You’ve got to give up something for Lent so as of Ash Wednesday, I am giving up blogging. See you all in 40 days.
Before I go, I just want to comment on John Derbyshire’s recent TAC article on talk radio. Eighteen years ago I’m sure a lot of us, myself included, listened to Limbaugh and other hosts back then because it was a new and entertaining form of media and the only one with a rightward bent. It wasn’t so much lowbrow as it was populistic and funny. Today, talk radio is a form of ideological reinforcement where the members of the “inner party” use the Limbaughs and Hannitys of the world to make sure the masses tow THEIR particular line and where the talkshow host, instead of reflecting upon whether or not invading Iraq was a good idea, happily goes along with something they wouldn’t necessarily go along with if a liberal Democrat was in White House (I don’t recall Rush being an enthusiastic bombardier when it came to Kosovo) in order to stay in with in crowd. This is exactly the kind of totalitarian mindset Austin Bramwell described the conservative establishment as being today in his TAC article “Good Bye to All That – A former National Review trustee surveys the wreckage of contemporary conservatism.” A few people get to decide what the movement thinks and everyone on down the chain obeys, just as Orwell described the world in 1984 or Animal Farm.
Is this not the way the Left works and is this what we’ve been brought up to fight against? And yet we’re doing it to ourselves. We’ve let power and influence and ratings turn us into the very things we supposedly can’t stand. Look at how chasten Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey became when he dared critize El Rusbo (or is it El Jefe?). Is it the talkshow host we should be blaming here and not the medium itself? I don’t know. It would take a brave host to step out of the mainstream in the face of ostracism that would occur as Charles Goyette will tell you (although Glenn Beck may be headed in that direction) along with a potential drop in ratings and advertising revenue because one isn’t taking the “party line.” Indeed, trying to create shows that appeal to the “middlebrow” audience may sound nice in theory, but I guarantee you won’t find a producer out there willing to put such a show together (What? Conservative audiences don’t go for that NPR “soft talk” crap. They want red meat. They want to be angry and ornery. They want outrage and by golly we’re going to give it to them!) . I’m no expert on talk radio, but it seems to me if you want a successful show you need to find an audience out there willing to listen to it and right now there just isn’t a middlebrow audience for any potential conservative host to reach out to at this point. Conservatives may very well have to find another form of medium to reach out to this group.
Here are some past critiques of Limbaugh and talk radio I’ve written that you can chew on for the next 40 days and 40 nights: “Empire of Limbaugh makes another Conquest”; “The Politics of Rush Limbaugh – The Happy People vs. The Gloomy People.” and “The Enablers – Conservative Talk-Radio Hosts”