RUSH: I want to also thank Rich Lowry today who’s the editor at National Review. He has a syndicated column today on this whole Fairness Doctrine, the attempt by this liberal think tank that’s run by John Podesta, Clinton’s chief of staff in the White House, referring to a ‘structural imbalance’ in talk radio, which we delved into in great detail yesterday. But it’s rare when somebody gets it and then nails it, and Rich Lowry has done it in this piece, and I just want to thank him. Here’s how it starts: ‘Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk-radio pioneer, has been called many nasty things before, but never a ‘structural imbalance.’ That’s the fancy term a liberal think tank uses to characterize his success — and to dress up its proposal for counteracting that success through new government regulation. The report of the Center for American Progress on ‘The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio’ marks the latest phase in liberaldom’s grappling with conservative talk radio. First came the attempts to create a liberal Limbaugh — Mario Cuomo, Jim Hightower, et al. — that fell flat. Then an entire left-wing network, Air America, was founded, and foundered. So there’s only one option left — if you can’t beat them, and you won’t join them, you can agitate for government to regulate them,’ which is what’s happening. Now, the conclusion Rich draws (we’ve posted this at the bottom of the page) is that the structural imbalance is talent.
RUSH: Anyway, I wanted to thank Rich Lowry from National Review because this is a great piece, and I want to do something at the same time with this. You know, it’s one thing for Rich Lowry to come to the aid of your host, and he nails it in his piece today, but it’s an entirely different thing for Mrs. Clinton to speak out for El Rushbo, and Mrs. Clinton did speak out for Rush Limbaugh. Now, she doesn’t know it, and she didn’t know she was doing it at the time, but let me illustrate for you. Let’s go back to Sunday, Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace talking with Senator Feinstein, and he asks her this question. ‘Would you revive the Fairness Doctrine?’
FEINSTEIN: I’m looking at it as a matter of fact, Chris, because I think, um, there ought to be an opportunity to present the other side, and unfortunately, talk radio is overwhelming one way.
WALLACE: But the argument would be it’s the marketplace, and if liberals want to put on their own talk radio, they can put it on. At this point they don’t seem to be able to find much of a market.
FEINSTEIN: Well, apparently there have been problems. It is growing, but I do believe in fairness. I remember when there was a Fairness Doctrine, and I think there was much serious, correct reporting to people.
RUSH: That bite yesterday just blew me away because, ‘Unfortunately talk radio is overwhelming one way, there ought to be an opportunity to present the other side.’ There have been numerous opportunities. They just haven’t worked. And, by the way, if you factor National Public Radio in with all this, there is balance. But of course they throw that out. Well, there have been problems? It’s growing? I believe in ‘fairness.’ She believes in fairness. She wants to define currency. Okay, so there’s Dianne Feinstein. She wants the Fairness Doctrine. She wants fairness. She thinks there needs to be some kind of regulation here to limit the ability of conservative talk. Now, let’s go back to Mrs. Clinton, April 28, 2003.
HILLARY (screeching): I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic, and we should stand up and say, ‘WE ARE AMERICANS AND WE HAVE A RIGHT TO DEBATE AND DISAGREE WITH ANY ADMINISTRATION!’
RUSH: Now, Mrs. Clinton was trying to redefine patriotism there as disagreeing with the administration. There was a big argument. But you put these two bites back-to-back, and what do you have? You have two United States Senators, one of them wanting to shut down debate, wanting to end debate, wanting to have restrictions and regulations — and you’ve got Mrs. Clinton screaming like two ex-wives rolled into one about how, ‘We cannot stop debate! We will…’ and she starts screaming and so forth. Now, if our senators, ladies and gentlemen, are as levelheaded as they claim to be (and not as fat headed as they appear to be), what they would see is that we need not less conservative talk radio, but more. I’m holding here in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers the latest flash poll from the Rasmussen Reports group, and this is a poll asking people which party is stronger on a number of issues. National security: Democrats 46, Republican 43. That’s a +3 advantage for the Democrats on national security. On taxes: Democrats 47%, Republicans 42, a +5 percent advantage for the Democrats. Where is all this unfairness? Where’s all this damage? Where is all of this slighting of liberalism and Democrat Party philosophy in the media, if the Democrat Party in a poll of average Americans is said to be five points better than Republicans on taxes and up 3% on national security? Abortion: Democrats 45, Republicans 38. That’s a seven-point spread.
