Mark Levin Takes Talk Radio by Storm

Since the ABC Radio Network started syndicating his show in February, Mark R. Levin has emerged as the hottest new talent in talk radio.

His two-hour program, which airs live starting at 6 p.m. in the Eastern time zone, is the fastest-growing syndicated talk show in America. Already, it boasts more than two million weekly listeners and can be heard in 50 markets nationwide, including nine of the top 10 metropolitan areas.

In New York, Chicago, Detroit, Dallas and Washington, D.C., it is No.1 in its time slot.

For conservatives, however, Levin is no overnight sensation. They have been following his career as a constitutional scholar, Reagan Administration official, and political commentator for years.

Levin earned a law degree from Temple University in 1980 and signed up with the newly elected Reagan Administration in 1981. He eventually became associate director of presidential personnel and then chief of staff in the Justice Department under Atty. Gen. Ed Meese.

Levin is currently president of the Landmark Legal Foundation, a highly effective conservative public-interest law firm. (Landmark recently used the Freedom of Information Act to force the Defense Department to release reports detailing how U.S. military guards watching over terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have been attacked by the terrorists hundreds of times.)

Levin’s book, Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America (published by Regnery, a HUMAN EVENTS sister company) is a compellingly written chronicle of how the Supreme Court has unconstitutionally usurped authority over issues ranging from religion in the public square, to abortion, to immigration, to the economy, to the treatment of terrorists captured in wartime. A New York Times bestseller in hardback in 2005, it has just been released in paperback.

HUMAN EVENTS Editors Terence Jeffrey and Allan Ryskind chatted with Levin last week.

Many people in Washington, D.C., these days, driving home from work, are tuning in to Mark Levin on WMAL and loving it. I understand your radio program has been a tremendous success in its first months of syndication.

Mark R. Levin: We are doing great. If you give people a program that’s full of content and is entertaining, they want to come back, and that is what I try to do everyday at the end of the day. The show is full of substance, but on the other hand, I like to have a good time.
I have been a lifelong talk radio listener, and I know what I’ve liked. Sometimes on my show I will be working a subject, then suddenly I am boring myself. So I’ll reverse course and do something else, or have fun with a caller. But the key is you want the audience to keep coming back, otherwise you might as well talk to yourself in the bathroom.

In a lot of cities that have picked up your show, the lineup is now Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and then Mark Levin.

Levin: In some cities that’s right—the smart cities. That’s a pretty dynamic ratings trio there.

Listening to your show, it seems like you are right on top of the hottest topic of the day and that you have a lot of information that not only the average person does not have, but some reporters here in Washington, D.C., may not be aware of. For example, last night you were talking about the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq that was partially declassified by the President. How do you prepare for the show and how do you gather all this information?

Levin: I spend many, many hours a day on this, pulling as much information as I can. I know what topics are important to me, and I feel that that’s a judgment that every talk show host has to make and that the good talk show hosts make the right judgment. To me, it’s whatever issues are going to affect my life and my country. Also, while I’m doing the show, I keep my computer on, with access to all the wire services, and if a story breaks, I’m there, because as you guys know, lots of times politicians or government agencies put out information in the evening because they don’t want people to catch it. Well, I catch it, and I’ll use it.

For instance, the declassification of parts of the NIE. That came out late in the day, and I picked up on that and came right out and started the show with that.

But I also wanted to address the issue of the smear against George Allen. I spent a lot of the day pulling that information together from various news sources and Internet sites and other information I picked up on the telephone. Then I tried to dissect that for the listeners.

The bottom line is once people have listened to Rush and Sean, I have got to do something different. I am following the two greatest talk show hosts in American history. So whether it’s my personality, or the experience that I bring to issues, or my approach to a particular subject, I think that people who listen to all three can discern a distinction among our styles and so forth. But we are all conservatives. We all believe in liberty and national security, and that’s the common thread.

Let’s talk about the George Allen story. The Washington Post with its beating on the “macaca” story, along with other liberal establishment news outlets, seems to be making a concerted effort to defeat George Allen. Do you agree with that? And do you believe talk radio has a function in trying to quickly counter-balance the bias in the establishment media?

Levin: The liberal media know what talk radio is about—it is mostly conservative. And we conservatives know what the liberal media is about. So it is a constant tug of war, just to be perfectly blunt about it.

It is obvious that the hierarchy at the Washington Post has decided that they want to destroy George Allen—not just defeat him, but destroy him—so, in their view, he wouldn’t be a viable presidential nominee. They want to nominate the Republican nominee, and they want it to be John McCain. Conservatives don’t want it to be John McCain. They like George Allen, they like Mitt Romney, there are some others out there, too.

So the Washington Post is using the occasion of this Senate race to smear George Allen. Nobody knew what “macaca” means, and 99% of Virginians still don’t know what “macaca” means, but they are trying to leave the impression that there is something wrong with George Allen, that there is just something off about the guy when it comes to race.

The interjection of religion into this campaign—when his grandfather turns out to be Jewish—they are twisting that, that he was embarrassed by it, when in fact he was offended that they would be prying into his private life. And now, of course, there is this absolutely despicable attack on him on the “n-word.” As each allegation comes forth, they are easily dismissed. Yet, they are perpetuating this idea that there is something wrong with George Allen.

These are tactics that you see in totalitarian regimes, where false information is put out there so often that a frenzy almost builds up around it. George Allen has been a public man for a long time. They have had many opportunities to scrutinize his background. Yet, now all this comes forward because they want to take him out.

You guys remember: They tried a lot of this on Ronald Reagan. They used to try to imply that he was a racist or that he was anti-women or that he was a dumb guy or that he was dangerous and you wouldn’t want his finger anywhere near that button. They do this to all the conservatives. I’m sick and tired of it.

But one good thing we have now that we didn’t have back then is talk radio.