Liberal radio host: Media Matters’ anti-Limbaugh campaign hurt progressive talk radio

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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On CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday, the publisher of Talkers magazine and a prominent progressive TV and radio host refuted the idea that Media Matters for America’s campaign against Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity caused Cumulus to consider dropping the two talk stars.

“Reliable sources” Patrick Gavin and his guests explored the current debate over whether, and why, Cumulus might be considering letting Limbaugh’s show and Hannity’s go from some of their larger radio stations.

Michael Harrison, editor and publisher of talk radio trade publication Talkers magazine, said categorically that this was not a political backlash against Limbaugh and Hannity, as some — including Media Matters head David Brock — are suggesting. He said the decision is more of a radio business deal.

“It’s clearly a radio deal,” Harrison said. “It has nothing to do with the future of conservative talk radio. It has nothing to do with the future of Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. It just is a deal between two giant radio companies trying to negotiate whether they’re going to continue to be in business together. Politics makes strange bedfellows in radio, and they’re two competing companies that also work together — Clear Channel and Cumulus.”

“They’re just trying to come up with a deal,” Harrison added. “And all of these public proclamations about Rush Limbaugh’s ratings are down or the conservative movement is drying up and all that — that is the politicization of this situation. In fact, it’s just a deal. They’re not going to be dropped from the air. If they don’t come up with a deal with Cumulus, they’ll be on Clear Channel stations or any other companies that would love to have the two biggest attractions in talk radio, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.”

Thom Hartmann, host of “The Big Picture” on the RT television network and a popular left-leaning talk radio host, agreed. Hartmann said he didn’t see the specter of Cumulus dropping conservatives Limbaugh and Hannity as a victory for progressive talk radio, but just the “further vertical integration of the radio industry.” But he did say Media Matters’ attempt to hit Limbaugh in the pocketbook was hurting the entire industry, including progressive talk radio.

“David Brock and Media Matters were leading the boycott-Limbaugh crusade, which did presumably some damage to Limbaugh’s show,” Hartmann said. “I can tell you it did a lot of damage to progressive talk radio because a lot of advertisers right across the board said, just pull me out of all talk radio. So I don’t know Limbaugh’s numbers, but I do know on our side of it that progressive radio took a hit as a consequence of that.”

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