Published: Personally 2011.02.03 - Opinion
Right Wing Radio station, WPHT 1210 AM, in Philly (the new big fat greek talker, or whatever they are calling themselves now) is Michael Smerconish' flagship. The station went through a purge such that the only Talker not fully Right Wing and over the edge is Smerconish.
The funny thing is - he may be their biggest money maker. (Accenting this fact make be the way to really bring down Right Wing Talk Radio.)
Thursday, Michael Smerconish played audio clip after audio clip of Glenn Beck's Doomsday Predictions one after the other. He started with Beck's take on Egypt. It morphed into a full critique of Beck.
Then he opened the phone lines and challenged his listeners to defend Beck.
Smerconish walked away unscathed. He took callers with venom who tried to talk down to him and attempted to admonish him as an unruly child. One caller he flicked away, Anna, was upset that she thought by her defending Beck's racist tag line about the President hating white people she was somehow being lumped in with other, more common, racists and not regular Glenn Beck supporters. She got on the air a second time and made the claim she was not a racist, and prays for everyone.
A number of Tampa callers (Beck's radio proving ground) related that Beck was an entertainer. But some were split on how much he should be watched or taken seriously. Smerconish even made a bet with one of the callers that at some point in the future Beck will be hawking a new, different Doomsday scenario.
Smerconish' thesis is - Beck is entertaining with facts that are inaccurate. Beck also has a cyclic, ramp-it-up quality to get people to tune in the following day for more Beck "wisdom". Beck has gone so far over the top there is no ceiling left.
Callers reinforced the entertainer motif, combining it with hucksterism that Beck is pushing Gold, Survival Rations, and buying land with water rights. (I wanted to build a fallout shelter after listening to the guy.)
It is not a new position given Jon Stewart's outrageous takes on Beck, but it is who is saying it.
Smerconish used to be a froth-at-the-mouth Right Wing host. Time and events has moved him to the middle. He is also making the point that no one on the Left can fully take on Beck - not Media Matters or Maddow or Schultz or The Keith.
He is essentially saying, because all these folks are on the opposite side of the battle, The Left Blue Army, nothing they say can be taken seriously.
The only way to call Beck out is from either behind the lines of the Right Red Army, or from a sniper post from the middle.
Smerconish has now moved across the lines to a new radio form in no man's land. He is the ONLY purveyor of Moderate Talk Radio. He is the sniper.
(Yes, I realize the media is not a warscape. But it almost seems like a military analogy is proper, if not politically incorrect.)
Because he can attract thinking people to his show - from both sides - he is getting traction.
Look for Smerconish to end up with an hour show on either CNN or MSNBC. When one of the prime time shows eventually fail (they always do), it will be hard to keep this guy off the air. He is ready for prime time.