Conservative Talk Radio 'Clearly Damaging America,' Liberal Group Says

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - Democracy Radio, one of the liberal groups that wants to boot Rush Limbaugh off Armed Forces Radio, sees radio as the route to voters' hearts.

"With the full support of right wing organizations, conservative talk show hosts now are clearly playing a critical role in shaping the attitudes of many Americans which, in turn, are having an effect on the outcome of elections," Democracy Radio says on its website.

"As long as elections continue to be as close as the presidential election of 2000, talk radio will continue to play a meaningful role."

Democracy Radio -- along with Media Matters for America and other liberal groups -- is trying to counter the influence of conservatives such as Limbaugh by "developing, funding and launching compelling progressive talk radio programming that will compete and succeed within the challenging marketplace of talk radio."

The result is the Air America network -- which is doing very well, according to one of its hosts.

Air America's Franken speaks

In an interview on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" Tuesday, Al Franken -- one of Air America's liberal hosts -- said there is a big audience for liberal talk radio.

"In our first Arbitron numbers in New York, which is our biggest market, we beat WABC, which is where Rush [Limbaugh] is, in the same period, among the 24-55 year old market. And we clobbered them in 18-34 years old," Franken said, according to a transcript of the interview posted on MSNBC.

"I know that sounds like a lot of jargon, but there is a big audience there," Franken added.

In the same interview, Franken joked about Limbaugh filing for divorce; then gave Limbaugh credit for being a good enough "bloviator" to talk for three straight hours, without guests to help him fill the time.

"I can't do what he does," Franken told Matthews, then agreed with Matthews that Limbaugh is a "talented man."

Franken also discussed Air America's audience. It's different than the "normal talk radio audience," he told Matthews.

"We're getting a younger audience," Franken said, many of them logging on and "streaming at the office." Franken described Internet streaming as a "huge thing" for Air America. He also said his listeners include the "Billy Bobs," referring to a Tennessee man, a retired veteran, who called his show one day.

Conservatives 'damaging America'

Democracy Radio's website offers as "fact" that 61 percent of all radio listeners are not conservative. "This means that only one political perspective is being broadcast on airwaves that are entirely owned by a very diverse American public," Democracy Radio says on its website.

"As a result, damage is clearly being done to America as a civil society. Conservative talk radio has developed into a hateful rabid attack machine that systematically and strategically sets out to demonize those who hold progressive views.

"The word 'liberal' has been so tarnished that good and decent Americans have begun to disassociate themselves from the word. And many of America's leaders have been personally described as un-patriotic or un-American," the website complains.