But as the sociologist Michael Schudson has argued, however, the roots of objectivity in American journalism can be understood differently: as a norm adopted and enforced by reporters and editors seeking to establish their occupation’s credentials as a profession.

The merits of that norm—and how well the press has adhered to it—are of course much debated. But for the present discussion, what matters is that it has never much applied to talk radio of any variety. The conservative blogger and talk show host Ed Morrissey, mocking the Politico story, argues that the many of the practices Vogel and McCalmont describe are standard fare for talk radio.

He’s correct, and in fact the Politico piece acknowledges as much. But that’s hardly a robust defense. And all it does is bring the issue back to a variation on Frum’s original question: not whether the revenue-generating tactics of conservative talk radio will spread to other media, but why conservatives built their media infrastructure around talk radio in the first place.

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Greg Marx is a CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.