PEJ Talk Show Index: January 6 - 11, 2008, Top Conservative Talkers Rap Huckabee and McCain

PEJ Talk Show Index: January 6 - 11, 2008, Top Conservative Talkers Rap Huckabee and McCain

With the campaign primary season in full swing, the most popular conservative voices in talk radio last week seemed to take sides in the crowded Republican presidential field.

And they both canted their opinions as a criticism, as they often do, of the mainstream media.

“The drive-by media is doing everything it can to disqualify the true conservatives on the Republican side,” said Rush Limbaugh on his Jan. 11 show. And by his definition, that meant Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson. “What you're being told is the only two candidates left that have any chance whatsoever are McCain and Huckabee, which is exactly what the drive-bys want. They want [a] liberal moderate nominee.”

Sean Hannity delivered the same message on the same day. “There is clearly an effort [by the media] underway, I think, to convince us, the voters, to go for either, say John McCain or Mike Huckabee,” he said. “If you ask me who are the two more liberal candidates in the Republican primary, I would say, it's John McCain and Mike Huckabee.”

If the influence of ideological talk show hosts is often mitigated by the fact that their listeners already share their political leanings, a wide open campaign for President offers a rare test. What impact could they have on the primary races?

Last week, cable and radio talk hosts spent a whopping 75% of their time on the battle for the White House, as measured by PEJ's Talk Show Index from Jan. 6-11. And the two conservative radio talkers with the biggest audiences, (Limbaugh at 13.5 million and Hannity at 12.5 million, according to Talkers Magazine) seemed to be sending listeners clear messages.

Read the full article Top Conservative Talkers Rap Huckabee and McCain on the Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.