The 'Study' on Conservative Talk Radio
June 24, 2007
The Center for American Progress is a liberal organization in its pedigree and staff. It has now released a “study” on the imbalance between conservative and “progressive” content on talk radio. It wants the government to compel a “balance” between these two.
Even assuming that the study rests on a legitimate definition of what is conservative or “progressive” (which means liberal all the way to socialist), the study is still a foolish enterprise. Thomas Jefferson long ago referred to “the free market of ideas.” Modern talk radio is where free speech and free markets meet. Only those shows which attract listeners will attract sponsors to pay the bills. And absent sponsors, any show of any type will fail.
Any study is no better than the quality of its source. All of CAP’s officers are former officials in the Clinton Administration. Plus, their funding includes George Soros as a source. Plus, the principal author of the study was a paid consultant to two liberal talk show hosts. The author has never revealed those connections.
Turning to the study itself, it eliminates National Public Radio from the equation. Most sentient beings consider NPR to be a source of “progressive” talk in its commentary shows. Then, the study does not allow for the size of radio stations. Some stations are very small because they serve only a niche market. The larger a station is, the more it has to pay attention to what most people want to hear.
The central failure of the CAP study is it denies the truth that Jefferson spoke, and the commercial truth that any free market radio station that lacks sponsors, will fail. The continuing failure of the “Air America Network” is proof that very few Americans want to hear what CAP is offering. (Most of the officials of CAP have made regular appearances on Air America; so they cannot be ignorant of it.)
This very study shows that there are “progressive” shows out there. It’s just that they are wildly unpopular. (In fact, an article on The Radio Equalizer blog gives details on how the “study” slanted the ratio of conservative to “progressive” talk radio by leaving out several well-known liberal shows and hosts.)
CAP is like a buggy whip manufacturer in 1920. They cannot understand why the bottom has dropped out of the buggy whip business. They want the government to force people to buy more buggy whips. CAP and its “researchers” are apparently clueless about both freedom of speech and free markets.