rush; Rush stood up for them --- that's the difference between a principled conservative (Rush), and an opportunist (Medved).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21 February, 2013 10:51  

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