Robert D. Mather, Ph.D.

TheConservativeSocialPsychologist.com Blog
Review of "Talk Radio's America"


In 2019, I listened to an episode of “The Rush Limbaugh Show” on News Radio 1000 KTOK in Oklahoma City. On that episode, Rush recommended reading Brian Rosenwald’s Talk Radio’s America: How an Industry Took Over a Political Party That Took Over the United States. Rush was smitten with Rosenwald’s description of the early years of Rush’s career and the giant legacy he had left for talk radio. Rush is a big fan of Rush, hence the appeal of the book to him. However, I am also a big fan of Rush so I bought the book and read it last year.

 

The book will be of interest to readers who follow conservative talk radio or Republican politics. In addition to beginning with a history of “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” it also covers Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Newt Gingrich, Breitbart News, and the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine. The rise of conservative talk radio is set in the context of the creation of Fox News, the Contract with America, and the Clinton administration. It shows how and why the politics of the party shifted further right and led to the Tea Party movement. There is also discussion of President Donald Trump.

 

Basic political strategies such as making talking points and party members available for interviews are chronicled for the arms race of persuasion between Republicans and Democrats. Bill Clinton’s southern respect for talk radio and willingness to guest for hosts of all types proved crucial for him.

 

The author, Rosenwald, does not appear to be a conservative Republican. At the very least, his anti-Trump biases come out in his last few chapters. However, the author made an attempt at being unbiased in covering Trump. How often do we see a journalist do that?


As a compliment to the article, I recommend reading Victor Davis Hanson's article "Limbaugh: A Genius at Radio" (National Review, February 11th, 2020).

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