Overplayed Hands, Herschel Walker, and Podcasts
I had a mortifying moment on the radio yesterday. I had put new braces on about twenty minutes before. My orthodontist is insistent I keep the Invisalign in as much as possible. I never wear them on air, but he’s gotten pushy. I kept them out the first two hours, put them in for the third hour during the commercial break, and then stabbed my tongue on the braces and scrambled two words into one that sounded very distinctly not nice. The braces were out in the next commercial break and even while most people didn’t hear it, well ugh. I hate it when stuff like that happens.
Nowadays, on television and radio, if you’re a conservative you just know some group on the left will come after you for something like that. You can explain and apologize, but sometimes it won’t matter. Look at what happened to Amber Athey. The leftwing attack machine against conservative talkers was pioneered in part by Eric Boehlert during his time at David Brock’s Media Matters. He was the sort of man who truly believed the press has a conservative bias and worked overtime to push it further left. Boehlert left Media Matters some time ago and went on to be a “media critic” and appear on television attacking the press for being, for example, more negative to Biden than Trump.
My mortifying moment on the radio yesterday came about the time news started circulating Boehlert had been tragically killed in a cycling accident. He leaves behind his wife and family. I had been a target of Boehlert’s more than once and was obviously very much to his right, but the man was indisputably good at what he did and it is terrible to hear the news.
Many reporters and blue checks on Twitter are mourning Boehlert’s loss in the same way many of us on the right mourned Rush Limbaugh or would mourn someone on the right. From Jon Stewart to Hillary Clinton, they are upset at his passing. I have not seen the nasty invective against Boehlert like many of those mourning him directed at the right when Rush died. I suspect that invective is there. I just haven’t seen it (yet).
Boehlert and Media Matters were progenitors of modern cancel culture. They would take audio or video of conservative talkers and use the snippets, excerpts, and often out-of-context clips to vilify their partisan opponents. They were, for a time, quite effective with sympathetic producers at CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC. Their efforts morphed over time into the leftwing mobs we see today. Media Matters still obsesses over Ben Shapiro.
All of this comes as the same blue checks and reporters mourning their friend who really did pioneer smearing conservatives in the digital age are also upset with conservatives smearing opponents of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act as “groomers” and “pedophiles” or enablers of the same. If anything, those on the right doing that are just applying the lessons pioneered by progressives who for years have inappropriately accused others of racism, etc. Heck, just yesterday the Chairman of the DNC was on MSNBC accusing the GOP of fascism and called Senator Tom Cotton, who served his country honorably in the military, a “maggot-infested man.”
As I said on my radio show yesterday, I’m not going to use the “groomer” and “pedophile” labels on the Florida legislation’s opponents. I understand and am sympathetic to the impulse, but I think there are plenty of reasons some people opposed the legislation without thinking they are groomers or pedophiles. I noted on Twitter that I’m okay with the rightwing smears, but I’m not sure I am as okay as I tweeted.
I mean that I get the impulse even if I don’t want to fall into it. The left poll-tested and used the “Don’t Say Gay” label on the law as a way to avoid having to talk about the actual content of the law while trying to make it unpopular with voters. The media went along with it and even now attacks conservatives through willfully dishonest framing. The right’s response is to say they just don’t want to admit they support teaching kindergarteners about anal sex, which most people do oppose. If they support that, they really are trying to normalize those conversations, which in turn does make it easier for those who would groom and abuse kids. If anything, the press and left have truly been caught off guard by just how popular the legislation is with voters, including Democratic primary voters in Florida.
Additionally, the counter-attack hysteria from the left is all very clearly coordinated in some slack channel somewhere. Just two days ago, the Washington Post, Vice, The Week, New York Magazine, MSNBC, and CNN all ran stories on the exact same day trying to tie the GOP “groomer” charge to QAnon, etc. That many stories on a single day from that many national news outlets is not organic. That’s talk points coordination. Hell, the Washington Post ran two separate stories on the same day about the same topic — one in the politics section and one in the education section.
Concurrently, however, I think if we call all of them groomers and pedophiles, we are no better than they are and conservatives have a long-standing issue with the left using “racist” for everything thereby devaluing what actual racism is. I don’t want the word “racism” devalued and I don’t want to devalue what it means to actually groom a child for abuse.
I’m not going to stomp my foot and attack conservatives who’ve given in on this. I get it. I do. I think much of the left and media are on the same side and fall for each others’ talking points too easily, which has caused a lot of antagonism from the right to finally boil over. Again, look at the reporters, editorialists, etc. who are mourning their friend Eric Boehlert, who passionately articulated that the press is too captured by the right. They run in the same circles, tend to possess the same worldview, and are less and less open to competing information or showing grace to anyone outside their views. I don’t really want to give in to the impulse to be like them. We should not be like them. We should provide an alternative to people who see that behavior and dislike it.
