The liberal Air America Radio, just past its first birthday, has probably enjoyed more free publicity than any enterprise in recent history. But don't believe the hype: Air America's left-wing answer to conservative talk radio is failing, just as previous efforts to find liberal Rush Limbaughs have failed.
At least they admit that the liberal media tried and failed to help their buddies at Air America.
So, why is liberal radio failing around the country? According to the LA Times, it's because right wingers are stupid.
So why do liberals fare so poorly on air? Some on the left say it's because liberals are, well, smarter and can't convey their sophisticated ideas to the rubes who listen to talk radio. Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, whose own stint as a talk-show host was a ratings disaster, gave canonical expression to this self-serving view. Conservatives "write their messages with crayons," he maintained. "We use fine-point quills."
At least right wingers are smart enough to turn off Air America. We are told over and over how America is almost evenly split between liberals and conservatives. If that's the case how come liberals are not supporting liberal radio like conservatives support their stations? Is it that their ideas are sophisticated or just plain dumb?
Even while writing about the demise of liberal radio, The Times gets its digs in at the conservatives.
Yet even if we were to grant the premise that conservative talk radio can sometimes be crudely simplistic a tough charge to make stick against, say, one-time philosophy professor Bennett or Clarence Thomas' former law clerk Laura Ingraham how can anyone plausibly believe the right has a monopoly on misleading argument? Moreover, talk-show fans aren't dummies. Industry surveys show that talk-radio fans vote in greater percentages than the general public, tend to be college-educated and read more magazines and newspapers than the average American.
Let me get this straight - right wing radio is "crudely simplistic" and has "a monopoly on misleading argument" but is listened to by well educated people. See, told you liberals had dumb ideas.
The LAT goes on to explain why "Successful talk radio is conservative for three reasons".
Guess what the first reason is? Entertainment! The well educated people who read more magazines and newspapers listen to conservative radio to get a laugh. But surely liberals can be funny; just look at John Kerry. Not according to the LAT.
Besides, the triumph of political correctness on the left makes it hard for on-air liberals to lighten things up without offending anyone.
Anyone except people on the right.
At least the LAT nails National Public Radio for what it is.
The potential audience for Air America or similar ventures is thus pretty small white liberals, basically. And they've already got NPR.
Which is why we should stop paying for NPR with tax payer dollars.
The LAT is finally getting closer to the real reason conservative radio and cable news, like Fox, is so successful.
Liberal bias in the old media. That's what birthed talk radio in the first place. People turn to it to help right the imbalance. Political scientist William Mayer, writing in the Public Interest, recently observed that liberals don't need talk radio because they've got the big three networks, most national and local daily newspapers and NPR.
Well, if "liberals don't need talk radio" why launch Air America in the first place?
The emerging conservative media is like an archeologist light being shown into a long locked tomb and seeing something no one else has seen for centuries - the truth. And as the article points out the left is so afraid of the truth getting out that they have taken to denouncing conservative media and calling for laws to regulate them.
The article reaches the right conclusion - finally.
Sure, talk radio is partisan, sometimes overheated. But it's also a source of argument and information. Together with Fox News and the blogosphere, it has given the right a chance to break through the liberal monoculture and be heard. For that, anyone who supports spirited public debate should be grateful.
But as we've just seen, the liberals are mad and afraid of public debate; something they've controlled for far too long.