Apparently recognizing the publicity value of his recent shark- jumping exercise, talker Michael Medved has upped the ante, moving into the realm of outright Rush- bashing.
With the Salem host now openly attacking the very medium that has supported him for a number of years, listeners are baffled by his left turn, while industry insiders quickly recognize the attention- seeking agenda at work.
TUCKER CARLSON: Why exactly do you think -- let's put our shrink's hats on here -- why do [conservative radio talk show hosts] hate McCain so much?
MICHAEL MEDVED: Well they're acting like liberals, and I know that's a terrible thing to say about people I like and respect -- I have great respect for Rush. But he's acting like a liberal on this. Liberals allow personality and emotion and feelings to take precedence over issues, substance and policy. And that's what they're doing here. Because if you actually look at the three essential elements of the Reagan coalition: security, economics and social issues -- McCain is solid.
He is very conservative. He is a traditional Reagan Republican, and there is no policy reason, there is no issues reason, for people to be so hostile to him and to call him all these names and to bang on him day after day after day. I actually believe that talk radio is hurting itself more than they're hurting Senator McCain.
[. . .]
MEDVED: And the truth of the matter is, what I think this is showing is that talk radio may be losing some of its influence, and we deserve to, unless we open up at least to some alternate ideas and give a little bit more balanced perspective.
To baffled listeners wondering how Medved could have suddenly taken such a left turn, the truth is that after years of misleading the public, he's finally come out of the closet and revealed his true political sentiments. How is opposing McCain "liberal"?
For those paying close attention to Medved's career, this shouldn't come as a complete surprise. In fact, we wrote about this in October 2006, after a book author sat in on his program and was astounded to learn of Michael's strong liberal tendencies.
Also leading to the sudden shift is the precarious situation surrounding his syndicator, Salem Radio Network. By stubbornly clinging to a lineup partly rejected by the listening public, Salem's own offerings have struggled to generate ratings. Its Arbitron results are sometimes lower than Air America's. A handful of its outlets do better by running shows distributed by other firms.
Medved is heard almost entirely on Salem stations, with the exception of KTTH / Seattle, his home base. Particularly ominous for Salem is that it recently dumped its Boston outlet, WTTT-AM, replacing it with Spanish religious programming. Is this a sign of things to come?
While Michael's stunt may have indeed resulted in a much- needed burst of publicity for his faded career, the long- term hit to his credibility may be too much to overcome. Because listeners know it was Rush himself that created Medved's radio career out of thin air, he comes across as an ungrateful back- stabber.
Beyond Medved's sinking credibility, it's time for Salem to take a long and hard look at why most of its own conservative programming isn't succeeding in the marketplace.
While there's no known trigger for today's big move, it isn't the week's only mystery involving Citadel: two days earlier, Chief Financial Officer Robert Freedline suddenly resigned, with no reason given by the company. It's not unusual for a CFO to make the first jump off of a sinking ship.
For news- talk radio, the ramifications are enormous: Citadel owns our medium's largest stations, all in major markets such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. A major financial meltdown could greatly damage an otherwise successful format.
Even more peculiar has been the company's slow pace in making expected job cuts and converting local morning shows into "Imus In The Morning" franchises, which the firm previously said it intended to do. All of that was expected to occur before the end of January, but there's no sign yet of a major realignment.
Even if a potentially bankrupt Citadel were to put its stations up for sale, the market is already flooded with unwanted land- based radio outlets and the ability to attract buyers at a decent price would be questionable.
Let's hope Citadel's coming downfall doesn't severely damage the news- talk format along the way.
Mainstream Media Quick To Pounce On Rush Over McCain Win
Media Elite See Florida As Loss For Limbaugh
Have "hysterical and one-dimensional" talk radio hosts been handed another major loss? Or were Florida's results simply a re-run of the complicated dynamics that occurred in South Carolina a week earlier?
For weeks, the mainstream media (MSM) has been portraying southern election contests as a referendum on the popularity of talk radio, with Rush Limbaugh singled out as a particular target. Now that McCain has repeated his Palmetto victory in Florida (albeit by an underwhelming margin), the journalistic elite have been quick to pounce on El Rushbo, highlighting his perceived weakness in battling McCain:
(WaPo via Seattle Times) For McCain, the victory proved he can win without independents or Democrats, who backed him in earlier contests but were barred from participating in Florida's Republican primary. The win came in part because of heavy support from Hispanics, and it helped erase doubts that he can't win over members of his own party.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh continued to rail against McCain last week, but key establishment Republicans, including Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez, provided critical support with late public endorsements.
