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Mayberry Machiavelli Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-04 10:15 PM
Original message
The Era of Conservative Talk Radio/TV
Regardless of who wins in NOV, I think this era has a limited shelf life. Decay has set in and it's on its way out. Why do I think this?

I think that most of us can agree that Rush Limbaugh essentially gave birth to the huge institution of conservative talk radio that exists today. (There's a visual for you.) I can't trace the whole chronology of this to you, but certainly 8 years of a Democratic White House complete with scandals both real and imagined helped greatly.

But in addition to this I would have to say that Rush Limbaugh also had talent. Yes, you heard me, he had real talent as a radio entertainer, in the way that a guy like Howard Stern (who despises Rush) has a particular type of talent. That's what these shows, including McLaughlin and Crossfire are, by the way, entertainment. Some of it more entertaining than others. Very few aspire to actually enlighten.

Now I probably disagree with virtually everything that comes out of the guy's mouth, but I remember years ago occasionally listening to portions of his show while driving and flipping stations. There is a reason the guy became as huge (in a media sense, LOL) as he is. He has, or had, an acerbic, if rather nasty, wit to him and was clever in his use of audio bits. When I've listened to bits of his show recently since his personal scandal erupted, I think he's too consumed by his demons or just tired by it all and he has definitely lost "it".

Just like any huge success, the clones follow. And basically, the rather simple formula seems to be: Have a show with conservative or pro Republican politics. Be a loud blowhard, and proud of it. Be angry and shout a lot, both in your monologues and shouting down dissenting guests, if you even allow them. By all means screen your callers and guests so you don't have to engage in any fair debate. If possible select "opposition" callers with obviously weak intellect or debating skills who will be easy marks. If you find yourself losing an argument with a caller or guest despite all this careful screening, shout them down, call them names and/or hang up on them.

Easy formula. The guys who got in earlier on this like O'Reilly and Hannity have been able to make their millions with their lame shows and books while the phenomenon was still hot.

However as with the cheap clones of any phenomenon, most will lack any real spark of talent. A good example is Coulter who is just a walking screamfest, a novelty because of gender, good for several million from a few books but her time will clearly fade quickly. Hannity and O'Reilly are also basically no talent badgering bullies. Even though he is a disgusting cretin, I recognize real talent in the on-air verbal skills of Michael Savage (Weiner?), no doubt a product of his bohemian background (does he ever even discuss or disavow this on his show?). But most of these shows have a quality of sameness to them.

The bottom line is, with the proliferation of all the no-talents and uniformity of message, the whole thing just gets boring. The entertainment value is minimal, even when preaching to the faithful. When I see the conservative media discussed on freerepublic, even a majority of folks there call attention to the fact that Hannity and O'Reilly are no-talent, unintelligent blowhards who just shout and interrupt everyone's sentence all the time and hit the same note (Hannity: "You just can't bring yourself to say anything good about this president, can you?"). It is widely acknowledged even there that all these shows including Rush must get some kind of talking points from Druge/RNC because they all immediately hit the same points as soon as some bogus rumor comes out on Drudge, and sound the same. (I call this the Rumor/Drudge/Rush/Fox echo chamber--where the original source is a rumor, probably half from Rove, which then acquires "legitimacy" as these conservative news organs breathlessly report on what the previous "echo" has said rather than an original verified source.) These are all things I have seen the freerepublic people say in their threads on this topic, and not just a small minority of them either.

So I think with the dearth of talent and lack of variety, there is little entertainment value and the whole thing will collapse of its own weight because politics aside, the sponsorship will not continue to support this indefinitely if the viewer/listernship is not there. It's not entertaining, and quite honestly most of it is really negative and just brings you down. Tim Robbins is quoted in Michael Moore's book asking why the hell are these guys so angry, they have all the power etc. All the anger and negativity is rather offputting.

