Busting the Media Monopoly: The Disruptive Power of My Show
There was a time when we all got the news with the same facts, if you will. We had three networks we watched for the evening news. Most of us got newspapers. Everybody in the middle class got a newspaper, so we got the same facts…” — Mitt Romney, to former Obama advisor David Axelrod, “The Axe Files” podcast, 10/16/15“[Due to the] change in the world of media … we have commentators … who are hyperbolic in expressing their views on issues … And I think that divisiveness is one of the things that has led to Washington having such a hard time getting things done.” — Mitt Romney, “The Axe Files” podcast, 10/16/15“You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.” — Barack Obama to GOP leaders, quoted in The New York Post, 1/24/09The political establishment — of both parties — longs for the good old days. Before me. When liberals completely controlled the news, the media pretended to be “objective” — and the left was on its great march through American institutions, unimpeded.As I wrote in the November 19 issue of National Review, my show started “a conservative-media revolution. And perhaps its greatest consequence has been the destruction of the left’s national media monopoly.” In 1988, when my radio program went national, America had 125 talk radio stations. Today, there are over 2,500, and most are conservative. In 1997, Fox News arrived. There has been an explosion of conservative websites. Here’s the core point:
I firmly believe that the conservative-media revolution has caused the liberal media to abandon any pretense of objectivity and fairness and actively advocate on the left’s behalf … Now there is a fierce competition for the hearts and minds of the American people, which the left used to believe it owned.
It’s a beautiful thing. But Mitt Romney wants to go back to the world as it was in 1988 — the three networks and cnn and a couple of newspapers, and that was the media, that was the news, run by the left. The Republicans were perennial losers. We’re talking about 150 to 160 seats in the House of Representatives in those days, and they were perfectly satisfied, as long as the Democrats gave them a cut of the action. They were all part of the Washington establishment, they knew their place, and all was right with their world.
My program was the first broadcast national conservative media presentation, radio or tv. And from thence emerged the entire build-out of the alternative conservative media. All along, as it was happening, I assumed the Republican Party would be ecstatic. Finally, they would not be prisoner to the mainstream media. They wouldn’t be prisoner to a Democrat Party-media cabal that basically aced them out of political power.
The busting of the media monopoly did lead to electoral victories, but it didn’t take long before I sensed a problem. Of course, the Democrats were on my case from day one. Bill Clinton blamed me for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. In 1994 Bill Clinton called kmox in St. Louis to complain that I had three hours a day on the radio and he couldn’t respond to it — even though he was President of the United States — nor was there any “truth detector” for me. As I said at the time, I am the truth detector.
Yet there were telltale signs that the Republican Party was not all that thrilled. Romney’s comments finally reveal why. The birth of this new conservative media prevents establishment Republicans from compromising with Democrats.
Look, you get the drift. You’ve heard a parade of Republican candidates list as their No. 1 accomplishment, “I can cross the aisle, I can work with the other side, I can cooperate with the Democrats, I’m the guy who can get things done.” They long for the time when there was no public opposition to their caving to the Democrat majority. No one even knew about it.
Oh, happy days. The days before you began harassing Republicans on issues like immigration, spending, and demanding they resist Democrat policies like Obamacare. Those were the days! Nobody reported on the inner workings of Congress, or revealed what was in pending legislation, or held their feet to the fire. So you didn’t fax them, email them, call them. Nobody was shutting down the Capitol Hill switchboard. They didn’t have to pretend to agree with you.
Well, now we know. They’ve harbored resentment for a long time, and it has finally reached a boiling point. I don’t know whether it’s the Trump candidacy, the rise of the “outsiders,” or the reality dawning on them that you are truly rejecting establishment candidates. But they despise the rise of New Media outlets in the internet age which has allowed ordinary people to access information the mainstream press conceals.
For instance, as we go to press, the broadcast networks on November 18 did not mention one word about the five Syrians arrested in Honduras with stolen Greek passports about to cross into the U.S. You’d think this would be major news, would you not, in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris, given that among the attackers were Syrians traveling on stolen passports?
But those events are embarrassing to Barack Obama, who always downplays the threat of Islamic terror, and insists there’s little risk from Syrian “migrants.” They’re just widows and “three-year-old orphans.” Only bigots could possibly object to their moving here. So, to maintain Obama’s fiction that these Syrians are innocent babes and old ladies — the networks simply ignored the story.
But they don’t control the news anymore. Fox News ran the details, and online reports flew around the internet. Despite the best efforts of the gatekeepers, people learned about it anyway. True, we no longer “get the same facts” — that is, the same lies. Including lies by omission. The Old Media no longer has power to keep you in the dark.
And, despite a nonstop propaganda blitz by the mainstream media, Bloomberg reports this: “Fifty-three percent of U.S. adults … say the nation should not continue a program to resettle up to 10,000 Syrian refugees. Just 28 percent would keep the program with the screening process as it now exists…” So, two to one, Americans give a thumbs-down to Obama’s Syria refugee plan, even though the Obama Protection Media pumped out nothing but “you’re a racist” messages for daring to question this influx.
Americans ignored the media disapproval. Because now there are alternative information sources. Because voters have educated themselves. And because we have common sense. The media and the political establishment can’t do a xxxx thing about any of that.
And guess what: they are falling to competition. They’re losing their audiences, revenue, and support. I consider it one heck of a career achievement. Their “good old days” are never coming back.
Despite the conventional wisdom, I think there’s all kinds of bipartisanship in Washington. The Democrats (including the media) and the Republican establishment are united in their passionate desire to wipe conservatives out. They perceive us as the only real threat. And I’m happy to say, we are a threat to their power — because we can beat them. We’re proving it.
From the December 2015 Limbaugh Letter