Here's the coffee-spewer of the day: talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh were the big winners in elections Tuesday night.
Like me, that statement probably leaves you scratching your head. Only a real spin doctor could read John McCain's victories everywhere over Mitt Romney as anything but a repudiation of talk radio. Somehow, though, Brian Maloney (rhymes with baloney) tries to make that argument using this bizarre logic:
Regardless of what the mainstream media might have you believe, talk radio emerged as last night's biggest winner. It has nothing to do with actual election results, the medium simply has never been more influential than in 2008.
Don't take your Radio Equalizer's word for it: take a quick look at pre- and post- election coverage, it is truly difficult to find stories that don't mention talk radio. Its role has absolutely dominated discussions of this year's primary season.
The reason every story mentioned talk radio is because conservative talk radio crossed the line and jumped the shark (there's some mixed metaphors for you). Talk radio hosts from Laura Ingraham to Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity to Mark Levin to Hugh Hewitt, morning, noon, and night bashed John McCain endlessly, distorting or lying about his positions and policies in a heavy-handed attempt to alter the Republican nomination process. Why, Hugh Hewitt had the gall to tell Huckabee supporters Monday night that voting for Mike Huckabee was voting for John McCain.
These same hacks would be all over liberals if they behaved this way about one of their own (and they have), yet none of them seem shamefaced about their ridiculous rhetoric. They would have their audiences believe that there's no difference between an abortion-backing candidate like Hillary Clinton or Barak Obama and a pro-life candidate like John McCain.
Worse, they may have lost the ability to think critically about the importance of this election and the candidates involved. Listening to Ann Coulter rail against John McCain like he is Satan (yes, she said that on Dennis Miller's program), actually trying to say he was more liberal than Hillary Clinton is a spotlight-catching moment. I guess maybe book sales have been slow for Ann lately. Or maybe she's got a new book coming out and needs another controversy to garner some attention for it. Either way, just like Rush Limbaugh, who has thrown daily temper tantrums since the Iowa caucuses, Ann Coulter's lost whatever credibility she had left.
Why has talk radio been in the stories? Because they've taken ridiculously partisan positions against their (supposedly) own party, lecturing listeners, belittling voters, and sniping at anyone who had the audacity to question their opinions.
Do they really think either sitting out the election or voting for a Democrat is good for the country? I've heard this moronic argument from more than one caller to any number of talk shows (to his credit, Hugh Hewitt has told listeners not to do it).
Most recently, I heard it yesterday morning on Mike Gallagher's program where someone tried to explain that "we wouldn't have gotten Ronald Reagan without Jimmy Carter." Sorry to break the bad news to that guy, but we didn't get Ronald Reagan because of Jimmy Carter. We got Ronald Reagan because of Ronald Reagan. Nobody voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976 thinking it was going to "shake up" the Republican party so conservatives could take over. And anyone saying they want Democrats to win now because it will be good for the GOP later is being immature and not thinking about the country.
Two years (assuming Republicans could recapture one house of Congress in the off-term election of 2010) of Democrats running Congress and the presidency would be disasterous for conservative principles, causes and progress. As Hugh Hewitt pointed out yesterday, six Supreme Court justices will be over 68 years old during the next presidential term. In and of itself that's enough to cause most grown-ups to realize sometimes you vote for the guy who won't mess things up as bad as the other guy.
That's just one issue. I could tick off several more, including the possibility of redistricting (which would damage Republicans severely), the promotion of liberal legislation like the Fairness Doctrine, losing the war in Iraq, more business regulation, more promotion of anti-family agenda items, higher taxes and a takeover of the health care system.
Gee, Brian. Maybe the fact that talk radio has been behaving churlishly and immaturely is the reason it's been in the news. I wouldn't call that a win for the industry.
This Accuracy in Media article explains that the barrage of anti-Huckabee and anti-McCain rhetoric might have had the opposite effect of its intention. It also makes a point I've have:
It is highly ironic that Hannity now attacks McCain as too liberal when McCain has gotten the endorsement of Giuliani, who had been given so much favorable attention on Hannity's radio program and Fox News TV show. If McCain is too liberal to be considered as a Republican presidential candidate, why wasn't Giuliani rejected out of hand? He is far more liberal than McCain, especially on social issues. Could it have had something to do with Fox News chief Roger Ailes' personal and political ties to Giuliani? One analysis found that Giuliani was getting a disproportionate amount of air time on the Fox News Channel. He was getting more air time, for example, than Romney.
Conservatives pride themselves on their independence and sharp wit. Talk radio has insulted us by relentlessly attacking our Republican candidates. That's nothing to be proud of.