The economy (get this): Democrats 48%… Look, I’m just going to give you the issues, the numbers, because the Democrats hold at least a +3 all the way up to a p+27 net advantage. On health care, 57% of the American people say Democrats would be better doing it, 30% say Republicans. Education: 50-35. All of these things. National security, taxes, abortion, economy. Ethics and corruption: 43% Democrat, 32% Republican. That’s another 11-point advantage that the Democrats have. So you go through these things, the war in Iraq, immigration, education — by the way, on immigration, get this: ‘The people of this country say that the Democrats are better suited to deal on the immigration issue 47-33.’ That’s a net 14 point advantage in the Rasmussen poll for Democrats. So the point here is, where in the world is all of this unfairness? If the American people, as discovered by the Rasmussen Report polling group, have expressed a preference for Democrats in virtually every one of these issue areas, then what’s the problem? We need more conservative talk radio, not less! Just look at the polls as I just did — and doesn’t the left love to look at polls and the unfavorable ratings for the economy? The unfavorable ratings for the economy is enormous, and it’s dead wrong, and who sells that bill of goods? It isn’t us. We’re out here trying to tell you how great the economy and how optimistic you ought to be and what the opportunities for affluence and prosperity and achievement are.
Yet the vast majority of the American people — or a good, decent majority — think the economy is in ruins. Well, who’s telling them that? It ain’t us! How about this: ‘The rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes.’ How many people in this country think that? The bottom line is, the rich pay more than their fair share of taxes. Who’s telling them that the rich are not? So just what does Diane Feinstein want? Does she want more voices to tell you the rich don’t pay their fair share, more voices to tell you that the war is lost? Does she want more voices to tell you that America is to blame for everything wrong with the world? I mean, if you want to know how unreasonable and illogical (and maybe irrational) this hush Rush flap is, look no farther than global warming. Does the left really need somebody to take the other side of the global warming issue? Let’s see. We have Laurie David. We have Sheryl Crow. We have most of Hollywood. We have Algore’s documentary, that propaganda documentary being shown, mandatory, to thousands if not millions of high school and junior high school students. That movie is being taught and seen more than the Gettysburg Address! Yet they say that there’s an imbalance, ‘a structural imbalance,’ in the media in this country because of conservative talk radio? We need more of it, folks, not less, and this is just my way today of illustrating that what these people are all about is just stifling any dissent because they don’t want the aggravation of having to fight it.
RUSH: Just a couple more sound bites and then I’ll grab a couple more phone calls here. Yesterday, last night, CNBC’s Kudlow & Company, Larry Kudlow was talking to one of their frequent contributors, Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute. You gotta hear this. Kudlow says, ‘I the marketplace of talk radio, the liberals have lost badly, and on the Internet, in the era of new media, everybody has a shot at it.’
BERNSTEIN: I was much closer to where you and I think a lot of people were when they first heard this, and then I read this amazing report by the Center for American Progress which, uh, has in its held that 91% of commercial radio is conservative, uh, in terms of commercial talk radio, 91%. Nine-percent is liberal. That strikes me as curious, and it sounds like a market failure. I grant you that in the war of ideas, it certainly sounds like the conservatives are kicking butt, although in the Internet, where the price of entry is really quite low —
BERNSTEIN: — as you just said, it’s pretty even. So I’m worried that there’s a market failure here, and if you read that CAP report, you might feel the same way, and so Feinstein may have a point.
RUSH: Market failure! You know what market failure is? Market failure is when liberalism doesn’t triumph in the free and open exchange of ideas. So that’s market failure. There’s no such thing! The market doesn’t fail. Markets work. It is regulation and restriction that put constraints on the market and lead to the market not producing reality. So Feinstein ‘may have a point’? This Center for American Progress is just a lib group, and the guy that was involved in this organization used to be an early investor in a whole bunch of liberal talk shows. He probably lost his shirt and is feeling a little guilty and mad about it at the same time. I don’t know what the barrier that prevents liberals from getting into radio is. There’s no barrier; there’s no market failure. There’s no fence! We haven’t constructed a fence that says, ‘Liberals, you can’t get into talk radio.’ They’ve tried. The Drive-By Media has pumped them up like you can’t believe. Given them all kinds of puff piece free publicity. They failed! It’s not market failure, they failed. But this is how liberals think. Now, Kudlow came back with this.
