And this is where we are in our nation’s history, with a Donald Trump candidacy. We’re in cats sleeping with dogs territory.
Those Republicans who have maintained their opposition to a Trump candidacy are finding themselves in agreement with Democrats on what is strange territory. That is, conservative talkers may have too much influence.
I don’t think they are actively promoting censorship, but we have seen the damage of sites like Drudge and Breitbart, or the absolute lunacy being pushed as legitimate commentary by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
“The Republican base … remains largely unreachable, locked away in a space in which only figures like talk show host Rush Limbaugh, Fox News host Sean Hannity, and Internet titan Matt Drudge hold the keys,” Business Insider politics editor Oliver Darcy and senior reporter Pamela Engel wrote in a Monday op-ed for their publication.
The GOP “has appeased [conservative media], they’ve sucked up to it, they’ve been afraid of going up against it,” said Charlie Sykes, a conservative radio host in Wisconsin. “I think that you have seen that played out this year. Has there been any willingness on the part of any mainstream conservative to call out this alt-right media? I’m not seeing it.”
And that is the problem. Trump has attracted a nasty fan base, mainly because of his destructive, anti-other message.
Those slithering elements at the underbelly of our nation have felt emboldened to emerge and claim a place in the spotlight (much to the delight of Democrats), and people like Limbaugh and Hannity not only have refused to denounce them, but deny that they exist.
“We sort of operate under the idea that the audience is filled with rational people,” said Stu Burguiere, a co-host for the virulent anti-Trump media titan Glenn Beck. “I think the play is that in the long term the audience rewards you for telling the truth. If your host is doing things that are acting specifically as a booster for a candidate, you have to call them out on that stuff.
“If you sense that from someone you are watching or listening to, you should never go there again,” he added. “If we came on the air and said, ‘Hey, by the way, these online polls are showing that Trump is going to win big,’ it makes the people who pay our salaries look like morons in front of their friends.”
Sean Hannity has previously quoted online polls as proof of Trump’s dominance. Meanwhile, these online polls, such as Drudge’s parody polls, are easily flooded by zealous Trumpidian devotees, who don’t quite grasp that if you vote for a single candidate 383 times, that isn’t really a reliable poll.
Trump, himself, has touted online polls, while recently saying Democrats are making up those polls that show him behind Hillary Clinton.
Others, such as Potomac Strategy Group president, Matt Mackowiak, suggested leaning on sponsors and advertisers as a way of putting talk show hosts and commentators on notice.
I’m not completely comfortable with the idea, but I get the feelings of frustration, as Republicans who saw 2016 as the GOP’s year to regain the White House, watch it slip away, in part because of mercenary talking heads, who have done nothing to stanch the bleeding within the party, or who have created this perfect storm that allowed a Trump candidacy.
John Ziegler, a conservative radio host, said President Obama understood what he called the “problems” with conservative media, and called for accountability after the election. “When I was watching the president, I was struck by how he seemed to understand the problems with conservative media more than any Republican does. It was frustrating to see him be the voice of reason,” he said.
Ziegler expressed frustration that consumers were not losing interest in the conservative media titans he disdained. “I find it rather ironic that most Republicans claim to be ardent capitalists, because if politics was like an investment issue, on Nov. 9 there would be a whole lot of people who would lose their jobs and careers forever … Drudge, Breitbart, Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, [Laura] Ingraham, those people are completely invested in another false narrative to cover up the first false narrative.”
That really is disgusting. And depressing.
These people have sold out the nation’s well-being to support Trump, because he was “good for ratings.”
At no point did any of them consider if he would be good for America.