Poor reception

By ADAM REILLY  |  February 8, 2010

"You don't cede territory to the opposition," adds Braude. "You can't eliminate [the criticism]. But you can mute the crap you have to take."

But is it really plausible that someone like Braude's conservative colleague Michael Graham — who authored the forthcoming Tea Party ode That's No Angry Mob, That's My Mom: It's Time for a Conservative Revolt (Regnery) — would give even a semblance of a fair shake to a Democrat running against a Scott Brown imitator this fall?

"I have to do compelling talk radio — that's my job," answers Graham, who says he repeatedly invited Coakley on during the campaign's home stretch and received no response. "I can't get left-of-center people to come on my show, because they know they can go somewhere else and get softball questions. If Coakley had come on, I wouldn't have asked her, 'When did you get that swastika tattooed on your forehead?' I would have asked, 'Tell me how this Obamacare thing is supposed to work?' "

Braude and Graham have a vested interest here, since more guests means more listeners. But they're not the only ones urging Democrats to take a page out of Brown's phone-happy playbook.

"The Coakley campaign and the Democratic party allowed [talk radio] to get out of hand," says Democratic media consultant Michael Goldman, who made a late-game appearance on Dennis & Callahan to defend Coakley's positions. "They basically said, 'That audience is for Brown anyway — why waste our time?' That was a mistake. They should have been on there every day, pounding back.

"The lesson the Democrats have to have learned here," adds Goldman, "is never again to allow the reinforcement of a whole series of untruths or partial truths, without someone representing the other side."

Monitoring the medium
Chastened hindsight is 20-20, of course, and it's comforting — if you're a frustrated liberal — to think that the solution might be as simple as more talk-radio assertiveness. But if Democrats are going to venture into innately unfriendly broadcast territory in hopes of blunting the GOP's advantage, they need to be sure that the candidates — or their on-air surrogates — are taking a prudent risk.

"It depends on the relationship they've developed with the host, and it depends on their ability to wing it in hostile situations," says Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine. "If a [politician] is charismatic, diplomatic, and smart — if they're good at debating and can do it without creating hostility — by every means, they should go out there. But if you don't have what it takes to stand up under that type of pressure, they should stay away."

There is, of course, another option for liberals worried about talk radio's power this fall. They can try to battle against the medium rather than working with it — by monitoring on-air rhetoric, publicizing it when it gets especially nasty, even applying commercial pressure on the outlet in question. "Locker-room humor doesn't sound quite so funny outside the locker room," says Democratic media consultant Dan Payne. "Put that slightly off-color one-liner in print, maybe, and send it off to a show's sponsor."

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |   next >
Related: Revenge of the Idiots, Improv Asylum presents Scott Brown: The Musical, Might as well jump, More more >
  Topics: Media -- Dont Quote Me , Martha Coakley, Michael Graham, Talk Radio,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   BULLY FOR BU!  |  March 12, 2010
    After six years at the Phoenix , I recently got my first pre-emptive libel threat. It came, most unexpectedly, from an investigative reporter. And beyond the fact that this struck me as a blatant attempt at intimidation, it demonstrated how tricky journalism's new, collaboration-driven future could be.
  •   STOP THE QUINN-SANITY!  |  March 03, 2010
    The year is still young, but when the time comes to look back at 2010's media lowlights, the embarrassing demise of Sally Quinn's Washington Post column, "The Party," will almost certainly rank near the top of the list.
  •   RIGHT CLICK  |  February 19, 2010
    Back in February 2007, a few months after a political neophyte named Deval Patrick cruised to victory in the Massachusetts governor's race with help from a political blog named Blue Mass Group (BMG) — which whipped up pro-Patrick sentiment while aggressively rebutting the governor-to-be's critics — I sized up a recent conservative entry in the local blogosphere.
  •   RANSOM NOTES  |  February 12, 2010
    While reporting from Afghanistan two years ago, David Rohde became, for the second time in his career, an unwilling participant rather than an observer. On October 29, 1995, Rohde had been arrested by Bosnian Serbs. And then in November 2008, Rohde and two Afghan colleagues were en route to an interview with a Taliban commander when they were kidnapped.
  •   POOR RECEPTION  |  February 08, 2010
    The right loves to rant against the "liberal-media elite," but there's one key media sector where the conservative id reigns supreme: talk radio.

 See all articles by: ADAM REILLY