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October 20th, 2009
07:07 AM ET

Talk Radio: How powerful is it?

By Carol Costello and Bob Ruff

In part one of our series on talk radio we noted that conservative political talk show hosts on commercial radio have bigger audiences than their liberal counterparts – at least on commercial AM radio.

Rush Limbaugh, the king of conservative radio talkers, gets more than 15 million listeners each week. Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Michael Savage are not far behind.

But do these numbers translate into real political power?

Some liberals, and even the president, are – at the very least – paying attention: "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," the president told Republican lawmakers earlier this year.

If you ask some conservative talkers across the country if conservative talk radio is powerful, they’ll tell you what Bob Durbin told us in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He’s been a conservative talk show host for decades.

“I don’t know how powerful we are. We are powerful to a degree, but so are all the other media. The Washington Post. The New York Times. Are they powerful? You’re damn right they are! So, why can’t we be powerful?”

If you measure political power by energizing people already in your corner, then conservative talkers do win. Many of their listeners showed up at town halls and tea parties over this summer.

“There is a kind of opposition quality, shadow government quality to listening to conservative radio these days,” says Camille Paglia, a social critic and Obama supporter. “And I don’t see any problem with that in a democracy,” she adds.

No one wields that kind of “opposition quality” more effectively than Rush Limbaugh. With his vast radio audience, he’s able to bring some Republican politicians to their knees.

Still, some say, that doesn’t translate to real political power. “A listener-ship is not a vote,” says Michael Harrison, editor of Talkers Magazine. “This is a huge mistake made by the press and observers of talk radio – that somehow because 15 million people every week listen to Rush Limbaugh, that somehow these are 15 million die-hard conservative voters.”

According to Talkers Magazine, 56 percent of those listeners identify themselves not as conservative Republicans, but as independents.

CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen agrees with Harrison. “The evidence suggests that the conservative talk show hosts do not drive voting, otherwise we’d be talking about President Fred Thompson, who was a darling at one point.”

Limbaugh in particular was no fan of the McCain candidacy in 2008, but often spoke well of former Senator Fred Thompson’s bid.

History suggests another example that didn’t exactly work out. During the 1930s, Catholic priest Rev. Charles Coughlin used his popular radio program to hammer into President Franklin Roosevelt. He called the president “anti-God and radical.” FDR won reelection in a landslide in 1936, and was reelected two more times.

Actually, says Harrison, there is more evidence liberal talkers have enjoyed real political clout. “Do you really think Al Franken would have gone from being a Saturday Night Live ex-comedian and go into the Senate without that stop along the way on talk radio?” he asks. “Not a chance.”

So, other than the occasional firestorm that might make a sitting president wonder if talk radio is putting a damper on hope and change, is there anything to the reach of talk radio?

"Yes," says Gergen. Popular radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh do “have an influence on the political conversation in the country. He [Limbaugh] does help to set the agenda, for better or worse … and over time that makes a difference.”

As for President Obama, one piece of advice for the next time he’s tempted to answer back at one of Limbaugh’s criticisms: “Far better as Ronald Reagan has show us … use humor, flick this off. As president of the United States, you occupy the most powerful office on the face of the globe. You don’t need to elevate others to your stature.”


Filed under: Talk Radio
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Dave

    I started to leave a comment until I read the disclaimer at right. CNN will deem what comment will be posted. Where is the fairness, and I'll say it again( FAIRNESS) in that. Talk about having the power to swing votes.

    March 26, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  2. andy

    How powerful is it?
    15 million people listen to these entertainers and 275 million people don't. How powerful is that?
    Last November, we threw the repubs out of power and also threw the three amigo talk show hosts under the bus. Enough was enough and we had enough of all of them.
    No matter how many drugs Limbaugh took, no matter how much Glenn beck cried, no matter how loud Savage screamed, and no matter what God told Hannity to say, we threw them out of power at the ballot box. We turned them all OFF.
    Now, they are mad as hell at America. Their power to persuade is gone because the vast majority of Americans disagreed with them on November 4th, 2008.
    Therefore, I think the power of conservative talk show host is nada.

