Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have the two most highly rated talk shows in the country.  This has been the case for quite some time. 

But although Limbaugh and Hannity remain numbers one and two, respectively, their ratings have decreased precipitously during recent months: Limbaugh has lost about a third of his audience while Hannity has lost over a quarter of his. 

This phenomenon may be only temporary.  On the other hand, it’s possible that the very same fate that befell their leftist counterparts in the “mainstream” during the last few decades is now being visited upon self-avowed “conservatives” in the so-called “alternative” media.

In short, just as the left’s monopoly over the creation and dissemination of the news gave way to the rise of Fox News and talk radio, perhaps the monopoly that Limbaugh and company achieved over “the alternative media” is now giving way to the internet and satellite radio. 

This thesis is more than a bit plausible.

For a long enough period of time, the Republicans held control of both chambers of Congress and the White House.  Yet not only did Republicans fail to contract the federal government. They succeeded at expanding it: during their tenure the government assumed more domestic and foreign engagements than ever before.

With the exception of some episodic nods of disapproval here and there, however, “conservative” commentators offered nothing in the way of sustained, serious, substantive criticisms.  Instead, they continued to pummel the Democratic opposition while transforming every objection to the Republican Party’s aggressive Big Government agenda into an expression of “liberalism.

The problem is that Limbaugh, Hannity, and most of their colleagues persist in whistling the same tune today.

Admittedly, after Republicans suffered devastating losses at the voting booths in 2008, Republican commentators and politicians have expressed regret over how their party “lost its way” by “betraying” its “conservative principles.”  But beyond such generic issuances, no specific apologies or regrets are ever uttered. 

How exactly is it that the GOP “lost its way?” Who exactly “betrayed” its “conservative principles?”  What exactly did you do to contribute to your party’s reversal of fortunes? 

These are the questions to which the talking heads of the “alternative media” and the politicians for whom they apologize have never provided answers. 

It isn’t just that talk radio has lost droves of listeners that intrigues.  It is the time frame within which it is losing listeners that supplies much food for thought.

Barack Obama is a disastrous president.  His popularity among Americans fell more precipitously, and more rapidly, than that of any other president in our history.  Millions and millions of us believe, along with Rush Limbaugh, that Obama wants nothing more or less than to substitute for the historicalUnited Statesa socialist utopian of his own imagination.  So, Obama needs to be defeated as of yesterday.

Within less than a year, the goal of defeating this president could very well come to pass, for the Republicans are in the midst of nominating a candidate who will take the fight to Obama.

One would think that given the convergence of these two events, more people than ever before would be availing themselves of “the alternative media.”  Conservatives, neoconservatives, libertarians, independents, “moderates,” and even disenchanted Democratic liberals—of whom there are many—would regularly consume the latest from the “conservative” voices of the airwaves. 

So we would think.  

But such is not the case.

It isn’t, of course, that people have reconsidered their all too justified judgments of Obama and his Democrats.  Nor is it the case that millions from across the political spectrum aren’t concerned about the outcome of this next election. 

It is just that more and more people, eager to engage genuinely unfettered voices, are circumventing Big Corporate Media in both of its authorized rightist and leftist varieties in order to drink of the ocean of internet magazines and blogs.  There is a conservative or anti-leftist media:  but it is to be found on-line.  

One step toward regaining some of their lost credibility that Limbaugh, Hannity, and the others can take would be to start treating Ron Paul a bit more respectfully.  Paul, along with millions of the most demographically disparate Americans, is defying both the conventional wisdom as well as the two-party system that embodies it.

After that, they should consider abandoning the notion that George W. Bush, a man who, along with his Republican Congress, presided over the largest expansion of the federal government since Lyndon Banes Johnson’s “Great Society”, was a great “conservative” president.  

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

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