Trumped Up Radio
Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin are the titans of political radio. Their combined audiences of 33+ million listeners have established them as the key voices of conservatism in America. Limbaugh is 65, Hannity is 54 and Levin is 58. They have long, established careers. And needless to say, they’re rich. In 2008, Rush signed a $400 million dollar contract which expires this year. He’ll probably sign another. Hannity and Levin haven’t been behind the mic for as long as Rush, but they too have signed multi-year contracts worth tens of millions of dollars. In February, Levin announced that he and Westwood One had signed a “lifetime extension” of his program through the year 2025. And now he’s added a TV show to his already-full schedule. Their shows are not only popular, but are still gaining in popularity…reaching new markets and listeners every day.
Like many of their listeners, I call them by their first names; Rush, Sean and Mark, as if they’re my buddies. In a sense, they are. These guys have been with me for hundreds of hours…in the car, at work and at home…speaking truths that I desperately needed to hear. They taught me a great deal about politics, history and society. They also taught me how to identify frauds and phonies. I’ll explain further down why this is important.
I listen to their shows when I can. All three shows are three hours long. Maybe you have nine spare hours a day to listen to the radio. I do not. Even if I had extra time, I probably wouldn’t use it to consume more political news than I already consume. I’ve always respected the opinions of these radio titans and believed them to be genuine in their defense of conservatism. For this reason, it’s been hard for me to understand their strange, passive, irresponsible defense and mild support of Donald Trump.
The New York real estate billionaire is unprincipled, immoral, petulant, obnoxious and rude. We’ve known this about him for a long time. I’ve been hearing his name for as long as I can remember…and it’s always been negative; divorces, bankruptcies, shady business deals, unpaid contractors, insults and arrogance. But honestly, I don’t care about any of this.
I’ve never had anything against Donald Trump the businessman. I never joined the chorus of those who insulted him. Why should I? He’s been over there in New York with his big empire, his reality show and his beauty pageants while I’ve been over here doing my own thing. Although Trump has a personality and a style that I do not like, I’ve never had a reason to dislike him.
Trump’s flaws, however, became significantly more important to me last year when he emerged as a serious Republican candidate for President. By “serious,” I don’t mean to imply that he was ever a good candidate, but rather, that it seemed like more people than ever were taking him seriously. Suddenly, the absurdity of this man, which had always been entertaining and amusing, was no longer a laughing matter.
We’ve all been amused by a clumsy clown who says foolish things, falls down and runs into walls. Now imagine that clown is holding something important like your baby. Suddenly, you’re hoping and praying he can become a careful man. But deep inside, you know that’s just not who he is. Everything within you just wants to take that baby to safety. Just to clarify the analogy for you, our nation is the vulnerable baby, Trump is the clown and he’s in the mood for some juggling.
Of all the flaws I mentioned above, none are as problematic as the following two. They are truly the only reasons I cannot support Trump in these primaries. He is deeply unpopular and he is totally unprepared to be President. He’s not even prepared for these primaries. However, in spite of his unappealing qualities, I would put all my opinions aside to support him if he had a chance to win in November and if he would demonstrate that he knows what he’s doing. But he does not have a chance against Clinton and he does not know what he’s doing. There’s a strong possibility that you, me and Trump are all learning about the primary process at the same time.
Last fall, I began listening again to Rush, Sean and Mark on a regular basis. I wanted to understand how it was possible that Americans were taking Trump seriously as a candidate. It didn’t take long for me to realize that something was wrong. Something was off. All three of them had noticeably changed in a way that was hard to explain. They had lost their sharp edge. It’s like they had gone soft, awkwardly trying to cover each candidate in a “fair light,” as if they had no prior opportunities to evaluate these candidates, as if they knew nothing about them. They wanted to give them “the chance to make their case for why they should be President.”
Suddenly, these bold trumpets of conservatism, which had been the bravest and the loudest for so long, were now muffled, unclear and contradictory. Suddenly, these courageous commentators were timidly acting like objective reporters who had to be fair and balanced. Suddenly, they were acting like Wolf Blitzer.
But we didn’t need another Wolf Blitzer. We already have a hundred Wolf Blitzers…talking heads who don’t take sides on the issues. What we needed was for Rush, Sean and Mark to be our voices again and lay out the standards they had taught us. We needed for them to say what we already knew; only a handful of the 17 Republicans were good, acceptable candidates. The rest were not, for one reason or another.
At the top of the list of bad candidates (or perhaps the bottom) was Trump…the only candidate in this election who is somehow more unpopular and unelectable than Clinton. He would lose to her (or Sanders) in the general election in a historic landslide. I know it. You know it. Rush, Sean & Mark know it. The Democrats know it and every poll shows it. I’m not into conspiracies, but some have speculated that even Trump knows he’ll lose to Clinton…and that’s been his plan from the beginning. But that’s another topic for another post.
From the start of this election, conservatives knew what needed to happen. We know history. We’ve closely followed many elections. We were humiliated in the Novembers of 92', 96', 08' and 12' because of our weak, uninspiring candidates. For the last nine months, we’ve been chomping at the bit to get this new batch of weak Republicans out of the way so that one of our young, bright conservatives could be thoroughly prepared for the general election. We were clear about the seriousness of nominating one of the good candidates…and we already knew who they were. Before the first campaign dollar was spent, before the 50 debates and before anyone dropped out of the race, we already knew who was on the shortlist. And Trump was nowhere near that list…for several good reasons.
We needed Rush, Sean & Mark to loudly and clearly speak the following truths to listeners who didn’t already know it; “Trump is unelectable because he’s deeply unpopular. He is not prepared for this election. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s not who he says he is and he’s not worthy of your vote.” Instead, they inexplicably defended Trump, talked about him as if he could do some good in the GOP field. Suddenly, these leaders who helped us for so long to identify phonies were now defending a phony…and at the worse possible time, when voters were beginning to form their opinions about the candidates. They spent the bulk of numerous shows pointing out how Trump wasn’t being treated fairly by the media.
