Entries Tagged as 'talk radio'

The Knives Come Out for Cain

David Frum November 8th, 2011 at 7:55 am 182 Comments

Politico has a big headline this morning: “GOP urges Herman Cain to address allegations.” But when you ask “who precisely in the GOP is doing this urging?” you get a more modest list:

Oran Smith, who heads the Christian conservative Palmetto Family Council in South Carolina, Chuck Hurley, the President of the Iowa Family Policy Center, Penny Nance who runs Concerned Women for Amierca, William Bennett, the conservative author and commentator, Governor, Haley Barbour, and fellow presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

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Which is More Useless? Limbaugh or a Classics Major?

November 2nd, 2011 at 1:48 pm 87 Comments

Dear Mr. Rush Limbaugh,

I see you have let your own educational insecurities shine through in your latest rant in which you “bravely” attempted to decipher the “sad-sack story” of a Classical Studies scholar. Bravo. If only you had taken a philosophy course about the Sophists, you might have been better at debating your point. Unfortunately, your rhetoric fails you and you blunder through your argument, proving the limited grasp you have on the concept of higher thinking.

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The Gold Bug Bailout

David Frum September 27th, 2011 at 9:13 am 38 Comments

As some may know, my late mother was a very well-known broadcaster on Canadian radio and TV.

Early in her amazing career, she received a call from a company – I believe it was VISA – inviting her to sign up as a commercial spokeswoman. She refused. When she told the story to my father, he asked, “How much did they offer?” She answered, “We didn’t get that far.”

This anecdote became a family joke in the coming years. As my father often said, contra George Bernard Shaw, it’s a very different thing to turn down $5,000 than to turn down $5 million.

I think of this story every time I see a conservative radio or TV host pitching for gold. Click here to read more

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Limbaugh Loses a Listener

August 10th, 2011 at 1:39 pm 69 Comments

Conservative writer and radio host D.R. Tucker is no stranger to challenging conservative orthodoxy. On FrumForum he published his Confessions of a Climate Change Convert and now he has written about why he can no longer support Rush Limbaugh.

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D’Amboise Disavows Fave Radio Crazy

July 21st, 2011 at 1:51 pm 13 Comments

In his pursuit of Olympia Snowe’s Senate seat, Tea Partier Scott D’Amboise is seeking as much media attention as possible.  One outlet that has given him considerable airtime, four interviews in the last year, is the Monticello, ME-based “Aroostook Watchmen” radio show.

Steve Martin, host of “Aroostook Watchmen”, has used his show to address a number of unusual issues, ranging from “Keeping Globalism Out Of America” to stopping the “emerging Mormon Caliphate” (5/12/2011).  Martin’s website for the Aroostook Watchmen is titled www.nofda.com.

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Conservatives Dismiss Pay-To-Play in Talk Radio

David Frum June 16th, 2011 at 11:55 am 105 Comments

Politico’s story yesterday about pay-to-play on conservative radio got the usual ho-hum treatment from most conservative blogs — that is, when it got any mention at all.

Here’s Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.
The claim that “Those fees buy them a variety of promotional tie-ins, as well as regular on-air plugs” describes all commercial radio, not just talk shows and not just conservatives.  Advertisers buy time to get those on-air plugs, and usually pay extra for live reads and promotional tie-ins.  It’s about as explosive a revelation as the fact that car prices vary depending on how well a consumer dickers, or that mail-order products can differ in quality.
Next week from Politico: Boiling water can often be unsafe for bathing
Everybody does it folks, nothing to see.
But the ho-hum attitude skiddles over some important questions, beginning with these two:
1) Michael Harrison of Talkers magazine may say that Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are in the same business as the local top-40 disc jockey. I may agree. For all I know, Ed Morrissey may agree. But do the listeners agree? Or do they imagine they are hearing information from a trusted, reliable source? If so, the hired nature of that information is troubling.
2) Sponsorship is not just a radio issue. Radio practices have spread throughout the conservative media world, to television and newspapers as well. A New York Times editorial writer cannot moonlight as an investment adviser. Rachel Maddow does not operate a political consulting business, accepting fees from clients who might be interested in what she has to say on air.
Those standards are not, unfortunately, consistently upheld by their conservative counterparts.

