April 24, 2014

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The So-Called "Power" Of Talk Radio

Or, is someone just looking for a scapegoat?

Since the early 1990's, there's been a lot of talking on radio, especially on AM radio.

"Talk radio" was around well before then, but, in the past two decades, more and more radio stations have been on the talk bandwagon, especially when AM music formats gave way to FM.  And, in large cities, FM has even joined in, because fewer young listeners are listening to radio for their music.

With, a few exceptions, "talk radio" really means conservative talk radio. 

And lately, the fingers have been pointed at the Limbaughs, Becks, Hannitys, Levins and so on, with the ongoing debate about what the federal government's role in health care should be.

The traditional media (of which I'm a part, to use a disclaimer) has been pointing fingers at conservative talk radio, with the help of a certain cable news channel, for supposedly agitating "angry mobs" at town hall meetings aimed at discussing a proposed bill or bills designed to make health care more affordable.

Without a doubt, Limbaugh (who beat the drums against federal health care during the Bill Clinton administration) and company have been loud voices in this discussion.  Did anyone think they wouldn't be?

But there's an implication that the "power of conservative media" is threatening to derail what is a major goal of the Obama administration: affordable and, at least to some degree, government-run health care.

If the conservative media voices are so powerful, however, why is Obama in the White House in the first place?  Why aren't we saying "President McCain"?

Look at it this way: in the "talk radio" era...from the 90's on...there has been one Republican president: George W. Bush.  And he wasn't everyone's overwhelming choice.  Since the era of Rush, et. al., Bill Clinton was elected twice (again and admittedly, not overwhelmingly), and Barack Obama won a solid, if not a landslide victory last year.

Conservative talk radio, again led by Limbaugh, was considered a factor in the Republicans taking control of the U.S. House and Senate in 1994.  (It couldn't, however, stop the Democrats from doing the same in 2006.) But I wonder if health care reform advocates are just pointing a finger at an easy target because they can't gain control over the debate.

Is it possible the public debate is led by people, who, individually, have concerns about what kind of...or any...bill ends up being voted on by Congress?

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