Levin vs. Frum

by Brien Jackson

I don’t think this is as bad as everyone else seems to, neither Frum nor Levin come off all that well, but at first blush neither comes off all that poorly either. Indeed, it really sounds like something you could see at any point of the day on cable news. But I did find one thing rather interesting; Levin’s admitted refusal to link to Frum’s website. That’s generally a no-no on the internet, and Frum audibly chuckles, I suspect immediately recognizing how cowardly such a thing really is. But also, it underscores something I’ve been thinking of for some time, the general limitations of radio as a medium to political discourse, and the effect that it’s had on the right as a result.

One thing the internet has going for it is that it’s very hard to ignore other points of view. It can have a distorting effect, to be sure, as any confluence of political junkies is apt to do, but especially in the event you allow people to comment on your writing, the openness of the medium makes it rather hard to cocoon yourself in your own self, and to lose perspective altogether of the overall political debate. Radio really doesn’t afford you that luxury. You’re sitting in a room by yourself talking, basically, to yourself. There just happens to be a microphone in front of you. Yes, people hear what you’re saying, but there’s no feedback, no correction. And, thus, you lose touch with reality. You wind up down the rabbit hole of your own thoughts, and without anything to push back against you, you ultimately lose touch with objective reality completely.

Now I think the fact that Levin is refusing to read Frum’s paper or link to his site is proof that this is exactly the way talk radio wants it, which is another post in and of itself, and that’s why talk radio is a problem for the Republican Party. When the loudest elements of your constituency are actively walling themselves off from reality, you get stuck in an impossible situation; play to the broader electorate and agrivate the conservative movement, or play to the latter and look like totally out of touch cray people to everyone else.