In this interview, I talk to Nicole Hemmer, author of the book Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics. In this conversation, we talk about the history of conservative media in the US. Nicole is also the host of a popular history podcast called Past Present, which talks about the historic parallels of top news stories.
We talk about its roots in anti-war activists and its anti-New Deal stance/ We talk about the rise of outlets such as Human Events, National Review, and others bringing in a socially acceptable version of conservatism, that still holds true today. This was in contrast to the brash anti-civil rights, and anti-integration ethos of the 1950s/1960s.
We also talk about the role of talk radio in the 1970s leading to the growth of conservative podcasts today. In addition, this interview talks about how conservative media frames narratives and how it shapes public policy goals using media. This includes Ronald Reagan’s efforts in the 1980s to eliminate general standards along the fairness doctrine and the role of the 1996 telecommunications act. We also talk about the role of former talk radio Rush Limbaugh on conservatism and the model he set forth in the 1990s. We end this conversation by talking about the role of YouTube and social media plays now in conservative media.
*ALSO, my apologies on my microphone. I have it fixed now, but at times during the interview, my audio spikes and falls at times.
2:45 - Who is Nicole Hemmer?
3:15 - How did Nicole get into history?
4:24 - How did her book Messengers of the Right happen?
6:30 - What about the 1940s that brought about the rise of conservative media?
8:49 - How the role of television and 1950s culture played in conservative media being alt-media
11:10 - The creation of ‘Liberal media’ claims in the 1950s as a political identity?
13:30 - Conservative wasn’t always the GOP historically
15:00 - How the 1960s changed everything in media and the role of media
18:00 - The nomination of Barry Goldwater and his long-term impact on conservatives
22:20 - The impact of Richard Nixon on conservatives
25:30 - Vice President Spiro Agnew’s 1969 speech directly using conservative media jargon and the mainstreaming of ‘liberal bias’
28:16 - How conservative media destroyed journalism’s world of impartiality and objectivity
32:16 - The rise of talk radio and its impact on conservative media
37:00 - The rise of Rupert Murdoch
42:00 - Tucker Carlson and punditry in conservative media
45:40 - How the internet has changed conservative media
49:00 - How conservative podcasting is taking over the internet
51:40 - Conservative culture wars are having their moment in controlling the narrative
54:20 - Nicole’s other podcasts
55:20 - Nicole’s next book on 1990’s conservativism post-Ronald Reagan
57:00 - What’s something about Nicole that people misconstrue about her.
58:45 - What’s making her happy