As easy as it might be to forget them in the cobwebs of the AM radio dial, the liberal pretenders to the Rush Limbaugh throne are still broadcasting, and they're often utterly, shamelessly ridiculous. Case in point: Even Al Sharpton lamely used his radio show to defend Joe Biden's anti-Republican "they want to put y'all in chains" race baiting in front of a black audience.
Another case in point: Liberal radio hosts adore Harry Reid for making utterly unsubstantiated ugly charges that Mitt Romney evaded taxes for a decade. Bill Press has routinely declared his love for the tactic -- even on CNN, where someone might have noticed. On "Reliable Sources," Press taunted the journalists who might want to play by the rules of evidence.
"Harry Reid is not a journalist. Harry Reid is a Democratic politician who doesn't want Mitt Romney to get elected," Press curdled. "What he is doing may be diabolical, but it's brilliant, because what's Mitt Romney been talking about for the last two days, he's been talking about his freaking tax returns. So Harry Reid is playing hardball."
On "The Stephanie Miller Show," her regular guest Lee Papa, who calls himself "The Rude Pundit," echoed Press and added that liberal lies haven't been strong enough. "My ethical standard is that we (Democrats) should be telling better lies. So frankly I don't even care if this is true or not. I think it's remarkable that a Democrat is actually playing hardball." Miller enthusiastically agreed.
Usually, when authors take up the subject of talk radio, it's a jeremiad that conservative talkers are out to ruin our national discourse with their lies. Who would that be? Start with Bill Press, who wrote a book titled "Toxic Talk: How the Radical Right Has Poisoned America's Airwaves." The book is touted for exposing the "destructive power of Rush, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Bill O'Reilly" and all those conservatives who push "lies, propaganda, and bigotry" on the populace.
Press also wrote "The Obama Hate Machine: The Lies, Distortions, and Personal Attacks on the President -- and Who Is Behind Them." Press is presumably the Obama love machine that puts out lies, distortions and political attacks to get Obama re-elected, despite his horrible record.
Now there's a rebuttal to that book. It's called "The Right Frequency: The Story of the Talk Radio Giants Who Shook Up the Political and Media Establishment." Author Fred Lucas chronicles conservative talk-radio stars over the decades, reminding us how they kept the American idea alive. (A disclaimer: Lucas works during the day as the White House correspondent for CNSNews.com, a division of the Media Research Center, which I lead.)
Lucas travels back to the early days of radio history, describing, for example, how Fulton Lewis predicted to Mike Wallace in the 1950s that the Republican Party could be a majority party if they would only let the conservatives run it, instead of the wishy-washy, me-too moderates.
But it's really fun to remember how liberals have failed to find their anti-Limbaugh. In the 1990s, ABC Radio tried to make a star out of Texas Agricultural Commissioner Jim Hightower, thinking they could sell ultra-liberalism if it sounded folksy enough. He bombed. They tried to sell Mario Cuomo as a radio host, although he was far too pompous for the regular folks. He lectured a libertarian caller: "What if you have a plague? Floods? You'd just let everybody drown?" He bombed. They tried former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder. Bomb.
In 2004, the media elite went gaga over the anticipated ascent of Al Franken and the Air America network into Limbaugh's orbit. The New York Times and Washington Post each promoted their debut on the front pages and in cover stories in their Sunday magazines. Newsweek published a three-page spread featuring Franken in a flight suit on an aircraft carrier. Time only gave it a page, with the headline "America Needs Air America." None of it worked.
At the outset, Air America was sold as a "tremendous business opportunity" with a "hole in the market you could drive a truck through." In the end, Air America later fell right through that hole in the market into bankruptcy and liquidation.
It's rather funny. The left regularly augment the puny power of liberal radio hosts by promoting them on TV, from Sharpton and Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow in the evenings on MSNBC to live morning shows with Bill Press and Stephanie Miller on Al Gore's tiny-ratings channel Current TV. None is threatening the right. We're asked to "Lean Forward" in MSNBC promos, and Current TV promos expect us to believe their big "weapon" on their talk programs is "the truth." Try telling that to Press or Miller as they as they celebrate character assignation against Republicans.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center.
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