Nuanced: the new not making any sense

This piece is from 2007, and it is still irrelevant today.

FAIR, thanks to this sidebar and the connected article, is now on my list of "slobbering blogs", but only as a junior member.

Sidebar: Liberals Can’t Cut Talk Radio? - FAIR
Extra! January/February 2007

Sidebar: Liberals Can’t Cut Talk Radio?

By Steve Rendall

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to Rough Road to Liberal Talk Success.]

One talk radio talking point for conservatives and establishment observers alike is that progressive politics don’t “work” on talk radio because they are too nuanced and therefore not reducible to the sort of clear-cut moral terms that get talk radio audiences fired up. Anyone who believes this has never heard the likes of Michael Moore, Barbara Ehrenreich, Molly Ivins or Michael Eric Dyson (himself a successful local talk radio host in Chicago).

While touring in support of FAIR’s book The Way Things Aren’t: Rush Limbaugh’s Reign of Error in the mid-’90s, I was accosted by one talkshow host after another with another conservative talking point: Liberals can’t do talk radio because they’re too humorless to be entertaining.

My response was to ask them why they thought this was true of talk radio, since it was the only entertainment venue where liberals weren’t prominent. They usually accepted my point, but instead of explaining why talk radio was different from other entertainment settings, they would usually begin citing the short list of talk radio liberals who had failed over the years.

They were right in saying that liberal hosts like former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and former California Gov. Jerry Brown were not particularly adept at talk radio. But these and better liberal hosts who’ve been canceled over the years were generally given little time to succeed, assigned poor time slots, or had shows that were wedged in between conservative shows, where it is hard for a liberal to build an audience (and not particularly good for the conservative host who follows the liberal, either). Looking back on the brief and ungenerous tryouts offered to liberal hosts over the years, it’s important to remember that Rush Limbaugh failed at radio for more than a decade before developing his winning formula.—S.R.
Looks like a grand bit of whining, to me, which is of course the primary ingredient in too many liberal arguments about free speech, and other rights that let their opposition have some sway. It is also proclaiming, without proclaiming it outright, that liberals are simply better at everything than conservatives. I presume that this is the case only if they are given the chance to succeed by trouncing the vast right-wing conspiracy to keep them from succeeding on radio. If given that chance -- by the presumed right-wing-only owners of radio stations everywhere -- liberals would be far better at it than conservatives.

Funny, then, that liberal politicians, for instance, must spend twice as much money than conservatives in most elections, whether they win or lose, and even when they lose big. First bit of evidence for that is Obama's victory while spending more than twice as much as McCain (as I recall it) to win by roughly six percent of the vote. Seems to me, that's a recipe for confusion, not expertise.

So the point to the blabbering above is something like this: since Rush struggled for ten years before becoming a widely accepted radio (and even briefly, TV) talker, that liberals, too, can struggle and succeed in radio. But they don't, except a few shining examples. And why? Apparently because, like Steve Rendall, liberal writers are indeed "too nuanced" -- or some less euphemistic term for being scatter-brained. (Translation: liberals are too muddy in use of logic, when it comes down to it, and they would bore an audience without the gross preparation not allowed by two to four hours live on the radio.) Whether I was arguing for the conservative success on radio, or the liberal failure on radio, I would argue that this guy's argument is avoiding reality and pledging for your sypathy for those poor, poor liberals who were not given a chance on radio.

So the point is that there is no point to claiming a conspiracy for right-wing radio success, or to the Fairness Doctrine or something like it since it would change nothing (even by this guy's own words in the article). So what is the point to the argument? I guess it is just too nuanced for me, or it is too propagandist for me to accept.


- jR, aka AirFarceOne (Twitter)



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