National Public Radio media reporter David Folkenflik has done a very unusual thing: brought the king of commercial talk-radio to the 700-plus affiliates of NPR. As part of a series on their evening show All Things Considered on "Crossing the Divide," Folkenflik profiled Limbaugh as an example of someone who declares he has no interest in compromise. Limbaugh was rebutted, in part, by radio/TV talker Glenn Beck, who worried about divisive talk radio: "I truly believe it's going to be the death of us. It's going to be the death of our industry, and the death of our country, if we don't stop dividing ourselves like this. It's not right." Later, he seems to contradict that a bit.
Folkenflik also relied on to former L.A. Times/Newsweek reporter Tom Rosenstiel, the usual Chairman of the Mainstream Media Party (with the Project for Excellence in Journalism), who unfolded the old smear that talk-radio hosts have no interest in accuracy, unlike the more professional guardians of the public interest in the liberal media elite:
Rosenstiel: "Setting aside the question of whether journalists always achieve their goal of sort of being fair and unbiased, if you get a fact wrong, you pay a cost in the news business."
Folkenflik: "And Rosenstiel says talk radio hosts pay little price — because accuracy is not their goal."
Rosenstiel: "They're not there entirely to elevate or energize the public conversation. They are also often members of a team. They're in that nether world between entertainment, propaganda and journalism."
Yes, Janet Cooke, Mary Mapes, Peter Arnett, they all were "elevating and energizing" public discourse as they lied to their audience and called it "objective news." Those journalists paid a price, but not every damaging (if less flagrantly) inaccurate story makes journalists "pay a price." It would also be difficult to argue that partisan figures in the "objective" media aren't giving the appearance of being "members of a team," especially when (like George Stephanopoulos) they used to be actual members of a governing team.
Anyway, Folkenflik gave Limbaugh his say, and larger sections of Limbaugh's interviews are there to be heard on the website. If they wanted more conservative traffic to NPR.org, this isn't a bad place to start.