Skip to content

The Business of Controversy

Posted in Politics and Public Affairs

Like any good progressive, I despise conservative talk radio. I don’t hate that it exists. I hate that most of it is so driven by anger, spite, and mean-spiritedness, and a fact-free appeal to the lesser natures of its audience.

I don’t like talk radio, but I understand it. And the thing I understand most clearly is that it is a business, whose goal is to attract listeners who will buy the products of its advertisers. Political power for the host, and persuading people to like or agree are way down the list of things a smart, profitable talker wants to accomplish, though, of course, that helps sell ED pills, gold, and weight loss schemes, too.

It is important to understand the business truth about talk radio when you consider Rush Limbaugh’s most recent appearance in the headlines of mainstream and progressive media. Limbaugh made news by saying that he hopes President Obama fails in his goals. Much outrage and ringing of hands, along with a sigh of relief from some of his conservative colleagues, have followed Limbaugh’s pronouncement. But even more than the reactions of the political class, Mr. Limbaugh wants a reaction from people who have not been listening to his show lately. The reaction he wants? For them to tune in, of course. It does not matter to Limbaugh who likes him or who listens. It only matters that they do, and that he can quantify this to advertisers. While I do not suspect Mr. Limbaugh is a closet Obama backer, I do feel certain that his provocation is completely calculated to generate publicity for his radio show; his bread and butter. In a time when even Republican voters, and some officeholders are taking a wait-and-see, or a cautiously positive approach to the new presidency, Limbaugh needs to remain relevant. After all, he won’t be chatting with the vice president on the radio anymore. His choice was either to antagonize his existing audience by hitching his car to the Obama train (not bloody likely), or to stir up press for himself by throwing bombs. He’s just exercising good business sense.

So how do Limbaugh’s words offer relief to other conservatives? You need look no further than the man’s often stated criticism of the Democratic election aparatus during the Bush years. He accused Dems of rooting for bad economic or war news, thus depriving Bush of the support of the American people. As he looks to his own business, Limbaugh has simply adopted what he believed to be his enemies’ mindset and approach. Root for bad times when the people who beat you are in power, so that your side can provide the blameless alternative.

At a deeper level, Limbaugh has done all of his fellow right wing pundit types a favor. By being the first to say something that is currently perceived to be outrageous, Limbaugh takes flak, and provides cover for all of those who were thinkin it, but didn’t yet dare to say it. The inevitable “yeah, me too!” columns will appear from the likes of Coulter, Hannity, Malkin, and other vermin of the right, and they will be cheered by “the base”, thus enhancing their own cred. Those on the other side will, however, have expended the full measure of outrage at LImbaugh, and his originally controversial statement will become conventional wisdom in the mean-eyed right. Really, that’s what’s gonna happen. I’ve seen it before. One person steps out on a limb, gets the credit and blame for having gone first, and provides the foundation for a treehouse in which all the blatherers may stand, safe in the knowledge that they have moved the line of acceptable discourse. And when people like me next criticize them, the answer will be, “but everyone thinks this already.”


  1. Ted

    WTF, at least El Rushbo is constitutionally qualified to be President!

    January 25, 2009
  2. See, there’s the fact-free contingent coming out to play.

    January 25, 2009
  3. Ted

    Rush Limbaugh was born in 1951 to an American mom “Millie” and an American dad lawyer & WWII Fighter Pilot in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Since ‘President’ Obama now wants to silence El Rushbo even before BHO has a chance to try to re-establish the “fairness doctrine” to silence all conservative talk radio, I’ve got three questions (but answers to only two of them):

    FIRST QUESTION: Who IS the actual and lawful 44th President of the USA?

