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June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Two days after Eric Cantor’s primary defeat in Virginia and a day after a Brookings Institute study found that Fox News may harden conservative views, several commentators were attributing Cantor’s loss primarily to the influence of conservative talk radio. At columnist Dylan Byers observed that talk radio commentators Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck and Mark Levin lent their support to Cantor’s opponent, David Brat. “I helped give Brat a platform that he was not getting through any other media outlet,” Ingraham told Byers. Indeed, Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, maintained that Ingraham’s support was the deciding factor in the contest. “She electrified the crowd when he had almost no money … compared to Cantor’s millions. It was a clever substitution of free media for paid media.” The New York Times observed that Ingraham and Levin reach nearly 10 million people each week and commented that Brat’s rise from obscurity to national conservative hero was due in part to their influential voices. On Fox News, meanwhile, all talk show hosts hailed Brat’s victory, while CNN and MSNBC hosts expressed shock at the outcome. At the same time, some media reporters were expressing shock at CNN’s decision to cut out of its coverage of Cantor’s defeat and go with a documentary about O.J. Simpson. But the New York Times noted that the network’s decision appeared to have paid off — as the documentary drew the biggest audience for CNN on Tuesday night — 122,000 in the 25-54 age group. (Fox News drew 497,000 viewers in the demo in the 8:00 p.m. hour, but Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity actually saw their numbers slip slightly from the previous Tuesday.)