McCain tried to keep the focus of the Florida campaign on foreign policy, where he thinks he has the advantage. A former prisoner of war in Vietnam, McCain rebuilt his campaign last year on the strength of his support for the buildup of U.S. troops in Iraq.
Now McCain can expect an influx of money from supporters and a hail of attacks from that portion of the GOP establishment that despises him. The race has shaken out, and it's now down to just Romney and McCain. While McCain has the momentum and will inherit most of Giuliani's supporters when he drops out, Romney, who can spend his own money, will now benefit from all of those Republicans who McCain has pissed off over the years.
Already David Bossie, longtime GOP operative denounced by members of both parties in the past, is behind an ad campaign airing on Fox that compares McCain to Hillary Clinton. Rush Limbaugh is already on Romney's side, and Tom DeLay will no doubt come out of retirement with a broken beer bottle.
"With Super Tuesday coming up, it's now McCain versus anti-McCain," says independent pollster John Zogby.
McCain faces fierce resistance from some Republicans, over his support for campaign-finance restrictions, comprehensive immigration reform, and occasional votes against tax cuts. Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh recently warned his listeners that a McCain nomination would "destroy the Republican Party." Evangelical leader James Dobson has said he would not vote for McCain "under any circumstances."
For weeks, Mr. Limbaugh, the king of talk radio, also has pounded Mr. McCain as a Republican who deserted his party's positions on core issues — from his earlier opposition to the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 to his support with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, for an immigration bill that would have given illegal aliens a path to citizenship.
The Arizona senator's win came in the face of relentless attacks from conservatives including radio talk show giant Rush Limbaugh and columnist George Will, who argued that McCain is too much of a maverick to be the conservatives' standard-bearer. "I am as proud to be a Reagan conservative today as I was" when first getting into politics, McCain told his supporters.
For Ditto-heads everywhere, last night was a tough one to swallow. Rush Limbaugh, along with a cohort of other influential conservative radio hosts, make no secret of their disdain for John McCain. But with a McCain nomination looking ever more likely, will the Ditto-heads try to find common ground?
So prevalent was the connection between Rush and McCain today that it is actually difficult to find news coverage of last night's primary battle that doesn't mention the talk titan.
But what about the big question, why McCain actually won and talk radio's real role? In viewing last night's cable news programming, there was surprisingly little perspective placed on the results.
Keep in mind that Rush has endorsed no one and while he's made his opposition to McCain's candidacy clear, he's never outright urged listeners not to vote for the Arizona senator.
In addition, South Florida is now home to many liberal Republicans who are refugees from New York and New England. There's no doubt that had a major influence on the vote, as did overwhelming Cuban- American support for McCain. Romney clearly failed to communicate his message to this extremely important voting bloc.
In addition, Romney's campaign structure was found lacking in Central Florida, where his victories should have been strongest. And McCain's ties to Pensacola undercut the former Bay State governor in the Panhandle, an area that should have been his for the taking. Hopefully Mitt will learn from these strategic mistakes.
Consider also that four major Republicans were duking it out, which split the vote in ways that still aren't completely understood. With Rudy now out of the race, it isn't a certainty that those votes will go to McCain on Super Tuesday.
Despite what the pundits might have you believe, the real contest is a week away, where a number of states will have their own opportunities to weigh in on a contest that still lacks a clear front- runner.
Talk radio's influence remains as strong as ever, as evidenced by increasing ratings for its biggest guns. By setting unrealistic expectations, the medium has been set up for failure by its longtime media foes, who have cleverly taken advantage of an uncertain time in politics.
A theory created largely to smear Bill O'Reilly has now spread to CBS News, where anchor Harry Smith today rendered Ted Kennedy nearly speechless with a similar line of questioning regarding the potential for a Barack Obama assassination.
The recent chilling encounter in New Hampshire between Bill O'Reilly and an Obama aide was a forecast of how easily mad dog media men can stimulate mad dog hit men.
In this case, O'Reilly played both roles. Because he believed Obama's aide to be standing in front of his camera, the O'Reilly Factor Factotum, his face distorted with rage, showered abuse on the 6'8" aide and physically shoved him out of his way.
On that occasion, the Secret Service moved in quickly to cart the offensive O'Reilly away from the scene of confrontation. But what safeguards do the government have in place to prevent some ravenous red state acolyte from deciding there is no place in American politics for a man with African blood?
HARRY SMITH: When you see that enthusiasm [for Obama] though, and when you see the generational change that seems to be taking place before our eyes, does it make you at all fearful?
Kennedy understandably had no idea what Smith was driving at, and gave an innocuous answer about people's desire for "a new day and a new generation." But Smith's follow-up left no real doubt as to what he had in mind.
