NYTimes Reporter Clueless That Huckabee's Radio Show Ended Months Ago

May 10th, 2014 11:30 AM

You can’t make it up.

Does New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich actually listen to talk radio? And is Congressman Mike Rogers being groomed as the next host in the perpetually losing business that is moderate Republican talk radio – RINO radio? Republican In Name Only Radio. First, Times reporter Leibovich, who recently interviewed Rogers on his upcoming departure from the House to host a talk radio show for Cumulus. Leibovich has well established himself as your basic liberal-agenda guy (all under the guise of objectivity, but of course) with pieces calling the GOP’s California Congressman Darrell Issa a "nuisance"and a "pest" and, in contrast, lavishing praise on Vice President Joe Biden and the "Biden moment."

This time up, Leibovich sits down for a telling chat with Rogers – and telling in more ways than one about Leibovich, Rogers and the ongoing effort to undermine conservative talk radio.

Writing of  Rogers, Leibovich refers to “….Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and Republican presidential candidate who hosts a cable show on Fox News and a radio program for Cumulus.” Leibovich also refers to Rogers as Huckabee’s “new Cumulus colleague.” [see screen capture below]


Mike Huckabee made a particular announcement about his radio show back in November of last year. Politico wrote about the Huckabee story with this headline:

Mike Huckabee radio show ending

Reported Politico on November 27:

Mike Huckabee’s radio show is done, the former Arkansas governor announced on Wednesday.

"The Mike Huckabee Show on radio, which was heard 3 hours a day on over 200 radio stations across the country since April of 2012 will conclude its run at the end of the final show on Thursday, December 12," Huckabee wrote on Facebook.

In other words, Mike Huckabee’s talk show, per the former governor himself, came to an end almost exactly six months ago. Yet this very week, there was reporter Leibovich referring to Huckabee in the pages of The New York Times as someone who “hosts a cable show on Fox News and a radio program for Cumulus.”

No, actually.

Leibovitch appears to be exactly the kind of liberal once described by the conservative novelist/screenwriter Andrew Klavan in 2009 (hat tip to the late Noel Sheppard of NewsBusters) in this article in The Los Angeles Times. Klavan’s article was titled Take the Limbaugh Challenge. It specifically accused liberals as follows:

If you are reading this newspaper, the likelihood is that you agree with the Obama administration's recent attacks on conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh. That's the likelihood; here's the certainty: You've never listened to Rush Limbaugh.

Oh no, you haven't. Whenever I interrupt a liberal's anti-Limbaugh rant to point out that the ranter has never actually listened to the man, he always says the same thing: "I've heard him!"

On further questioning, it always turns out that by "heard him," he means he's heard the selected excerpts spoon-fed him by the distortion-mongers of the mainstream media. These excerpts are specifically designed to accomplish one thing: to make sure you never actually listen to Limbaugh's show, never actually give him a fair chance to speak his piece to you directly.”

Klavan’s point – that liberals who can’t stand Rush have in fact never actually listened to anything other than sound bites or “reports” of what he says from a deliberately distorting media – have often enough been made by Rush himself. The larger issue, of course, is that the liberal critics of talk radio in fact never listen to it.  Scan the net and the phenomenon is easy to spot, with this or that liberal virtually boasting about their refusal to listen.

"I won’t be made to listen to Sean Hannity" wrote this indignant liberal in a stiff letter to the CEO of the Enterprise car rental company. It seems that in taking an Enterprise shuttle to his rental car the shuttle driver was listening to his radio, where Hannity was talking to Oliver North. The angry liberal, feeling trapped, was upset at having to listen to either Hannity or North, not to mention both.

This is, of course, merely the talk radio version of the unending stream of stories out of academia that this or that conservative speaker – Condoleeza Rice at Rutgers is only the latest -  are going to be denied speaking engagements. When it comes to conservatives – in the media or anywhere else – all those tolerant liberals are decidedly disposed not to listen.

The Leibovich mistake in believing Huckabee’s show is still ongoing is contained in an article that is in itself reflective of  another, distinctly related phenomenon. The idea that a moderate Republican version of talk radio is some sort of ratings winner because, well, gee, so many people hate conservatives. Beginning with conservative talk radio.  Note carefully not only Rogers’ words here as transcribed by Leibovich but the venue – the Times.

“Rogers….says he will not try to outrant Limbaugh or outheckle Hannity. He is, after all, a precise-speaking former F.B.I. agent who is close to Speaker John Boehner and not readily identified with any memorable sound bites. When Rogers announced his decision not to run for an eighth term, his colleague on the intelligence committee, Luis Gutiérrez, a Democrat from Illinois, described Rogers as “a voice for moderation and consensus-building.” Which of course raises the question of whether a supposed voice for moderation and consensus-building can possibly succeed in the delirium bins of talk radio. “I’m a bit of a canary in a coal mine,” Rogers told me. “And I am hoping I don’t choke on fumes at the bottom of the shaft.”


