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Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics, Nicole Hemmer

Reviewed by Harry Wessel



Today we casually link conservative media names and institutions such as Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Fox News with successful politicians from Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich to Donald Trump. Nicole Hemmer demonstrates that assuming conservative media and conservative politicians have always had a close relationship is a misperception. This is the story of the first generation of conservative media. The time frame is primarily the late 1940s through the 1950s. Some of the names and institutions that are discussed and appear throughout are well known, such as William F. Buckley Jr., the founding editor of National Review and the conservative activist group the John Birch Society. But Hemmer's focus is on the lesser known but equally transformative figures of the period: Clarence Manion, creator of the radio program the Manion Forum, who has been credited as one of the founders of talk radio, and Henry Regnery and William Rusher, publishers of the magazines Human Events and National Review, respectively.

Each of the three was initially active in GOP politics, but eventually they found themselves on the outside looking in. For example, in 1953 at the start of Dwight D. Eisenhower administration, Manion was appointed chairman of the Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, a highly regarded position. But Manion wanted the secretary of l

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