Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) mocked radio as a medium Thursday during a Senate Armed Services committee hearing on foreign cyber threats to the United States, despite American public consumption of audio content continuing to increase.
While questioning Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Committee Chair John McCain (R-AZ) said he believes America lacks a modern counter-propaganda strategy to combat Russia’s use of disinformation, in the context of influencing elections.
MCCAIN: General Clapper, during the cold war we had a strategy. We had Radio Free Europe. We had Voice for America.
Senator Graham who will be speaking next will attest that on our recent trip [to the Baltics], they don’t have a strategy. They don’t have a counter-propaganda – the United States of America I’m talking about.
Would you agree, Senator Graham?
The South Carolina Republican, who along with Senator McCain recently called for a probe into whether Russia influenced last year’s presidential election, took the opportunity to mock radio as a form of communication. Speaking to Clapper:
GRAHAM: Would you agree with me that Radio Free Europe is outdated?
CLAPPER: I’m frankly not up on —
GRAHAM: Well, it says “Radio,” and a lot of people don’t listen to radio like we used to.
CLAPPER: Well, actually radio is a very popular mode in many places in the world.
GRAHAM: Radio is big in your world?
CLAPPER: Hmm.. my world? Not so much.
GRAHAM: Yea, I don’t listen to the radio much either.
Graham might find it surprising that the percentage of Americans 12 years of age or older who in the past month have listened to online radio increased from 53 percent in 2015 to 57 percent in 2016. That amount is almost double the 27 percent of Americans who had done so in 2010. This is according to data released last year from Edison Research and the Pew Research Center.
In a 2016 report, entitled Audio Today: Radio 2016 – Appealing Far and Wide, Nielsen shows that radio is the “King of Reach,” leading all other platforms among American adult consumers (93 percent) when it comes to weekly consumption.