KUDLOW: Commercial radio is losing ground, okay? I’m on commercial radio, and I love doing it Saturday mornings, but it’s losing ground. The Internet is everything —
BERNSTEIN: I’m sure it’s not your fault.
KUDLOW: — and the iPods and all the rest of it. That’s where the libs have as much chance as they can get. They lost in the marketplace of commercial radio. I mean, this stuff is aimed at Rush Limbaugh, isn’t it? At the end of the day, this is Limbaugh.
RUSH: Well, he got one thing right in this comment, but the idea that commercial radio is ‘losing ground,’ maybe (sigh). I don’t even know if this is true. But let’s just say that commercial radio itself as an industry is losing ground, whatever that means. This show ain’t! So I don’t care what commercial radio is doing and we’re on commercial radio, but we are not losing ground. It’s just the opposite. Why in the world they trying to shut us down if we’re becoming inconsequential and irrelevant?
Headline: Balancing Act: Rush to control the airwaves.
Byline: Rich Lowry
Source: National Review Online
Date: June 26, 2007
Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk-radio pioneer, has been called many nasty things before, but never a “structural imbalance.” That’s the fancy term a liberal think tank uses to characterize his success — and to dress up its proposal for counteracting that success through new government regulation.
The report of the Center for American Progress on “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio” marks the latest phase in liberaldom’s grappling with conservative talk radio. First came the attempts to create a liberal Limbaugh — Mario Cuomo, Jim Hightower, et al. — that fell flat. Then an entire left-wing network, Air America, was founded, and foundered. So there’s only one option left — if you can’t beat them, and you won’t join them, you can agitate for government to regulate them.
The report looks at a slice of 257 talk stations and concludes that more than 90 percent of total weekday talk programming is conservative. The supposed reason for this is, essentially, that media companies are conspiring to shove conservative radio down the throats of listeners in a way they couldn’t if, among other things, government required broadcasters “to regularly show that they are operating on behalf of the public interest.”
This is a pinched view of radio. There are upwards of 2,000 talk stations in the country that deal with news and issues, according to Michael Harrison of Talkers magazine, and they encompass all sorts of formats from National Public Radio to urban radio to shock jocks, none of which are dominated by right wingers. Conservative talk radio is a vibrant niche within that market, but there are many other places to go for news and opinion.
What is hard to find are liberal replicas of Rush Limbaugh, and that is due to the deepest structural imbalance of all — talent. Limbaugh and other top conservative talkers are silver-tongued, informative, and — importantly — entertaining. These are qualities that can’t be conjured out of nowhere, and designated liberal-radio saviors have tended not to have the requisite talent “on loan from God” (as Limbaugh puts it).
There have been conservative failures at talk radio for the same reason. Without the right mix of substance and entertainment, a host will fail to get ratings, and, with that, be yanked from the air. “Ratings” is a word that appears only once in passing in the Center for American Progress report, because then it would have to acknowledge that conservative radio is successful exactly because it gets listeners.
Broadcasters go where the money is. If a liberal could draw the kind of listeners — and hence the kind of advertising dollars — as Limbaugh, he too would be on more than 600 stations. This is why Spanish-language radio is such a growth commodity. Not because broadcasters have an agenda to Hispanicize America, or because there’s a structural imbalance that favors Spanish-language over German- or French-language programming, but because there’s an audience for it.
The Center for American Progress wants to short-circuit the market. Having bureaucrats determine whether radio stations are serving the public interest is inherently dangerous. There are times — like now, in the debate about the immigration bill — when Democrats and Republicans in Washington will agree that conservative talk radio is not serving the public interest, because it brings to the table public sentiment that the establishment prefers to ignore.
The report avoids directly calling for a renewal of the constitutionally dubious Fairness Doctrine that mandated equal time for conservative and liberal opinions, although some Democratic lawmakers aren’t so circumspect. After five years of opposing most assertions of government power to fight terrorism, these liberals are ready to wield it to fight conservative talk radio. After maintaining that the First Amendment protects nude dancing, they are ready to argue that it doesn’t quite apply to people broadcasting conservative views over the airwaves.
In our toxic contemporary politics, it’s a sign of success if you drive your opponents batty. Rush Limbaugh might be a structural imbalance, but his critics appear simply imbalanced.
© 2007 by King Features Syndicate
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