As to the viability of liberal oriented programming, I think the "conventional" reasoning one hears about how this is not viable because liberals are so diverse in opinion and message, and are "earnest" and not funny, etc. is so much crap. These shows don't exist now largely because corporate ownership like Clear Channel and Fox would never allow it. I was in the San Francisco Bay area in November, the most liberal part of the country, driving through towns declared as nuclear free zones etc. and the only talk radio I could find was disgusting angry right wing screed. Are you kidding me? The average person in Oakland or SF is a Michael Savage fan?

There's way more talent, entertaining personality wise, on the liberal side of the aisle, for so many reasons not even worth going into here (maybe others can elaborate in a continuation of this thread). Even though I haven't watched a lot of it, I get the distinct impression "The Daily Show" thwangs on the administration more than on liberals even though they probably have a lot more Dem material now with primaries. I don't know if this can be called a liberal slant or not, but Jon Stewart is freakin' funny. And even my right wing colleagues can't help but laugh at the guy's jokes even when he's making fun of their heroes.

Rove and co. would like to paint a picture of a monolithic, conservative, pro-Bush country that hates liberals. If this were true, could 4/5 NYT bestsellers be anti administration books? Clearly the market is there. It's just that the publishing world is not yet owned by Ruper Murdoch or Clear Channel. Even if the anti bush or liberal crowd was a distinct minority, it is a sizeable and passionate enough minority not only to turn elections in NOV (we hope it happens) but also to be an excellent market for appropriate news and entertainment media. The concept is really not tested yet. I just hope that if any successful liberal media outlets/networks get established that they don't get into the ridicuolous trap of political orthodoxy that the right wingers have done.

I am interested in your thoughts on this.
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LTR Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-04 10:26 PM
Response to Original message
1. The 15 minutes are almost up
Edited on Mon Jan-26-04 10:27 PM by RatTerrier
I think it is primarily just a fad. Granted, Rush has been around a while, but he's the originator of all this.

But with innovation comes imitation. And so you see Insannity, Weiner, Glenn Dreck, Oh'Really and all those other wannabes. Your typical local AM station is loaded 24-7 with these asshats. After a while, it's gonna get old. Especially if Bush is defeated by a Dem like Clark, Kerry or Edwards with no real significant baggage that will give them material.

If the incoming president is loved by all, their rants will fall upon deaf ears.

Clinton worked well for these guys because of the constant onslaught by the GOP, which was in full attack and dirt-digging mode. But Bush is also a polarizing figure, and not nearly as popular as Clinton.

The tide will turn. Trust me.

BTW: KGO (810 AM) is the most powerful signal in the Bay Area, and they are pretty liberal compared to most.
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Homer12 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-04 10:36 PM
Response to Original message
2. Since we all know that conservatives and Neo-Conservatives....
....Like to be angery, then they should listen to left-wing liberal show's. That'll give them what they love best, "Out-Rage".

Actually after so many years of the right-wing GOP radio whores, inciting anger and out-rage since the Clinton era, entropy, a natural disordering is bound to set in.

It may be happening, All I know is I stopped listening to the RIght-wing whores long ago and all I can say is that I feel better for it.

It's really not healthy to be angery.
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bringiton Donating Member (29 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-04 10:58 PM
Response to Original message
3. The bigger they are, the harder they fall !!
Clear Channel and Murdock have had their glorious day in the sun.
I am reading American Dynasty by Phillips (a former republican). The christian right and groups like american enterprise institute will backfire on the republican party. Phillips predicted an emerging republican majority in the late 1960's (Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush). Minus Carter, he was correct. He is now claiming that the democrats have a similar potential majority.

P.S. - I see your from Texas. I actually went to Texas A&M and I ended up a progressive. Go Figure.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-04 11:11 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Republicans are NOT a majority
The perception became the "reality" by virtue of them buying the media and TELLING everyone they were the majority..

Just like when the pundits say "matter of factly" that America is a conservative nation.. It's NOT, but to listen to the radio, you would THINK it is..

