Radio remains arguably the most influential vehicle for the right, despite the rise of podcasts and social media. It is regularly listened to by tens of millions of people across the country, especially older Americans and workers. Disinformation experts warn that talk radio channels, many of which broadcast political commentary 24 hours a day, receive too little attention compared to other media outlets. Talk radio is also extremely difficult to analyze and more difficult to moderate, because the musings of the presenters on the air usually disappear instantly from the air.
“Liberals or even most moderates never listen to it, they don’t pay attention to it, they don’t see it or hear it,” said Lewis A. Friedland, a radio professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. . “So you don’t know it exists, you don’t know how widespread it is and how powerful it really is.” In Wisconsin, he said, local radio stations broadcast “far-right propaganda” for five to six hours a day.
When asked about the false testimony, Mr. James, host of The Charlie James Show, and other conservative radio hosts and their networks defended them. Many have pointed to examples of electoral fraud in the past or advanced conspiracy theories about the 2020 elections. They said the dismal Democratic results raised concerns about the integrity of the midterm elections.
“I think a host, guest or talk radio caller can be forgiven for wondering if you need to ‘cheat’ to win,” said Tom Tradup, vice president of news and talk show programming for the Christian and Conservative Salem radio networks.
Other presenters and radio networks declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.
Liberal commentators have also argued that Republicans have cheated or will cheat again, but to a much lesser extent. After Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia, lost in 2018, the Democrats raised doubts about the integrity of the elections, citing voter suppression. The petition, which garnered nearly 60,000 signatures after the election, was titled, “Don’t let Georgia Republicans cheat and steal the governor’s mansion from Stacey Abrams.”
As Ms. Abrams campaigns again this year, conservative radio hosts are portraying her efforts to improve voter access, especially for historically disenfranchised groups, as a scam.