My Reply to Peter Funt

As many of you know, Peter Funt discussed in a recent column the relative success of conservative versus liberal talk radio in reaching large audiences.  You can read Peter’s piece here: The Herald published my response today and I am very grateful for that.  You can read it here:  Because the Herald edited slightly my original submission, I am posting it here.

Until I read Peter Funt’s column in Friday’s Herald, I was pretty confident that there really is no such thing as bad publicity, now I’m not so sure. Peter, who is a friend, and has made valuable contributions to my radio show on KRXA, riffed on a recent appearance to explain in print the vaster audience of conservative television and radio hosts relative to their liberal counterparts. While I share some of Peter’s antipathy towards television hosts Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann and agree that conservative listeners are less discerning than liberal ones, he ignores the critical systemic advantage that right-wing hosts have based on conservative ownership and management of most media outlets and he fails to justify his broad swipe at progressive radio.

Starting with our points of agreement, Peter is absolutely right that progressive television and radio hosts spend far too much time and energy debunking the dangerous nonsense in which right-wing hosts traffic. It is now or certainly should be apparent that Limbaugh, Beck, et al., are sociopaths lacking any common decency and with a complete disregard for the truth. Like Peter, I wish some of our hosts on KRXA would stop feeling the need to keep proving this. The real question isn’t whether or why they lie but why a significant cohort of Americans choose to believe them. That is a question that I regularly pose on my show.

I also agree that some of the right-wing hosts are entertaining. They use props. They mock the sick, the less fortunate, people of different races and sexual proclivities. For people whose lives may not be going well, such hosts paradoxically provide both a welcome dose of schadenfreude and legitimize their audiences’ sense of victimization by “elites.”

But Peter refuses to acknowledge that conservative hosts have a huge house advantage. The number of radio station owners has shrunk dramatically over the past 20 years with Clear Channel – also a television station owner – the largest by far. Its founder Lowry Mays is a hard right conservative. Another big player is Viacom/CBS whose CEO Sumner Redstone famously said in 2000 that although he had always been a Democrat, Republicans were better for Viacom and since Viacom was his life he was supporting George Bush for President. Conservative politicians have generally been more congenial to media consolidation than liberals and because media owners tend to be extremely wealthy, they are very receptive to the anti-income and estate tax message that all conservative hosts routinely send. For these reasons, media owners, who ultimately decide what you hear on radio and see on television, favor conservative hosts regardless of ratings.

Finally, Peter simply does not justify his snide dismissal of liberal radio as “better for those behind the microphone than for those expected to sit and listen.” He does not describe any radio shows at all. He ignores the fact that far from expecting our listeners to sit and listen we encourage them to call and challenge us. Most importantly, Peter ignores the excitement and even joyful astonishment that so many KRXA listeners express at finally finding a media outlet that addresses in a forthright and honest manner our nation’s very significant challenges.

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7 Responses to My Reply to Peter Funt

  1. Pingback: Gerrys Blog » Blog Archive » #tweetumfilmecompassiva | Take the Guesswork out of Passiva. | Official blog

  2. Shade says:

    Most conservative hosts view themselves as entertainers selling conservative philosophy for a fee. They care little about the truth and I doubt that even they believe all that they say. Progressive hosts tend to deal more with unsugarcoated reality. They accurately tell us how & where the world is falling apart & they prescribe the bitter pill necessary to correct things.

    Most of us working-class slaves are just too tired to deal with the reality presented by Progressive hosts. When you are already mentally exhausted, it is easier to close your mind to more pain & live on the simplistic “Fantasy Island” conservative hosts create. Unfortunately, this is 180 degrees from the best interests of the working-class & it only serves to make our plight worse.

    At the present time, I don’t see any of this changing unless our economy gets much worse & society collapses. At that point, the entire nation would be ripe for a political power grab & likely it would be the military & the industrial complex behind them that would ultimately take control. The great experiment of democracy will have failed & it would take another revolution to set things right. Given the power of technology to control the masses, I’m not sure that would ever be possible.

    Is there a solution to the dire scenario above? Perhaps. First of all, we must make sound energy decisions that will aid in preventing an economic collapse. Our decisions must not be based on unproven, unscientific fantasy but instead based on technology that has already proven its ability to quickly & effectively help improve the lot of the working-class. (Environmentalists have been telling us for decades that we can run the entire nation’s economy on solar & wind power but reality is that these sources still don’t produce 1% of our nation’s energy. Solar is still ten times as expensive as other alternatives & building additional capacity is EXTREMELY S_L_O_W, dangerous, manpower intensive work. In addition, the sun doesn’t always shine & the wind doesn’t always blow so duplicate generating capacity must always be built unless we are willing to experience blackouts that shut down the nation’s economy periodically.)

    Reality is that only two acceptable fuels are available & ready to use in the quantity necessary to immediately power the U.S.: NATURAL GAS & NUCLEAR (a fuel the oil industry has demonized to environmentalists). The U.S. has more natural gas reserves than the Mid-East has oil but we don’t use it effectively. Much of what we currently use is wasted on generating electricity, something that nuclear fuel can do much more cheaply & efficiently (while generating virtually no C02). Natural gas would be best used as a bridge fuel to power vehicles until greener options emerge. Vehicle manufacturers already know how to inexpensively make dual fuel vehicles that run on either natural gas or gasoline & they they don’t cost much more than present-day vehicles. Natural gas vehicles can be refueled at your home by a small pump that connects to your natural gas line. Burning natural gas instead of gasoline reduces (but not eliminates) the production of C02 & reduces other pollution. The use of natural gas in vehicles would also decrease the trade deficit & help prevent our oil money from being funneled towards radicals that use it against us. In addition, it would help reduce the power of the military industrial complex by reducing our nation’s perceived need for military adventurism throughout the world.

  3. Pingback: My Reply to Peter Funt | KRXA 540 AM | World Media Information

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  6. Denica says:

    Wow, a real article in the MoCo Herald, that IS a story! lmao
    Great job Hal.

  7. Luana says:

    Hal, you and your audience were actually complimented by Funt. He only said that we think for ourselves. You are being way to prickly and finding some enemy where none exists.
    Funt said, “Limbaugh and Beck are polished performers, with enough shtick in the tank to keep truckers engrossed over the long haul, or to rouse tired shift workers on the drive to and from home.” Progressive radio doesn’t generally do schtick, we are looking for solid information on which to base our own opinions.
    I agree with Funt that the progressive side is too reactive, with railing against the latest inflammatory comments made on the right rather than working on Roosevelt style rhetoric to appeal to those “truck drivers and shift workers”, who know they’ve been robbed, but are being led into blaming the wrong people.
    I’m sorry my friend, but it was petty, and divisive of you to take offense at the one line in his excellent editorial that mentioned KRXA.

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