Meanwhile, Trump connected with an angry, gullible portion of the electorate that was easily led astray. He rose in popularity by telling them what they wanted to hear. He rode on the wave of their anger towards Democrats and the GOP establishment. He poisoned their minds with lies about the other candidates while conditioning them to ignore his own lies.
For decades, Rush, Sean and Mark have been the ones who alerted us when politicians were lying. When politicians neglected the promises they made as candidates, they were the ones who brought their duplicity to our attention. They called them out on their lies. They made us skeptical of leaders who were betraying our trust. And now we are skeptical of them.
They certainly don’t deserve all the blame for Trump’s rise. Much of it goes to the candidates who stayed in the race for too long. They no longer had a realistic chance to win, but they stayed in the race anyway, taking votes away from those who might’ve beaten Trump. There’s also plenty of blame for the sellouts who latched themselves to Trump to benefit their careers. These candidates and these sellouts, however, never had the deep level of trust and loyalty that Rush, Mark and Sean had earned from their listeners.
Many readers of my recent posts have gone out of their way to point out that Rush Limbaugh has been fairly neutral in is coverage of Trump. But since when have we ever asked Rush to be neutral? Was he fair or neutral in his coverage of the Clintons or Obama? Not at all…he played a big part in exposing them for the frauds they are. This is what we’ve always expected from Rush. But for some reason, during this election he strangely tried to walk on both sides of the fence. He has clearly stated his admiration and preference for Cruz, but he still goes on and on about Trump, often in a positive light.
Mark Levin’s preference and bias for Ted Cruz have been obvious for a long time. He finally endorsed him on March 9th. But by this time, he had already spoken favorably of Trump during several critical months. It made no sense. In September, he “explained” why people were supporting Trump (link). It sounds more like a justification of Trump support, in my opinion. And in November, he went out of his way to defend Trump on multiple occasions from the media’s “unfairness” (link). These are just two of many examples. This went on for the entire second half of 2015. It was as if a gun was pointed to his head and he had no choice but to speak positively about Trump. Levin’s listeners were too smart to not notice this. He acted as if we didn’t remember him trashing Trump in 2011;
Sean Hannity is the guiltiest of the three. His thinly-veiled preference for Trump is greatly disappointing to his #LNYHBT followers (Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled). He went beyond favorable coverage of Trump. He is now taking up the Trump talking points, legitimizing Trump’s complaint that the nomination is being stolen from him. In this interview, Hannity presses Cruz for an answer about how he’s convincing delegates to vote for him:
When Cruz pushes back, Hannity defends his question by stating that this is what his followers are asking him on social media. Sean, if that’s what your followers are asking you, then you need to educate them instead of passing their accusations onto Cruz. You’ve had no problem doing this before. This statement by Sean reveals how much he has strayed. Instead of being out in front of public opinion, Sean is now reacting to it. He’s not leading anymore. He’s now serving as a conduit for Trump’s narrative, just like the rest of his colleagues at Fox News. He may be pleasing one loud segment of his audience, but there is now a much bigger segment that doesn’t trust him anymore.
What possibly motivated these radio titans to prop up a bad candidate during an election when so much is at stake? Many commentators have already asked this question and attempted to answer it. Their theories are too simple, in my opinion. Some say they’ve been paid off somehow, but that’s ridiculous. These are wealthy, well-established men in the later stages of their careers. They’re not going to sell their legacies for a few more dollars.
Some say they’re worried about ratings, not wanting to upset their Trump-supporting listeners. I don’t buy this either. They have all criticized and written off candidates who were better than Trump. They’ve never seemed worried about offending anyone’s fans. They are not up-and-coming in their careers, worried about getting fired. They don’t need to walk on eggshells for anyone…not for advertisers or anyone else who signs their checks.
The only plausible theory, in my opinion, is that Rush, Sean and Mark had some sort of concerted plan to cover Trump favorably so that he would attract the media’s heat instead of the candidates they truly favor. Whether or not this was their plan, it’s exactly how things have played out. The media has fixated on Trump while the other candidates have been largely uncovered. The only problem with the plan is that it backfired. In a sense, they started a fire that they assumed would quickly burn out.
But it didn’t burn out. After scorching the campaigns of Bush, Carson and Rubio, all the heat from the Trump Inferno is now directed at Cruz, the last good option we have left. Trump is infecting his supporters with poisonous lies about Cruz stealing the election from him, which is all he can do to hide the fact that he wasn’t prepared for the tough work of campaigning.
There may be no way to undo the damage that Trump has done in this election. This is our last chance to elect a President who can hopefully begin our long road to recovery. Trump’s ego and incompetence are leading us to a third-straight Democratic term in the White House. He will never be our President, but he is single-handedly preventing us from having a good one.
The verdict is still out on Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin. I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. They are now openly criticizing Trump and calling him out on his absurdity, although it may be too late. They should’ve been speaking like this in 2015. Sean Hannity, I’m afraid, is done. There is no basis or justification for his blatant support of a candidate who has no chance to win and is poisoning our electorate with hatred and lies. Readers of this post may see things differently, but as far as I’m concerned, Hannity should be disregarded along with Matt Drudge, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, Ben Carson and every other sellout whose opinion we once respected.
We needed every conservative in the book to rise to this occasion and make sure we nominated the right guy in 2016. Trump is not the right guy. Many have enabled him to put us in the horrible position while our nation teeters on the brink of disaster. On the bright side, we now know who they are…and we will never forget.
This article was originally posted April 25, 2016 (link)