From the February 5 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin:
BROOKE BALDWIN (HOST): So here you wrote this column this week essentially talking about these incredibly popular conservative radio show hosts and talk show hosts who essentially you're saying have a grip on Republicans.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH: A greater -- I argue they have a greater sway on the GOP base than does the party leadership. And that that has taken place over last the 30 years. Brooke, when I'm out and about, not here on CNN, not answering the phone on my own radio program, but leading my real life, people engage me about politics and what I hear most often is the question, people will say, explain to me, how did Donald Trump get to be the front-runner? How did Ted Cruz, two relatively bombastic personalities, get to be in the position?
BALDWIN: What do you say?
SMERCONISH: And I say look to the leadership of the Republican Party. I'm not talking about Reince Priebus. I'm not talking about Sean Spicer. I'm talking about Beck and Limbaugh and Hannity, because they've supplanted the leadership of the GOP. And so those candidates are a reflection, I think, of the talk radio world. And -
BALDWIN: Rhetoric, everything that's been stirred up --
SMERCONISH: Absolutely stirring the pot. But the problem I think is the party exists, hte Republican Party, Democratic Party, for one purpose, to win elections. Those personalities exist for a different purpose which is to attract ears and eyeballs and clicks and frankly to make money. And I think those purposes are at odds.