    October 31, 2009 at 11:38 pm |
  3. Mike D - L.A.

    Until recently I did not think Rush and his ilk were a problem worthy of addressing. But after a visit with my relatives in the south I'm not so sure. People I've never heard utter a hateful word are now spouting racial slurs and advocating violence to eliminate the Obama menace. Most of the things that have them so upset are lies or distortions that they get from Rush and Glen Beck among others. They are totally convinced that Satan himself is now living in the White House. It is all very disturbing.

    October 26, 2009 at 7:11 pm |
  4. LMS

    First, let's not kid ourselves that talk radio is only entertainment. Talk radio incites anger and if we could only learn our lessons from the past, we would know that anger is the key element that incites wars and revolutions. So it is not something to dismiss so easily.

    There is nothing wrong with this if it is the voice of the people but it's not, it's the voice of corporations seeking out their next dollar whether through ad funding or political gain no matter the cost to the people. Irresponsible. If people want a political voice on the radio, then it should be paid for, non-profit, by the people.

    October 21, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  5. Paul C.

    Conservative talk radio is out of control. Reports I see on CNN and MSNBC demonstrate that AM talk is often anti-American and pushes the limit of free speech. The level of hatred and bigotry spewed by people like Rush is offensive at best. Why does the FCC allow talkers like these to spread their filth without penalty – free speech or not. Additionally, President Obama is right when he says television “news” such as FOX is commentary not news. The problem is people believe this garbage. In both cases these individuals appeal to a less educated uninformed electorate and do everything in their power to incite trouble. That’s what sells ad time and makes them money. Cronkite is rolling in his grave!

    October 21, 2009 at 8:30 am |
  6. Randie

    For many years, I have believed that these extreme right-wing radio hosts are a bigger threat to Americans than terrorists are. I know that sounds dramatic, but Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Savidge, et al, wrap themselves in God and the American flag and spew hate every single day. They pit American against American and that's why I believe they're so dangerous.

    I don't have an opinion as to whether or not right wing radio drives votes or not, but being a blue person in a red state, I have many friends who are conservatives. They are not right-wingers, just average people, but their thinking is definitely influenced by what they hear from these awful people.

    I could be wrong, but to my knowlege, there is no liberal talk host who can hold a candle to the hate and venom spewed by these people every day. At least, I sure hope not.

    October 21, 2009 at 8:24 am |
  7. SPK

    The comments primarily seem to ignore that America was founded, among other things, on freedom of POLITICAL speech (not equality of political speech). Study our country's history and you will see a lots of heated political discourse. Our founding fathers wanted to escape the tyranny of not being allowed to disagree. Same is true now in many countries around the world where opposing views are imprisoned or killed (i.e. Iran, Venezuela, China). We have the freedom to turn the dial if we don't want to listen. How could we possibly fully enforce the fairness doctrine? Who would say what is fair? As a very educated and politically informed voter, I prefer to make that choice myself instead of having the government do so. Ever taken a good look at the credentials, legal background, associations of most of our elected officials? Both sides of the aisle. Most seem to end up very well off after "serving" in office.

    October 21, 2009 at 7:31 am |
  8. mac ross

    Talk radio is entertainment. The format is like playing King of the Hill and Highlander . Only ONE can be correct about a political or social issue and your friendly talk show hosts is ALWAYS that one. What are the odds???

    The purpose of the talk show caller is "to make the host look good" –Rush Limbaugh

    October 21, 2009 at 1:33 am |
  9. KL

    Most news providers today are more interested in ratings to keep their advertisers happy than giving people the "real" news...and it shows with NPR. I listen to NPR almost every day while working. It may be a bit bland or boring, but I would rather be bored and informed than entertained and stupid.
    It almost seems those extremist talk show hosts have G.W. Bush's "if your not with us, your against us" philosophy.....so if I dont agree with them I am somehow "evil". They are almost doing the same thing with the news that Osama Bin Laden does with Muslim faith....twists the facts to their own interests, then claim that the rest of the world will go to hell if they don't believe.

