Reilly at Boycott Hollywood has an amusing satire of what a liberal radio talk show would sound like. I disagree with the premise, but find it amusing nonetheless.

My sense is that lefty talk shows don’t do well because there is no audience for one, not because lefties are too stupid to host a talk show. Indeed, only a handful of the conservative radio hosts I’ve heard can really defend a position beyond spouting the few boilerplate soundbites they’ve picked up somewhere.

Conservative talk has an audience and liberal talk doesn’t for reasons Steven pointed to yesterday. Basically, conservatives feel their views aren’t expressed by the elite institutions in society and crave an outlet for people who think like they do. The major networks, elite newspapers, and elite universities are much more liberal than the public at large, so that side of the debate is well aired.

Sometimes, however, perception and reality take a while to mesh. The rise of conservative talk radio over the past 15 years or so, along with the advent of the Fox News Channel, a host of more user-friendly conservative print outlets, and such venues as the weblog have made this disparity much less than it once was. It’s not that hard for conservatives to hear people who think like they do on the air anymore. Indeed, if Republicans continue to control the presidency and both Houses of Congress for the next few years, there may be a demand for leftish radio hosts.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Paul says:

    I dunno James- It sounds just like what I hear when I talk to lefties. And that Neil Boortz piece he links, I think, is dead freaking on.

    Several years ago I did a PM drive show for about 2 years on a 50K watt clear channel station. It was a Hannity and Colmes kinda thing except we had a “moderate” too.

    Anytime the lefite took a call, the answer to the question was that Ronald Reagan was bad. No matter the question, that was his answer.

    “Talk Radio” did not explode solely because it gave air time to conservative views. Though that might have been the core from which it started. But the reason there have been so many converts is because many moderates and even liberals have listened to arguments from the right and said, “Ya know, that guy has a point, I never thought of it that way.”

    If there were that many conservative to start with, Congress woulda been Republican 40 years ago.

  2. James Joyner says:


    I know it seems that there are a lot of lefties that are poor arguers or who come up with the same hobby horse all the time. But, even if that were more true of lefties in general than conservatives, you only need to find three or four who are good at it to have competition for Limbaugh, et. al.

    And a large part of the Republican takeover of Congress is a labeling issue. Almost all of the GOP representatives from the South would have called themselves Democrats 20-25 years ago.

  3. Chris A. says:

    And yet we still have Ann Coulter banging on about the Liberal conspiracy in the media. Personally, I think the problem is that the media likes to pick things apart, and to find fault, and that’s equated with liberalism in America.

  4. John B says:

    Speaking as a sixties-style, old-fashioned Liberal, I have learned in recent years to just keep quiet about things. Much of what we tried to do was screwed up from the jump. What wasn’t screwed up from the beginning got that way in time. Most people don’t remember, but in the late sixties there was no such thing as a “Left”. There was a “Right”, sure enough (who could forget AuH2O?)but the various “movements” were splintered into women’s lib, civil rights, anti-war, nuclear disarmament, and a mess of smaller categories. Politically, the spectrum ran from second-generation red diaper babies, to naive college kids that thought it was cool to burn bras and draft cards with no idea what it might be all about. SDS published the Port Huron Statement but not a lot of people ever read or knew what it said. Mostly the movement was about stirring up some controversy and railing about the injustices of war, racial discrimination, poverty and the rest of the usual list of social and economic contradictions on the body politic. Even the civil rights movement was fragmented into a quarrelsome gaggle of individual groups (CORE, SNCC, SDS, NAACP, SCLC, SSOC, Black Panthers, and permutations of various socialist-communist-Trotsky-Maoist outfits) each claiming to have a silver bullet for every problem.

    Only after the assinations (JFK, MLK, RFK) did today’s so-called “Left” get born. Clearly it was better to hang together than hang separately.
    The Movement got together, but it also got stained by sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. Individual nobilities gave way to a kind of hedonistic, nihilistic collective groaning. After Woodstock a lot of people got more interested in forming an “alternative” society rather than ameliorating the problems of the one we had. From that point on it was down hill.

    The Clinton presidency was the end of the line, representing all that was good and all that was foul about the liberalism of the Sixties. He was the culmination of that whole era. It is fitting that the fall of the Soviet Union, the tragedy of September 11, and the emergence of an Global American Empire serve as a historical bookmark to whatever comes next.

    All this prating about “Liberal” this and “Conservative” that is a tiresome waste of time and energy. Our next effort must involve a shift of understanding. And that is why there will not be any “Liberal” talk show hosts. There is no longer a liberal constituency, and the people that we have to listen to now waving the flag as they dog liberals exhibit the kind of leadership that says Find a parade and get in front of it.

  5. John Lemon says:

    …but I find Ann Coulter to be very hot.

  6. John Lemon says:

    A gentlemanly challenge for you. How about posting a ranked list of national conservative talk show hosts based upon how well they argue their points. And perhaps suggest a list of possible leftist commentators who would either be (a) entertaining hosts; and/or (b) good arguers. I will try to do the same on my blog. I can’t right now since I’m watching the Braves game.