Roll Call: Republicans Admit Congress Members Carefully Avoid Contradicting Conservative Media Figures
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Roll Call's Christina Bellantoni reports today that "Several Republicans privately admitted Members carefully monitor what's being said on conservative airwaves to make sure they aren't contradicting it or enraging talkers."
Also from Bellantoni's January 24 article:
With Members taking cues from the echo chamber as well as their party leadership, it's changed the way business gets done. Limbaugh and Fox News hosts Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity can mobilize more voters than any press release or floor speech, so Members find themselves needing to be responsive or face their wrath.
A Republican strategist and former top Republican National Committee aide told Roll Call that Members have one of two reactions when constituents start a message with "I just heard on Rush today ..." -- "joy and panic."
Limbaugh has more than 20 million listeners, and most Members couldn't dream of their message being so widely spread back home, the GOP strategist said.
"You've got to break eggs to make an omelette, and if you've never been mentioned on these shows in either a favorable or less than favorable context, one has to wonder, are you actually making an impact?" the strategist said.
If Limbaugh or Beck pushes an issue, his audience picks up the phone and taps out e-mails, asking lawmakers to take action. "These Members understand that their constituents are listening to this, and the consequence will elicit action that will place pressure on them," the strategist said.
The liberal watchdog group Media Matters has compiled examples of Limbaugh and Fox themes that made it from the airwaves to the floors of the House and Senate.
After Fox replayed "sting" videos showing alleged fraud at the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, then-Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) introduced a measure to cut ACORN's government funding. Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) wrote a resolution honoring James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles for producing the ACORN videos, and 31 of his GOP colleagues signed on. It never received a vote.
When Beck suggested on his show in June that an Obama administration drilling decision helped liberal billionaire George Soros, two Republican Members repeated the claim using similar language on the House floor. Limbaugh called the BP oil spill fund set up last year a "slush fund," a term repeated by Members in television appearances and during floor debates.
- Roll Call