Hugh Hewitt
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It is the best of times. It is the best of times.

Talk radio is under assault. Again. So is Bill Belichick. Both will survive and prosper. (Though as a Cleveland Browns fan, I'd have greatly preferred the latter to have begun his run of success a few years earlier.)

A near-unbroken wall of sound has opposed John McCain's rise in the Republican primaries, an effort led by the most influential broadcaster in America --Rush Limbaugh.

But it wasn't just Rush. It was Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, and yours truly.

Only my friend and colleague Michael Medved supported McCain among talkers with audiences in the seven figures. Neal Boortz threw in with his Fair-Tax toting ally Mike Huckabee. (Bill Bennett has maintained a balanced neutrality throughout.)

The Black Knights of the MSM have been quick to declare talk radio a ruin of its former powerful self because Senator McCain appears to have drawn the inside straight he needed to be on stage on the last night of the GOP Convention in St. Paul. But as is so often the case, the MSM is wrong and wildly so.

If anything, talk radio's audience has been growing in numbers and time-spent-listening since summer. My blog visitorship is just one measure of my audience, and it hit an all-time high for readership in January with more than 1.5 million visitors, and its readership is a fraction of radio audience listenership. I can only imagine how Rush's 20 million has zoomed, and the others' audiences as well. Not only are we covering the most interesting political story in many years, we are part of that story.

"But McCain is winning," the critics sputter. "You must be losing!"

Well, no. Not at all. Only about 10 million Republicans have voted thus far. More than six million of them have not voted for John McCain. The conservative vote is split, not gone. Some of it is even with Senator McCain because of his stalwart support of victory in Iraq. Some of it isn't registered as Republican.

But all of it is still listening. And most of it is still hungry for information and analysis.

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Hugh Hewitt

Hugh Hewitt is host of a nationally syndicated radio talk show. Hugh Hewitt's new book is The War On The West.