Will Conservative Talk Radio Change Its Tune on Obama?

Will Conservative Talk Radio Change Its Tune on Obama?

Published November 14, 2008

For Now, When It Comes to Obama, Conservative Pundits are Playing Dirty

Posted Nov. 14, 2008- A lot of things in America are likely to “change” when Barack Obama is sworn-in as President of the United States. But don’t count on conservative media jumping on the change bandwagon and altering its aggressive and often misleading messages.

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However, some believe the conservative listening audience, tired of the lies and misinformation, will begin to dwindle forcing some of the most outrageous conservative talkers off the air due to low ratings.

In the months and days leading up to the historic election, conservative talk radio was in full-throated disdain of candidate Obama.  A few radio talking heads called Obama the “first Affirmative Action President.” One said “Most Black people are racist,” and another broadcaster even said former Secretary of State Colin Powell only endorsed Obama because he was tired of being called an “Uncle Tom” and an “Oreo.”  But now that the first African-American president has been elected, few believe conservative talk radio will voluntarily take a watch-and-wait approach, become irrelevant or less controversial.

Stan Simpson, an African American columnist with the Hartford Courant and host of his own radio talk show on WTIC - AM radio says,  “Conservative radio will feel emboldened by Obama's ascension. But the reality is that they have lost a lot of credibility and the clear mandate that Obama received -  the trouncing that he delivered to john McCain  - was in part a repudiation of some of the despicable tactics used by conservative talk pundits.”

Media Matters for America, a web-based, not for profit 501(c)(3) group keeps a laser like focus on the misinformation put out by conservative media across all media sectors including print, broadcast, cable, radio and Internet media outlets.”

On its Web site,  Media Matters keeps a running tally of what conservative talkers are saying. Each misstatement mentioned includes a full written transcript of what the conservative host says audio and video clips are also posted if available. Media Matters then provides the factual evidence that debunks the claims being made by the conservative talkers.

Simpson believes conservative pundits, particularly those making a living on the radio no longer have the same clout to politically influence listeners as they did at their height. Conservative talk radio gained prominece among listeners in the 1990s when Bill and Hillary Clinton became the targets of vigorous "anti-liberal" programming. But Simpson says those blatant misinformation campaigns have finally backfired.

“They will have the opportunity everyday to criticize Obama because he is in office.” Simpson says, but  “their biggest work will be re-gaining credibility with a population that clearly sees through the nonsense that they were putting out there about him.  They've accused Obama of being a terrorist sympathizer, questioned his citizenship, dug up his academic transcripts and have asked whether Michelle Obama was patriotic. I think the majority of the population saw through all that and I think they serverely damaged their standing with the public.

The First Amendment protects everyone right to free speech,  but Rich Hanley, Graduate Program Director for the Quinnipiac University School of Communication says dwindling ratings may be what it takes to finally get some of the conservative pundits off the air.

“Obama's victory will focus the daily topics for conservative media because they'll rely on their new "outsider" status to foster a  hardened us-versus-them attitude among listeners.  It is unlikely that the audience will expand much, though, if at all because the conservative audience is in retreat.

As Obama puts an emphasis on bringing more Americans from every background into the mainstream of American life and politics, the conservative voice may grow louder but it won't be larger,” Hanley says.


Bill Cunningham

Ohio's WLW-AM

"Obama wants to gas the Jews." 



Neal Boortz

Cox Radio Syndication

"Let's ask Obama how many prayer rugs he has."

Dan Caplis

Denver's 630 KHOW-AM

On photo of Obama in African attire: "the kind of garb you often see Osama bin Laden in."

G. Gordon Liddy

Nationally syndicated through Radio America

"Obama is counting on the urban elites and the welfare class to win the state for him. But he's putting on a show for the rest of Pennsylvania."

Gunny Bob Newman

Denver's 850 KOA-AM

On Obama: "You're a far-left, terrorist-hugging politician, not the bad-boy gangsta you want people to believe you are."

* Quotes taken from MediaMatters.org.

Written by BET-Staff


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