    October 20, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  10. mary ann

    Conservative talk radio is expressing ideas and opinions that are otherwise not out there. If rush limbaugh has such a big audience maybe it's because there is a huge group of americans who have similar thoughts and can't find it on other radio or news. All indications are that the vast majority of media is obviously liberal and biased, leaving conservatives no other choices. Is that power? is cnn powerful? Americans are smart enough to know they can find out what is true and what isn't, Liberal or Conservative. Is someone feeling threatened? this is a free america........ isn't it?

    October 20, 2009 at 5:54 pm |
  11. John Paul

    Many people listen to talk radio just to hear and feel the intensity of the fight. Whether it is on streets, work or church one is more inquisitive of the fights. However, conservative talk shows like rush etc induce hatred. These talk shows are very dangerous ofr our country. But the good part of it: younger folks less that 20 years hate these talk shows.

    October 20, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  12. Sue

    Conservative Talk Radio is successful because the hosts are talking about and making points regarding issues that conservatives already believe. I listen to all kinds of shows and I relate to conservative shows more than others because the talking points directly reflect my values and my beliefs. Those shows DO NOT shape my beliefs. They make me feel relieved that others feel the same way I do. And, obviously, many others do feel the same way. If someone feels threatened by another's point of view then don't listen!

    I respect the host that can introduce a point and then back it up with facts.
    I disrespect the host that spends their whole hour bashing talk shows and hosts from other stations. What exactly is their purpose?

    October 20, 2009 at 12:26 pm |
  13. David Slack

    I am not a Rush lemming, I listen to talk radio because that s the only way I will get the truth, instead of calling all of use that listen a joke you really need to take a look at yourselves, you folks are putting up Al Frankin as a successfrull liberal talker, his show failed !!!!, mater of fact the only network that is worse that yours is MSNBC, NOW BODY Watches your network!!!!!!!

    October 20, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  14. Michael in Alabama

    One of the recent comments was the most impressive of all. PamB I think. Thank you.

    I am disappointed that CNN or anyone would call NPR Liberal. When did straight news reporting become a liberal slant? When did giving the news become liberal bias? NPR is very good in giving you the news of the day and sometimes, just as CNN does examining it from all angles. I wish that CNN, with all their resources and with their 24 hour news schedule would do a better job of researching a story and covering its angles than they do. Like Jon Stewart says: "Please don't leave it there" - why? "I don't even know where there is".

    IS FOX News slanted? Of course. Is Conservative Talk Radio slanted? Of course. IS MSNBC slanted? You'd be surprised how more balanced they are than even CNN sometimes. Joe Scarborough (an ex-Republican Congressman, and Matthews on the Right along with Pat Buchanan VS. Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow). Not too bad. And most of the time Keith and Rachel report the truth. I just wish they'd stop the stupid voices they do sometimes.

    So I rely on CNN for my news and sometimes on foreign news sources. Because you have to stay informed, and unbiased.

    NOT every story has two sides. Sometimes the truth is the truth whatever side it might be on.

    October 20, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  15. James R. Stead

    As usual, Ms. Costello misses the point entirely. Conservative talk radio is popular because conservatives are passionate about their country. Liberal talk-radio is unpopular because liberals are not.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  16. Clifton Mealer

    Rush Limbaugh and some other conservative radio talkers, bring out hate, hate, and more hate across our country. They make millions from dividing our people, and putting one against the other. Do others around the world listen to Mr. Limbaugh talk bad about our president day after day? Where is cnn news, and the truth-o-meter, when it comes to what Rush Limbaugh is saying?