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Mayberry Machiavelli Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-04 11:23 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Propaganda works
The trouble is that the propaganda does, to a degree, work. People are sheep enough that if they think everyone else thinks Bush/GOP is great, they will at least have a strong tendency towards thinking/voting that way too.

I think the Rove propaganda machine has not been going long enough that thinking people can still start to break out of this if enough truth gets out; we are starting to see many anecdotes about this here.

The reason that I like responding to these "DU" or "unFREEP" polls is because it's propaganda for our side. If one of the smug status quo supporters logs on to register his pro administration or pro war vote, assuming 60% pro, and sees "75% against" and goes WTF?!!! Maybe, just maybe, for a few of those people the fact of knowing that so many people are waking up will water that little seed of truth that was always there, that was always trying to tell them what they secretly knew, that it was all a pack of lies, and it will blossom...
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Fred Duke Donating Member (19 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-04 11:24 PM
Response to Original message
6. The bottom line trumps ideology ...
...almost every time. Your typical Program Director at WXYZ is looking to draw the biggest audience to his station, content be damned. If Rush is the big draw in the time slot then that will be his first choice, all other things being equal.

The question i would love to see answered is why no liberal talk show host has broken through with even 1/4 the popularity of Limbaugh. If they could attract the audience there are 100s of stations that would pick them up.

Picture Limbaugh in jail, that should help for now.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-04 11:33 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Rush is a "big draw", because the stations that "play" him
Edited on Mon Jan-26-04 11:33 PM by SoCalDem
are "owned" by the same folks that "PAY" him.. Anyone who thinks that they are making a profit from the sales of snake oils, and goofy products that advertise on his show.. are popping some pills themselves.. He does have some legit ads from time to time, but have you or ANYONE you know ever bought any of that crap those shows sell??

Could they sell 65 million (or whatever he makes) worth of stuff??

Those shows are an extension of the Right wingers.. They are there to sway public opinion, and to drown out any opposition..

Every 2 years, they have a built-in audience and they do not have to pay for ads, because the whole stations ARE the ads..

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Mayberry Machiavelli Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-04 11:33 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Clear Channel
I believe is a big part of this. I don't know what their market share of stations is, but it is huge in some areas. It is clear from the whole Dixie Chix fiasco (I'm glad they spoke their minds, and I'm glad their tour did well), and the fate of conservative host Charles Goyette who got shunted to a crappy time slot because even though conservative he rejected the war (see link below), that they will not even tolerate conservative dissent much less liberal talk radio.

http://www.amconmag.com/2_2_04/article3.html

I'm upset with the right wing media monopoly not only because of squashing political dissent, but also for killing pop radio. The same homogenized playlists in every city you go thanks to these guys. Between travelling to almost any big city you can tell what the playlist on the Clearchannel pop station is going to be in the morning, early afternoon, lunchtime etc...
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Fred Duke Donating Member (19 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-27-04 12:01 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. So ideology now trumps profits?
Not hardly.

Clear Channel Communications is a publicly traded US (tx?) corporation. If you believe some right winger at the helm of this outfit is willingly choosing to forsake profits for some larger RW agenda then you are tilting at windmills. Profits are ALL. When Al Frankin draws 'em in at noon then Clear Channel will pick him up. Until then you'll have Rush on 600+ stations.

You got any pics of Rush and a naked 12 YO boy? That might change things. Alternatively, you could coach Frankin because I don't think he's got what it takes.
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newyawker99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-27-04 02:55 PM
Response to Reply #6
15. Hi Fred Duke!!
Welcome to DU!! :toast:
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ArtieBoy Donating Member (248 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-04 11:54 PM
Response to Original message
9. I visited a CC cluster
Last week I visited a Clear Channel cluster because I hope to get a job there (better hold my opinions in!). It's odd, I talked to the host of one of their morning shows who does a lot of right-wing rants, and he said, "I find it bizzare how people take everything on the show so seriously. Even the rhetoric..." I started wondering if what we perceive as a right wing radio conspiracy is actually a case of me-tooism. If Rush Limbaugh works, let's all insert some right wing shit into our show and see if we can get a slice of that pie.

