What is it that Americans hunger to hear, and what should they hear? And so goes a question to one Michael Savage, talk radio host and author currently heard on 200 stations each week.
"The truth. As Hemingway wrote, the truth has a certain ring to it," Mr. Savage tells Inside the Beltway.
It must be working for him. After completing an oft-perilous transition from evening broadcasts to the three-hour "afternoon drive" slot on Jan. 1, Mr. Savage is enjoying some vibrant ratings in an unforgiving marketplace.
He currently is second only to Rush Limbaugh on the list of the top-50 most "influential and listened to hosts streaming on the Internet, according to Talk Stream Live, an internet industry source. He also ranks fifth on the list of top radio hosts, drawing 5 million listeners a week, according to Talker magazine, another industry source.
His intense on-air rivalry with fellow host Sean Hannity continues. Though Mr. Hannity is heard on more stations and draws a larger overall audience, Mr. Savage pulls in more fans — sometimes double the audience — in five top-national markets, according to new Nielsen figures. And one of his major on-air sponsors has been with him for a dozen years.
"Give me 15 minutes, and I'll give you America," Mr. Savage advises.
WHAT THE ISSA TEAM LEARNED
Observers point out that one reason Hillary Clinton keeps winning all the early bird presidential polls is because Republican candidates have yet to define themselves for voters in the campaign marketplace.
But there is some wisdom about how to do that, this following Rep. Darrell Issa's snowboots-on-the-ground experience in New Hampshire. The California Republican, who toured the Granite State for two days earlier this week, penned a guest op-ed for the Concord Monitor and spoke at two significant political events.
Press and pundits wondered if Mr. Issa should be added to the list of GOP hopefuls for 2016. The lawmaker explained, several times, that he wanted to help "shape" the political discourse and strategy, not run himself.
And what wisdom came out of the visit, which ended just as another blizzard descended on the state? What exactly do voters want from the Grand Old Party?
"The observation I came away with was this. People want a fighter. They genuinely feel like the growth of government and centralization of power in Washington is a direct threat to their liberties. The response that Congressman Issa received was both impactful and genuine," his advisor Kurt Bardella tells Inside the Beltway.
"They responded in a very strong way to the belief that the next president needs to make a commitment to unwind the growth of the executive branch and embrace a return to checks-and-balance Overwhelmingly, what Congressman Issa heard the most from folks in New Hampshire was this: keep it up," Mr. Bardella adds.
There is nothing that Democrats like better than a creative tale of Repulican discord, pitting establishment guys in suits against tea party enthusiats, conservative stalwarts, insistent libertarians, necons, theo-cons, Reagan traditionalists. Plus every other character that the liberal creatives can come up with.,
Let 'em. So says Rep. Paul Ryan.
"There's creative tension in our party. That's a good thing. You know why? Because we're debating ideas.The left is intellectually exhausted," the Wisconsin Republican told reporters assembled to gawk at the former vice presidential hopeful when he visited New Hampshire Tuesday night to fundraise for a local candidate.
Mr. Ryan is only too happy to embrace the expanding big tent of the Republican Party, particularly the tea party
"I think they have done a great service to bring us to become a real fiscal conservative party. Before 2010, I think our party lost its moorings," he observed.
SANTELLI REMEMBERS THE MOMENT
"I blew a gasket. But basically, what was born at that point was the voice of dissension."
CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli to his own network on Wednesday, recalling his famous rant on Feb. 19, 2009, that justified a "tea party" reaction to President Obama's mortgage bailouts — a statement largely credited with inspiring grass-roots Americans to organize the tea party movement shortly therafter.
THE GOP DOES DOTS
Coming soon: it's the official .gop ending for new Internet addresses, a boon to candidates, interest groups and more. The emergence of the new online designation was heralded at Beyond the Dot, a daylong gathering of Internet, digital and marketing mavens plus policy wonks in the nation's capital on Wednesday.
The new "dotgop" will be managed by Top Level Registry, a subsidiary of the Republican State Leadership Committee. And fabulous: Republicans beat Democrats as the only political party so far to claim a web ending term.
In his keynote speech before the event's audience, Jim Messina, former campaign manager for President Obama, admitted he was vexed that the GOP had gotten their term, and "we didn't get ours as Democrats."
Curious about all of this? Check Dotgop.co for information.
IT JUST NEEDS SOME SHOWBIZ
"The Affordable Care Act: Comedy, Drama & Reality: Portraying ObamaCare in TV & Film" was the name of a forum for screenwriters staged in New York City Tuesday for, well, some 50 leading TV and film screenwriters on the East Coast.
Translation: "Is Hollywood plotting Obamacare's next move?" asks Fox Business writer Kate Rogers.
Surely this big unwieldy character needs a new script. Recall, for example, that models parading through Denver in skimpy underwear strategically emblazoned with the motto "Are You Covered?" have been used to promote the cause. Along with the bespectacled hipster guy in the plaid jammies, and the raucous "bro-surance" outreach.
"This is part of ongoing outreach efforts to raise awareness about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. We're working closely with a range of groups across the country to reach the uninsured, and help get them enrolled in quality, affordable health insurance," Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency, told the network.
POLL DU JOUR
• 64 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of South Korea; 11 percent have a favorable impression of North Korea.
• 53 percent of Americans say they view the possibility of conflict between North and South Korea as a "critical threat."
• 57 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of conservatives, 59 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of liberals agree.
• 36 percent overall say the possibility of conflict is "important but not a critical threat."
• 34 percent of Republicans, 30 percent of conservatives, 34 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of liberals agree.
• 8 percent overall say the possible conflict is "not an important threat at all."
• 7 percent of Republicans, 7 percent of conservatives, 7 percent of Democrats and 7 percent of liberals agree.
• 11 percent overall have a favorable impression of North Korea.
Source: A Gallup Poll of 1.023 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 6-9 and released Wednesday.
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