SMITH: I just, I think what I was trying to say is, sometimes agents of change end up being targets, as you well know, and that was why I was asking if you were at all fearful of that.
Via YouTube, the clip makes for awkward viewing. In fact, your Radio Equalizer was actually sympathetic to Kennedy here, truly a first:
Since this scenario has so far only been pushed by the left, the question is this: could it become a self- fulfilling prophecy? Why are they so eager to put forward the idea Obama is in danger? Is there any evidence to support this idea?
I have reviewed past articles written by Ariana about Hillary. I have also listened to Maher over the past year. Both have been very critical of the Clintons. I watched Bill Maher tonight and could not believe that Bill actually defended the Clintons' tactics. I also watched Mark Green on Hardball pretending he was neutral about the Clintons and at the same time defending them. Now let's connect the dots.
Hillary will not appear on any liberal radio shows other than Air America Radio (AAR the network that I started). Both Bill and Hillary get lots of money from the Billionaire Green family. In return the Clintons have helped AAR post bankruptcy.
Almost a year ago I asked Ariana if she would do a show on our Nova Radio Network. She refused and decided to do a show with Mark Green, the CEO of AAR. Ariana and Bill Maher are very close friends. It appears that the rich and famous liberal elites have put fame and fortune ahead of principle.
I recently wrote a piece praising Hillary on the Huffpo (check my archives). After the South Carolina debacle I have changed my opinion. Any objective core Democrat with a conscience has been turned off by the Clintons in SC including former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich who was in the Clinton Administration. Ariana and Maher have some explaining to do.
Rather than "explaining" the situation, Arianna's probably more likely to send him packing from her site. His mistake was in believing he'd become part of the liberal elite. They were happy taking his money for awhile, but no longer have any use for Sheldon Drobny.
Aside from that, Air America is the stronger libtalk network, at least for now, so NovaM has little chance of winning this Tug-O-Hill.
Chronicle: Bernie Ward Claims He Did Have Book Research Notes
I DO SO HAVE NOTES!
Ex-KGO Libtalker Still Pushing Child Porn Defense
Still hoping to cast enough doubt on the charges against him, fired KGO / San Francisco libtalker Bernie Ward has been pushing the Pete Townshend- inspired "I was only doing research for a book" excuse a lot harder.
Now that Citadel Communications is said to be considering taking Bernie back, a great deal is on the line. With KTVU-2 reporting that his trial date has been pushed back to 9 June, Ward could have enough time to resume his position for nearly six months before facing the child porn indictment in federal court. A preliminary hearing has been set for 24 April.
In addition, media scrutiny of his "research" claims has been increasing, with the San Francisco Chronicle media columnist Ben Fong- Torres receiving an answer from Ward himself, but without the actual "notes" attached:
My question was simple: If Ward was working on a book, why hasn't he offered any evidence? Research notes? Proposals to publishers? An outline? Anyone working on a book idea would have such materials on hand.
I got an answer, from Ward himself. "I did have notes," he wrote in an e-mail. "Notes on what I was doing and conversations I had, etc. I told people I was going to write a book, and one of those people also saw the index cards that I had notes on." He also had a meeting at Perry's on Union Street with a publisher's rep, he says, and that meeting was scheduled by his producer at KGO. Ward says he has informed KGO about his notes but hasn't had access to them "because of the fear of being accused of adding to them or doctoring them in some way."
Ward adds: "I never downloaded anything to my computer, and nothing was found there."
Another good question, Ward says, "is why did they wait almost three years to do anything about this? If what I did was so egregious, why did they wait, leaving me Internet access?"
Or, as Weinberg put it: "If they seriously believed that they had a child predator on their hands, is there any doubt that they would have taken decisive steps to remove him from society immediately? Of course not, because the government undoubtedly realizes that Bernie Ward is not, in fact, a child predator or pornographer, but a serious investigative reporter." (Before getting a talk show, Ward was a political and general assignment reporter at KGO.)
Especially without hard evidence a book was truly in the works, this just doesn't wash. How does "investigating" child porn point to "hypocrisy in America", as Ward contends was the premise behind this work? And why did he send the offending images to at least one other person?
As for using the government's investigative delays as a way to assert they have a weak case, that too is silly: do the feds ever move quickly? This won't help him in court. See here and here for more discussion of these points.
In addition, Wardclearly believes potentially favorable public opinion in San Francisco's morality- averse political climate can save him:
On Jan. 18, according to KGO-TV's investigative unit, "I Team," KGO radio fired Ward, but quoted station general manager Mickey Luckoff saying he hopes to rehire him soon. "We really value Bernie," Luckoff said. Ward hopes so. "We have received almost 1,000 e-mails and notes. Easily 900 are supportive of me returning. ... The community support has been tremendous. I'm hanging in there, hoping that common sense will prevail - but not convinced it will."
