Archive for the ‘Tea Party’ category

What Bill O’Reilly Thinks of the ‘Talk Radio Guys’ Now

June 28, 2014

Bill O’Reilly, the nation’s top rated cable news host for more than a decade, definitely leans right. But he often tries to project himself as nevertheless above the partisan fray. He’s often critical of conservative talk radio.

Bill O'Reilly and Rep. Sam Johnson (

Bill O’Reilly and Rep. Sam Johnson (

That’s why it was a little surprising this week when O’Reilly said talk radio was right.

From the O’Reilly Factor Talking Points Memo:

But the professional criticisms are turning out to be somewhat valid. A new CBS News/”New York Times” poll usually very generous to the president shows his administration has collapsed in the court of public opinion. Independents have joined conservatives in believing the president is not doing a good job.

The basic problem is competency. And you may remember that the radio guys pointed out that Barack Obama had little experience running anything. That he was basically a community organizer and theoretician. Well, if you examine the facts, without emotion, that seems to be accurate.

Mr. Obama’s management skill and problem-solving ability are dubious. Let me back it up with a vivid example. President Obama was quite clear, quite clear, that if elected president, he would reform the Veterans Affairs Department.  … So, what happened to that pledge? Well, the V.A. is now a scandal. There are allegations that more than 1,000 American vets have actually died because they could not access proper care. The V.A. admits that more than 120,000 vets waited far too long for doctors so see them. In addition, the Feds have paid out $845 million to settle V.A. malpractice suits.

So, to be fair, it looks like the conservative radio talk show hosts were correct in their assessment of Barack Obama’s ability to run the country.

The “talk radio guys” were quite tough on Obama from the beginning of his administration. Rush Limbaugh notably said, “I hope he fails.”

To learn more about the battle between Obama and talk radio, read Chapter 12 “Obama, Tea and Talk” of The Right Frequency.



What happened Between Virginia and Mississippi? A Talk Radio Assessment

June 27, 2014

Sen. Thad Cochran beat back challenger Chris McDaniel’s challenge Tuesday.

Thad Cochran


McDaniel, a former talk radio host himself, beat Cochran in the original Republican primary, but Cochran won the runoff mostly with Democratic votes in the open primary state.

The Cochran comeback was an upset, as many political observers expected talk radio to propel another Tea Party insurgent to victory as happened in Virginia where economics professor Dave Brat beat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

From one election to the next, the question went from whether talk radio is a kingmaker to whether talk radio matters.

Two talkers Laura Ingraham and Michael Smerconish give their perspectives.

From Politico:

“McDaniel focused on standard tea party issues of balanced budget, Obamacare repeal, ballooning debt…and he won among Republican voters,” Ingraham said in an email. “Had he followed the Brat template—and focused on how Mississippi’s working class has been harmed by the Establishment’s failure to secure the borders, harmed by its addiction to cheap foreign labor, harmed by crony capitalists who game the system for their own benefit—he might have blunted the effect of the Democrat turnout for Cochran.”

On her radio show on Wednesday, Ingraham said there couldn’t always be a victory like Brat’s. “There’s no magic pill you can take,” she said.

CNN and centrist talk radio host Michael Smerconish said he thinks the role of talk radio had less of an impact in the Cochran-McDaniel race because there already was intense media and voter interest ahead of Tuesday’s runoff.

“Where talk thrives as a political force is in that low-interest election where the establishment is caught unaware by the groundswell talk has created in its demographic,” Smerconish said.

To learn more about where talk radio has succeeded and where it hasn’t, read The Right Frequency.


Talk Radio Leads to Another Political Earthquake

June 11, 2014

Talk radio certainly did shake up the political establishment in Virginia and across the country on Tuesday.

Rep. Eric Cantor

Rep. Eric Cantor

Economist David Brat defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and it wasn’t even close. And he pulled off the stunning upset with the help of talk radio.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Cantor, who is in his seventh term, had sought to rebut Mr. Brat’s charges on immigration, using some of his $5.4 million to send fliers and air television ads in which he claimed to oppose an “amnesty” policy. But with significant help from conservative talk radio figures such as Laura Ingraham, Mr. Brat was able to galvanize opposition to Mr. Cantor in one of Virginia’s most conservative congressional districts.

Meanwhile, Glenn Beck also voiced support on his radio show saying: “We need people like you to be able to get in and hold some of these guys’ feet to the fire.”

The subtitle to The Right Frequency is “The Story of the Talk Radio Giants who Shook up the Political and Media Establishment.”

The book details numerous other examples where talkers shifted election results. Ingraham played a major role in Scott Brown’s shocking 2010 Senate victory in Massachusetts. Beck was a driving force behind the foundation of the Tea Party movement. Bob Grant is responsible for making governors of George Pataki and Christie Whitman in New York and New Jersey. Rush Limbaugh helped the Republicans win a majority in Congress in 1994.

To learn more about how these cases happened, read The Right Frequency.

NYT Correlates Rise of Talk Radio with Decline of GOP Presidential Success

July 20, 2013

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall asserts that talk radio is decreasing the Republican Party’s chances of winning a presidential race — even though in the last two election cycles the candidates least favored by talk radio won the GOP nomination.

