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RUSH: NPR on Friday, a program called On the Media, their host is Brooke Gladstone, and she’s speaking with a political reporter from WNYC (that’d be the PBS station of New York) named Matt Katz about the presidential race. And they’re talking about Trump and his decision to skip the debate.

GLADSTONE: If the Beltway pundits were shocked at the audacity of Trump’s debate snub, commentators outside the mainstream saw it coming a mile away. Talk radio guru Rush Limbaugh


RUSH ARCHIVE: He is controlling the media. He controls the media when he’s not on it. He controls the media when he is on it. He controls the media when he’s asleep. Nobody else has been able to do anything like this short of the Kennedys, and they’re pikers compared to the way Trump is doing this.

GLADSTONE: To any of you who may have heard rumors of talk radio’s decline, all I can say is: Not this primary season. This truly is conservative talk radio’s election.

RUSH: That’s NPR on the El Rushbo sound bites on NPR. Same program, same host, Brooke Gladstone talking to Matt Katz, the reporter. After that sound bite, she turns to Katz and says, “Matt Katz, political reporter for WNYC, is an avid listener to conservative talk radio. Has conservative talk radio taken a side, Trump or Cruz?”

KATZ: They are mostily (sic) playing it coy, led by Rush Limbaugh who will sometimes have mild critiques of one or the other and his criticism is read very carefully like tea leaves to see what he really means. It’s very interesting to see that, unlike previous elections, talk radio has two guys that are sort of — personify their ideal Republican candidate. Trump is starting to supplant Cruz and not because of ideological reasons. He has more pizazz than Cruz. Trump has this cross-cultural appeal. It’s not all angry old white men who like him, and that’s what I’m told is consistent with the listenership talk radio. It’s a little bit more diverse than you might expect.

RUSH: So here’s two sound bites where at NPR they say, “Wait a minute, talk radio’s not in decline, and it’s not just angry white guys.” What did they put in the soup over there in the cafeteria at NPR? And here they are trying to read the tea leaves trying to figure out what am I really saying. You don’t have to “read the tea leaves” with me! (chuckling) I tell you what I think. I don’t speak in code. Anyway, there’s more here. So after these two bites, talk radio not in decline, and, hey, you know what? “It’s not all angry old white guys. It’s a little bit more diverse than you might expect.”

So then the hostette comes back and says, “Cruz’s campaign chairman said that the reach of talk radio’s greater than every other medium. I guess that’s possible. Radio signals blanket the country even more thoroughly than TV signals, but does it have greater influence than TV?” Now, this is a fascinating question. The whole notion of radio signals blanket more than TV? You ever heard of cable? In determining which medium is dominant, that’s not a factor, the coverage of the country by virtue of waves.

It’s content, content, content. It has always been content, content, content, and it’s always going to be content, content, content. My contention is that you people, if you had to, would go out and get a couple of tin cans and a piece of string to listen to this program if that’s the only way you could, no matter what tech advances there are. Because it’s content, content, content. So, “Is it possible that radio is having greater influence than television, Matt? Is it possible?”

KATZ: It’s hard to get a sense of the numbers. The role of it in the larger communication apparatus of conservatives is really the way to evaluate its influence, I think. They represents (sic) the grassroots, whatever that might mean.

GLADSTONE: Is that another way of saying “the base,” which is another way of saying “the most extreme”?

KATZ: Yeah! Yeah!

GLADSTONE: (giggling)

KATZ: I think that’s totally fair. I mean, it’s hard to understand until you listen how much these people can’t stand their elected Republicans. They believe their elected officials have for too long neglected their voices.

RUSH: You know, there is a type… You know, at NPR — and I don’t want to be too sarcastic here, because they’re finally getting some things right. But, “It’s hard to get a sense of the numbers. The role of it in the larger communication apparatus of conservatives is really the way to evaluate its influence, I think. They [represent] the grassroots whatever that might mean.” “Is that another way of saying ‘the base,’ which is another way of saying…?”

These people don’t know what the grassroots is! It’s like it’s foreign language to ’em, and they may not know. The grassroots is as far away from Washington as you can get. As far as these people are concerned, the center of the universe is Washington. “Grassroots? What do they mean, the grassroots?” But they’re listening. They’re trying to figure it out. Here’s the final bite between these two…

KATZ: Absolutely. Rush is right when he says this

RUSH ARCHIVE: “Talk radio,” it’s a euphemism. “Talk radio” means the base of the party. “Talk radio” means the grassroots. “Talk radio” means “Tea Party,” what have you.

KATZ: It is not just a medium. Talk radio represents a (sic) ideology. Polls indicate that Ted Cruz and Donald Trump will, in Iowa, finish in first or second place, and it is no surprise that they are the two most popular candidates on conservative talk. And if, uh, Donald Trump becomes the president, we will have a talk radio host as the president of the United States.

RUSH: Weeeell. Wee-ee-eell. So you realize what this guy is saying, whether he realizes it or not? (interruption) What’s he saying? What’s this guy saying? When he says, “We’re gonna have a talk radio host as president?” (interruption) Well, no, he’s saying… (interruption) No, no. No, no, no. He’s not saying that. He’s saying that Trump has adopted the characteristics of talk radio in order to succeed. That’s what he’s saying. You think he’s saying that talk radio will have so much influence that it will elect the next president.

That’s what you think he’s saying. He might be saying that; I don’t know. But, “If Donald Trump becomes the president we’ll have a talk radio host…” I think they see Trump and they see bombast and all that. “That’s talk radio!” But then these guys went out and actually started researching, they found it’s more than the bombast, it’s more than anger, it’s more than the white guys. “Oh, gee, you know what? This is really big. It’s much bigger than we thought. Oh, wow.” This is NPR. Remember: “Without your pledge, we will not dust.”

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