From a station as huge as KGO, 1000 emails frankly isn't impressive. Your Radio Equalizer's termination from a smaller outlet once generated exactly that many and it certainly provided no benefit.
But Luckoff and Citadel executives have sent a signal through the media that child pornography can easily be overlooked when making hiring decisions, so there's little doubt they will searching for reasons to justify his return to KGO.
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In filing suit against the previous Imus, FlatSigned Press has provided a refresher on the stark differences between the rabble- rouser of old and the boring, play- it- safe, sanitized remake. Via The Smoking Gun:
JANUARY 24--A Tennessee company is suing Don Imus for $4 million after the radio host allegedly disparaged the firm last year while reading its commercials on his show. FlatSigned Press alleges that Imus made snide comments about the company as he read spots advertising its sale of copies of the Warren Commission report signed by President Gerald Ford, a member of the government panel that investigated the John F. Kennedy assassination.
The January 2007 radio spots aired one month after Ford's death. The timing of the ads, it seems, prompted Imus to remark that FlatSigned--which sells autographed and collectible books--were "bastards" who waited for Ford "to croak so they could unload these." He then added, "Now that he's flat-lined, you go to flatsigned.com."
Meanwhile, one former occupant of WABC's morning drive slot has taken to openly criticizing the new show. Curtis Sliwa, now relegated to one hour at 5am, told an interviewer that "Don Imus hasn't found his radio legs yet."
Until recently, it might have seemed risky to criticize Imus in public and continue one's employment with Citadel, but the company's position is now so weak that all bets are off. There are few I-Man defenders left and that's because in radio, boring the audience is a cardinal sin.
Al Franken Mistreats College Republican In Minnesota
For All To See, Stuart Proves He's Truly Unhinged
Our old friend Al Franken is back to his old tricks, this time exhibiting some less- than- reasonable behavior on the campaign trail. And instead of being ignored, Stuart is generating a great deal of press attention. From CJ at the Minneapolis Star- Tribune:
Franken apparently had more fun than senior history major Peter Fritz.
According to Fritz, things started out fine with him taking photos of fellow Carls with Franken. Then Franken's curiosity was raised about why Fritz didn't want to be in a pic.
He's a conservative, another Carl yelled out by way of explanation. At that point, Franken reportedly began peppering Fritz with questions about supporting President Bush and former President Ronald Reagan's tax increases. Fritz told me that he got tense and, as he does in those situations, started chewing the inside of his mouth, a gesture he said was mimicked by Franken; Fritz said he also thought that Franken mocked his style of speech.
An aide eventually interrupted Franken's act by announcing to the candidate that it was time to go.
Fritz told me Monday that he then stuck out his hand to shake Franken's. "Well, at least it's nice to meet you," the GOPer said he told Franken, who reportedly replied, I can't say the same.
There was no handshake, Fritz said.
Said Barr: "Al doesn't remember saying that, but if the kid does, then OK. ... Al takes enough pictures with people that he doubts he would 'take umbrage' at someone not wanting one."
Although Fritz did not disagree with my use of the word "umbrage," that was how I characterized the moment in my e-mail to Barr.
I asked Barr whether Franken's electrolytes were on the decline, or whether he was in a bad mood, wasting such truculence on somebody who hasn't graduated from college yet.
"So electrolytes-wise I don't know what to tell you," Barr wrote in reply. "Certainly, it was a long, hard day of campaigning on behalf of [DFL Sen.-elect] Kevin Dahle. But Al told me he had a really good time meeting all the students -- even the ones who thought he was wrong about everything."
Fritz told me Wednesday that he was stunned by Franken's behavior: "I usually expect politicians to, at least, pretend as though, even in that kind of interaction, that they can convince me or have some kind of reasonable dialogue -- the whole Minnesota Nice thing, at least."
Fritz's version of the encounter was backed up by Pablo Kenney, prez of the Carleton Dems.
Now that Al Franken has shown the world his true nature, that of an unhinged hothead, can we put some Frankenmyths to rest? Let's start with these:
Any notion that Franken is a "comedian". When was the last time he was funny, other than unintentionally?
The idea that Al is mentally stable. No sane candidate with a desire to win would behave this way on the trail, only to generate negative headlines (in one of America's most liberal newspapers). This isn't the first time his weird antics have been in the news: remember the doggy- style exercise routine in his condo building?
Any thought that Franken has what it takes to become a US Senator. At this point, the local GOP is probably praying he will win the primary so they can obliterate him in the fall. Why is he running, anyway?
