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November 19, 2012 10:44 PM UTC

Can Republicans polish up their image by controlling their extremists on talk radio? Nope

  • by: Jason Salzman

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Wayne Laugesen, the Editorial Page Editor at the conservative Colorado Springs Gazette, made the point last week on Rocky Mountain PBS’ Colorado State of Mind that the “general public” thinks conservative talk radio “is part of the GOP.”

And for good reason.  You find the top GOP candidates, like Mitt Romney, holding forth on Denver talk radio, while avoiding TV or print media.  As elections get close, you hear talk radio hosts acting as if they are part of that famous well-oiled Republican get-out-the-vote machine.  You see GOP leaders say something in Washington, and then you hear it again on KNUS radio in Denver.

And when something outrageous trickles out of the talk radio world and into the headlines, it rapidly becomes linked to conservatives. See Rush Limbaugh. At the local level, see Mike Rosen, Brownie, Steve Kelley, Tom Lucero and Devon Lentz, Amy Oliver, Jeff Crank, the whole gang.

It’s pretty obvious that Republicans would like to figure out a miracle way to stop the hatred and extremism on talk radio so they can be better polish up the image of their party, especially among Hispanics.

“The talk on immigration comes out on talk radio anymore as just general hostility toward Latino culture,” said Laugesen.

But does anyone really expect conservative talk radio hosts to change their tune anytime soon? No, because if they did, they’d lose their audience, which listens to the shows precisely to hear the extremism they love.

The conservative talk-radio audience has been nurtured to want the extreme talk. That’s how the shows built what little audience they have. It worked.

As explained here, they captured a market niche alienated from the reasonable news media. Talk radio listeners like to connect with people who share their fringe views. (This is a generalization, I know, but still.)

How is that going to change anytime soon? It can’t, because if conservative talk radio moderates itself, it will die. Its core audience will change the channel.

But there’s hope, if you’re a Republican like Laugesen. The conservative white, aging, male audience of talk radio is on the way out. But chances are they’ll stick around long enough, with their extremism stuck to them, to make it all the more difficult for the GOP to re-invent itself.

View Laugesen video here.

Laugesen: A lot of Republicans will say, we’re not against Hispanics at all, we’re against illegal immigrants. Okay, we get that, but that’s not how it comes across. It’s not how it comes across on talk radio, which is, right or wrong, is viewed by the general public as part of the GOP, a big part of the GOP. The talk on immigration comes out on talk radio anymore as just general hostility toward Latino culture. So I think that’s really hurt Republicans. In 1984 you had Ronald Reagan who actively sought the Hispanic vote, and he got 40 percent of it. Later on in 2004, you had George Bush, who spoke Spanish, and was very good about courting the Hispanic vote got 44 percent. So it was going up. And–

Host Cynthia Hessen: And talk radio kind of talked it away?

Laugesen:  Talk radio and a lot of politicians pandering for the white vote, apparently. I don’t know what their thinking is. Let’s try to be more conservative than the next guy by talking more critically about immigration, illegal immigration.


14 thoughts on “Can Republicans polish up their image by controlling their extremists on talk radio? Nope

  1. …found similarly extreme sentiments on his side of the Rockies:

    “Hunsinger claims the Democratic Party stole the election, but he doesn’t say how. Then he says the only answer is outright sedition, calling for the creation of a new republic, the boundaries of which primarily include western and southern states.”

    When the spouse of a Republican Party County officer is calling for armed revolt, seems to me one can rightfully claim that the extremists are indeed “part of the GOP.”

  2. The media is giving plenty of hype to Republicans with some kind of critique of the Nov. 6 meltdown: (a) bad candidate, (b) outworked on the ground, (c) Obama data heads, (d) alienating key demographics with stupid rhetoric.

    It’s actually a combination of all of these. But the missing fifth piece the GOP bosses are deliberately obfuscating is that the “core values” they’ve constructed after the Gingrich Revolution in the ’90s were soundly rejected in 2012.

    The 2010 wave wasn’t an embrace of the reactionary Tea Party lunacy’s. It was a spasm of anger and rage at the government in power pursuing a controversial social policy (i.e., healthcare reform), in the midst of massive job hemorrhages in the economy.  

    But the Tea Party shit was mainstreamed in both government and the media – such that the public got served a regular diet of revisionist history, xenophobia, neo-confederate rhetoric, undisguised race-baiting, apocalyptic paranoia, a war on women’s rights, minority voter suppression, and often the outright gibberish of the Akins and Mourdochs of the world who got onto ballots thanks to this “movement.”

    Looking at these “patriotic” assholes calling for seditious actions and secession because they lost an election is the logical outcome of years of this idiocy. Up is down. Left is right.

    Talk radio is the validator of all of this. There’s so much of it that it’s barely trackable. It doesn’t have the high profile of Fox News, so their gaffes are rarely newsmaking on their own.

    The money-making formula for this industry is marrying the worst instincts of reverse-snobbery identity politics with outlandish paranoia meant to feed the resentments of aging whites whose mindset is scarily parallel to the worldview of Reconstruction-era impoverished Southern whites.

    It’s all just a bunch of victimhood wrapped up in a package of supremacism, phony “patriotic” machismo-cum-jingoism, while banging the drum for cryptofascist policies with platitudinous talk about “freedom” but are all about using government for social control of “the other” and corporate subjugation of the American way of life.  

    Until the Right can reform itself around a vision of personal liberty that is premised on “liberty for all” instead of a morally bankrupt ideology that is antithetical to the vast majority of citizens’ view of an American Dream premised on equality, fair play, and opportunity, it will continue to whistle past the graveyard or occasionally seizing opportunity from blundering Democrats tripping over their own shoelaces. But the first step is to acknowledge that the “take our country back” crowd offer the country absolutely nothing when it comes to America realizing the promise and potential left to us by the Founders.  

  3. Republicans could . . .

    . . . then again some really big, smart, powerful superbeing could have created the entire universe and populated this earth with every living creature in it in just six literal days a little over ten-thousand years ago.

    Marco Rubio Is ‘Not a Scientist’

    I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.


    . . . I mean, anything’s possible, right?

    (PS.  Don’t you just love that newly discovered GQ gateway to 2016?)

    Luckily for liberals, just because Republicans could polish their collective turd, doesn’t mean they’re going to expend any time or energy trying that . . . and, the Republican formula is likely to remain, as always, Back to the Future.  

    (Remember, these aren’t the guys who want to be seen as messing with “God’s plan.”  You don’t find the words “Hispanic” or “Latino” in any of their bibles . . . )

  4. He is a control freak in a party out of control. Xenophobia turns out the old folks in this part of the state (El Paso, Teller, Fremont).  How does the GOP court hispanics when a good part of the base believe that hispanics are the enemy. Talk radio is a big deal when nothing to balance it is available.

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