This advances an argument contrary to that in The Right Frequency.

In a column this week, Edsall cites a Mark Rozell and Paul Goldman essay  contending Republicans were more successful when the mainstream media dominated. The NYT column says:

There is a striking correlation between the rise of conservative talk radio and the difficulties of the Republican Party in presidential elections. In an April Reuters essay, “Right Wing Talk Shows Turned White House Blue,” Mark Rozell, the acting dean of the George Mason University School of Public Policy, and Paul Goldman, a former chairman of Virginia’s Democratic Party, wrote:

Since Rush Limbaugh’s 1992 bestseller “The Way Things Ought to Be,” his conservative talk show politics have dominated G.O.P. presidential discourse — and the Republicans’ White House fortunes have plummeted. But when the mainstream media reigned supreme, between 1952 and 1988, Republicans won seven out of the 10 presidential elections.

The authors continue: “The rise of the conservative-dominated media defines the era when the fortunes of G.O.P. presidential hopefuls dropped to the worst levels since the party’s founding in 1856.”

The Right Frequency makes the opposite argument. While talk radio has been a powerful force in American conservative movement, it is not all powerful. It has influenced GOP primaries in the past but cannot pick the nominee.

Below is a passage from Chapter 1 of The Right Frequency.

In 2008 Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos” very likely helped prolong the Democratic presidential primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. With John McCain having wrapped up the GOP nomination early, and an apparent  Obama nomination, Limbaugh encouraged his listeners to vote in Democratic primaries, changing their party registration if necessary, to cast a vote for Hillary just to keep the contest rolling along, knowing Hillary would cling to any chance of victory. The idea was to create as much division in the Democratic Party a possible and give Republicans a better chance of winning in November 2008. But in the end, Obama won both the nomination and the election.

The view that conservative talk radio is an all powerful, or as former Republican Senator Trent Lott said, “talk radio is running America,” is ridiculously overstated. If that was the case, Obama would have never been elected president. For that matter, John McCain would not have been the GOP nominee in 2008, and the runner up would not have been Mike Huckabee, the two candidates least liked by talk radio hosts.

It is difficult however to deny the influence of talk radio on the political system. Of listeners to the news talk format of radio, 77 percent voted in the 2008 presidential election, according to the 2010 Talk Radio Research Project conducted by Talkers Magazine, which covers the talk radio industry.17 Compare that to 56.8 percent for
the general public. That does not mean Limbaugh, or for that matter Ed Schultz, is the reason certain people vote. It’s probably a nobrainer to say a frequent voter is likely more inclined than a nonvoter to listen to political radio. Still, it is quite likely that the entertainment value of talk radio—a mixture of satire and commentary—
has made ordinary Americans more engaged in politics than they would be if talk radio did not have such a large reach, even if some of those listeners are just tuning in to argue with the host.

Of Limbaugh, the book later says, “Nor has he controlled the Republican nomination process—obvious in the 2008 choice of McCain as the GOP standard bearer. He was no cheerleader for Mitt Romney during the 2012 primary either.”

Click here to order a copy of The Right Frequency.

Rubio, Ryan Try to Salvage Immigration Reform on Talk Radio

June 22, 2013

Over the past week, Republican politicians fanned out across conservative talk radio shows seeking to sell the immigration reform package in the Senate, who in 2007 helped “sound the amnesty alarm,” to kill the immigration bill, as explained in Chapter 9 of The Right Frequency.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., were the leading figures this week defending the bill.

Rubio told host Bill Bennett, “My goal here is not politics. I don’t believe that this is the salvation or the doom of the Republican Party. This is an issue that confronts our country, and it has to be solved because it’s bad for America. That’s why I’m involved in the issue.”

Rubio, a likely GOP presidential candidate in 2016, continued, “Now you mention legalization, I think there’s confusion. Permanent residency in the United States, a green card, that’s what permanent residency is. In this bill, that does not happen until there is an E-Verify system that is fully implemented, until there is an entry-exit system that is fully implemented, and until there is a border security plan that is fully implemented.”

Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, hit both the Mark Levin and the Laura Ingraham programs this week to attempt to persuade the conservative listeners of both shows to back the bill. He did very little to win either host over.

“Not now but in the future we’re gonna have labor shortages,” Ryan told Ingraham. “Immigration in a decade or so can help us. That means we need to get an immigration system that works.”

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh told listeners there is a reason for the border enforcement amendments that appear likely to be accepted, even after the supporters of the bill previously rejected such language.

“There’s a reason all these amendments are being offered,” Limbaugh said. “They don’t have the votes yet.  They are trying to sweep up votes.  They are Hoovering votes. They are coming up with amendments to get Republicans that are on the fence.  But there are some Democrats that have to run for reelection 2014, and they know what their constituents are thinking about this.  So it’s hard every day.”

Click here to order a copy of The Right Frequency.



Glenn Beck Connecting History and Politics

June 22, 2013

At the “Audit the IRS” rally in Washington this past week, talk radio host Glenn Beck made historical parallels over the current government abuses and American history.

