On May 26th Newscorp owned Wall Street Journal ran a book review of Bill Press new book, “Toxic Talk” where he charges Rush Limbaugh and other conservative radio talk-show hosts with employing ugly rhetoric, dirty tactics and outright lies to build their audiences and advance their political agendas.
Of course, such behavior isn’t the exclusive province of the right. Liberal radio host Randi Rhodes recently aired a song parody that repeatedly calls Mr. Limbaugh, among other things, a Nazi. (Mr. Press says that she is “colorful” and “convincing.”) During the campaign to fill the Senate seat long occupied by Ted Kennedy, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann attacked Republican candidate Scott Brown as a “homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, teabagging supporter of violence against women and against politicians with whom he disagrees.” Liberal talker Mike Malloy’s show is “a hell of a lot of fun,” Mr. Press says, approvingly noting Mr. Malloy’s “fun” nicknames for President Bush, including “Unelected Idiot.”
The true problem with conservative talk radio is that there’s a glut on the market. In the over-leveraged radio industry, which is struggling to maintain its somewhat diminished place in media-saturated American life, cash-strapped station owners have in recent years eliminated hundreds of local talk programs in favor of syndicated right-leaning shows, which the stations receive in exchange for airing network commercials. The result is an off-putting sameness across dial. Thus, while Bill Press has failed to convict conservative talk radio, it may yet die in a prison of its own making.