The Corner

Brooks v. Talk Radio

Ramesh — You beat me to it, and so I will rewrite some of the post I was in the middle of penning.

While it may be entirely true that talk radio has less clout than some think it does, I agree that Brooks’s column isn’t all that persuasive. You left out the example of Fred Thompson. Brooks writes:

Let us take a trip back into history. Not ancient history. Recent history. It is the winter of 2007. The presidential primaries are approaching. The talk jocks like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and the rest are over the moon about Fred Thompson. They’re weak at the knees at the thought of Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, they are hurling torrents of abuse at the unreliable deviationists: John McCain and Mike Huckabee.

Yet somehow, despite the fervor of the great microphone giants, the Thompson campaign flops like a fish. Despite the schoolgirl delight from the radio studios, the Romney campaign underperforms.

Thompson ran an absolutely awful campaign, something you can hardly pin on Rush and Hannity. Meanwhile, Huckabee was a phenomenal candidate.

Anyway, you run through the rest better than I can. But one small additional point:  What I find amusing is the irony of Brooks’s argument coming in the pages of the NYT. Brooks writes:

So what is the theme of our history lesson? It is a story of remarkable volume and utter weakness. It is the story of media mavens who claim to represent a hidden majority but who in fact represent a mere niche — even in the Republican Party. It is a story as old as “The Wizard of Oz,” of grand illusions and small men behind the curtain.

In many respects, this is precisely what conservatives have been saying about the New York Times for years. It is an extremely parochial organ geared to a readership that thinks it’s cosmopolitan and objective but is really an arrogant niche. The irony is that the conservative critique of the Times is being vindicated every day as the newspaper’s relevance and readership steadily shrink. Meanwhile, even if talk radio’s clout isn’t as impressive as some think, it’s doing a heck of a lot better catering to its “niche” than the Times is catering to theirs.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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