- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Republican presidential primary debates are getting significant new input from the conservative realm. In a hybrid partnership with CNN, three of the dozen sanctioned GOP debates also will be aired by the Salem Media Group, the nation’s largest provider of Christian and family-themed content with conservative values.

The organization boasts a bodacious stable of syndicated talk radio hosts that includes William Bennett, Michael Medved and Dennis Prager. But it is veteran newsman Hugh Hewitt who has emerged as the pointman here. He’ll serve as an official co-moderator come September, when the Republicans hopefuls gather to squabble and posture before a pivotal audience at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. CNN provides the cable broadcast, to be steered by Jake Tapper. But the new partnership also allows Salem to air the debates live, with additional special pre- and post-debate coverage.

“When we set out to improve the debates, I promised conservative media would be part of the process. Salem will help the Republican Party have meaningful debates about new ideas for the future, while Democrats simply coronate Hillary Clinton,” says Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus.

Indeed, Salem could be a very sturdy ally to the Grand Old Party; the company has a dedicated, national following for aggressive but optimistic online content and traditional print products covering faith, wellness, finances and church life. They own Regnery Publishing, home to authors Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich and Michelle Malkin. Meanwhile, the Salem Radio Network has 2,400 affiliates; the company also owns and operates 106 radio stations. Their conservative news and opinion websites include Townhall.com, HotAir.com, Twitchy, RedState.com and HumanEvents.com. The debate partnership appears to be a happy match.

“I am confident that both the access to our audiences and the incorporation of Salem talent will make the debates more accessible for the American electorate,” says David Santrella, president of broadcast media at Salem.

“Good questions will allow Republican primary voters the opportunity to see and hear their would-be nominees provide answers to issues that genuinely concern them,” says Mr. Hewitt, who has a knack for authentic insight and snappy conversation.

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