Editor’s note: Kathy Shaidle will be attending next week’s Freedom of Speech & Religion Conference in Washington, D.C., and will not be able to file a new column for Friday, Oct. 30. She will return the following week with a fresh Talk Radio Watch.

This week, the strangest story in the world of conservative talk radio came from Jeffrey Lord at the American Spectator.

Lord, a member of the United Church of Christ, says his denomination, in league with the Federal Communications Commission, plans to silence talk radio by using the increasingly familiar “hate crime” ploy.

It’s a bizarre and complex tale, but Lord patiently connects the dots. While we need to worry about the Fairness Doctrine, “localism” and other threats to free speech coming from on high, we also have to watch for “grass-roots” censorship campaigns like these.

Perfectly timed to coincide with White House attempts to marginalize Fox News, CNN aired a multipart report that questioned the popularity and power of conservative talk radio (FREE video).

CNN didn’t tell viewers that its “research” was written by Mark Lloyd, who is now Obama’s “chief diversity officer” at the FCC.

Fox News host Greg Gutfeld (whose show has more viewers in its 3 a.m. timeslot than CNN has in primetime) responded in his inimitable way (FREE video):

Other than Fox News, talk radio is the only place you can hear another point of view. But CNN can’t deal with that. Like a whiny child who needs all the stuffed animals in the toy store, it won’t rest until it has everything.

See, what it wants is a new kind of Fairness Doctrine, when what it really needs is a spanking.

Conservative media outlets were attacked from both sides this week. President Obama said he considered Fox News “more like talk radio” than a legitimate news outlet, while even “top Republicans” were supposedly “worried” about “the flamboyant rhetoric and angry tone of conservative activists and media personalities.”

That led Congressman Mike Pence, R-Ind., to defend conservative talk radio on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday (FREE video):

“To my friends in the so-called ‘mainstream media,'” he said, “conservative talk-show hosts may not speak for everybody, but they speak for more Americans than you do.”

Later that day, Pence talked about his remarks, and more, on Fred Thompson’s radio show (FREE audio).

Rush Limbaugh

The fallout continues from Rush Limbaugh’s failed bid to purchase an NFL franchise.

Now that the damage is done, left-wing “watchdog” Media Matters admitted coyly that two racist quotations they repeatedly attributed to Limbaugh were “not necessarily accurate,” and CNN’s Rick Sanchez apologized for using them on the air.

Rush himself weighed in with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal – and Rev. Al Sharpton promptly threatened legal action over remarks Limbaugh made about him in that article!

Limbaugh’s longtime call screener, “Bo Snerdley” – who happens to be African-American – came to his boss’s defense (FREE audio), and, in a gem of a panel discussion, Fox News liberal commentator Juan Williams struck back at the guest who called him a “house negro” for defending Limbaugh’s right to buy a sports team (FREE video – a real must-see!).

As for Rush himself, on his show he explained why he mocked Obama for not getting the Olympics for Chicago and said “Obama doesn’t care” about Afghanistan (FREE video).

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck continues to serve as the focus of hysterical left-wing outrage. The Huffington Post called Beck “a cult leader,” while recovering alcoholic Danny Bonaduce (himself a talk-radio host these days) blamed Beck for “making” him start drinking again (FREE video).

Beck, who has recently been seen in public with an armed bodyguard, continues to have fun on his radio show. He and his producer mocked mass-media coverage of “Balloon Boy” by running hilarious fake reports on “two kittens floating away in a box kite” (FREE audio).

Laura Ingraham

Speaking of “Balloon Boy,” Laura Ingraham lit into the media, including talk radio, for hyping the hoax (FREE audio).

“It kind of puts egg on all of our faces,” she said. “We all become part of the media problem. I’ll throw myself right into the mix. Because you really can’t take your eyes off it, but meanwhile you know there are all these really important things happening, not only in our country but around the world.”

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager’s talk-show archives are only available to premium subscribers, which is a shame, because this week, he covered lots of great topics, and his guests included longtime talk-radio colleague and close friend Larry Elder.

They talked about Elder’s latest WND column, in which he related the “Rush Limbaugh affair” to his own experiences:

Shortly after I started on radio, my station’s account executives – those who sell radio time to advertisers – began getting distressing phone calls. Why is Elder so “offensive”? Advertising agencies and sponsors received numerous letters complaining about me from “the black community.” These letters included statements I allegedly made. …

Of course, I never said those things. Had I done so, I would have – and should have – been fired before the next commercial break. Wouldn’t anyone with an ounce of common sense know that?

No, “corporate America” headed for the hills. Sponsor after sponsor dropped my program.

It’s a depressingly familiar story. Luckily, Elder stood fast in the face of those baseless attacks.

P.S.: Dennis Prager’s “Prager University” videos are available to anyone. As he does on his radio program, Prager tackles big “meaning of life” questions in a thoughtful, gentle and entertaining way. Highly recommended (FREE videos)!

Hugh Hewitt

Hugh Hewitt’s audio archives are also behind subscriber walls now. However, he’s posted transcripts of his interviews this week with guests as diverse as professional atheist Richard Dawkins, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and Islamic terrorism expert Lawrence Wright.

Author and weekly guest Mark Steyn was late keeping his usual Thursday “appointment” with Hewitt, leading the host to tease him that “you were no longer going to be associated with talk radio, that the White House had gotten to you, Mark Steyn.”

Steyn replied, “Well, you know, I think this is truly pathetic. I mean, this is a guy who came to office on the platform of being willing to sit down across the table from Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and all the rest of it. Yet they’re too big a bunch of sissies to take a bit of criticism from Fox News and talk radio. He’s the president of the United States. It’s time to man up. I mean, this is just girly-boy stuff, and I’m tired of it.”

G. Gordon Liddy

Liddy fielded questions about Watergate from students at a NYU journalism class, giving them a rare opportunity to interview a true “primary source” (FREE audio in two parts).

Michael Savage

Having himself been banned from Britain, Michael Savage was the perfect person to interview Geert Wilders right after that Dutch politician’s ban was finally lifted. The pair spoke at length about the threat of radical Islam and the craven hypocrisy of the politically correct, elite Western establishment (FREE videos, also in two parts).

Finally, from our “There, I fixed it” file:

“The radio that only plays NPR”!

Sadly for conservative comedians everywhere, that’s not entirely true. However, the all-new (and redundantly named) “NPR Radio” does come preprogrammed with NPR stations, presumably because the publicly funded, left-leaning stations’ most ardent fans are getting older and more forgetful.

One interesting feature: “If planning a vacation, the radio stores two weeks of programming so it’s easy to catch up upon your return.”

Of course, talk-radio fans of all political stripes can already “TiVo” online radio, using simple, affordable software.

But maybe conservative talk-radio broadcasters are missing out. Why not offer an Internet radio that’s preprogrammed for Rush, Beck and others?

After all, more than half of the conservative Republicans in a new survey “indicated that they try to watch or listen to [Glenn] Beck on a daily basis, with some going to great lengths to ensure they (and their families) do not miss a thing.”

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