    October 20, 2009 at 10:49 am |
  17. Lisa

    CNN is no different than Talk radio. They are in it for a profit. CNN makes money because of number of viewers, marketing as any corporation does. It is an entertainment business that produces drama just as talk radio. It is a laugh when you proclaim yourself as the most trusted name in news or that you do in depth news. You whole formate is 30 second sound bites between marketing as you use shock and awe to to hold an audience. Then you see people flocking to talk radio and you put up Ron Paul. It is very obvious you are all about money.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:23 am |
  18. Tim

    Curiously, when asked the specific question (paraphrase)..."since 56% of Talk radio listeners self identify as 'independents', why does it appear that most listen to 'conservative' programs".
    For some reason that begs a response, Ms. Costello failed to say that in excess of 90% of all Talk radio broadcasts are conservative hosts.
    Can it be she was unaware of this serious discrepancy...thus rendering her reporting as shabby, or did she withhold that information. In either case, it doesn't bode well for Ms. Costello's value and professionalism.

    October 20, 2009 at 10:06 am |
  19. ronvan

    The ability to get up to date, ACCURATE, news, both local and national is of great importance. HOWEVER, these people that have the talk "hate speech", accusatory & demeaning, radio shows go beyond the rules. For anyone to really take them seriously or to live on their every word, scares the heck out of me. I would hope that the American people are smarter than to let some "fanatic" sway their beleifs or standards to impact our governmental system.

    October 20, 2009 at 9:37 am |
  20. MikeA

    We're inundated with sensationalism and shoddy journalism from all sides. For example, CNN tosses out the statement that Rush Limbaugh has 15 million listeners a week, without citing a source or defining the number. How long do you have to listen to be counted? Is it 15 million people listening at least once a week? Is it three million people listening five days a week? At best this isn't a significant percentage of the population so why even use the number? It only takes one questionable statement or "fact" to call into question the credibility of the entire piece.

    October 20, 2009 at 9:32 am |
  21. PamB

    Marion of alabama says: "Why should my tax dollars go for National Public Radio,just because they do not run commericals?They are a porpaganda arm of the Liberals "

    I find it amusing when listeners listen to TRUTH on NPR or C-SPAN they automatically chalk it up to Propoganda of the Left because it is opposite of what they are hearing on their Hate Radio shows, and on Fox News that twists and slants the news to be far from the truth.

    Marion--turn off Limbaugh and Fox news. Do a little googling of news sources from International sites, like BBC.co.uk, or Guardian, or Asia Times, etc. Listen to what the world is saying. Do not base your views on Op/Ed articles which are merely one person's opinion.GROW as a person.

    October 20, 2009 at 9:28 am |
  22. Mike

    I have just seen on tv something more influential than talk radio and that is a commercial. These are put on by every type of special interest group know to mankind. These things will slam you with so many absurd facts and data, it is mind numbing.

    October 20, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  23. Mike

    All media needs to be paid attention too. The right-left or the left-right is balance. Without one there can not be the other. Our country's government was set up to have balance, so no one party or government office becomes to powerful. All media needs to be kept in check, whether tv, print or radio. Propaganda has been used in every war. It is listening to what the enemy is doing and using that against themselves. A person who thinks logically needs listen to both sides and make a decision.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:51 am |
  24. DJ in Denver

    Most of the talk radio I have heard is disturbing. They all seem so desperate like those bums downtown with The End Is Near signs. I don't know when the end is and neither do they. I am not sure if these people think they know what's going on or just scream to fill the empty space like babys that are bored. They have no message for me. I have tried to listen, but when they start fondling thier guns I have to go to music. I watch CNN and MSNBC. I don't like the programs on either station that scew too far off center. The white house people can say that Fox news is not really news and it's ok with me partly because I agree and partly because they can say anything they want. The talk radio guys can say anything they want too, but I'm not tuned in or turned on by the noise.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:51 am |
  25. Nancy Battaglia

    I for one am glad that someone is finally putting Fox in it's place on a national level. It is in effect the media arm of the Republican party, we may as well recognize that fact. We empower propaganda by pretending that it is straight up news reporting.
    On the other hand, Carol, you just stated on the show that Americans get their news from a variety of sources. That is also true and perhaps is part of the reason that all the histrionics of August and Sept failed to turn the tide of American opinion against healthcare reform. Perhaps extremists are increasingly seen as maddening and misinformative but mostly just entertainment. Maybe I just need to lighten up a little... nah!

