MARCH 22, 2004
JASON ZENGERLE’S ARTICLE was a fair piece of work ("Talking Back," February 16). Democracy Radio may succeed, who knows? But black people are an important component of the Democratic Party and the left-wing coalition, and I doubt if they will give up black radio for Al Franken. This absence of an important listener constituency is likely to affect Democracy Radio’s programming and tone. The stereotypical white, affluent, professional Democrat is going to be difficult to lure away from National Public Radio, which is an audio bulletin board for liberals. Rush Limbaugh may be first and foremost a brilliant radio entertainer, but his audience clearly shot up because he is filling a rather large media-market niche that was dealt with contemptuously by the major media and entertainment organizations, i.e., the people who thought Ronald Reagan was a good president.
Limbaugh also appears from my observations to appeal to a lot of people who aren’t particularly "political" in the sense of being absorbed in the minutiae of American politics. One more problem for Democracy Radio, by contrast, isn’t so much that white, middle-class liberals are too intelligent to get fresh information from a radio ranter—it’s that they think they are.
IN "TALKING BACK," Jason Zengerle misses a not-so-entertaining theory for the dearth of successful radio talk-show hosts: McCarthyism and the cold war. For decades, liberals have held their tongues because on some level they were worried about being called un-American communists. While the right has been able to simplify its message, the left has not had that luxury for 50 years. Being anti-establishment on the left has meant being a "commie agent" until this century. Even today, no one wants to be thought of as a lefty, un-American, or a bleeding-heart pacifist— all of which the right continues to charge the left with either directly or through innuendo. Isn’t Rush Limbaugh a caricature of Joe McCarthy: arrogant and loud?
LIVING A LIE
AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE EDITORIAL "Kay Sera," the editors "wonder whether President Bush really wants to get to the bottom of the Iraq intelligence story at all" (February 16). Really? Bush’s claim about African yellowcake turned out to be untrue, so the press and Democrats asked, "Who put this mistake in the president’s speech?" Then Bush’s claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) turned out to be untrue, so the press and Democrats cried, "We must find out who told this lie to the president!" Just this once, let’s make it plain: The president lied to the American people and to the world about the reason for the war, which was probably to try to establish democracy in an Arab nation because democracy is what we have to offer the oppressed and hopeless people of the Middle East as an alternative to terrorism—a goal the president feared we would not understand or support. Intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s WMD was never the reason for the war, but it was a story the White House knew the American people could understand and could be frightened into believing. Now, having told his lie so many times, the president is now stuck with it. He was right about one thing, though: We sure are gullible.
Palm Springs, California
CLAY RISEN'S ARTICLE "MISSED Target," is aptly named (February 2). I was disappointed to see that Risen missed the target with his interpretation of Forrester Research’s work on offshoring. While I wrote the brief "3.3 Million U. S. Services Jobs To Go Offshore" after conducting surveys with a number of business leaders, they were not casual conversations, nor the sole basis for my analysis.
In addition to a survey of 150 Fortune 1,000 companies, the research model for this brief was developed after three months of background research, two trips to India to meet with offshore companies, and an assessment of 525 services job categories. I also worked with a team of analysts on this brief. The model itself looked at how 18 different occupational categories in the services sector of the U.S. economy would be impacted by lower-cost offshore options. Once we defined the four main factors in the offshore decision process, we created a five-tier ranking of the impact of offshoring. This ranking was then applied to 505 Department of Labor occupational categories. We also reviewed the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Statistics data on National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.
Risen is correct; it is a complex effort to precisely measure the number of jobs that will be lost to the move offshore. The discussion around offshore outsourcing remains a passionate one—one that requires an understanding of the existing and complex data.