Currently viewing the tag: "Talk Radio"

MotherJones quotes Frank Luntz — a man I trust implicitly and without let — as saying the right’s famously loud mouths onna radio-machine are making things worse [for the GOP] (via).

See, since this sentiment’s patently, excruciatingly the case, I’d be, well, not “impressed”…let’s say “slightly less inclined to mock it” — if the above linked MotherJones article had not first quoted a chunk o’ LuntzSpeak thusly:

It’s not what you say that matters. It’s what people hear.

That’s Frank in a luntzshell, ladies and gentlemen, right there. Or, as Joseph Palermo put it a year ago on HuffPo:

This advertising technician [Luntz] has proved that George Orwell was correct in his prediction that political language would be manipulated by the most powerful elements of society to entrench their power. Like Norquist, Luntz has become a power among the organized Right because his amoral, unethical, manipulative, dishonest, and downright greasy wordsmithing for the 1 percent works wonders and has already polluted our public discourse. With no real watchdog in the press exposing his lies and misinformation Luntz has been free to employ his techniques with great effect for his right-wing clients.

Fortunately for lovers of trooth and defenders of Civilization™, it ain’t just what people hear, it’s what they *want* to hear, and more accurately, what they’ll shell out their hard-earned Bitcoins to hear. The fetid fond of what remains of the GOP loves them some repugnant shit, and, if the free market has taught us anything, wherein lies a buncha suckers with fat wallets and hate in their hearts, earners gonna earn off ‘em, amirite?

In short, if Luntz is really concerned about messaging, he better hope tha dregz start wanting to hear something else — or else that they start maxing out their Diner’s Club cards. Or possibly that Ammurricans get over their love affair with pizza-pie, so sales go down the pooper.

I mean, soda futures are tanking, so who knows?

Article title a quote by Aakash Abbi, in Secret Tape: Top GOP Consultant Luntz Calls Limbaugh “Problematic” by David Corn on MotherJones. For other, more cogent, takes on the Right’s perverse political incentives, see pretty much the whole last couple of year’s worth of Jonathan Bernstein. It’s a theme that comes up repeatedly, the why for the life of me I can’t figure out.

NSFW, play me out:

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Ketchikan’s KRBD recently broadcast a story about Congressman Don Young (R-AK). In one segment, Young waxed nostalgic about Tha Browns of his youth:
My father had a ranch. We used to hire 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes, you know. It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.
Today’s example of Republican Hispanic Outreach brought to you via The Mudflats with some side trips down other memory lanes by Shannyn Moore (“Asked for specifics, Young answered, “Buttf**king.””) and Alaska Ear (“Don explains seemingly contradictory comments to a TV reporter: “I don’t agree with what I said.”")
Today’s lesson in rhetoric (via This Week in Blackness on Balloon Juice) — the Gish Gallop:
The Gish Gallop, named after creationist Duane Gish, is the debating technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood in real time. [...] Sam Harris describes the technique as “starting 10 fires in 10 minutes.”
The Gish Gallup was mentioned around the 34 minute mark on This Week in Blackness #366 (via the above link). TWIB it up — not in the least because Imani Gandy occasionally sits in on the show.

The simple fact is that the well of dollars keeping conservative talk radio going might very well be going dry for good. One might be surprised by something as commonplace as Rush Limbaugh’s slut-shaming would be causing collateral damage for a bunch of other hosts, but I’m not. Their ratings have been dropping significantly since the midterm elections ended, and the simple fact is that if you’re over 49, as most talk radio listeners are (quite older in fact), advertisers are absolutely uninterested in trying to get you to buy anything. That’s just how it goes. Of course, even if the demographic is generally older, there are still going to be some people in age groups advertisers care about tuning in (perhaps for ironic purposes–I used to listen to Michael Savage semiregularly and laugh at his lack of self-awareness), so you have to balance that with the possibility of getting slimed by association. Looking at all this, it seems very obvious that a tipping point would eventually be reached, that eventually the aging demographics, chronically declining ratings and fears of ruining a company’s reputation would eventually create a perfect storm, and that the meathead contingent would be stuck in the middle of it in a boat when it hit. If it weren’t Sandra Fluke inciting it, it would have been something else. If the trend holds, of course.

And this is, it goes without saying, a very good thing. I personally tend to be suspicious when people earn tremendous amounts of money just venturing their opinions. What kind of opinions are worth that cash? Hateful ones, typically. Ones that scare people into retaining the status quo, now you’re talking. If you’re saying something truly dangerous, or taking action that really threatens the status quo, the odds are you’re not going to make $50 million a year doing it. That’s the tell for me. Rush Limbaugh makes that kind of money by preying upon peoples’ fears and anxieties, and by continually trying to marginalize the voices of inclusion, moderation and sanity within his chosen party. I remember reading many years ago that D.C. groups based on ideals, like people working for stronger environmental regulations, tended to pay poorly, while obviously big oil pays handsomely. And that stuck with me. When it comes to politics, I tend to be highly suspicious of enormous paychecks because there’s not much money in lonely battles against unjust laws. There’s tons of money in protecting powerful interests, since they have it and they have everything to lose. But my question at this point is: what happens if this is for real? How does right-wing radio stick around absent this kind of moneymaking potential? The idea that Mark Levin and Sean Hannity would rebrand themselves as moderates to cultivate a broader following seems unlikely to me, but I guess it depends on whether they want to follow the money or remain ideologues. Time will tell the true grifters from the ideologues. So here’s how I think the big talk radio personalities would deal with leaner times:

  • Limbaugh will never change his style, though he might well have fully cooked his goose this time. He doesn’t exactly take criticism or bad news well, so it’s entirely possible he’ll hang up his microphone after his contract ends and devote himself full-time to designing ugly clothes. Hopefully?
  • It doesn’t appear that the radio boycotts have spread to cable news yet, so even if his radio show bombs Sean Hannity is probably going to be just fine. Sadness.
  • Laura Ingraham has always struck me as a complete opportunist, and if there’s no money to be made as a Limbaugh clone, she’ll just become a clone of someone else who makes more money.
  • Glenn Beck will drop off the face of the earth, but will anyone be sad about that? Also, that’s kind of already in process.
  • I don’t think Mark Levin is capable of dialing down the malice, so he’ll try to ride it out to the end. But my guess is he’ll eventually snap when the millionth person mispronounces his name (“It’s Leh-VINN, dammit!”) and have a minor stroke that convinces him to retire.
  • Michael Savage has seemingly already figured out that aping Alex Jones is a less saturated market, and I would expect him to just go further in that direction.

All in all, the ghost of Morton Downey Jr. will weep.

Did I miss any of the biggies? Write below in comments.

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