March 26, 2012 by Richard Drake
Question: The brouhaha over conservative talk radio star Rush Limbaugh’s incendiary remarks on contraception has intensified and more advertisers have withdrawn their support. Will this have a “cooling effect” on talk radio in general? Should conservatives be concerned?
For years we have been hearing of the great liberal conspiracy to silence talk radio, to still the men and women who would speak truth-to-power (do you hate that cliché as much as I do?) and force Americans to live once more under the cruel tyranny of the “Fairness Doctrine.”
The Fairness Doctrine, much like death panels and voter registration fraud, is trotted out every so often to scare the professionally frightened among us, those who don’t stop and say, “Oh, wait. What?”
I refreshed my knowledge of the Doctrine at the website of the Museum of Broadcast Communications. I emphasize the word “Museum,” because this is where the Doctrine permanently resides, as a relic of the past.
This rule, which once meant that opposing views must be represented on TV and radio stations is a thing of the past, is as dead as the Dodo bird.
I mention this because professional hysterics are bringing it up again, as if the Rush Limbaugh Affair is just the excuse the government needs to . . . oh, you know.
And then there are those who feel that some in talk radio may engage in self-censorship as a result of the offensiveness of Limbaugh’s remarks. Well, certainly Limbaugh may feel some heat. Although at this writing, he is busy pointing the finger of responsibility at everyone but himself.
Will Limbaugh’s advertising revenue be affected to the point where he goes off the air? Would it matter?
Don Imus, who left the airwaves after a racially and sexually insult-
ing remark about a
young black woman, returned after eight months in the wilderness. Limbaugh, with his connections in the media and political world, would only become a martyr. He’d return to the airwaves a much larger figure than when he left.
There are rumblings that some radio stations, burnt by the Limbaugh type of show — let’s not pretend that he is the only one out there — are thinking of switching to the sort of show offered by Mike Huckabee, who can be just as offensive, but in a much nicer way. He can say something ugly and then go on “The View” and charm the hosts.
But ultimately, it is the listeners of these programs who will have the final word. But the sheer fact of the matter is that there are waves upon waves of a “more conversation, less confrontation” conservative talk radio strategy. The Limbaughs out there, all chortling that they aren’t “politically correct” and stirring up the base (and often the baser emotions) of the GOP — this will drive radio ratings. Will audiences settle for a less confrontational style, a more moderate manner of conversation? Or do they want what they are used to?
Will they simply switch to a station that offers someone who is more to their liking? The more prominent radio hosts may moderate their language for a time, but the vast majority won’t. They will take this as a challenge.
What is truly amazing is that any- one on AM radio has any political influence on anyone in this day and age.