Remember: the real Al Franken is looking out only for himself and doesn't care who gets mowed down in the process. After milking Air America's cow, he's found a new group of suckers, this time in Hollywood and Minnesota. Can they stop him from undermining his own candidacy, however?
Long before there was a concerted, well- funded effort by liberals to bring down talk radio as a whole, Dr Laura Schlessinger experienced firsthand the wonders of the "progressive" left's unhinged rage. Via a nasty pressure campaign, they did everything possible to destroy her career.
Even today, the mere mention of Dr Laura's name can make a liberal's head explode. Perhaps it's because she didn't just survive their campaign of personal destruction, her show is actually thriving today.
In fact, in newly- released ratings, Dr Laura saw big gains in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, a nice surprise as the syndicated advice talker celebrated her birthday Wednesday.
At KFI / Los Angeles, Dr Laura's ratings were up 50%, giving her a 3.9 share (25-54) and an average quarterly hour audience of 55,000, second highest in their lineup and far better than competing news/ talk stations in that timeslot.
And at San Francisco's KSFO, Laura gained 25% to turn in a 2.0 (25-54) with an AQH of 11,400, that station's best showing.
She's also recently joined Seattle's KVI, so we will soon know how the program is faring there, as well.
We've previously interviewed Dr Laura, it's found here and here.
That her politically incorrect advice has proven so popular in otherwise touchy- feely California means there may yet be hope for the Golden State's future.
Using theSan Francisco Chronicle to get his message to KGO listeners, Bernie Ward is begging to be rehired at his former station.
Ward, 56, is using the kind of excuse that his liberal apologists would never tolerate from conservative talkers: that his crimes are in the past and therefore should be forgotten. Indicted on several counts of both possessing and distributing child pornography, Ward may indeed face prison time, whether San Francisco's disturbed liberal establishment likes it or not.
But that hasn't stopped him from pushing to get his job back, as today's Chronicle reports:
Ward, a former Catholic priest, was yanked from the airwaves soon after his indictment in December by a federal grand jury in San Francisco on two counts of child pornography using the Internet. His contract with KGO was terminated at the end of the year.
"I'm still hoping they're going to rehire me," said Ward, 56, who has pleaded not guilty to the felony charges. "I just keep hoping people will see that this is about something that happened three years ago and that I had a reason for doing it. I showed some very bad judgment, but I'm hoping that common sense will prevail."
Ward hosted two shows for KGO, including a Sunday morning show called "God Talk." He also served as an investigative reporter who worked on a 10-part series that explored allegations of financial and sexual misconduct by the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco.
He insists that the federal charges stem from a few days in 2004 when he looked at and exchanged pornographic images with other adults as part of research for a book on hypocrisy.
His business attorney, Jeannette Boudreau, said there has been an outpouring of public support in favor of Ward's return, including endorsements from some of KGO's advertisers, but others have lobbied against his return.
Boudreau said today that she has been in talks with KGO general manager Mickey Luckoff.
(Via KGO-7's Dan Noyes) Ward and Luckoff will meet after the next court appearance January 24th, and he may be back on the air soon very soon. Luckoff tells me would hire him back, even before a possible trial wraps up: “We really value Bernie. He’s a very capable on-air talent.”
A former news anchor for Pittsburgh’s ESPN Radio affiliate was sentenced Tuesday to little more than four years in federal prison for child pornography
John Duffy, of 24 Lorraine Drive in Carnegie, pleaded guilty last year to a single count of possessing child pornography.
For his plea, Duffy was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison, followed by five years’ supervised release.
According to court documents, Duffy was indicted by a federal grand jury in May after state police said they found sexually explicit images and videos of children on his computer. Duffy was charged in July, and he pleaded guilty in October.
In court documents urging a lighter sentence, Duffy’s attorney wrote that he had struggled with physical problems his entire life and is unable to get around without the use of crutches or a wheelchair.
Duffy, according to court records, will be required to report as a Megan’s Law sex offender, meaning he will have to register his address with local authorities for 10 years once he is released from custody.
You won't see the left rallying behind Duffy because he was a sports anchor, rather than a MoveOn.org- style extremist. Remember, these are the same "progressives" who still ridicule Rush Limbaugh over his prescription drug addiction, even though he took responsibility and got help. And that wasn't even comparable to the distribution of child porn.
In Ward's case, his crazed supporters are apparently not at all bothered by the idea of sending child porn across the Internet, as long as it serves their extreme ideological positions.
And San Francisco liberals wonder why so many Americans think their "progressive" movement is a joke.
Limbaugh's Hoarse Voice, Political Frustration Fodder For Left
NOW, HE MATTERS?
