The Corner

Re: Conservative Talk Radio in the Dock

Kathryn, you should have been harder on Jerry Taylor’s post.

Full disclosure: I occasionally guest-host for Rush and, on TV, Sean (as does Rich also). And, as I always say, I regard it as a great honour — whoops, honor — for a sinister foreigner.

Mr Taylor dwells on a poll of “positives” and “negatives”, as if Rush is running for office. Why not use his ratings? Rush has the Number One radio show in America. Sean has the Number Two cable news show in America. Mark Levin has the Number One bestselling book in America. And, unlike the New York Times, their shows are all profitable. Rush’s millions of listeners are a huge proportion of the conservative base.  If all of them were to decline to show up at the polls next November, the ensuing Republican caucus could meet in the back of your Honda Civic. Maybe they’re just a niche market. But, if you want the “big tent” to feel bigger, emptying it is the quickest way to do it.

Simply in market terms, there are many takers for full-throated non-apologetic conservatism, and they don’t hear that from Colin Powell, Meghan McCain, Lincoln Chafee, or other “reformers.” Our pal John O’Sullivan suggests that anybody proposing to cut loose this or that faction ought first to demonstrate that doing so will attract an equal number of people plus one. It’s not clear to me, by that measure, what Jerry Taylor brings to the table.

The ideas on liberty discussed in Mark Levin’s book — the animating principles of the American idea — are now wholly absent from the daily newspapers, the network news shows, the popular culture, and the public schools. Diminishing conservatism’s lone mass-market outlet doesn’t seem such a smart move.

Rush has been on the air three hours a day, 15 hours a week for 20 years. If he’d left that many hostages to fortune in all those thousands of tapes, you’d think Jerry Taylor could find something a little more substantial to link to than a feeble New York Times story that isn’t about talk radio at all. Is this the level of research required for a Cato Institute study? C’mon, man, surely you could at least link to a George Soros-funded “Media Matters” laundry list of outrageous if ellipsis-heavy quotations (or “ransom-note racism,” as it’s known in the trade).

It reflects a bizarre set of priorities when an obscure think-tanker lazily endorses the liberal critique of American conservatism’s only mass outlet. I confess I don’t quite understand where The Corner’s going with this shtick. Perhaps my colleagues will enlighten me . . .

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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