    October 20, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  26. Rob

    After seeing this piece of junk on CNN this morning and reading these posts, the obvious conclusion is that fox news and conservative talk radio have bright futures. You guys just don't get it. Just keep dismissing all of their viewers and listeners as simple minded followers who aren't smart enough to understand your clearly superior position. Keep trying to marginalize a significant portion of the American population.

    Some of the hosts are more entertainment. Some are more news. Some are conservative. Quite a few are far more moderate. Rather than whining and making excuses about the failure of liberal hosts to engage an audience, produce better shows so that you can argue issues (like conservative talk show hosts do) instead of attacking the medium. If liberals did then maybe they wouldn't feel the need to try to shut down the one medium they don't dominate.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  27. Will

    The simple truth, violence, idiocy, sex, anything that makes us laugh or say, "Can you believe that happened?" SELLS and sells big. Case in point, all the cop and criminal shows, reality tv, worlds dumbest criminals, housewives of whereever, John & Kate, and last but not least, Rush Limbaugh. For every viewpoint, whether you lean left or right, you can find a radio host that will spout your very own opinion. The really sad part is that Mr. Limbaugh's rabid, viral type of commentary has made him rich enough to buy into professional football. Maybe he is just marketed better than the rest of the crowd.

    The Bottom line, it is just sad that his kind of poison makes him a success.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  28. Marion/Alabama

    If the Liberals want to be on the air as much as the Conservatives then let them find the Sponsors. There should be no Government sponered radio talk show in an attempt to give liberals more free speech on the radio. If they can not get the monetary backing from sponsors,than they are not popular enough to be on the radio.... Why should my tax dollars go for National Public Radio,just because they do not run commericals?They are a porpaganda arm of the Liberals and That is Ok but I take Offense of having my Tax dollars support a talk Radio programs,that can not support its self.... We do not need a Propaganda Radio talk shows for the government,you want to move to Cuba go ahead.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  29. bruce winder

    The only think I do when Rush speaks is to do the exact OPPOSITE of what he says, because I honestly believe there is something wrong with him. Some believe him, that is there right, but I do not.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  30. John Moeschler

    Geez, talk about calling the kettle black. How about a report of all the tv networks and cable stations leaning left or right. Who are the corporate owners of these outlets and how does their political bent influence what we see on the boob tube?

    October 20, 2009 at 8:44 am |
  31. Sharon

    Because of Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Fox News and the like, I will never vote Republican again. They spew hatred and devisiveness and they make up lies to send to the American people. Can you imagine having one of them for a father or a president and all you hear is anger? Never Repubican again.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:44 am |
  32. Nancy Abend

    I only listen to talk radio occasionally. It let's me keep track of what the opposing view points are. Generally I do not agree with theirs. I feel if I do not listen to all sides of an issue and then educate myself on all points, how can I make the best informed opinion for myself? It irritates me that some of my friends listen to talk radio and consider what they hear there as the gospel truth ..... and do not bother investigating the issues further. I guess small minds attract small minds.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:43 am |
  33. ALLAN

    As a retired professional announcer, I can tell you that many of these people are dangerous from the simple point that they dream up outrageous claims to ROUSE their audiences... then support their claims with made-up "FACTS".

    A few years back, radical right-wingers started buying up media outlets... then worked to have "The Fairness Doctrine", (where media outlets were required to provide equal time for opposing positions).

    Once they succeeded in repealing that, they were free to broadcast anything they wanted from the lunatic fringe!

    That leaves millions of VOTERS with wrong or distorted impressions, AND CAN INCITE A FEW REALLY DANGEROUS PEOPLE TO VIOLENCE.

