One problem some talk show hosts (cable and radio) will invariably face is that they gain new viewers by being outrageous and pushing the envelope on their content and how it is delivered. They have to keep doing it and top themselves.
For instance, on the left, Keith Olbermann’s initial “Special Comment” a la Edward R. Morrow was notable. But now the Special Comments aren’t that special anymore, and the outrage is commonplace. Even Murrow wasn’t outraged every time he he came on the tube. Similarly, Beck’s combination of political paranoia, televangelist-like delivery and rallying the political faithful could start to wear thin. Has it?
Another issue worth watching is this. As the GOP itself incorporates the talk radio political culture in the way it frames and battles issues — Sarah Palin’s speeches are now essentially snark, sarcasm and some name-calling with few specific policy suggestions that lay out what alternatives the GOP offers while Congressional leaders talk in talk show like sound bytes — competition for pro talkers from politician talkers for those who crave and are motivated by partisan-demonization adrenalin rushes could be a real thing.
To those who aren’t fans of conservative talkers, Bech has made Rush Limbaugh seem absolutely stable, Bill O’Reilly look like a fair journalist and Sean Hannity…still look like Hannity (seemingly using RNC emails in a show that is one big, fat commercial to love Republicans and hate Democrats or mushy moderates).
Of course, ratings go up and down so reports from websites about Beck’s bad ratings may not mean much in coming months,and it’s unlikely the sites touting Beck’s ratings declines will do big posts about how his ratings go way up if they d.
But if Beck does fizzle, Fox will need a loose canon, a surprise a minute, an outrageous comment every show .Someone people love to hate.
Have they called Michael Steele yet?
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Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.