(Americans recently learned the Obama administration’s Internal Revenue Service has targeted tea party groups and other conservative organizations. The Tea Party movement, that helped sweep many constitutional conservatives into office was heavily driven by talk radio, as described in this excerpt from The Right Frequency: The Story of the Talk Radio Giants Who Shook Up the Political and Media Establishment, available for a special deal on Amazon through Memorial Day. Click here to purchase.)
During the Obama years, talk radio played a vital role in the formation of the Tea Party movement. They railed against a Democratic health care bill that eventually passed. They also were leading advocates for Republicans during the 2010 elections, which led to a new majority in the House.
“I think talk radio helped catalyze the tea party movement. It would be absolutely shortsighted and ignorant of me to think there would be no tea party if there was no talk radio because our history is full of historic populist movements,” Michael Harrison of Talkers Magazine said.
“Populist movements such as the tea party go all the way back to the original tea party in Boston,” Harrison continued. “They didn’t have talk radio then. Wouldn’t it be just absolute arrogance on my part being a booster and a fan of talk radio to say if it were not for talk radio there would be no tea party? How the hell did the world exist before talk radio if that’s the case. The answer is no. There would still be tea parties. And there would still be populist movements.”
Talk radio did become more popular and influential, enough so to send much of the left into fits. Bill Clinton talked about how dangerous talk radio can be in a speech to the Center for American Progress.
“This tea party movement can be a healthy thing if they’re making us justify every penny of taxes we’ve raised and every dollar of public money we’ve spent. But when you get mad, sometimes you wind up producing exactly the reverse result of what you say you are for,” the former president said. “Before the [Oklahoma] bombing occurred, there was a sort of fever in America. …We didn’t have blog sites back then, so the instrument of carrying this forward was basically the right-wing radio talk-show hosts, and they understand early that emotion was more powerful than reason most of the time.”