Rush to anxiety?

John Hawkins says he was "very disappointed" to hear Rush Limbaugh (of whom he is a fan) airily dismiss blogging. But had this leading blogger been listening to Rush's competitor, the G. Gordon Liddy Show, he would have heard his very own blog (about bad reporting by the Washington Post) read on the air, and praised by G. Gordon Liddy.

Or, had Mr. Hawkins been listening to Hugh Hewitt, he might also have heard James Lileks (a regular on that show) interviewed on the air.

Or how about Mr. Hawkins' own interview with Hugh Hewitt? In stark contrast to Limbaugh's rather curmudgeonly approach, Hewitt understands the technological implications of blogging, and here is what he said to Mr. Hawkins about its future relationship with talk radio:

John Hawkins: Is there anything else you'd like to say or promote before we finish up?

Hugh Hewitt: Yes, I want to say that I think talk radio is changing. The rising talk stars are Prager, Medved, myself, & Hannity. We're gaining market share really quickly. Rush already has market share, he can't get any bigger -- but who's advancing on him? Michael Savage has had some success, but I don't see that as long lasting. I see the success of Hannity, Prager, Medved, & myself as built upon the new information technology. The smarter the host, the better the show, the greater the audience. Knucklehead radio is going to go away and in its place...if I were a thirty year old like you, I'd find a radio show to match with my blog because the synergy is overwhelming.

Synergy between blogging and talk radio?

Precisely Glenn Reynolds's initial reaction when he first heard the Limbaugh outburst:

I don't actually think that blogging is a threat to talk radio. In fact, I think that the two are synergistic. (So, I suspect, does Limbaugh: I'm not a "Rush 24/7" subscriber, but it sounds a bit bloggy with its "stack of stuff," etc.) But the article is rather dumb and clueless, and deserves to be mocked in the Grandpa-Lou voice.

Eh, sonny boy?

Who is right? Is there a division, (a generation gap, perhaps?) between talk radio and blogging? Or are the two, as Instapundit and Hewitt suggest, synergistic?

I cannot say why Limbaugh attacked blogging, but I thought I should report something which as far as I know has been unreported in the blogosphere, and which should certainly lay to rest any idea of a generation gap between talk radio hosts who "know better" and impertinent young bloggers. Last week, immediately before the Limbaugh broadside, G. Gordon Liddy (aged 73) discussed and praised blogging at length, and read from a number of blogs on the air (specific links are supplied insofar as it was possible; I had to reconstruct this):

Little Green Footballs ("Protocols of the Elders of Zion" being taught as fact at UC Berkeley)

James Lileks (Schwarzeneggar and Episcopal Bishop)

Glenn Reynolds' latest Tech Central Station piece on human enhancement (which Liddy, a life-extension fan whose goal is to hit 120, loved)

Right Wing News (Discussed above)

Scrappleface (Episcopal Church appoints Muslim Bishop)

Matthew Hoy (New York Times misleading war report, citing a private as a "spokesman")

Rachel Lucas (Homeowner hero William Gates shoots neighborhood thugs)

Eugene Volokh (Abourezk slander suit)

Samizdata (Internet taxation)

I think that by any standard, that's an impressive list of blogs for a talk show host to be reading and discussing. Not only that, Liddy faithfully observed blogosphere propriety, crediting Instapundit, Imao and others as link sources. Please remember that this is not a comprehensive list, as I wasn't taking notes and had to reconstruct it from memory.

Let me admit my bias here: I am partial to the Liddy Show and have been listening to the guy for many, many years. Also, I don't have time to keep track of the numerous other talk shows, so I really have no idea what they may be saying about blogging. Nor do I know what motivated Rush Limbaugh to take the offensive; it might have been Hewitt; it might have been Liddy (a Limbaugh competitor since 1993); there might be other talk show hosts relying on blogs, or Limbaugh may fear a new, youthful trend.

Blogger Mitch Berg (link thanks to Instapundit), a guy with an extensive radio background, analyzed the situation, and speculated that Limbaugh may have been annoyed by potential competition into launching a "pre-emptive strike":

Pre-Emptive Strike - And while you're seeing #1, above, remember this; there are talk hosts on the market now that do leverage blogs, and are in tune with how this medium works. Hugh Hewitt's show calls on bloggers (and blogosphere staples like Mark Steyn) for a very large part of his program's content. His show almost sounds like an audio blog; de-centralized, skipping about between issues during the course of an hour, as heavily oriented toward guests as any blog...

...which is very much in counterpoint to Limbaugh's style; Rush is the only voice on his show (barring the very rare interview).

Resentment toward bloggers is not new, of course. Bill O'Reilly went on the offensive not long ago with his remarks that bloggers work for no one and can't be fired.

Blogging is unsurpassed as an idea and information sharing network. Talk radio was a factor which led up to it -- particularly the interactive nature of talk radio. I am a licensed ham radio operator, and some commentators have called ham radio the earliest form of information sharing, the precursor to talk radio and even the Internet. Why anyone would resent technological improvements is beyond me. Just because something is older does not make it better. Age and cluelessness are no defense.

O'Reilly appeared ridiculous when he attacked blogging. And as of right now, Rush is looking very ridiculous. (Link thanks to Instapundit.)

A common criticism of bloggers is that they have too much to say and there are too many of them. This must be very annoying to those accustomed to delivering the last word to millions of unquestioning followers.

Still, why this fear, this anxiety, from a man who is, after all, the Mr. Big of talk radio? If I thought he would listen to a lowly blogger, I would remind him of this quote from baseball great Satchel Paige:

"Don't look back, someone might be gaining on you."

UPDATE: Someone's gaining on Rush, all right! Instapundit was just interviewed on the Hugh Hewitt Show! Boy, I wish I could have heard that one.

Democracy sexy!

posted by Eric on 08.11.03 at 07:44 PM


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Rush to anxiety?:

» The G-Man Mentions Right Wing News from Right Wing News
I did not hear it myself, but according to Classical Values, G. Gordon Liddy read an entire post from RWN [Read More]
Tracked on August 12, 2003 8:07 PM


I didn't know the G-man mentioned me. What did he have to say?

John Hawkins   ·  August 12, 2003 12:14 AM

He read your entire piece on the Washington Post(the one in my link, titled "Where's The WAPO's Accountability?"), and praised it highly -- saying something like, "Here's a blogger who's nailed the Washington Post for inaccurate reporting." Then he used it to praise blogging in general for keeping big media honest. Sorry I can't be more verbatim-accurate; as I do not record the show, and am relying on memory.

Eric   ·  August 12, 2003 12:29 AM

I'm glad Retch Limburger doesn't like blogs. I hope he doesn't like this one. He certainly won't like mine. In the near future, I'm planning to do a piece on his vicious attack on Lawrence and Garner vs. Texas and our right to privacy in our homes. I stopped listening to his dittohead blatherings at least a decade ago.

Steven Malcolm Anderson   ·  August 12, 2003 3:43 PM

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