“[Frederick Douglas] knew God did not make men masters over others. Nor did he ever intend any man to impose unrighteous dominion over another man or beast. It is time we remind ourselves of this truth again,” Beck said. “Whatever the reason, too many are no longer willing to call evil by its name. We will no longer accept the lies, the corruption, or the information and data gathering. It is evil.”

The Right Frequency explains how Glenn Beck’s program, perhaps more than any other, delves into American history and draws paralells to today’s problems.

“Still, the program concentrated more than any other TV punditry show on American history, what the Founders might have said, and the lineage of the progressive movement of the early 20th Century to both the fascist and communist regimes that would emerge mid-century in Europe. He further drew this to the influences of the radical left in the United States such as the Students for a Democratic Society. And, lest there be any doubt, Woodrow Wilson was the worst president in American history, from Beck’s view,” The Right Frequency says. “On Fox, the historical trajectory was demonstrated on his chalkboard. Beck can be perplexing for conservatives, such as conservative intellectual and historian Stephen Heyward.

Heyward writes, “Yet Beck’s potential contribution to conservatism can be summed up with one name: R.J. Pestritto. Pestritto, a political scientist at Hillsdale College in Michigan who has appeared on Beck’s TV show several times, is among a handful of young conservative scholars engaged in seriousacademic work critiquing the intellectual pedigree of modern liberalism. Their writing is often dense and difficult, but Beck not only reads it; he assigns it to his staff. Beck may lack Buckley’s urbanity, and his show will never be confused with ‘Firing Line.’ But he’s onto something with his interest in serious analysis of liberalism’s patrimony. If more conservative talkers challenged liberalism’s bedrock assumptions as Beck does, liberals would have to defend their problematic premises more often.”

Click here to order a copy of The Right Frequency.

Mark Levin: Chief Justice of the Airwaves

May 11, 2013

(The following is an excerpt from The Right Frequency.)

Perhaps no other radio host can speak words that inform, enlighten, crystallize thinking and still be entertaining the way Mark Levin does. While critics have described the program as “anger theater,” it is more passion than anger. Levin goes through rants, and throw out terms like “New York Slimes” referring to The New York Times and “Hillary Rotten Clinton,” referring to the former first lady and secretary of state, and telling know-nothing callers, “get off the phone you big dope.” But he also delivers monologues that are quite professorial.
Levin can be most accurately described as a very passionate conservative with a great sense of humor and even greater intellect. His show with 8.5 million listeners became prominent during the Bush years, the program and Levin became a true political force during the Obama administration thanks largely to Levin’s book “Liberty and Tyranny,” that became a cultural phenomenon and proved that ideas matter. Levin was not a trained broadcaster, or aspiring media star from the beginning. Rather, he was a whiz kid who leaped into the Reagan movement in 1976 and stayed on board through the revolution in the 1980s.

Levin skipped his senior year of high school to go to Temple University, where at the age of 19 graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude. Shortly thereafter, he was elected to the local school board, making him the youngest school board member in the state of Pennsylvania at the time. He graduated from Temple Law School at 22, and then became active in politics.

He was a foot soldier for Reagan’s effort at the state level in Pennsylvania to rest to the Republican nomination away from incumbent President Gerald Ford in 1976, a losing battle that still saw Reagan come extraordinarily close.

He was then part of the Reagan revolution in 1980, when Reagan won the nomination and trounced Jimmy Carter to become president
Levin was deputy assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education, and Deputy Solicitor for the U.S. Department of the Interior before he moved up to the Associate Director of Presidential Personnel and eventually became the Chief of Staff to Attorney General Edwin Meese.

After his career in government, Levin went into private practice and later became the president of the non-profit Landmark Legal Foundation, based in Leesburg, Virginia, where he lives and broadcasts his radio show from. As president of Landmark Legal, he became an enemy of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, over their questionable funding of political campaigns. He also brought legal action against the Environmental Protection Agency, the Forest Service and other federal agencies regarding federal grants. While many public interest non-profits tend to be press release factories, Landmark Legal was never a publicity hound, working quietly and taking press calls as
they came, but hardly ever calling a press conference.

“Landmark Legal Foundation is a great passion of mine because it is a relatively small legal group which has done truly amazing things both before I came here and now that I am here,” Levin said.

“And we have enormous challenges. Our opponents are much more heavily funded and more numerous.”
A fan of talk radio for 30 years, he became a frequent legal analyst, penning op-eds for National Review and other publications, and appearing as a guest on the Rush Limbaugh radio show.

Limbaugh gave him the name “F. Lee Levin,” jokingly after the famous defense attorney F. Lee Bailey. In 2001, the American Conservative Union honored him with the Ronald Reagan Award.

After Hannity reached national syndication, Levin became a frequent guest and occasional guest host. Hannity gave him the name “The Great One,” a phrase callers to the show continue to use.

Levin took to radio well enough that in 2002, WABC gave him a Sunday afternoon program.

To read more, click here to order a copy of The Right Frequency.

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