David Frum writes in depth for the Daily Beast about how Mike Huckabee’s coming national radio talk show could enjoy a boost from Rush Limbaugh’s declining market share and more recent exodus of advertisers.
Limbaugh’s calculation that his core advertisers must return always rested on the assumption that there was nowhere else to go. Suddenly, in the worst month of Limbaugh’s career, somewhere else has appeared: a lower-priced alternative, with big audience reach and a host an advertiser can trust never, ever to abuse a student as a “slut” and “prostitute.”
The new Huckabee show’s slogan is “more conversation; less confrontation.” “I don’t want it to be a show that every day, every hour, pushes everyone’s buttons to raise their blood pressure,” Huckabee says. “I figure the cost of high blood pressure is enough already.”
Frum, as many commentators do, praises Huckabee’s “genial temperament.” Longer exposure to Huckabee yields the understanding that he can be a slashing politician with a knack for turning a quick and mean phrase against opponents. Plus, he has a demonstrated yen for destroying hard drives. But he’s generally resisted that mean streak in using the national media platform he’s built since leaving office and the dividends are evident. Frum thinks some of Huckabee’s success will depend on reaching middle-aged women. Limbaugh dominates with angry old white men. Huckabee has calibrated his Fox show with that in mind (Meryl Streep was a recent guest.) Women trend a bit more liberal on social issues, however. Huckabee’s anti-abortion, anti-gay positions are unyielding. Also guns, stem cell research and more. He does have a soft spot on immigrants.
MORE: From Huckabee’s network.