But I get it.
I have an additional fear on this too. I have been around enough to see both sides overplay their hands on these issues. At this point, we have progressive trans-rights teachers on TikTok explaining in graphic terms how they’re going to keep indoctrinating our kids, and now fringe conservative members of Congress suggesting some of their fellow Republicans are pro-pedophile over political disagreements. I’d prefer it if the conservatives took one step back to make sure we don’t overplay our hand on an issue that resonates outside the DC/NYC progressive bubble. The left/media is so far off on this issue, we can keep scoring wins on it if we are smart and not shrill.
We’ve won this fight. There is more to do. Getting as shrill as them undermines the effort of those like Ron DeSantis who got this across the finish line.
Well, I rocked the boat on Herschel Walker. Here’s my tweet:
Here’s what I know from talking to senators, staffers, and outsiders helping take the Senate.
Everyone believes Herschel Walker can win in a really bad year for Democrats and it is a really bad year for Democrats. Warnock is vulnerable. Walker is even beating Warnock among bad pollsters to the extent Warnock is already up with ads making himself look good.
But also, the consensus is Walker’s team is not really prepared for what the Democrats and media are going to do to Walker. They may think they are, but from those I have talked to, they don’t really think that is the case. They are privately resigned to losing Georgia even as they, again, know Walker can pull it off just by flowing with the coming wave.
Essentially, what I’m being told is from the Senate GOP perspective Arizona, Nevada, and New Hampshire, even with unsettled fields, are going to be easier lifts than Georgia. If they have a limited amount of money, that money is going to go to easier lifts and they are not confident, once the attacks come, Walker can withstand them.
That said, and it is worth emphasizing, Walker can win in a bad year; this is a very bad year for Democrats; and Warnock is already up with ads, which suggests Warnock knows he is in trouble. Warnock, a pro-amnesty and pro-illegal immigrant politician, is railing against the end of Title 42. That says a lot.
Walker, however, has a ton of baggage and these prominent Republicans fear a lot of suburban white voters who are not diehard UGA fans might just skip the first race on the ballot, which will be the Walker vs. Warnock race. Remember, 427,205 Republicans stayed home in January 2021 because they thought the race was going to be stolen. How many are going to stay home after being hit with multiple ads about all the people Walker wanted to murder? Don’t think it’ll happen? Alabama is redder than Georgia and elected Democrat Senator Doug Jones just four years ago. Senate Republicans are worried Walker is the second coming of Roy Moore.
Walker’s opponents are going to spend the next two months trying to get him into a runoff. His public polling has declined. But there isn’t much time for any of his Republican opponents to stop him.
To placate the Walker fans, yes, everyone concedes in a brutal year for Democrats, which this one so far is, Walker can cross the finish line first. But why invest a ton of resources on him when Arizona, Nevada, and New Hampshire just might be easier pick ups that cost less money?
I have strong opinions on podcasts. Most of them suck and have terrible audio from people who are not deeply entertaining or insightful. The market is an inch deep, twenty billion miles wide, and saturated in sh*t.
The number of people who tell me to do a podcast when I have a three-hour-a-day radio program that ably converts to a podcast with, in my primary market, the best ratings in talk radio, gets annoying. But if I do a new podcast, it’ll be a good and listenable podcast because I’m a radio guy who knows that is what you need for it to be successful.1
But I have a new pet peeve. The number of printed word institutions that have decided to take a bunch of people with faces for radio and voices for print and turn them into podcasters is too much.
If I go to a newspaper for news, please put it on the printed page so I can skim it. I don’t need your twenty minute rambling to get to the five hundred words of useful insight. Too many print outlets and digital outlets are expanding into podcasts to make money off you. It’s all about monetization, not about the user-friendliness, appropriateness, or quality of the content.
There are some great podcasts out there. I listen to some of them. I think podcasting has peaked and revenue is a lagging indicator. The majority of the top podcasts are from entertainers and outlets that have been doing it for some time with a specific focus on spoken word content. It is hard to get traction for new podcasts, though it happens.
Primarily, however, new podcasts from new outlets are coming online not to benefit users, but to provide a new revenue stream for the content producer. It shows and it is not good.
I’d really appreciate it if the printed page products of America, online and off, would stop trying to force me to listen to a podcast to learn the information better put on the printed page of those products as one might expect from a blog, substack, or newspaper.
My flagship station ended 2021 with the highest ratings of any talk station in the country and my show on that station in 2021 had higher ratings than the Rush Limbaugh Show in 2020. I feel like I know what I’m talking about here.