Right-Wing Radio in a Panic updated
If your party is in free fall and your base is demoralized what do you do?
That is, what do you do if you’re a Republican? You create an issue. Sew panic.
Rev up that fear mongering machine! Never fear, Fox
“News” is here. The trouble is that wingnut talk-radio has as
much to fear from their own.
However, we have less to fear from Boxer and Clinton than we do from Trent
Lott and others on the center-right who use talk radio as scapegoats for their
own failures and frustrations. Lott said much the same thing as Boxer and
Clinton did to Inhofe about the effect talk radio has had on the immigration
debate. I reminded Inhofe of this, and Inhofe told me that Lott was “wrong”
— and that Lott needed to rethink his criticism. (That comes at around the
50-minute mark of the show.) If the center-right starts attacking talk radio,
they will give momentum to the Fairness Doctrine’s return.
When Reagan deregulated the airwaves and nixed The Fairness Doctrine, up came
the rise of Rush.
Unfortunately, throughout the 1990s, Democrats remained clueless. I was talking
to people about wingnut radio in the 1990s only to see their eyes glaze over.
Most just wanted radio shows that drew listeners and raised ad revenue. Fine. All I wanted to do was provide a counterpoint. See eyes glaze over again. Profit is critical, absolute reality, but outright ownership of the airwaves is the public’s job and there are a lot of liberals in America, as well as independents who deserve to hear more than one point of view without having to pay satellite prices.
When Republicans found out what radio could do their greed reached a peak. They used it on Clinton throughout the 1990s and it worked, with that success fueling more campaigns. They cemented Hillary Clinton’s persona as well. They’re doing it again with immigration, which is what has brought Trent Lott and others out.
The Fairness Doctrine is one issue, but the bottom line truly is regulation
of the airwaves so one company and one political party doesn’t own them. Once again, here’s part of the American Progress report, because it cannot be shown enough.
Ã¢â‚¬“ In the spring of 2007, of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the
top five commercial station owners, 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio
programming was conservative, and only 9 percent was progressive.
Ã¢â‚¬“ Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are
broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk Ã¢â‚¬”
10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.
Ã¢â‚¬“ 76 percent of the news/talk programming in the top 10 radio markets
is conservative, while 24 percent is progressive.
Two common myths are frequently offered to explain the imbalance of talk
radio: 1) the 1987 repeal of the Fairness Doctrine (which required broadcasters
to devote airtime to contrasting views), and 2) simple consumer demand. Each
of these fails to adequately explain the root cause of the problem. The report
Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive
talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory
system, particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept
of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for
broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement
of local participation in management. [Ã¢â‚¬Â¦]
Ultimately, these results suggest that increasing ownership diversity,
both in terms of the race/ethnicity and gender of owners, as well as the
number of independent local owners, will lead to more diverse programming,
more choices for listeners, and more owners who are responsive to their
local communities and serve the public interest.
Along with other ideas, the report recommends that national radio ownership
not be allowed to exceed 5 percent of the total number of AM and FM broadcast
stations, and local ownership should not exceed more than 10 percent of the
total commercial radio stations in a given market.
Karl Rove has used right-wing radio for years to pump up the EMOTION of right-wingers, because that’s what gets voters to the polls and right-wing radio listeners vote. The same tactics are continued on “Christian” broadcasting networks throughout the country. It is quite simply the most formidably dangerous weapon the Republicans have to wield against Democrats come election time. Local conservative hosts gain trust with listeners to great affect. It hurts Democrats at the polls.
Something has to give; something has to be done.
The de-regulation of the airwaves was the single most destructive act aimed
at the public interest to hit media since talk radio began. As a progressive
radio host without a home, except on the web, I don’t expect to stay on the
air if I can’t pay the bills. Advertisers and ratings are crucial. But most
progressives can’t even find a spot on terrestrial radio from which to launch
a show and test it for enough cycles to get ratings. That’s just a fact. Satellite
radio and web radio just isn’t the same. You don’t reach enough people unless
they can flip on a channel the old fashioned way. Progressives continue to be
So enter fear mongering. Shaking the radio base. Making them feel they’re going
to lose Rush, Sean, et al. Are you kidding? They’re huge money makers and no station manager is going to get rid of them no matter what. They have earned the right to be on the air by the proof of their wide listenership. God bless ‘em, but they shouldn’t be the only voice in town. The question is why are they so afraid? They like the
near monopoly, because they know how effective terrestrial talk still is. They
intend to keep it that way. Raising the fear factor is just a tool to help them get the job done.
UPDATE: Inhofe is full of it, as Ed Schultz said on his show this morning. Shocking!
…Boxer’s and Clinton’s offices got back to me.
“Senator Boxer told me that either her friend Senator Inhofe needs new glasses or he needs to have his hearing checked, because that conversation never happened,” says Natalie Ravitz, the communications director for Boxer.
“Jim Inhofe is wrong,” says Philippe Reines, Clinton’s press secretary. “This supposed conversation never happened – not in his presence or anywhere else.”