Liberals may want to insist on the "Fairness Doctrine" as a business strategy, since liberal talk is barely moving the ratings needle. The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz reported Monday that "President Obama may be riding high in Washington, but OBAMA 1260 is not. The area's only progressive talk station is changing formats, dropping such syndicated liberal hosts as Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller and Bill Press in favor of financial news, starting next week."
Technically, Kurtz is wrong, excluding NPR affiliate WAMU (which airs a number of liberal talk shows and zero conservative ones) and radical Pacifica station WPFW. It would have been more accurate to say the area’s only commercial "progressive" talk station, the only one that doesn’t take our tax dollars. Kurtz continued:
Program Director Greg Tantum says he thought the station could work because of enthusiasm over Obama, but that ratings collapsed to a level that could not be measured after the election. But ratings nearly doubled, he says, at...conservative station, WTNT, which features Laura Ingraham and Bill Bennett. Tantum said he will move Schultz to WTNT to give him another shot.
This is why a "Fairness Doctrine" sounds like the Radio Recession Act in the middle of a tough economy. If conservative shows are hot (in part because liberals control Washington), why would you impose liberal talk shows that can’t be meaured by ratings meters? How are station owners supposed to keep people in their jobs with an add-losing-shows formula?
Kurtz also wrote that he’d been granted more of a view at excerpts of John Ziegler’s Sarah Palin interview for his new documentary on "Media Malpractice," complete with a photo displaying his Web address:
While Palin says it was her responsibility to "fight my way through the filter," she challenged the way CBS's Katie Couric and ABC's Charlie Gibson interviewed her during the campaign. She said there was nothing wrong with her asking Gibson what he meant with a question about the "Bush doctrine," which she was widely seen as having bobbled.
Palin also objected to Couric "bugging me" about abortion. The anchor had asked whether the procedure should be illegal for a 15-year-old raped by her father, and pressed Palin several times to offer a position on the morning-after pill.
"They didn't take my word for it when I would express my opinion, they would seek to want to ask a question to twist what I had just said and turn it into maybe what their opinion was about what I should said," Palin said of the anchors.
Kurtz suggests that the repeated abortion questions were because Palin "can be vague when she doesn’t want to be pinned down. The onetime sports reporter's view of journalism seems to be that once she is asked questions, her answers should be taken at face value."
Can't Kurtz acknowledge that sometimes hostile reporters ask a question several times because they're trying to tease out an embarrassing answer? Does he remember many examples of Barack Obama be pressed to answer an abortion question several times over by Charlie Gibson or Katie Couric? Let's not be ridiculous.