Senator James Inhofe told talk-radio host John Ziegler that Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton want to introduce legislation aiming to control talk radio. This sounds like the story he told on CQ Radio yesterday, describing a conversation he overheard in an elevator about two "very liberal" Senators complaining about the effect talk radio has in organizing oppositon to their policies. The Senator wouldn't name the names at the time, but Ziegler got him to cough them up later.
It's an interesting story, and in both tellings, Inhofe reminded them that the success of conservative talk-radio shows comes from its market attractiveness. This is, of course, something that drives people like Boxer and Clinton up the wall. They know that audiences flock to conservative talk shows, but with a few exceptions, liberal talk shows don't get those kinds of numbers. Air America has gone bankrupt trying to lease air time for their hosts in the major markets, and no one's listening to them.
If Hillary gets elected President and the Democrats gain a few more seats in Congress, the Fairness Doctrine will return -- and that will end political talk radio. Broadcasters will not risk their licenses in the hoop-jumping that will be required to demonstrate "balance" and "fairness" in political rhetoric, where every interest group will file complaint after complaint in an attempt to harass hosts with whom they disagree off the air. The AM band will revert to self-help shows and promotional broadcasts, or perhaps sports radio will expand even further, but political talk will disappear.
However, we have less to fear from Boxer and Clinton than we do from Trent Lott and others on the center-right who use talk radio as scapegoats for their own failures and frustrations. Lott said much the same thing as Boxer and Clinton did to Inhofe about the effect talk radio has had on the immigration debate. I reminded Inhofe of this, and Inhofe told me that Lott was "wrong" -- and that Lott needed to rethink his criticism. (That comes at around the 50-minute mark of the show.) If the center-right starts attacking talk radio, they will give momentum to the Fairness Doctrine's return.