Conservative Media’s Pay-To-Play Deals

David Frum June 15th, 2011 at 4:23 pm 95 Comments

Why are conservatives so ready to accept behaviors in their own media that they themselves would damn as outrageous if they occurred in non-conservative media? This is an issue I address in my latest column for The Week.

Regular listeners to the Rush Limbaugh program will rarely, if ever, hear the broadcaster cite the work of the American Enterprise Institute. Or the Cato Institute. Or the Manhattan Institute. Or other right-of-center think tanks.

The rival Heritage Foundation does, however, get frequent and favorable mention on the most popular conservative talk show in America. In part, Heritage owes this attention to Limbaugh’s genuine admiration for the institution:

“There were a lot of people who nobody ever heard of who were responsible for people like me all over the country amassing and acquiring knowledge that’s not available in a classroom anywhere, or not very many classrooms, and then being able to explain it to people who have not been able to access that information. These are academics, people that work at think tanks, laboring in the basements in anonymity, writing, researching, publishing so that people like me — I include Mr. Buckley, but he was well known — but were are all kinds of people who were producing brilliant things, research, opinion pieces that I was able to access, and I was an omnivorous and voluminous reader when it came to public policy and current events and history and things.

“One of the places that was invaluable to me in acquiring a bedrock or foundation, understanding of conservatism — and Mr. Buckley was one, of course, and Ronald Reagan — but the Heritage Foundation, and to this day we quote work that comes out of the Heritage Foundation …”

But there’s another reason that Heritage gets such unique and favorable treatment on the Limbaugh program. It pays for it.

Politico reports:

“The Heritage Foundation pays about $2 million to sponsor Limbaugh’s show and about $1.3 million to do the same with Hannity’s — and considers it money well spent.

“‘We approach it the way anyone approaches advertising: Where is our audience that wants to buy what you sell?’ Genevieve Wood, Heritage’s vice president for operations and marketing. ‘And their audiences obviously fit that model for us. They promote conservative ideas and that’s what we do.’

“Last month, in the midst of a flurry of scrutiny of GOP presidential candidates’ stances on health insurance mandates similar to one included in the 2010 Democratic healthcare overhaul, Limbaugh took to the airwaves to defend Heritage’s past support for such a proposal.

“‘The Heritage Foundation to this day says they are being impugned and misrepresented in terms of their advocacy for such a thing,’ Limbaugh said, explaining that the venerable think tank ‘abandoned the idea once they saw it implemented’ and realized ‘it doesn’t work’ …”

(Read the whole Politico story here.)

Understand: We are not talking about commercials, separated from the main flow of editorial content. Heritage work is embedded and inserted directly into the editorial flow of the Limbaugh program, as if selected without regard to the money paid.

Also understand: It’s not just Limbaugh, and it’s not just Heritage.

Heritage pays for similar treatment on Sean Hannity’s radio program. FreedomWorks pays for mentions on the Glenn Beck show. Americans for Prosperity pays to be promoted on Mark Levin’s show. The endorsements often obscure the paid-for nature of the broadcaster’s endorsement.

Ditto for the relentless advocacy of gold purchases by almost every radio host.

Just imagine if the CBS Evening News were to accept $2 million from a pharmaceutical company, and then run news spots about the excellent benefits from taking that company’s medication. Imagine if the Los Angeles Times accepted $2 million from a company promoting a natural gas pipeline, and then published editorials advocating government approval of the pipeline route. Imagine if columnists at the Financial Times accepted money to tout British bonds or German stocks.

Shocking, right? Yet for millions of Americans, conservative talk radio is a news source much more trusted than CBS or the Los Angeles Times or the Financial Times.

Read the rest of the column here.

The Right’s Coming Romneycare Defense

David Frum June 2nd, 2011 at 9:00 am 82 Comments

Here’s an interesting exchange: NRO’s Kathryn Lopez and radio host Hugh Hewitt walking back from their ardent support for Mitt Romney of 2008.

LOPEZ: Is Romney the best man in the field?

HEWITT: There are lots of good men (and soon to be at least one woman) in the field. At this point it seems clear to me that Governor Romney is the most electable, though Governor Pawlenty is very close on that scale.

On the other hand, if Romney does prevail, give Hewitt credit for being among the first to articulate the rationalization that will allow talk radio to swing back into line behind Romney next year:

LOPEZ: Can Romney overcome what is conventionally, universally considered his health-care problem?