On Limbaugh's Importance, Pundits Keep Changing View
It was just yesterday that pundits, including a syndicated host, were openly declaring talk radio's influence over politics dead in the water, based solely on South Carolina's inconclusive GOP primary results.
One day later, however, the medium has somehow regained so much influence that even a sore throat by talk titan Rush Limbaugh is being scrutinized almost as carefully as Tom Brady's ankle:
Not only has the controversial conservative radio talk-show host got a sore throat, but he's anguishing over the inadequacy he sees in the current field of Republican presidential candidates. You can actually hear the pain, the mounting impatience, the frustration in his voice. It's kinda sad, if you believe in talk-radio.
Monday on-the-air he'd had enough of these impure candidates and enough of all these questions about his endorsement and when it would come and how he'd make his decision and he just blurted out to Jim in Kansas City and a few million others listening in: "I can see possibly not supporting a Republican nominee."
Across the country, people were dropping their coffee cups, choking on sandwiches, fainting and driving off the road. The king of conservative talk-radio not supporting the Republican nominee?
The McCain campaign claims that it's only a handful of conservative luminaries who oppose him. Not true. Complaints about him are rife among grassroots Republicans, and exit polls from the two primaries he won provide unmistakable evidence. He split self-identified Republicans with Mr. Huckabee in South Carolina and Mitt Romney in New Hampshire. But he barely won "somewhat conservative" voters in those states, and lost lopsidedly with "very conservative" voters.
Mr. McCain won both primaries because of his appeal to moderates and independents, indicating that he'd be a strong general election candidate. But he's got to take the Republican nomination first. That means winning without independents in more states with Republican-only primaries.
Spotlighting his conservative positions is a start. A few gestures bound to gain national attention would help. Appearing at today's March for Life demonstration in Washington would underscore his anti-abortion voting record. As Mr. McCain campaigns in Florida before next Tuesday's primary, a visit to Rush Limbaugh's home in Palm Beach to discuss conservative issues makes sense.
During today's show, Limbaugh said he found this suggestion amusing.
Meanwhile, the left has picked up on Michael Medved's shark- jumping turn away from the talk radio medium, using his words to their advantage:
Conservative radio host Michael Medved — who got his start guest-hosting Limbaugh’s show — wrote this recently:
The big loser in South Carolina was, in fact, talk radio: a medium that has unmistakably collapsed in terms of impact, influence and credibility because of its hysterical and one-dimensional involvement in the GOP nomination fight.
For more than a month, the leading conservative talkers in the country have broadcast identical messages in an effort to demonize Mike Huckabee and John McCain. If you’ve tuned in at all to Rush, Sean, Savage, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, and two dozen others you’ve heard a consistent drum beat of hostility toward Mac and Huck. […]
In other words, the talk radio jihad against Mac and Huck hasn’t destroyed or even visibly damaged those candidates. But it has damaged, and may help destroy, talk radio.
Medved’s observation can be witnessed in Limbaugh’s recent discourse about the leading Republican presidential candidates. Yesterday, Limbaugh said, “I can see possibly not supporting a Republican nominee,” adding that “it’s gonna come down to which guy do we dislike the least. And that’s not necessarily good.”
After hearing Limbaugh recently denounce the candidates as “not true conservatives,” Tom Brokaw said, “It’s one of the few times I’ve ever heard… Rush Limbaugh kind of temporarily at a loss for words.”
Think Progress, Michael Medved and Tom Brokaw: politics never ceases to create strange bedfellows.
As of today, this debate has settled itself: talk radio has as much influence as it ever has, with many millions of listeners (a good percentage still undecided on the primary candidates) keenly interested in the views of their favorite hosts. So let's end this silliness now, especially as South Carolina moves further into the rear- view mirror.
CHARLESTON, S.C., Jan. 19 -- From Rush Limbaugh to Tom DeLay, voices that once held sway over the Republican rank and file unloaded on John McCain over the last week, trying to use a conservative electorate in South Carolina to derail the Arizona senator's quest for the Republican nomination.
But though McCain failed to persuade many of the old Republican power brokers, he wrapped up the Republican establishment where it counted most, South Carolina. His win Saturday underscored how different McCain's campaign has been this year compared with eight years ago, when a similar conservative assault effectively ended his campaign here and handed his party's presidential nomination to George W. Bush.
"I think the people of South Carolina are getting to know John McCain now, a little more than they know those folks anymore," longtime McCain aide Mark Salter said Saturday night of the senator's old nemeses.
Limbaugh led the way with a verbal blitz, not just against McCain but against his closest rival in South Carolina, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
"I'm here to tell you, if either of these two guys get the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party. It's going to change it forever, be the end of it," Limbaugh fumed on his radio show Tuesday. It was a line of argument that he kept up all week long.
