Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Neutering Of Talk Radio

I made a prediction three weeks ago. I know, I know, anyone can claim a prediction in the aftermath. Ignore that for a moment.

As the Democrat sweep became inevitable, I noted to a friend that an unexpected side benefit might be the neutering of certain types of talk radio.

I occasionally listen to Rush. I listen to quite a bit of Sean Hannity. In the final weeks, it became obvious both were pounding the same points over and over again, trying to find traction. It had certainly worked in the past. In the 90s, Rush actually had the power to ever so slightly move the national conversation.

In this cycle things didn't quite work so well. Rush and Sean pushed and pushed yet the polls kept growing in the opposite direction. Hannity in particular became shriller and shriller. Nothing would stick. The "Speaker Pelosi" meme. Nope. The terrorists would win. Nope. For me the most laughable point came when Hannity wondered aloud why a state like Montana wouldn't re-elect a Conrad Burns. Yeah, why wouldn't they do that given that Burns was tarred with Abramoff and run one of the worst Senate campaigns in recent history.

Hannity's program became the refuge of such obvious losers as Katherine Harris and Rick Santorum. Anyone except the most ardent listener recognized the radio heads were trying to prop up a corpse.

Election day came and the corpse finally fell. Ever the shill, Rush both equivocates and allows us to peek at his true self for a moment.

The way I feel is this: I feel liberated, and I'm going to tell you as plainly as I can why. I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don't think deserve having their water carried. Now, you might say, "Well, why have you been doing it?" Because the stakes are high. Even though the Republican Party let us down, to me they represent a far better future for my beliefs and therefore the country's than the Democrat Party and liberalism does.

In a sense, he has confirmed what some always suspected. Rush and his ilk will say anything at any cost. All their whining about being independent thinkers and critics of the administration are in question.

Centrists like Joe Gandleman and even right leaning fans like Bill Simon are asking the talk heads some hard questions this morning. Questions, I suspect will not be answered. Well, will not be answered honestly.

Maybe it's the emergence of the blogs. Maybe it's just the natural course of this particular entertainment cycle winding down. Either way, the day after the election, the power of talk radio is not quite what it used to be. It's not longer the 90s boys. You better get used to it.

1 comment:

Grayson said...

You're right about the "shrill" part. One of my favorite moments in (my dubious) broadcasting history was when I once had a long radio chat with the late, great Betty Friedan, of all people, on the Sean Hannity show when he was here on WGST back in the mid-90's.

I had a blast calling-in and thanking Friedan, a guest that day on the Hannity show of all places, on what a marvelously influencial and rich life she'd presented to the world, as the message I took away, still do, from having read her culture-shifting "The Feminine Mystique" back when in college was to be an upright, strong, responsible, participatory, engaged citizen in all aspects of one's life; moreorless the same message of "personal civic moral value" Sean used to love to preach about, until he got so freakin' shrill that is.

That was a once in a lifetime op, to meet and thank a personal hero of one's own. And who do I owe it all to? Sean Hannity! Ain't life, uh, weird...