Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh began his Thursday afternoon program by addressing the possibility that he and such other well-known conservatives as Sean Hannity and Mark Levin might moderate debates of Republican primary candidates during the 2016 election cycle as a departure from the previously biased questioning at such events by obviously liberal journalists.
“I don’t see how I can do it,” he stated. “I’m too famous,” and he added that his presence would “overshadow” the event, though Limbaugh admitted that deciding whether to take part in a radio debate “would be a real, real, real tough call” since “it could get ratings.”
The conservative icon then noted that “some people misunderstood and thought that it was moderating debates on mainstream TV networks. That would never happen. These would be debates that are strictly for a conservative Republican media and audience.”
“When I say I'd be a distraction, I'm talking about the media reporting at the end of it more on me and trying to poke holes at me than what the candidates are saying,” Limbaugh explained. “That's all I mean.”
He continued by stating that “it's a joke to say I'm too famous. What I mean is that I'm a route for these people to discredit everybody.”
However, Limbaugh discussed the subject at greater length while responding to a call from Jeff in Shrewsbusy, Mass., who claimed that the only candidate the radio talk show host would not overshadow is former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, whom the caller said “is the only one that eyes would want to see, what she was saying, too.”
The conservative host acknowledged that Palin would be a strong candidate and further stated:
The thinking about this is that if you put these Republicans with, I don't want to say “like-minded,” but put them with people who are not automatically adversarial, who are not trying to defeat them, who aren't treating them as suspects out of the box, that they might blossom.
“We might get a little bit more out of who they really are rather than the defensive, don't want to offend anybody, don't want to upset anybody way they behave with Democrat moderators,” he added.
Limbaugh stressed that while he would likely be a distraction, he couldn't really overshadow the candidates “because I'm not running.”
Now, it may well be that after one of these debates, people will say: “Well, why don't you run?” I'm not running.
While returning from a commercial break, the host stated that his staff had been “just jumping all over me here on what they think is my reluctance to accept the role of moderator of a debate. And I'm having more fun toying with everybody on this.”
“Anyway, I don't think that it'd ever happen” even though “I fully understand the value in it,” he continued.
The conservative radio host then turned his attention to potential candidates for the 2016 presidential campaign:
We could have the first Hispanic president, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. We could have the first female president, Sarah Palin. We're not short of potentially good candidates here.
However, Limbaugh said that any Republican who wants to run for the White House must ask the question: “Who wants the media anal? Who wants to be treated as a suspect, and who wants to have everything about their lives destroyed by the media?”
As expected, the reaction to a proposal of having conservative media figures host a GOP presidential debate was met with underwhelmed emotion from people in the liberal media.
Dylan Byers of Politico claimed that “politically speaking, a Limbaugh-, Hannity- or Levin-moderated debate would likely be a disaster. It would pull the candidates far to the right, which is exactly the sort of thing the establishment wants to avoid.”
Obviously, Byers is unaware of the fact that party primaries tend to bring out the more passionate voters on both sides of the political aisle.
Also, he actually claimed that “Republican hopefuls could win points among the base by arguing with MSNBC's Chris Matthews but would win no points by arguing with the kings of talk radio.”
Following this logic, liberal Democrats could “win points” with their base by taking part in debates moderated by conservative Republicans, which will undoubtedly never happen.
Alex Weprin of the TVNewser website had a positive suggestion on the matter. Instead of focusing on radio talk show hosts, conservatives should push for journalists like Bret Baier or Chris Wallace to do the honors, even though such a move would undoubtedly result in the “mainstream” media yet again slamming Fox News Channel, their place of employment, as being too conservative.
As NewsBusters previously reported, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus is one of the people floating the idea of a conservative-moderated debate as part of his attempt to get NBC and CNN to abandon the networks' plan to air documentaries on Hillary Clinton just in time for the 2016 presidential election.
Regardless of the outcome, it's interesting to see that the very Democrats who refused to participate in a presidential debate on Fox News Channel in 2008 are now forced to consider that their lock on political discourse every four years might finally be coming loose.
After all, how much worse could questions from Limbaugh, Hannity or Levin be than the ones forced on the GOP candidates in the last presidential cycle, when liberals were the only ones leading the debate? As Limbaugh said, this event would draw the interest of many people who are fed up with such one-sided discussion, and the ratings would undoubtedly speak for themselves.