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Politics, Pundits, and Power

Rush Limbaugh gets 15 million listeners every week. Sean Hannity gets 14 million radio listeners, and 2 to 3 million view his television show. Glenn Beck has 9 million listeners, also with 2 to 3 million watching his TV show. The growing power of radio pundits has become an accepted part of the American landscape. Is this good for American politics, or has this become a tarnished example of the way things ought not to be?rnrnConservative listeners choose talk radio hosts, while liberal listeners typically choose NPR, BBC World, or other programs. The issues covered by different programs vary, but they are current with what is happening and inform their listeners about what is going on. They may also tell their listeners what to think about what is going on.rnrnIs it okay to listen to biased news reporting? There are no easy answers to this question, but as long as radio listeners are aware of the biases, they are not being led to believe something against their will. While the choice of material covered is reflective of those biases, listeners do not seem to mind. rnrnTalk shows do provide news and explanations of what is going on, but they are primarily entertainment. If users want to be informed, they always have the option of seeking out unbiased news sources, perusing the blogosphere, and doing further research to find out about issues from more than one perspective.rnrnWhile it is evident that most talk show listeners do not bother to seek other news sources, but instead rely primarily on their talk shows, there is no evidence that this is detrimental to their understanding of current events. In fact, some studies have shown that listeners of conservative talk shows may actually be better informed about current events than NPR listeners, who typically get a good dose of BBC World News with their radio shows.rnrnThe power of radio hosts may be growing, but it is up to each individual American to determine for himself or herself how big of a problem that actually is.

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