    I would LOVE to see "The Fairness Doctrine" reinstated by the FCC or Congress... after all, the voters own the right to the airways and the cable outlets.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:42 am |
  34. PamB

    You must remember this-Talk Radio shows preach to the Choir! Those who listen to Limbaugh and other Extreme Far Right Opinions are those that want to hear verification of their own warped views.
    I would never give Credance to turning my channel to any of these biased, distorted, Propoganda or outright lies spouted by these blowhards.
    One thing I have noticed though is LOUD gets heard, so when you hear a guy like Limbaugh yelling in the Mike, it is because he wants to get Attention.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  35. Molly

    Free speech is free speech – no matter what they are saying. If you don't like it, you can change the channel or turn it off. Haven't we all heard that before? If Larry Flynt can say and sell what he wants through pornographic magazines, and be defended through the first amendment, why is conservative radio not able to say what they think. Just because the message isn't liked, doesn't mean it shouldn't be heard.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:40 am |
  36. Paul S

    With everyone talking about everthing on all forms of communication, it has resulted to-INFORMATION OVERLOAD-Now the problems are lies, Dxxx lies and statistics.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:39 am |
  37. Katina

    I find it very interesting that you didn't mention Alex Jones in your spot on talk radio. He is reaching record numbers of people and is probably the most accurate of all talk show hosts.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:38 am |
  38. Logan

    If radio wasn't powerful, why would you waste your time talking about it? By asking the question you automatically give it power. The real question is do reports like this have any power? Obviously it was lame enough to make me comment.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:37 am |
  39. Tom Myers

    I would say talk radio is a big influence on what I think. Whatever Rush Limbaugh thinks should be done, I do the opposite.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:37 am |
  40. Dan

    I don't listen to talk radio at all because if I have facts, I can form my own opinion. Also, according to the New Scientist magazine, what makes commentators effective on TV and radio effective is if they sound certain - even if they're wrong. The article had a photo of that great prognosticator Jim Kramer, but it could easily have had someone else fromke either medium.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:37 am |
  41. Sue K

    At times it seems that talk radio is driving the agenda. Often stories, agendas, rumors which are initiated by talk radio end up on main stream media. This makes them powerful.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:37 am |
  42. Mary Lou Stroud

    I just wanted to comment on the radio talk show of Bob & Tom... they start my day off on a positive note while traveling 1 hour to work....they offer humor while covering top news stories. Laughing is a great way to start the day!

    October 20, 2009 at 8:37 am |
  43. Chris

    After yesterday's piece and my comments, I decided to download podcasts for Rush LImbaugh and Durgin. Bottom line: QUESTION, REASON, ANALYZE, FACT CHECK AND COMPLETE THE THOUGHT.

    The Rush show from Friday the 16th had Rush stating the false statements by a law firm in New York and the verbal shooting down of a black Rush supporter are examples of Obama's new America. On top of that, he reads a headline "Rush Limbaugh (attacked) by a senior Obama official". This DOES NOT mean Obama condoned the statements. He may have, but until there is proof, you can't pass blame all the way up the chain.

    Radical talk show hosts like Limbaugh will say what they need to say in order to "prove" their point without finishing the thought or evidence chain.

    When all was said and done, I wasted 12 minutes of my life in my car listening to an incomplete, partially researched case for what Rush was trying to push as "Obamas new America".

    October 20, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  44. Gramps

    I don't listen to talk radio & even turn the tv station when the talking heads come on. Everyone's entitled to their opinion but if I want to hear one sided opinions, I would listen to my wife!

    October 20, 2009 at 8:12 am |
  45. Cindy Feather

    I always fact check what I hear because the rhetoric and misinformation, as well as error, flows equally from all directions. If you don't want to hear opinions, don't listen to them, including our own comments here on this site. Instead of taking everything Fox News says as pure truth, I visit other TV and newspaper sites as well. I've simply found Fox News to be slightly less partisan and just as newsworthy as others. I enjoy O'Reilly and Beck, as well as Cavuto. But I certainly don't vote based on their opinions. I visit politifact.com to find out the "pants on fire" tidbits, and factcheck.org. There's plenty of "fibbing" by all players. I don't believe calling each other "idiots" is helpful either. I stop reading when that type of comment is made. As for Mr. Figueroa, if you are basing your political leaning on one radio talk show host, please do what I suggest and listen or read varying opinions. One thing I did was research democratic and republican racism history. I'm tired of racist comments and I think you will find clarification by typing in "democratic racism" and "republican racism" into a search engine of your choice.

