Popular talk-show host Steve Malzberg is every bit as dynamic and engaging in person as he is on the radio. Malzberg, who worked for WABC for 24 years before moving to WOR, has been recognized by Talkers magazine as one of the nation’s top radio personalities and is a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel and CNN.
The wit and passion he is known for on the airwaves were augmented by an amiable warmth when he played host at the WOR studios for this interview.
The Jewish Press: As a politically conservative secular Jew, you are almost an anomaly. To what do you credit your conservative philosophy?
Malzberg: As a kid growing up I listened to Bob Grant and Barry Farber, and they influenced me the most. My parents were typical Jewish Democrats, but I guess I always had more conservative blood in me. I remember as a kid I supported Nixon. I also never agreed with those who just wanted to get out of Vietnam.
And my Uncle Lester – a big liberal, a United Federation of Teachers chapter chairman but as big a Zionist as possible – used to bring me to Israel Day parades and to protests for Soviet Jewry. That instilled in me a strong identification with Israel, as did watching the Munich Olympics massacre unfold as a kid in 1972. It just made me into a huge supporter of Israel, a huge Zionist and a very proud Jew.
Given the recent attacks on Rush Limbaugh for his having said he wished to see President Obama fail, how do you see talk radio affecting the nation’s politics?
If Rush were that big a threat, Obama would have lost the election. This is not to knock Rush. This is to knock the people who say you can’t have conservative radio because it’s out of control. What Rush meant is that he doesn’t hope the country fails, but that Obama fails in his policies. So do I. I don’t want to see a socialist, Marxist America. The media are as in the tank and as biased as anything I’ve ever seen. This whole Obama thing has set a whole new lower standard.
The proposed Fairness Doctrine was defeated, but are you still concerned for the safety and viability of conservative talk radio under the Obama administration?
Absolutely. The minute Obama, before he was elected, said he didn’t favor the Fairness Doctrine, you knew they would call it something else, and they have. On the same day the Fairness Doctrine amendment went down in the Senate, they passed the Durbin Amendment.
Besides saying that if you have a license on the airwaves there are all kinds of minority requirements you’ll have to meet, the bill says the FCC can do what’s “in the best interests of the airwaves.”
So who decides what’s in the best interests? That’s totally open-ended and up to whatever Obama and his minions make it out to be. The Durbin Amendment is more dangerous and more of a threat than the Fairness Doctrine.
Many Americans are dismayed by the barrage of liberal policies Obama is unleashing and fear for the economic and social fabric of our society. What would you recommend they do to make their voices heard?
Call your congressmen and let them know you will work as hard as you can to vote them out in 2010. Let them know that Obama is a radical. He’s trying to push through the biggest deficit in our history. If you add up the spending of every president since George Washington, Obama will exceed that on his own in just a few years. And you have to make it clear to your representatives that if they participate in this, you’re going to vote them the heck out.
Israel does not have conservative talk radio as we know it in America, and its media are largely controlled by those on the Left. If you were given an opportunity to broadcast in Israel, what would you say to Israelis?
I would say that the peace process, as championed by the Democrats and being brought back worse than ever by Obama, should be spelled “piece.” It’s about dismantling Israel piece by piece. It’s not about “peace.” Where are we? What has happened since Arafat turned down the deal from Clinton and Barak? Things have only gotten worse. George W. Bush said to the Palestinians, “You want a Palestinian state? Great. Follow the road map. Step one – get rid of all the terrorist organizations.”
But they’ll never do that. And until that happens, why on earth should Israel give anything to the Palestinians?
Gaza is run by Hamas. The West Bank is run by a lesser terrorist organization, Fatah. And Fatah’s Abbas can wear a suit all he wants, but that doesn’t change his main purpose in my view, and that’s the destruction of Israel. And that’s the way it will always be.
Once you give away land, you’ll never get it back unless there is a war. And you’re only giving them a closer range from which to fire missiles. Look at Syria. Israel had to blow up one of its chemical weapon facilities. Why would you give the Syrians the Golan Heights? It’s insanity, it’s suicide.
In the opinion of many, the aftermath of the Gaza Disengagement dispelled all doubts as to Palestinian intentions. Yet the two-state solution is still being bandied about as the only answer. Do you support the two-state solution?
Well, I’ll support a two-state solution, but on what land? When the Arabs talk of a two-state solution they really mean two Palestinian states. They’re talking about the so-called right of return, which would overrun Israel with Palestinian refugees, as well as a second Palestinian state. They will never give up the right of return, so when they talk about two states they mean two Palestinian states living side by side. That’s why President Bush emphasized Israel as a “Jewish” state. You never hear that now, it’s not discussed.
Based on that, do you still think there’s a possibility of peace with the Palestinians?
Look, Israel has to decide: does it want to survive or not? Do Israelis want their eulogy to be, God forbid, “Oh boy, Israel was such a nice country, it chose destruction because that’s what the world really wanted for it,” or are they going to fight and say, “We’re a sovereign nation and we’re going to do what we have to do to survive, and if you don’t like it, too bad”?
Now, I’m hoping for that from Netanyahu, but this is the same Netanyahu who swore he would never shake Arafat’s hand, and then of course when he was prime minister he shook Arafat’s hand. To what extent will Hillary and Obama be able to pressure and threaten him? He has to stick to his guns. They have to get rid of the Iranian threat and they have to refuse to give an inch as long as there are terrorist groups that make up the Palestinian government. If they do anything else, it’s suicidal.
How do you explain the unlikely alliance between leftists and Muslims?
I don’t think it’s all that unlikely of an alliance. For a long time people tried to parade around as being anti-Zionist or anti-Israel when in fact they’re really anti-Semitic. I think the far left has always been anti-Israel. Look even at mainstream Democrats; look at the Democratic strategy for Israel – with Clinton and Obama and also with John Kerry when he was running, the attitude is that the Palestinians must be given what they want. It’s a different story with Republicans. It was Richard Nixon who saved Israel in 1973. It was George Bush who wouldn’t meet with Arafat – the biggest killer of Jews since Hitler – after Clinton had him over to the White House more than any other head of state.
You’re an outspoken critic of radical Islam. Critics in Europe who have voiced similar opinions have been targeted for violence. Are you ever frightened for your safety?
I think about it, but if I shut up because of fear then I might as well be dead. It’s so important, the fight against radical Islam and jihad and the way Islamist extremists want to turn this country into one of theirs. It’s the fight of our lifetime, and it’s something my child is going to live with for the rest of his life in this country.
The Steve Malzberg Show, which is nationally syndicated, can be heard in the New York area from 4-6 p.m. on WOR (710) and from 3-4 p.m. on www.wor.710.com.