HEWITT: Yes. I gave a speech on this to the Federalist Society earlier this year, emphasizing the core values of federalism and state sovereignty, and I expect more and more conservatives as they focus on the race will discount Team Obama’s attempt to confuse the Massachusetts plan and Obamacare.

LOPEZ: Is it unfair to consider it the precursor to Obamacare?

HEWITT: Yes, but that is a powerful narrative for Team Obama to spin and their friends in the MSM have picked it up. Among the many huge differences: The Massachusetts plan was constitutional and Obamacare isn’t. The Massachusetts plan was a negotiated compromise between two branches and two parties while Obamacare was a one-party jam down. Obamacare raised taxes and cut benefits massively and Massachusetts care did neither. The list goes on and on.

A Great Week for the GOP

David Frum April 9th, 2011 at 6:34 pm 110 Comments

Is conservatism recovering its balance? Three positive signs in this past week.

1) The Republican caucus accepted a deal to avert a government shutdown. The deal is a huge victory for governance Republicanism over talk radio conservatism.

2) Glenn Beck’s show was canceled. There remains plenty of angry extremism on the airwaves: Limbaugh, Levin, and so on. But the collapse in Beck’s ratings represents a heartening repudiation of John Birch society conspiracy-mongering by rank-and-file conservatives – despite the shameful attempt by Fox News to mainstream this junk.

3) Donald Trump shouldered aside Newt Gingrich in Republican primary preferences. This may not sound like good news but bear with me: It used to be that the person offering the Obama-is-African-not-American message to the Republican primary electorate was a former speaker of the House, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a Fox News contributor: in other words, an eminent and respectable personage. Now Trump has stolen the Gingrich spotlight, knocked Gingrich out of the top 3. With the result that the bearer of the Obama-not-American message is a clownish TV personality in an absurd hairdo. That’s progress. Birtherism is being quarantined within the GOP. Better if it were repudiated and extinguished, but although this week was positive, it was not miraculous.


Levin Wants a Shutdown: Real Americans Don’t

March 9th, 2011 at 11:12 am 90 Comments

Tuesday, during the opening monologue on his radio show, Mark Levin upbraided the GOP leadership as cowardly for not shutting down government.  Levin said:

If Obama says ‘no’ to the $61 billion [in cuts], If Reid says ‘no’.  What then?  What are you prepared to do, Mr. Boehner.  You’ve taken closing the government off the table; will you reverse course?…

And how horrible would that be ladies and gentlemen? The Social Security checks keep going… the President’s out there saying there won’t be Social Security checks.  Wait a minute, when I was in the Reagan administration there were Social Security checks going out… You don’t have to worry about those social security checks; they go out. Approximately 40% of what the government does continues.  Law enforcement, border patrol, national security, the military.  And on and on.  But a lot of it doesn’t.  Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if we had a Republican leader who said: ‘Let’s try it for a few weeks, let’s see.  Honestly, let’s see if the American people really miss it.  Just a couple weeks.  What’s the big deal?’  But no… no.  That would be too tough.

Levin also added:

Is it really so hard to explain why the national parks need to be closed for a few weeks so that our children can survive for another generation?

If anyone among the GOP still thinks that forcing a government shutdown is a politically wise idea, a new Bloomberg poll should send them a strong message: don’t do it.

The poll finds that almost eight in ten Americans want Republicans and Democrats to strike a deal that keeps the government running.  The poll also finds that overwhelming majorities of Americans oppose cuts to their oh so dear entitlement programs like Medicare.  This alone is an eye opening reminder of the political difficulty that will accompany any austerity measures Republicans undertake to rein in the deficit (as they have promised voters they would do).  Cutting a program like Medicare will anger those that get it and those that are about to get it.  And let’s not forget that the elderly also happen to be among the surest to vote.  Their wrath will harm the GOP.

Forcing a government shutdown is an unwinnable proposition.  When you cut spending, you want to try to do so as quietly as possible.  Taking on the executive branch over a government shutdown would, needless to say, draw considerable attention while inviting the President to flex his public might in ways members of the Congress simply cannot.  Avoiding a public confrontation with the President is vital to ensure that the GOP retains at least a small amount of the political capital that will be necessary to enact real spending cuts in the coming years.

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