    October 20, 2009 at 8:04 am |
  46. Keith

    I am an independent, a moderate, and I listen to Rush and watch Fox . The reason that I do so is because they are so animated in their delivery. I agree that they command your attention. It is truly like watching a train wreck. It is amazing how they can energize people to believe, say, and do stupid things. Overall, of the millionsof listeners that talk radio attributes to Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, O'reilly, and the rest, many of us listen just to see how off base, weird, and out of touch with the mainstream they can be. The fear that they could become the guiding patriarchs of the Republican party is the reason that I have not been able to bring myself to vote for them. My listenership deters my vote.

    Keith

    October 20, 2009 at 8:00 am |
  47. mike-sey

    To Becky: Try the BBC to find out what a difference having real reporters on the ground and concentrating on the News instead of personality makes.

    October 20, 2009 at 7:53 am |
  48. julia glover

    Who loses and who wins in the medicinal marijuana issue ? as long as the drug cartels and the pharmaceutical companies have lobbyist in Washington fighting to keep medicinal marijuana illegal , and are stuffing the pockets of politicians it shall be so . If the U.S. would legalize medicinal marijuana the drug cartels/pharmaceutical companies would lose vast income and power , also Dr.s could treat not only chronic pain but also many issues such as depression , anxiety , etc., without costly and dangerous medications that are introduced almost weekly only to be recalled , not to mention the loss of life and class action lawsuits that often accompany these recalls . Think of the revenue that could be generated within the U.S. if medicinal marijuana were taxed and regulated by the U.S. goverment . Who loses by keeping medicinal marijuana illegal , the U.S. people .

    October 20, 2009 at 7:52 am |
  49. Judi

    the problem with right wing talk is the hate speech! the right makes up facts that are not factual! The left works hard on the facts. Listen to left talk and right as far as the facts go. Rush gives his opinion as FACT!
    Have you investigated the skin head and Nazi movement.. The History channel just had an excellent program on how these groups are growing. they claim to have leaders in high place ready.
    Wasn't that how the Germans people were helped into believing they where being destroyed by THOSE people. Something had to be done them. Here it is Latino's, Blacks and Jews.
    The right talk radio stirs the people to anger. Their listener come to protest with GUNS!! What would happen if the left started doing that when we came to protest any President? They come to town halls yelling and ready to fight. Have they ever heard of debate? And in the end we all have to compromise.
    I am tried of the media finding excuses for the right, yet when the left protest they ignore us or claim we are un-American.
    The right protest with guns and fist and the media claims they are using their 1st and 2nd Amendment rights.

    October 20, 2009 at 7:51 am |
  50. roan

    the american voting base is essentially center right (i consider myself left-leaning) and it is the center-right republican party that failed them and opened up the opportunity for dem victories in congress and the WH. i believe the increasing popularity of conservative talk radio is basically a reaction to a more liberal govt. – basically the ship correcting itself. i have great faith in our country and we are just experiencing a time of conflict, resolution and re-balancing. hopefully the far-right will not over-correct and waste more of our time squabbling over things that don't matter!

    October 20, 2009 at 7:50 am |
  51. mike-sey

    The Media does have influence and power. The latest polls show that 80% of Americans believe Iran is seeking to obtain nukes. What else would they think after having it drummed into them at every opportunity for years by all media that the axis of evil is out to get nukes?Most Americans believed Iraq had WMD's and a sizeable chunk still think so.
    I used to listen to Lou Dobbs to hear the latest inanities pushed by Conservatives until It became so predictable I could parrot Lou's anti-Latino rants on Queu. Then it got boring!

    October 20, 2009 at 7:48 am |
  52. Steven

    In general, people like to be told what to think. It is easier. This is why talk radio is so popular.

