More on Carrying Water
My thanks to James for inviting me to guest blog here while my home site (ProfessorBainbridge.com) is undergoing construction. After three years of nearly daily blogging, I was ready for a break, but now that my hiatus has gone more than a month, I’m ready to be back.
Steven Taylor’s post below on the “quotes from Hugh Hewitt and Rush Limbaugh which appear to promote the notion that they both were cheerleaders for the GOP prior to the election loss to the point that they defended Republicans who didn’t deserve defending, but did so anyway to promote a Republican victory,” is a must read. Regular readers of my blog will recall that Hugh and I went after each other hammer and tongs over Harriet Miers’ nomination to the SCOTUS. Hugh’s admission that he “had to defend the Congressional gang that couldn’t shoot straight” raises the question of whether he really thought Miers was qualified to be a Supreme Court justice or whether he “had” to defend Miers. (Since I still like Hugh, I should note Joe Gandelman‘s observation that perhaps “Hewitt was simply saying ‘Thank God we don’t have to defend such a politically inept Congress!'”)
Why would successful talk radio hosts feel that they “had” to defend the indefensible? Limbaugh offers this explanation:
Now, you might say, “Well, why have you been doing it?” Because the stakes are high. Even though the Republican Party let us down, to me they represent a far better future for my beliefs and therefore the country’s than the Democrat Party and liberalism does.
Maybe. In which case, we can write off Limbaugh and his ilk as mere party propagandists, no better than the Democrat-leaning MSM. But I don’t buy it. After all, the GOP needs high profile propagandists now more than ever. So why is Limbaugh liberated?
I wonder whether there’s another explanation; namely, access. The currency of talk radio is access to insider info and high profile guests. Did Limbaugh et al feel they had to carry the GOP’s water in order to ensure a steady flow of tips from and interviews of GOP bigwigs? When the GOP politicos thought Karl Rove had created a permanent Republican majority, maybe Limbaugh et al needed the politicos more than the latter needed Limbaugh. If so, perhaps Limbaugh figures the GOP minority now needs him so badly that he no longer needs to carry their water.
Maybe there are other explanations. As a quasi-economist, however, I’m happiest with explanations that follow the money. So, OTB readers, what’s your theory?