How talk radio is handling the presidential election. That's the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
It is estimated that 47 million Americans listen to talk radio each week. And the radio airwaves are dominated by conservative hosts, people like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
There are many reasons for this. The mainstream media — print and TV — is largely liberal, so talk radio gives conservatives a voice, so to speak.
Liberal radio networks like Air America have been disasters, with low ratings and even lower presentations.
So throughout the USA, radio talk tilts right. There's no question about it.
This evening we will look at how three conservatives and three liberals — all of whom bloviate on the radio — are handling the presidential race. What are the rules? Can you say anything about candidates you don't like? Can you shill for somebody you support? We'll zero in on those questions.
Also, do talk radio hosts have a responsibility to be honest? Or can they embrace propaganda? Is that legitimate?
On my program "The Radio Factor" we do not endorse candidates, and we criticize all of them. Even when we disagree with candidates, we treat them fairly. You saw that last night when NBC News distorted Bill Clinton's "fairy tale" remark. We called them on it, even though Hillary Clinton is not exactly a big fan of mine.
There is no question that President Bush benefited from talk radio, and Bill Clinton overcame talk radio in their presidential campaigns. So this year, anything could happen.
One further comment: "Talking Points" will go after political candidates whom we believe to be dishonest or irresponsible.
This season John Edwards has taken a beating on "The Factor" because we do not buy his "two Americas" nonsense. Mr. Edwards has consistently demagogued the economy, distorting many facts and ignoring others. So he has gotten hammered by me.
But there's nothing personal in that. My determination is based upon what is real and what is hype. I believe John Edwards is hype.
Be that as it may, other talk show hosts have other people in their sights, and during the next hour we will find out who is doing what to whom.
And that's "The Memo."
Pinheads & Patriots
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a billionaire who now presides over the City of New York.
In 2007 the mayor gave $205 million to more than a thousand charities. Wow, no question Mayor Bloomberg is a patriot.
On the pinhead front, Tom Cruise is the subject of a new book that concentrates on his Scientology efforts, part of which wound up on the Internet.
Now I don't know Mr. Cruise. I have no beef with Scientology. Everybody knows what it is. But that display put Mr. Cruise in the pinhead category.
By the way, we'll have the author of the Cruise book, Andrew Morton, on "The O'Reilly Factor" this Thursday.