Radio remains perhaps the most influential channel of right-wing ideology, despite the rise of podcasts and social media. Tens of millions of people across the country, especially older Americans and blue-collar workers, listen to it regularly. Disinformation experts warn that talk radio channels, many of which broadcast political commentary 24 hours a day, receive little scrutiny compared to other media outlets. It is uniquely difficult to analyze modern radio and even more difficult to moderate, because on-air musings from hosts usually vanish over the airwaves in an instant.
said Lewis Friedland, a professor who studies radio at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “So you don’t know it’s there, you don’t know how widespread it is and how powerful it really is.” He said local radio stations in Wisconsin broadcast “far-right propaganda” five or six hours a day.
When asked about the false statements, they were defended by Mr. James, host of “The Charlie James Show”, and other conservative radio presenters and their networks. Many cited examples of voter fraud in the past or sparked conspiracy theories about the 2020 elections, and said the Democrats’ bleak ballot results had raised concerns about the integrity of the midterm elections.
“I think a host or guest or caller on talk radio might be forgiven if he wonders if ‘cheating’ is needed to win,” said Tom Tradop, vice president of news and talk shows for the Salem Christian and Conservative Radio Network.
Other hosts and broadcast networks declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.
Liberal commentators have also claimed that Republicans have cheated or will cheat again, but to a much lesser degree. After the loss of Stacy Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia, in 2018, Democrats raised doubts about the integrity of the election, citing voter suppression. A petition that garnered nearly 60,000 signatures after the election was titled: “Don’t Let Georgia Republicans Cheat and Steal the Governor’s Mansion from Stacy Abrams.”
As Ms. Abrams campaigns for office again this year, conservative radio presenters have charted her efforts to improve voter access, particularly for historically disadvantaged groups, as a means of enabling fraud.