As a talk show host, I am frequently asked by listeners—usually ones who disagree with me—where I get my information?
Conservative listeners sometimes chide me: “You should watch something other than CNN.” A liberal listener might say, “You’re just repeating what Fox News said.”
For the record, here is what I typically read, watch and listen to for show preparation. Full disclosure here—I never read everything in the newspapers. That would take forever. I scroll through them on the Internet and pick out stories of interest.
Preparation typically starts the night before with the Wall Street Journal. Some of the business stories are over my head, but the editorials give me well-reasoned conservative perspectives.
Before the light goes off, I click on the entertainment website TMZ. You just never know when something about the rapper Cardi B is going to come up on Talkline.
On the drive to work in the morning I listen to the MetroNews Morning News on the radio. The news block is an excellent source of local, state and national news, as well as sports.
Once at work, my first stop on the Internet is the MetroNews home page, where I read, and then print out, stories that I may want to use on Talkline. Next, I check the websites of a half dozen major newspapers and a couple television stations around the state.
That gets me to about 7:30 a.m., a good time for second breakfast (I eat a lot in the morning) and a cup of strong coffee.
Energized and caffeinated, it’s back to the Internet. The Drudge Report is a good clearing house for dozens of news outlets across the political spectrum. Here I am slave to “click bait.” If a headline piques my interest, I check it out. (For a guilty pleasure, I may click on “Six-Year-Old Drives Car to McDonalds.”)
The pile of printed show prep material is starting to build, but I’m not done yet, although because of guests I have already scheduled, the show is starting to take shape. Next is the heavy lifting of the New York Times and the Washington Post.
Their news stories are comprehensive, so they are excellent source material. They often include links to related stories, studies or reports that are helpful. I usually do not agree with their editorials, but I force myself to read some of them. Reading opinions that differ from my own is a healthy exercise. It helps me hone my own arguments and, guess what? I sometimes learn something.
While all this is going on I am also lining up guests by email, phone or text and having my morning meetings with Brad McElhinny and Jeff Jenkins of MetroNews. These relatively brief phone conversations—five to ten minutes—are essential.
Jenkins’ future file—his comprehensive calendar of what is scheduled for the day such as trials, press conferences, or just routine checks of ongoing stories—is legendary. McElhinny is a voracious consumer of news and his insights on the issues of the day are invaluable.
By now it is getting close to show time, but there is still information to consume, along with another morning snack.
Back on the Internet, I scan Newsmax, One America News Network, The Hill, Politico and the New York Post (love those headlines). The TV is on and I am toggling between Fox and CNN, while the Morning News continues playing in the background.
Those morning cable shows drive me a little crazy with their obvious political agendas, so when one starts to get under my skin, I flick to the other.
Now it’s almost airtime. Am I ready? The challenge with show prep is you can always do more, but the 10:06 deadline won’t wait.
Invariably, a caller, texter, or emailer will raise a point on the show that I am not familiar with and probably should have been.
I will have to remember that when I start back into show prep later that night.