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April 17, 2004
Thank God For Liberal Talk Radio

Lately, my Northern Alliance brethren and I have been poking fun at the travails at the hopelessly inept Air America, who can't even get radio air time based on their talent. They have to purchase large chunks of it instead, confirming the lack of a market for their schtick, at least at this time. Despite our schadenfruede at Air America's problems, I have found a reason to be thankful for liberal talk radio in today's Star Tribune:

Stillwater DFLer Janet Robert, who lost to U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy in a heated contest in 2002 and had been expected to try again this year, said Friday that she has decided not to run after all.

Robert said she will devote her full energies to the fledgling Minnesota Production Network (MPN), a corporation she helped start to provide a liberal talk-radio alternative to the often conservative mix.

Robert made her decision at a particularly poor time for the Minnesota DFL (Democrats). She had been the only candidate seeking the DFL endorsement for the race against Kennedy, who proved to be the better campaigner against Robert the last time out. In fact, Robert ran such a nasty and mean-spirited campaign that some credit her ads for assisting the DFL to its worst statewide showing in recent memory when it lost the governorship, one Senate seat, and control of the state House.

Fortunately for Kennedy, her efforts will now focus on a new endeavor -- bringing liberal talk radio to Minnesota:

Robert said she will devote her full energies to the fledgling Minnesota Production Network (MPN), a corporation she helped start to provide a liberal talk-radio alternative to the often conservative mix.

"I made a commitment to talk radio and I realized it was such a big commitment of time that I couldn't focus on both of them," she said. "Talk radio was more important than one congressional campaign, and I have to make sure it succeeds first."

It seems to me that Roberts has her priorities a bit mixed up, or else she's not telling the entire truth. While I love being involved in talk radio, there's no question in my mind that between capturing a seat in Congress from the opposing party and setting up a radio show, I pick winning a seat in Congress every time. The entire point of political talk radio is to promote your political philosophy so that you can convince listeners to support candidates who match your positions. If you can successfully get to Congress, doesn't that matter a lot more than simply talking about it?

I'll put it another way. Let's say I have the talent and opportunity to play major-league baseball for at least a couple of seasons. Would it make sense for me to pass that up in order to start a local sports page? Of course not! A much more likely explanation is this:

The Sixth District frames the metro area on the north, extending from Washington County in the east to Stearns and Benton counties in the west. The Cook Political Report recently rated the district "solid Republican," but DFL state party Chair Mike Erlandson said the district also has more swing voters than any other in the state. Much will depend, he said, on the presidential race and the economy.

Combine the demographics with Robert's reputation from her last run -- talk was that the delegates to the convention were likely to reject her even if she was the only candidate -- and you have a much better idea why Robert has decided that radio is the better part of politics, at least for her. Typically, she's cast her decision as a crusade against those eeeeeeeeevil conservatives who appear on talk radio ... such as myself, I would assume:

"If you look at how Republicans have used their right-wing radio stations to lie about the state of the economy, the war in Iraq and health care, you know about the power of the media," she said. "We're trying to get one station dedicated full time to the truth."

Sounds like a re-emergence of Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy paranoia, but if it keeps her out of Congress, I'm all for it!

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 17, 2004 6:21 PM

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