Also noted frequently today: how Tom Brokaw used the results to bash Rush. From Tim Graham at NewsBusters:
TOM BROKAW: Well, I think, I think if there's a big thematic issue here in this election, it's the end of dogma, which has dominated so much of our politics in the last--well, since 1980, really. And people are rejecting dogma. As I see it, there's this kind of nomadic herd of voters out there wandering the landscape, looking for solutions, looking for a water hole, if you will, in which they can kind of resupply themselves and find solutions to the issues that really trouble them. It's going on in the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party. I was listening to Rush Limbaugh for an hour yesterday, who is determined to not have this campaign, as he put it, redefine conservatism. And one of the ditto heads, one of his followers, called and...
JON MEACHAM: Ditto heads.
BROKAW: ...said, "Well, help me out here. What do I think now about Pat Buchanan and Newt Gingrich?" And it's one of the few times I've ever heard Newt--ever heard Rush Limbaugh kind of temporarily at a loss for words. And he ended up saying that they're not true conservatives. And that debate is not going to help the Republican Party, if they if they get bogged down in that. The country is hungry for solutions...
The big loser in South Carolina was, in fact, talk radio: a medium that has unmistakably collapsed in terms of impact, influence and credibility because of its hysterical and one-dimensional involvement in the GOP nomination fight.
For more than a month, the leading conservative talkers in the country have broadcast identical messages in an effort to demonize Mike Huckabee and John McCain. If you’ve tuned in at all to Rush, Sean, Savage, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, and two dozen others you’ve heard a consistent drum beat of hostility toward Mac and Huck.
As always, led by Rush Limbaugh (who because of talent and seniority continues to dominate the medium) the talk radio herd has ridden in precisely the same direction, insisting that McCain and Huckabee deserve no support because they’re not “real conservatives.” A month ago, the angry right launched the slogan that Mike Huckabee is a “pro-life liberal.”
More recently, after McCain’s energizing victory in New Hampshire, they trotted out the mantra that the Arizona Senator (with a life-time rating for his Congressional voting record of 83% from the American Conservative Union) is a “pro-war liberal.”
Well, the two alleged “liberals,” McCain and Huckabee just swept a total of 63% of the Republican vote in deeply conservative South Carolina. Meanwhile, the two darlings of talk radio -- Mitt Romney and, to a lesser extent, Fred Thompson— combined for an anemic 31% of the vote.
The problem for Medved, Brokaw, the WaPo crowd and the rest of the MSM hacks is that they've unfairly isolated South Carolina from the rest of the results to date. In addition, they ignore the influence of a new wave of Palmetto voters, many of whom are recent transplants from New England and New York.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds Mitt Romney with a slight lead in Florida’s Republican Presidential Primary.
John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are close behind in what may develop into a three-man race. It’s Romney at 25%, McCain at 20%, and Giuliani at 19%. Romney has picked up seven points over the past week while McCain and Giuliani each inched up a point.
Romney's impressive win in Michigan didn't help him in South Carolina. There is more time between the South Carolina and Florida contests than there was between Michigan and South Carolina. In Florida, McCain faces rivals who, unlike Thompson or Huckabee, are willing to take hard shots at him. (Including Giuliani, whom I by no means count out.)
Anti-McCainiacs—e.g., Rush Limbaugh—had a limited impact in South Carolina in part because so many of them were also hostile to his leading competitor there, Huckabee. The dynamics in Florida will be different.
McCain could win the nomination. But it's not his yet, and I think he is going to have to give conservatives some more assurances, and probably suffer some setbacks, before claiming it.
Because Rush and other hosts aren't openly advocating particular candidates, it's hard to see how they can be faulted when the primary results in one state fail to reflect their perceived leanings. That's especially true in a state with a population in the midst of a remarkable cultural transition fueled by northeastern escapees.
As for Medved's shark- jumping exercise, unless he's planning to run for the US Senate in Rhode Island, it's hard to imagine what his self- defeating piece accomplished for himself or the medium that keeps a roof over his head.
RUSH: You know, I have to chuckle. Are you observing here? The Washington Post piece, and even some people I thought were my friends in talk radio, are so eager for my demise. So eager. It is clear, ladies and gentlemen, that I have a lot of enemies who would like to see me flounder out there, and so when they think it's happened, they write stories that it has.
Washington Post on Sunday was trying to rip me and a few others, as the one who lost in South Carolina. Do you know what one of the big differences in 2000 and 2008 is? I remember back in the 2000 primary in South Carolina, it was basically a two-man race. In that circumstance, I violated my rule of not endorsing anybody. I had already chosen George W. Bush. For the same reasons today that I didn't support McCain, I didn't support him back then.
