Neal Boortz is an author and nationally syndicated libertarian talk-show host. Full disclosure compels him to reveal that he is also a "reformed" attorney who is being paid massive amounts of money in exchange for his promise not to actually practice law any more. More ↓Less ↑
The latest numbers showing who is listening to what on the radio dial are good news for talk radio. Only talk radio and Spanish language broadcasts are showing any growth in listenership. This doesn’t please liberals. When liberals aren’t pleased, something must be going right.
So, what is the source of this discontent for the left? Conservatives. There are just too many conservatives on talk radio. Liberals consider conservatives to be evil, and this makes talk radio evil and something deserving of eradication.
There have been multiple news stories and opinion pieces over the past few months trying to explain the conservative slant of talk radio. So far, nobody has it quite right. Talk radio doesn’t skew to the conservative side because that’s the way the corporate ownership wants it. There’s nothing sinister at work here. No conspiracy … no grand right-wing plan. Conservatives and libertarians dominate because, to put it bluntly, liberals can’t survive in the talk-radio wars.
Newspaper columnists and editorial writers, broadcast commentators, writers and radio talk-show hosts generally offer most of the opinions for mass distribution. Among these, talk-show hosts operate on a completely different playing field.
A newspaper columnist or editorial writer publishes their opinion piece and retreats. Ditto for other writers and most broadcast commentators. They put their thoughts and opinions out there for the general public to digest. When the great unwashed figure out that the editorial, column or commentary is intellectually inedible, the author is safely out of reach, insulated from any challenges to the factual or logical base of their stated opinions.
You can send an editor who has written a hideously flawed critique of some conservative cause all the scathing e-mails you want. They don’t have to listen or respond. They’re up there basking in the congratulatory hugs and kisses of their fellow leftists, while you’re down here on solid ground screaming to be heard on a point of logic or fact. You simply aren’t worthy of challenging their obviously superior thought processes. They’ve told you the way things are, and it’s simply up to you to accept their wisdom and applaud their insight.
This is why leftist opinion makers generally survive in newspapers, magazines and on network television broadcasts – everywhere but in talk radio.
So, just what is so different about talk radio? Simple. Radio talk-show hosts can’t hit and run. They can throw their opinions out there, just like writers and commentators do, but they then have to sit right there and deal with the feedback. There’s a blinking row of lights there, and every one of those lights is another caller just waiting to nail the talk-show host to the wall for any factual or logical error.
If you’re writing a newspaper editorial, it’s easy to play the class-warfare game and say that George W. Bush’s tax cut overwhelmingly favors the “wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.” You pen the line, and then sit back to gauge the effects of your little class-warfare salvo.
But … if you’re a liberal talk-show host, and you use the same line on the air, your best bet would be to refrain from taking telephone calls the rest of the show. Soon a caller will tell you that it’s an “income tax” – not a “wealth tax” – and that the top 1 percent of income earners in any given year may not necessarily be the same folks as America’s “wealthiest 1 percent.” One of these top 1-percenters may simply be a widow who has sold some of her husband’s assets after his death, or you have an elderly couple selling a business prior to retirement. Uh oh – you’re starting to look pretty bad here.
Take the next call and you’re likely to be asked to explain why it is so unfair for the top 1 percent of income earners to reap the benefits of a tax cut considering the fact that they pay over one-third of the income taxes while earning only 17 percent of the income. No fancy answer for that one? Now, you’re starting to look just a bit ridiculous.
The leftist editorial writer doesn’t have to deal with those impertinent questions. They can just hit the e-mail delete button. The leftist talk-show host can’t avoid those questions. Soon, he either has to change his opinion to correlate with the facts, or face a complete loss of credibility. And guess what? When talk-show hosts have no credibility, they soon have no talk shows.
Bottom line: Liberals don’t do well at talk radio because theirs is a political philosophy based on emotion and legalized plunder. Take enough listener phone calls, and your credibility is shot – along with your ratings. Time to go write a column somewhere.