Is an era passing and is it doing so right before our eyes?

Close the door on your way out

CLUE NUMBER ONE:  The Republican party faces an existential threat – and not just from this election year pageantry. They face a very real threat from demographic reality. They are losing their traditional base by attrition and simultaneously repelling the younger more diverse voters they will need just to survive.  But the GOP can’t seem to get past what they’ve become, a party of angry white men shouting at everybody else to get off their lawns., or blaming women for the Original Sin of tempting Adam. Might they take the neo-Cons and the Tea Party and the Christianists down with them? I guess that would just be returning a favor, wouldn’t it.

CLUE NUMBER TWO: While we’ve been gleefully counting the growing list of advertisers pulling out of Limbaugh’s show, a few reporters are beginning to look at the claim that Limbaugh has  “twenty-million listeners”. (We’ve all been long certain of that number. I’ve referred to it many times.) And guess what?

A story from David Frum today suggests it may be closer to ‘under two million’. Which is, I think, somewhat fewer than twenty million.

That Limbaugh is losing advertisers right now may be part of a continuum we just haven’t been paying attention to. Frum quotes from an ’09 story:

Conservative talk radio has never been more angry and extreme than today. You might think that’s a response to the Obama presidency. But even more, conservative talkers are responding to a collapse in advertising revenues.

According to Scott Fybush, the proprietor of North East Radio Watch, talk radio has lost 30-40% of its ad revenues over the past two years.

It’s said that good things come in threes, so keep your eyes open!

17 responses to “Is an era passing and is it doing so right before our eyes?

  1. Any prediction on the third?


  2. For more on this subject I recommend the 3/52012 issue of NEW YORK MAGAZINE. Both Jonathan Chait and john Heilemann have excellent articles. BTW, NY Mag has with the addition of Frank Rich become one of the best progessive voices out there.


  3. BTW … Joe the Plumber wins and Jean Schmidt loses.


  4. Reblogged this on Talk & Politics and commented:
    Great take on the collapsing extremist right, by Moe.
    Not with a bang but a whimper.


  5. Not to rain on the parade, but I suspect some, if not many, of the sponsors ‘abonding’ Mr. Limbaugh will be back on board his boat within 12 months or less. He’s kind of radioactive right now, but people forget pretty quickly, at least assuming he doesn’t do something equally obnoxious shortly.

    My dad listen to Rush’s whole show every day, so I think his audience is pretty good sized. It might also depend on what you mean by listen to: listening distractedly on a 15 minute drive, or listening intently to the whole show.


    • I think you’re right bruce, that some of those advertisers will be back. But the overall direction of talk radio listenership and therefore of advertising overall is down, down. Rush may last longer than all the wanna-be’s, but I think the data says that the entire phenomenon of right wing radio may have run its course.

      I have a brother who puts in his three hours too. He’s become intransigent and hostile since he started listening to Limbaugh. He’s become tribal. We used to talk about politics etc (he was always conservative) but since Rush entered his life, he doesn’t engage in dialogue any more. It’s like I – and much of the rest of the family – are now the enemy. And I do blame Limbaugh for his relentless liberal witch hunt.


  6. It is unlikely that the Republican Party itself faces an existential threat. It is far too well established institutionally for even the current round of imbecile ‘candidates’ to destroy.

    What does face an existential threat is the hard-core dogmatic wing of it. More hard-liners are coming to grips with reality and realising that negotiations and compromises with the Left are going to be necessary to get anything of value accomplished. The tribalistic old-gaurd and their protegés are making way for a more moderate bunch. The remaining disgruntled hard-liners will likely split off and form their own parties in time.

    It’s probably a natural reaction on a societal scale: when things get tough and look like they will only get worse with time, then people are more likely to band together to solve common problems. Tribalism is a luxury that cannot be maintained at this moment, so those whom sow division and confrontation just for the lawlz are going to lose their appeal.

    Conservative ideology – even the American variety of it – still is appealing to enough people and does have enough good points that even the GOP’s so-called base were to wear thin it would just refocus and recruit from other demographics. This isn’t a bad thing; viable opposition is important in any democracy worth the name, and a movement towards conservative renewal would be good for American politics. It means that there will be more agreement (or at least better opposition), and more things will get done.


    • Great points all, DID, and I agree with a good deal of what you said. Were the GOP to morph [back] into a modern conservative party and drop that anti-science stuff and all the war whooping (Iran! Syria!), it would indeed be very very good for the country.

      I think people want good government, effective government, efficient government and a lot of what the Federal gov’t does meets those criteria, but people don’t perceive it that way. The endless anti govt drumbeat of the last 20 years from talk radio feeds the political dialogue and it becomes a loop – they repeat and reinforce what the other says until it becomes hte conventional wisdom. Add in the neo cons and the Christianists and it’s been unpleasant.

      I’d like to see lively political tension. It would be great and you’re right, it would be healthy. Of course, that’s not what we have now.


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