The Truth about Conservative Talk Radio
When I first got on Twitter, I was a big fan of conservative Talk Radio. I knew several people who became huge advocates for conservatism only after listening to Rush Limbaugh.
I doubt there were many converts from Hannity or Levin (despite L & T being one of my favorite books), but I assumed it was always a good thing to have people with large audiences promoting conservatism.
However, over time, I started to notice a theme: These hosts were often more dedicated to promoting outrage than conservatism.
Sometimes the outrage was justified and helped bring about necessary action, but it was the other times that started to bother me. It seemed the more victories conservatives won, the more these hosts preached despair.
The Republican Party was adopting conservatism to a greater extent than ever before, but these hosts constantly tried to make it seem like things were worse than ever.
Most importantly, they would create the impression that we were always losing by latching on to misinformation and spin.
I would see the same pattern play out constantly. Random blogger misinterprets something or reports a rumor that makes Republicans look bad, radio hosts seizes on it and promotes it as proof of Republican betrayal, rumor turns out false or exaggerated, host moves on to the next cycle.
Even the liberal media, which these hosts would often attack as dishonest, would issue corrections, but these hosts seemed to have no interest in the truth.
At this point, I still believed these shows were a net positive, but I also recognized that these hosts were making millions from stoking unnecessary outrage.
This is when I personally gave up listening. These hosts were abusing the trust their audiences placed in them and treating their audience like they are dumb.
Before I go on, let me give a few examples of this phenomenon:
1) After the Boston bombing, Glenn Beck spent months accusing an innocent Saudi kid of being responsible and the Obama admin of covering it up. He based this on an early report about the kid being at the scene.
Every time Beck would provide some new bombshell piece of evidence to prove his theory, I would debunk it with some basic research.
However, every time I would post such a debunking, Beck fans would viciously attack me for questioning him. They weren’t interested in the truth.
As far as I know, Beck never apologized for this accusations. He simply moved on to the next story.
2) One example relevant to today is the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill. I wanted immigration reform, but was wary about this bill given what had happened under Reagan.
I ended up being one of the few people who actually read the whole bill, which made it easy to recognize when someone was saying something false.
There was a period of several months where on almost a daily basis some blogger would misinterpret something or some rumor would come out about the bill, Drudge would promote it, talk radio would seize on it and tell their audience to get outraged, it would be debunked in the days that followed, talk radio would move on to the next controversy without correcting, and their listeners would repeat the debunked rumor for months.
I found this particularly frustrating because there were plenty of real issues with the bill. I ended up opposing it, even though it wasn’t nearly as bad as it is currently perceived among most conservatives. It probably was the best we could have done with a Dem Senate and a Dem President, but I figured we would be better off waiting for a Republican to be in the WH.
There are hundreds more examples of this pattern. It has become fairly common. I still see it all the time. Breitbart, for example, has several reporters that consistently and purposefully print false things about Marco Rubio. Talk radio spreads them without even attempting to confirm.
It bothers me to see fellow conservatives, who rely on and trust these sources, being deceived in this way.
I was silent about all of this in the past, but these last 4-6 months were the final line for me and many other informed conservatives.
Talk radio actively started defending and advocating for someone that is the antithesis of everything conservatism stands for, Donald Trump.
It was one thing for these hosts to hinder conservative wins by saying they weren’t good enough, but now they were promoting the exact opposite of conservatism.
Trump is a con man. His con is aimed at a lot of different groups, but the only way he could win conservatives is with assistance from people conservatives actually trust. These hosts chose to give it.
The two biggest issues for conservatives over the last few years were healthcare and the debt.
While these hosts attacked Republicans for not being aggressive enough on fighting Obamacare, they stay silent as Trump promotes single-payer.
While these hosts attacked Republicans for not fighting hard enough to limit Obama’s deficit spending, they stay silent as Trump opposes and demagogues entitlement reform.
These hosts were willing to completely abandon conservatism, and dragged their audiences with them. For me, that was the final straw.
I was silent about their previous dishonesty, but I won’t be as they make a mockery out of the beliefs they claim to represent.
It may not matter what I think, but conservatives shouldn’t be prone to group think. They shouldn’t define conservatism by what Rush, Levin, or Hannity say. Especially when those hosts keep saying things that are dishonest.
It’s time people who care about conservatism actually took a stand against the frauds in our midst. I know I am doing my part, and I hope you will too.