I also talked to a guy who has a high-up office position there, and he talked about the morning show's message board. "They have a lot of right wing nuts on there, man." This guy is pretty openly anti-Bush even though he works for Clear Channel.

I actually enjoyed Rush when he first came on and thought he made some interesting points that had never been raised, like why would Ted Danson be testifying to Congress about global warming? Why do people think they've healed the environment by tossing a frisbee on Earth Day? In the long run, though, he's certainly done more damage than good.
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Bandit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-27-04 12:25 PM
Response to Original message
11. America is a very shallow country easily titillated
And that is what it is all about. Titillation and sensationalism. If we as a nation think the WWE is the best thing on TV by the rating system then we deserve Rush Limbaugh. America has been transformed from a caring compassionate nation into a cruel "in your face" "pop a cap in your ass" country with absolutely no respect for ourselves or others. That is why Rush Limbaugh has succeeded. People in America need to hate. It is extremely ripe for a fascist takeover.
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Cat Atomic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-27-04 01:10 PM
Response to Original message
12. Propaganda pays off in legislation, not advertising revenue.
Edited on Tue Jan-27-04 01:11 PM by Cat Atomic
So sure, these huge media outlets would like to have more listeners, but they're not going to cut off their nose to spite their face. What do they gain by sticking an entertaining liberal on the air, if he espouses policies that are bad for Corporate America?

I certainly think there's a MARKET for non-right wing commentary. This is, after all, a moderately liberal country. The problem is the moderately liberal population doesn't own the airwaves anymore. The corporations do.

Having said that, I really hope you're right.
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loudsue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-27-04 01:36 PM
Response to Original message
13. Fads always pass....
Especially Americans with short attention spans -- who are the consumers of a majority of the recent bullshit media -- are finally going to be saying ...."oh, this is sooooo conservative" (or whatever new name they adopt for the hype).

It just hasn't reached "critical mass" yet, and the boredom hasn't totally set in on the balance sheets, or American's checking account deposit slips from REAL world problems.

O8)I hope the backlash comes soon, and I hope it is more severe than anyone can imagine. O8)

:kick:

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SpiralHawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-27-04 02:15 PM
Response to Original message
14. Welcome to DU, Mayberry
And thanks for your analysis. I think you have done a great job of laying out the situation with the media, and the possible pendulum swing. There are, of course, as you and others point out, formidable institutional barriers to a natural swing of the pendulum. But I have a hunch it will happen anyway.
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tom_paine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-27-04 03:10 PM
Response to Original message
16. I don;t know that it will peter out any more than Nazi propaganda did
People have an endless appetite for lies and scapegoating.

Endless.

Further, the edifice I like to call Goebbels v2.0 (which includes TalkRadio as well as the rest of the Party Loyal Right-Wing Sub-Media) uses psychomanipulation to (as the Nazis before hem did) create a "victim's mentality" in the aggressive overlords and Imperial Stooges and to reprogram it's subjects to reject immediately any contradictory information, particularly if it comes from Non-Party Sources.

Such an edifice could run until doomsday. The Nazis did not stop and would not stop until somebody stopped them.

So it is with the Imperial Family and their Stooges.
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kclown Donating Member (459 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-27-04 03:25 PM
Response to Original message
17. Limbaugh's contribution, starting in the late 80's
has been to take the intellectual content of the Wall Street
Journal editorial page (the original neoconservatives) and
feed it to people who wouldn't be caught dead with a copy of
the WSJ.  It's ironic that his first success, which inspired
his hatred of Democrats, was his (and the Journal's) campaign
against the secret balloting for the Congressional discharge
petition.  This allowed representatives to favor or even
co-sponsor legislation which they privately opposed, by
requiring a secret ballot to get the bill to the floor.  This
is a genuine abuse, and was used ruthlessly by Jim Wright, the
Democratic speaker.  
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