    October 20, 2009 at 7:48 am |
  53. Sooner

    Living in OK, yes talk radio is very powerful. I recently asked a local Tulsa radio station why they did not also run an opposite opinion, like Ed Schultz. Their response was "While there are a lot of Democrats in Oklahoma, we haven't seen a market where a show like
    Mr. Schultz's has seen huge success." I find this very hard to believe. Also in OK you don't need consevative talk radio to get fired up, you can get that every Sunday from any evangelical church of your choice.

    October 20, 2009 at 7:46 am |
  54. Brian Abrams

    It is not a "vote" to listen to talk radio: in fact, I listen to that idiot Limbaugh just to find out how "OFF" some of these neo-conservatives really are, and it fires me up to fight in opposition!!!

    October 20, 2009 at 7:43 am |
  55. naryaquid

    Is all of this backdoor criticism for the President's comments on Fox News?...Please..Fox has PLENTY to say about him, very little of it good.

    "As for President Obama, one piece of advice for the next time he’s tempted to answer back at one of Limbaugh’s criticisms: ..Forget it...President Obama doesn't need "advice" from Republican Gergen talking head of CNN corporate media.

    If you were REALLY being honest about the subject, you might talk about the dealth of Dr. Tiller, killed after YEARS of being called a "baby killer" by the likes of Bill O'Reilly..but no, you don't have the guts.

    October 20, 2009 at 7:41 am |
  56. lou

    Most americans percieve radio host as powerful people, almost godlike. What americans don't understand, is the one commom denominator that stitches these clowns together, is they are all wannbe failures. most of these radio host had aspirations of being actors, singers, performers, but had to settle for second best, which is radio. They all wanted to be in the public eye, the big screen. they all hate nancy pelosi, obama, and hillary clinton. what most people don't realize is these radio host are in a creepy little boring room with transmission equipment and they are very very angry at themselves. wake up america!! lou clearwater florida

    October 20, 2009 at 7:41 am |
  57. Becky

    I never listen to the talk radio idiots. I think it is very tiresome, annoying and embarrassing. The worst thing is that I can't find a place for morning TV news that just gives the news. WHy are you even wasting our time with this?

    October 20, 2009 at 7:37 am |
  58. Carlos A Figueroa

    As a Hispanic, one thing I can say is that talk radio has pushed us further away from the Republican Party. Whether it is fair or not, the likes of Rush represent to us the face of Republicans. They don't understand that when they refer to undocumented workers as criminals, they are talking about friends and family members of those of us that are Americans and can vote! This is very offesive to us and we cannot support the party that supports this position.

    October 20, 2009 at 7:37 am |
  59. Rob - Lima, Ohio

    One important distinction that seems to be lost on many is the difference between journalists and commentators. If polled, I'm sure many people would not know how to properly classify talk show hosts versus reporters.

    This is why the Obama administration is blackballing Faux News. C'mon – when they reported on Gov. Mark Sanford's extramarital tryst, the screen header listed him as a Democrat – big 'D' right behind his name. This is the sort of truth bending typical of commentary, not journalism. A responsible journalistic organization will accurately report such details.

    October 20, 2009 at 7:34 am |
  60. sandy

    Limbaugh, Beck and many others promote misinformation, and propaganda that influences people in all sorts of ways. They distort the facts and whip people into a frenzy over things that aren't even true. Of course they influence the people that listen....do you think the listeners. go to a fact check sight to see if what Limbaugh is spreading is factual? Very Doubtful.

    October 20, 2009 at 7:34 am |
  61. Pam Stemmerman

    I have never voted one way or the other just because of something Rush Limbaugh has said on the radio. If anything listening to Rush just irritates the hell out of me or he makes me laugh because he is such a joke!

    October 20, 2009 at 7:33 am |
  62. Don - Northwood,Ohio

    Sorry, You Never trust a politician that talks Too Much!

    October 20, 2009 at 7:30 am |
  63. lauren

    I think the influence of a single source of news – especially talk radio – is inversely proportional to one's IQ.

    October 20, 2009 at 7:30 am |