As much as I enjoy seeing one of the more enduring black media institutions getting coverage in the New York Times, the comparison to Rush Limbaugh is an inappropriate one, and you'd think that the phenomenon itself would be worth a story without it. Radio hosts like Michael Baisden and Tom Joyner, whatever their affinity for Obama, aren't hardcore Democratic partisans.

While they may talk about politics, often what dominates their programming is lifestyle, relationship and parenting issues. Black radio also lacks the Limbaugh's history of smears, distortions, and racially inflammatory material. When Baisden made inaccurate comments regarding the fundraising the online civil rights group Color of Change did on behalf of the Jena Six, he apologized. When was the last time you heard Limbaugh do that?

It's also a little misleading to say that Steve Harvey, Michael Baisden and Tom Joyner combined have a bigger audience than Rush Limbaugh, as if he were the only arm of the Republican media machine. The top 5 talk shows combined have an audience of more than 60 million listeners a week, and they're all conservative. The only real similarity here is that most of their audiences have probably already made up their minds about who they're going to vote for.

--A. Serwer

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