So back in 2000 while behind the Golden EIB Microphone talking about the presidential primaries, it was easy not only to just tell you what I thought was dangerous and wrong, flawed about Senator McCain; I was also able to articulate something positive about what the guy was for. That's not the case this time around. That is, I think a very key fact in this contest is that the Drive-Bys are having to pronounce the fact that I'm beaten. Do you know how many times I've been dead and buried and proclaimed so? After the '88 presidential election, they said I was finished.
Who do you think he was referring to? Hmm.
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On Wednesday, radio industry magazine Radio & Records Inc. withdrew its 2008 Lifetime Industry Achievement Award to controversial right-wing radio host Bob Grant. In a statement, R&R said that it did not want the award “to imply our endorsement of past comments by him that contradict our values and the respect we have for all members of our community.”
Grant is one of the godfathers of incendiary right-wing talk radio and has been an inspiration for figures such as Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. Glenn Beck often uses one of Grant’s catchphrases — “Get off my phone!” — as a tribute.
The right wing is furious at R&R’s revocation. Levin has written a protest letter to the publication, and Hannity is trying to organize a boycott against R&R’s upcoming convention.
[examples of ancient, out- of- context Grant quotes follow]
Radio Equalizer is indignant over the silence of many non-radio right-wing bloggers. “Conservative bloggers sit out controversy,” notes the site. “Why?” Perhaps even they find it difficult to justify Grant’s history of racist, homophobic rhetoric.
But how doesThink Progress explain the fact that some on the left, including Air America Radio host Lionel, have also come to Grant's defense? Or that a new award will now be presented to him in June at the Talkers Magazine- sponsored New Media Seminar in Manhattan, hardly a conservative gathering?
LIONEL: Bob Grant was one of the initial conservatives [in radio] before conservatives were cool. I'm not talking about whether you agree with him, to say [that], you don't understand the business of radio if you care about whether you agree with him. Bob Grant came across as a curmudgeon, the angry white guy, the pissed- off white guy, and that was [his] schtick. When I say 'schtick,' not that it wasn't genuine, that's who he was.
I swear to you, [Grant's comment about Ron Brown] was misunderstood. He meant to say something but it came out [wrong]. Remember, [Disney was] looking for [an excuse to fire him].
[after reading R&R's announcement that it was withdrawing the award] Give me a [bleep] break, you impuissant, feckless, spineless, atesticular weasels. Because some nutcase with an e-mail account complains about [the award], you don't have the balls to say, 'We're not endorsing what [Grant] said. He's been in radio for sixty [bleep] years! That's the issue!' This, dare I say, PC hyper-faux sensitivity is getting out of control. Everybody has no guts. No matter who it is, Imus, Rush, if they say something [you don't like], fine, turn it off! Turn it off!"
RUSH: He genuinely was one of the pioneers, and a lifetime achievement award for a guy like Bob Grant is entirely called for. Well, all was hunky-dory until somebody -- and we still don't know who -- sent Radio & Records, which is owned corporately, by the way, is not owned by an individual, is corporate ownership, and I can't remember who it is, doesn't matter, they rescinded the award, after making a big hullabaloo about it, making a big announcement about it, they rescinded it on the strength of one e-mail from somebody complaining about Bob Grant, we don't even know what, assuming that, "Bob's a racist, you heard what he said about Ron Brown and the plane crash," and so forth.
Other libtalkers have mostly remained silent, with no known attacks by any of them against Grant in the past week.
To the Think Progress hippies: when Air America and Rush Limbaugh are in rare agreement on an issue, where does that leave you?
As for major conservative blogs not picking up the story, it has a lot to do with a long- simmering conflict between them and talk radio. An increasing number of talkers are frustrated that blogs see them as competitors, rather than allies.
In addition, a few of the larger right- leaning sites have become snobby, seeing talk radio as too "low- brow" to deserve their attention. It's an irritating situation.
UPDATE: Mark Levin sends this response:
Think Progress, another Clinton front-group, isn't interested in free speech, given its affinity for the Fairness Doctrine and other Stalinist-like government efforts of the past. Think Progress's great hero, Bill Clinton, was accused of rape, an allegation that Bill Clinton himself has never actually denied.
The late senator, William Fulbright, was Bill Clinton's mentor. Fulbright was a leading segregationist who participated in filibustering the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As president, Bill Clinton gave Fulbright the Medal of Freedom Award, our nation's highest civilian award.
Perhaps John Podesta, who works feverishly everyday in the employ of the Clinton political machine, and Think Progress find it difficult to justify Clinton's history of sexual assault and segregationist ties. If so, they've remained silent about it.
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