Michael Medved misremembers right-wing radio's past

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

The good news about Medved's opinion piece in the USA Today, was that it called out the talk radio genre for its growing irrelevance. A GOP talker himself, Medved was quite straight forward:

But if the new president [Obama] makes credible efforts to govern from the center, then talk radio can't afford long-term marginalization as a sulking, sniping, angry irrelevancy. It makes no sense to react with pre-emptive rage (and an odd obsession over Obama's birth certificate) to a president-elect who has remained pointedly vague on policy.

The bad news was Medved kept peddling this notion that right-wing radio hit its nadir--the "Golden Age"-during the Clinton years and that GOP radio played a crucial, deeply important role in the political life of America during the 1990's:

With no Republican power base in the federal bureaucracy, dispirited conservatives turned to talk radio as a sort of government in exile. Deploying wit, passion and ferocious focus, Rush (and his many followers and imitators) rallied GOP loyalists to fight back against the Clinton agenda, from gays in the military to Hillary's health care scheme. Within two years, Republicans came roaring back to capture GOP control of both houses of Congress and pointedly acknowledged the role of radio - naming Rush the "Majority Maker" and making him an honorary member of their caucus.

Technically, that's all true. But Medved is talking about a period that ran from approximately June 1993 to November 1994; 16 months. The question is what did right-wing radio do the rest of decade? How did right-wing radio defeat the Clintons? How did it "change minds," as Medved claimed? Answer: It didn't. Bill Clinton won re-election with ease and left office as the most popular president in modern history.

The irony is that Medved is urging talk radio today not to become half-cocked in its pursuit of Obama--not to become unhinged--or it'll end up irrelevant. But wasn't that what right-wing radio did from, say 1995 to 2000?

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