Friday, March 26, 2004

The Left's Limbaugh: Here's David Skinner on the topic at the Weekly Standard. Skinner's not advancing the ball much on this, but he does make some useful points -- for example, that Limbaugh was successful pre-Clinton; that Al Franken probably won't stick with a program beyond a Bush loss in November; and that heavyweights like Mario Cuomo and Phil Donahue still can't raise an audience.

I'm sorry to see Skinner give short shrift to the theory that Limbaugh's conservatism is more marketing than principle. He dismisses it with one anecdote. In addition, he dismisses the entertainment factor, saying

If success on radio is basically a question of being entertaining, well, then the left can do that. The left, after all, can claim the allegiance of the vast majority of working entertainers.
That's too facile. To cite a counterexample, Dennis Miller was a famous entertainer, host of a well-regarded HBO show, and an emmy-winner to boot. He's even taken to a fairly conservative schtick (is conservative the new gay?), but he still can't buy an audience. Janeane Garafolo, who can be pretty funny, has died on TV every time she's tried to do issues chatter.

I don't know what the secret is, and nobody else does either. One of the folks doing lib talk might hit the mark. My bet is that, rather than making the network a success, such a person would more likely head into a major syndication deal.

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