Has Conservative Talk Radio Been Defanged?
Over at the Radio Equalizer, he’s noting that some people are asserting that the rise of John McCain means that conservative talk radio is impotent. For example, he notes that talk radio host and McCain fan Michael Medved said,
The big loser in South Carolina was, in fact, talk radio: a medium that has unmistakably collapsed in terms of impact, influence and credibility because of its hysterical and one-dimensional involvement in the GOP nomination fight.” — Michael Medved
There are two things to keep in mind about this, I think.
First off, back before the election in 2006 (and I haven’t been able to find an exact quote on this), I can remember listening to Rush Limbaugh and he said something like…
Now you people who are thinking about sitting this election out better reconsider because if the GOP loses big in 2006, you are going to get desperate to win, and we’re going to end up with John McCain as a nominee.
Why did he say that? Because when many Republicans get worried about electability they, often mistakenly, think the solution is to select a candidate who’s more moderate. Sometimes, depending on the situation and the office, that can work out fine. Oftentimes, especially in presidential elections, it doesn’t necessarily work out that way. However, it’s still what people tend to do.
However, the more significant thing to consider is how fractured the conservative movement has been in this election. Sure, in the blogosphere, Fred Thompson was the dominant candidate for conservatives, but in the conservative movement in general, people have been all over the map.
Sean Hannity and Pat Robertson lined up behind Rudy Giuliani. National Review and Jim DeMint backed Mitt Romney. Tom Coburn and Sam Brownback endorsed John McCain. Human Events and The National Right to Life Committee endorsed Fred Thompson. Jim Gilchrist of the Minutemen and Chuck Norris, who surprisingly, may have ended up being the most valuable endorsement of 2007, backed Mike Huckabee.
What it all boils down to is that for a variety of reasons, conservatives, on talk radio and otherwise, were all over the map and never consolidated behind or against any one particular candidate. Because of that, the conservative media was — and still is — too muddled to play a decisive role in the election.