If You Can't Compete, Cheat
Thu Jun 21, 4:45 PM ET
Big, shocking, world-ending news from the liberal Center for American Progress: Talk radio is dominated by conservatives.
From the press release: "The Center for American Progress and Free Press today released the first-of-its-kind statistical analysis of the political make-up of talk radio in the United States. It confirms that talk radio, one of the most widely used media formats in America, is dominated almost exclusively by conservatives."
If you have a few hours to waste, you can read the full report here. Of course if you're a semi-sentient being, you're probably asking yourself why anyone would waste money to "prove" something no one disputed.
It's because behind this silliness is a very serious attempt to use the government to censor the airwaves. Talk radio exploded in the late 1980s after the Reagan administration did away with the archaic "Fairness Doctrine," which stipulated that because the airwaves are "public" stations must be balanced in their programming. So for years a bunch of bureaucrats sat around deciding what was balanced and what wasn't.
Once the free-market took over, conservative talk dominated. One can use a variety of reasons to explain why, but the simplest and best explanation is that conservatives were an under served segment of the market. When Rush Limbaugh came along in the late 80s, he tapped this market to unparalleled success, as have numerous conservative hosts since.
Liberals have a different explanation, summarized in the new 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 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.
In other words "progressive" talk radio hasn't been able to compete, so now they want the government to step in with a whole assortment of regulations. No amount of Orwellian language can change the fact that this is censorship.
The report would be easy to dismiss if not for the fact that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she will "aggressively pursue" reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, according to two House Democrats who spoke to the American Spectator last month.
A senior adviser to Pelosi explained the Speaker's reasons to the Specator:
First, [Democrats] failed on the radio airwaves with Air America, no one wanted to listen ... Conservative radio is a huge threat and political advantage for Republicans and we have had to find a way to limit it. Second, it looks like the Republicans are going to have someone in the presidential race who has access to media in ways our folks don't want, so we want to make sure the GOP has no advantages going into 2008.
Despite these quotes, as well as the popularity of muzzling conservative talk-radio among the liberal base, it would be extremely unwise for Pelosi to pursue this: 1.) The Democrats would take a severe beating politically not just from Republicans, but from a public that, whatever its opinion of Limbaugh and his peers, isn't about to condone their silencing by the government for what Republicans could easily cast as a political witch-hunt;
2.) Pelosi probably wouldn't want to waste precious political capital pushing something that will generate enormous coverage only for it to get vetoed anyway; and 3.) Pelosi has no interest in uniting a conservative base fractured over immigration, especially going into an election year.