(Cumulus CEO Lew) Dickey told him they were not looking for someone to replicate Limbaugh or Hannity. “I think there is room for a more productive, you-might-actually-learn-something kind of talk radio in the marketplace,” Rogers says.

‘I do believe I will be back in public service one day,’ Rogers assures me. I asked him if there were any current radio hosts he might see as role models. “You know, I hate to do it,” he told me, “but the list I would make for you would cause me immeasurable grief.” Is he afraid of including or excluding someone? “Probably both,” Rogers says, still a politician, for now.”

Translation? Aside from the none-too-subtle Rogers slams of Rush as a ranter and Sean as a heckler?

When Rogers says he favors “more productive, you-might-actually-learn-something kind of talk radio in the marketplace” this is yet another slam at conservative talk radio. An indication that Rogers is set to be ….the new Huckabee. Huckabee too pitched his show using the Times as a venue, talking the moderate GOP talk so favored by the liberal media. Answering a question from Times reporter Andrew Goldman that predictably portrayed the GOP as, among other things, anti-gay, Huckabee went right along, talking the moderate talk the liberal media loves to hear. Said the Great Moderate GOP Hope of talk radio as to why he wasn’t running for president in 2012:

The atmosphere (inside the GOP) was so toxic that it would not be an atmosphere in which I would breathe well. There is almost a hyperorthodoxy that is gripping the party that you have to go out and prove that you can be tougher, meaner, more hard-line than anybody else on the stage. It may lead to effective campaigning if the goal is to be the most ideological puritan on the platform…

Huckabee also used the Times as a platform to slam Rush Limbaugh, huffing that “he’s been very critical of me and very wrong.” Rush, of course, is critical of RINOism across the board, so taking on Huckabee was nothing out of the ordinary. In the end,  Huckabee’s moderate GOP patter  wasn’t listened to by conservatives. Predictably the radio show failed. Not that Leibovich was ever listening in the first place. 

Inexplicably, Rogers  - a guy with a profile only among Washington insiders and the voters of his Michigan district - has now signed up for the task of carrying a political idea to radio that has been a consistent loser for the GOP at the ballot box. Presidents Romney and McCain being but the latest example. The Rogers approach to talk radio is in essence the Huckabee approach.  Huckabee launched his show with the tagline: “More conversation, less confrontation.” The not-so-subtle insult here…that Rush and Sean not to mention conservatives in general are not capable of conversation…was easy to spot as a no-sale to its intended audience. Predictably, as many conservatives including this one predicted, Huckabee’s show was doomed to failure. RINO radio was a lousy sell.

Which raises the question yet again. What goes through the heads of the Cumulus chieftain Dickey brothers – Lew and John  – and their seeming addiction to a form of radio that simply fails? A radio sibling of losing moderate GOP presidential candidates?

There is more here that gets headlong into the business decisions of Cumulus. Decisions that in fact are not political but have drawn scathing reviews from industry insiders. While the Cumulus battle with Sean Hannity drew headlines because of Hannity’s high profile, (Hannity fired the Dickeys and went elsewhere) in fact versions of this kind of fight between the Dickeys and others in the Cumulus orbit have been going on all over the country in various markets. Over at industry insider sites like Inside Music Media, Cumulus critic Jerry Del Colliano refers to Cumulus as the “Evil Empire”, regaling readers with detailed horror stories of how the company has done damage to one local franchise after another. Del Colliano’s stories have inevitably seeped into non-industry sites, as here at Breitbart where the focus on the Cumulus ratings plunge becomes a headliner with the money quote that: “Jerry Del Colliano of Inside Music Media says Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey ‘has lost talent, fired what remained,’ and ‘singlehandedly killed talk radio.’”

The Rogers hiring thus becomes inevitably viewed in the framework of the overall operation of Cumulus. Before re-signing Rush Limbaugh, the Dickeys engaged in a pro-longed public attack on Rush, needlessly angering the conservative base that one would have presumed Cumulus wanted for its talk radio audience. This in turn fed an easily predictable backlash towards Huckabee – and with utter inevitability Huckabee’s show failed./p>

Why in the world Rogers would want to jump into this situation and allow himself to be typed, as was Huckabee, as the face of RINO radio is unfathomable in both radio and political terms. RINO radio is unsustainable in the ratings for the exact same reason its political version loses presidential elections. It is perceived as leftism lite, or as Ronald Reagan used to call it, the politics of the “pale pastels” or “fraternal order” Republicans. As Reagan personally demonstrated, it is an approach that is a political loser – and as Huckabee has now confirmed, a talk radio loser as well. Conservatives simply didn’t listen.

Obviously, the New York Times’s Mark Leibovich wasn’t listening either.

About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania.