Time Mag Flashback 1995: 'Is Rush Limbaugh Good for America?'

September 19th, 2009 12:14 PM

As NewsBusters reported Thursday, Time magazine this week published a rather lengthy article entitled, "Mad Man: Is Glenn Beck Bad for America?"

It turns out this piece is in the upcoming September 28 issue with Beck himself on the cover next to the headline, "Mad Man: Glenn Beck and the angry style of American politics" (pictured right).

Apparently, this is somewhat of a retread for Time, for back in 1995, the magazine asked more positively on its January 23 cover, "Is Rush Limbaugh Good for America?"

The sub-headline read, "Talk radio is only the beginning. Electronic populism threatens to short-circuit representative democracy." The interior article offered some rather ominous insights concerning the direction of this medium and how the Left might combat it (h/t City Journal via Hot Air):

The true masters are motormouths like Hamblin, Boortz, Hannity -- and the supremo, Rush Limbaugh, whose syndicated sermon is attended by 20 million people a week on 660 stations. Talk radio trails only country music as the nation's most pervasive format; it commandeers more than 15% of the fragmented audience. More than 1,000 talk stations (up from 200 ten years ago), and hundreds more with Evangelical Christian commentators, deliver hot chat to an avid constituency. About half of all American adults listen to the format at least once a week for at least an hour, according to Talkers magazine.

The article continued:

E-mail and other tech talk may be the third, fourth or nth wave of the future, but old-fashioned radio is true hyperdemocracy. Very hyper. Like the backyard savants, barroom agitators and soapbox spellbinders of an earlier era, Limbaugh & Co. bring intimacy and urgency to an impersonal age. "If we still gathered at town meetings, if our churches were still community centers," says Marvin Kalb, former CBS reporter who is teaching at George Washington University, "we wouldn't need talk radio. People feel increasingly disconnected, and talk radio gives them a sense of connection."

What's new is that today the radio rightists are wired into the political process. In 1994 the scream rose to the top. These fervent spiels, in which we heard America slinging, stinging, cajoling, annoying, persuading, finally transformed the social dialogue. In a 1993 poll by the Times Mirror Center for the People and the Press, 44% of Americans named talk radio as their chief source of political information. Listeners tend to be white, male and hep to conservative ideas -- just the audience the Republicans wanted to mobilize.

As the piece moved to a conclusion, it asked some prescient questions: 

Will the mood of radio listeners change? Can the hot-talk hosts continue to squirt scalding water on the body politic without one group or the other crying "Enough!"?

One group is indeed crying "Enough!"

That would be Democrats and their current media minions who regularly decry Limbaugh, Hannity, et al as racists while they advocate a reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine to shut them down.

Lest we not forget Time magazine now asking over fourteen years later, "Is Glenn Beck Bad for America?" 

It appears Time's had enough, too.