Broadcasters go where the money is. If a liberal could draw the kind of listeners -- and hence the kind of advertising dollars -- as Limbaugh, he too would be on more than 600 stations. This is why Spanish-language radio is such a growth commodity. Not because broadcasters have an agenda to Hispanicize America, or because there's a structural imbalance that favors Spanish-language over German- or French-language programming, but because there's an audience for it.
The Center for American Progress wants to short-circuit the market. Having bureaucrats determine whether radio stations are serving the public interest is inherently dangerous. There are times -- like now, in the debate about the immigration bill -- when Democrats and Republicans in Washington will agree that conservative talk radio is not serving the public interest because it brings to the table public sentiment that the establishment prefers to ignore.
The report avoids directly calling for a renewal of the constitutionally dubious Fairness Doctrine that mandated equal time for conservative and liberal opinions, although some Democratic lawmakers aren't so circumspect. After five years of opposing most assertions of government power to fight terrorism, these liberals are ready to wield it to fight conservative talk radio. After maintaining that the First Amendment protects nude dancing, they are ready to argue that it doesn't quite apply to people broadcasting conservative views over the airwaves.
In our toxic contemporary politics, it's a sign of success if you drive your opponents batty. Rush Limbaugh might be a structural imbalance, but his critics appear simply imbalanced.
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