David Brooks had an excellent column in Friday's New York Times making the point that the evidence indicates that, while the extreme right wing in this nation has a loud voice - Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck - evidence indicates it is a very tiny minority, unable to have much of an impact on anything, not even Republican primaries ...Am I the only one who finds this argument to be a little odd? If Limbaugh, et al. are not influential, why are Brooks and the Times editorialists writing about them?
Despite this, though, Brooks points out that the myth of influence endures, and becomes somewhat self-fulfilling: "And the saddest thing is that even Republican politicians come to believe it. They mistake media for reality. They pre-emptively surrender to armies that don’t exist." [link]
A bit of wishful thinking maybe?
It's worth noting that, while Brooks's New York Times readership is plummeting (see "New York Times Circulation Plummets"), Rush Limbaugh (the big daddy of talk radio) finds his listenership skyrocketing (see "Rush's Ratings Bonanaza").
It's also worth noting that, while the very liberal New York Times had an average 475,548 readers in its (very liberal) hometown last year, the very conservative Limbaugh is drawing an average daily audience of 693,000. In the New York Times's back yard.
Want to talk about influence?
Nationwide, Limbaugh has anywhere from 14 million to 20 million listeners each week. Most of whom, it's fair to say, are loyal to his cause. Hannity, 13 million.
There's got to be some reason these hordes are tuning in. And my guess is, it ain't for the yucks.
And, as Rush said, in reply to Brooks's attack: "How many Americans know who David Brooks is?”
But to my main point, again: If conservative talk radio isn't influential, why are David Brooks and the kids over at the Roanoke Times expending precious ink (and bytes) on them?
Does the term "Whistling past the graveyard" mean anything?
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Also, let me pick this bone with Brooks, who wrote:
"Over the past few years the talk jocks have demonstrated their real-world weakness time and again. Back in 2006, they threatened to build a new majority on anti-immigration fervor. Republicans like J.D. Hayworth and Randy Graf, both of Arizona, built their House election campaigns under that banner. But these two didn’t march to glory. Both lost their campaigns."
True enough. But there was this little thing called the Iraq War that had a little something to do with both losses, you might have added. Besides, where did the effort on the part of George Bush & John McCain & Congress & The Media to legalize illegal immigrants end up?
It was talk radio that killed it, genius.
And shall we talk about ObamaCare?