LESSONS LEARNED #30: “Liberal talk radio is not successful because liberals are not deep thinkers.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 9th, 2010

CENSORSHIP BY ANY OTHER NAME IS STILL CENSORSHIP

When an oppressive, totalitarian regime seizes power, they shut down the radio and television stations.  It’s at the top of their ‘to do’ list.  Because it’s the fastest media.  Then they turn to the newspapers.  Once they control the content they open for business again.  We call it censorship.  The people only hear what they want the people to hear.  And they kill/imprison those who persist in trying to distribute anything other than the state’s propaganda. 

When you control the media, you can tell any lie.  You can report the state has increased food protection while millions die from famine.  You can report the great economic success of the Five Year Plan while people wait in lines for hours to get their rations of soap and toilet paper.  You can report the success of your Keynesian economic policies while record numbers of people go unemployed.  If you have control of the media you can tell any lie.  And prevent the telling of any truth.

When government pursues policies that are not popular, the telling of lies and the controlling of truths becomes policy.  Enter the Fairness Doctrine.  JFK used it to muzzle the Right when they debated the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.  LBJ used it to muzzle conservative radio stations (who were attacking his Great Society policies, not the Vietnam War).  Nixon tried to use it to silence his enemies (it doesn’t work, though, when your enemies are liberal media outlets). 

Ronald Reagan, a supporter of First Amendment rights, revoked the doctrine during his administration.  And the Left has been trying to bring it back ever since.  (They even want to extend it to the Internet – another medium the Left does not control.  But that’s another story for another time.)

FAIR IS NOT FAIR

The liberals say it’s not fair that a Rush Limbaugh can go on the air for 3 hours a day 5 days a week without an opposing viewpoint to ‘balance’ his views.  Bill Clinton said it’s not fair because there is no ‘truth detector’ to separate fact from fiction (he said that before he was impeached for perjury).  When they talk about ‘fairness’ it’s code for censorship.  What they want is to silence these alternate viewpoints. 

If you want to talk about being fair, let’s be fair.  Do conservatives have an unfair advantage in media?   The Culture and Media Institute (a Division of the Media Research Center) published a special report for the Media Research Center titled Unmasking the Myths Behind the Fairness Doctrine.  It’s 30 pages but well worth your time in reading it.  On page 5 of this report they cite audience reach and circulation statistics for the top 5 sources of information liberals and conservatives use:

Broadcast TV news, millions/day   Liberal  42.1     Conservative  0.0
Top 25 newspapers, millions/day   Liberal  11.7     Conservative  1.3
Cable TV news, millions/month     Liberal 182.8     Conservative 61.6
Top talk radio, millions/week         Liberal  24.5     Conservative 87.0
Newsweeklies, millions/week        Liberal   8.5      Conservative  0.0

When you look at these numbers, you see a dominance of liberal sources.  In fact, talk radio is the only source in the list where conservatives make up a larger percentage of the audience than liberals.  And yet talk radio is the only source that liberals cite as needing a fairness doctrine.  What does that tell you?  The only bias that exists in the media is against conservatives.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Air America, the all-liberal national radio network (now there’s fairness), went belly up.  Chapter 7 (liquidation).  They tried Chapter 11 (reorganization) earlier but the reorganized business couldn’t make any money either.  By contrast, Rush Limbaugh has been on the air since the late 1980s.  And, according to him, he has never had a down year or had to lay off a single employee.  Why?

Radio is free.  To us.  The listeners.  Others pay so we can listen free.  Advertisers.  Do they do this out of altruism?  No.  They do it out of greed.  They advertise to increase their sales revenue.  It’s a win-win.  They promote their products and services.  We listen for free.  And broadcasters make enough money to cover their bills and earn a profit.  (Well, I guess that’s more of a win-win-win.  There’re three winners.  But I belabor the point.)  It’s really a simple formula.  There’s only one catch.  Advertisers only want to advertise where people are actually listening.

And that was the problem with Air America.  No one was listening.  Weak ratings equal weak advertising sales.  Liberals can exist in the realm of National Public Radio (publicly funded no matter how few people listen), but if their revenue is tied to their popularity, they’re screwed. 

LIKE READING BOOKS

FOX paired liberal Alan Colmes with conservative Sean Hannity on Hannity and Colmes.  The show had a successful run.  Sean Hannity still has that timeslot.  Alone.  As well as the #2 radio program behind Rush Limbaugh.  Colmes has not gone on to such bigger or better things.

Colmes blamed the failure of Air America on unfair treatment.  The conservatives got the best stations and time slots.  So Air America never had a chance.  Despite having big on-air talent like Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo.  But it wasn’t unfair treatment that favored conservatives.  It was advertising revenue that favored conservatives.  If the liberals could have delivered the ratings conservatives did, they’d be on the best stations in the best time slots.  But they couldn’t.  So they weren’t.

Liberals like to be entertained.  They’ll tune into SNL and The Daily Show.  For they love a good personal attack on a conservative.  They’ll watch the network news that is full of entertainment news.  They’ll buy The New York Times and read the Arts section.  They’ll tune in and listen to the shock jocks on FM and satellite radio. But they don’t like thinking about serious issues.  To them listening to talk radio is like reading a book.  And where’s the fun in that?

FARTS ARE FUNNY

Liberal talk radio will never have the numbers conservative talk radio has.  Not in a center-right country.  The intelligentsia (liberals in the media, college professors, etc.) is a very small minority.  The other liberals are just children who haven’t grown up yet.  And how many children do you know that eat their vegetables?  Wash behind their ears?  Read a book?  Or engage in deep, philosophical thought?  I don’t know any.  The kids I know think fart jokes are funny.  Think about that the next time someone laughs at a fart joke on TV.  I’ll bet you it’s a child that’s laughing.  Or a liberal.

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