Monday, February 04, 2008

Talk Radio and the Right

Talk radio has its panties in a bunch about the possibility of a McCain nomination. There is a lot that is interesting about this. But two things strike me as particularly significant.

First, a McCain victory could put to rest the notion, trumpeted loud and often, that conservative talk radio "best represents the views of mainstream Americans." If card carrying Republicans--to say nothing of Independents or conservative Democrats--go out and vote for McCain in spite of the hand wringing of Limbaugh, Hannity, et. al., then I suspect they won't be able to make that claim with any credibility any more. All the evidence will be that they represent a minority/fringe point of view. (Of course, taken by itself, that doesn't mean they're wrong. It just means that they can't make the case for their views in the way that they want.)

Second, this phenomenon raises interesting questions about how much influence talk radio has. Apparently, just because millions of people listen to Rush, doesn't mean they are taking their cues about what to believe from him. On the other hand, if the race swings toward Romney in the next few weeks, maybe they really are able to persuade their audiences about what to do.

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