    ANSWER: Joe Biden

    Biden was initially the Acting President for at least 5 minutes under either the Constitution’s Article 2 or the Constitution’s 20th Amendment, from 12:00 Noon 1/20/09, having already taken his Oath of Office and before Obama completed his ‘oath’ at approximately 12:05 PM, 1/20/09. Under the 20th Amendment if the President-elect shall have failed to qualify, or alternatively under Article 2 if the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term, being 12:00 Noon 1/20/09, which ability and/or qualification includes that he take the Article 2 oath “before he enter on the execution of his office,” then either the Presidency shall devolve on the Vice President under Article 2 or the Vice President shall act as President under the 20th Amendment. (The importance of the oath in ‘commencing’ an ‘Obama Presidency’ — rather than merely the 1/20/09 Noon time — is confirmed by the re-take of the ‘oath’ by Obama at the White House on 1/21/09 after the first ‘oath’ was NOT administered by Justice Roberts NOR recited by Obama in the words as required under Article 2.)

    This is significant because at such time that the Supreme Court finally rules on the merits on Obama’s disqualification as not being an Article 2 “natural born citizen” (clearly he is NOT under either and/or both of two theories — (1) BHO refuses to show Birth Certificate to deny Kenyan birth/res ipsa loquitur “action speaks for itself” or (2) BHO admits dad was Kenyan/British, not American, citizen at Jr’s birth), Biden’s automatic status (without needing to take a separate Presidential Oath) of being President would be predicated upon four different bases: First, having been Vice President under Article 2; second, having been Vice President-elect under the 20th Amendment; third, having been actual President in the hiatus before Obama took the ‘oath(s)’; and fourth, retroactively deemed President during the full period of the Obama usurpation so that the acts of the Federal Government under the usurpation can be deemed authorized and/or ratified by Biden’s legitimacy.

    SECOND QUESTION: Who will be the 45th President?

    ANSWER: Hillary Clinton

    One must assume that Bill and Hillary Clinton have been aware of all of the above. Biden’s wife recently “let the cat out of the bag” on the Oprah Show that both Biden and Hillary had considered alternatively Veep or Secretary of State, in either case, setting up Hillary to be President on a vote of the Democratic Congress if need be.

    THIRD QUESTION: Is Obama an unwitting victim of this troika or a knowing participant?

    ANSWER: Yet undetermined.

    January 25, 2009
  4. Well, Ted, it doesn’t appear that you’ve actually READ much of my blog post, which concerns the whys of Limbaugh’s recent statements. You seem to have a whole lot of anger that you have channeled into conspiracy theories. Fortunately for you, I’m pretty well-informed about these things, so I’ll play one more round. But that’s it. You’re going to have to find another outlet for your ravings. I’ve got work to do.

    Hmm. Rush Limbaugh born to American parents? You’ve sen his birth certificate, then? “El Rushbo”, your pet name for him, sounds kinda foreign to me.

    Oh, I’m blinded by your constitutional scholarship. Article blah, section blah. You must be right because the paragraph you pasted is really really complicated. I’ll wait to see how the Supremes rule on the inevitable challenge to Obama’s presidency, based on the timing of the oath of office. I expect to be waiting awhile. Oh, and if, by some chance your pet theory is right, and Joe Biden ought to be president, I would imagine that HE more than your side, would have a stake in pursuing the matter. Maybe you better work up a theory denying his legitimacy, just in case he eventually accedes to the presidency.

    So you subscribe to the “Obama wasn’t born in the US” meme. Of course you do. Because it’s the only way you can process the fact that he won the election. But here’s the thing. To establish the truth of your belief, you and your fellows will need to establish that Obama’s mother lived or spent time in Kenya at the time she gave birth to her son. No such evidence exists. I’ve never even seen any attempt to prove that Ann Dunham spent time in Kenya in 1961. The “Barack is not a citizen” claim rests completely on creating doubt about his birth certificate. Unfortunately for your side, that document has been verified. Also, unfortunately for you, all courts who have so far considered lawsuits on the subject, including the Supreme court, have rejected the petitions.

    OK, it’s really been fun, but like I said, I’ve got work. Do you?

    January 26, 2009

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.