December 11, 2015

Everyone needs a friend. When your spouse runs off with your best pal and your dog and you sure do miss your dog, you need a friend. When you find out that your beloved book keeper has been embezzling hundreds of thousands and whooping it up at Foxwoods, you need a friend. And when you make statements so disgusting that you are denounced by the opposition party, by your own party, by religious leaders, by people of conscience across the world, and even Dick Cheney won’t back you, then you really need a friend, and Donald Trump has one: talk radio. 

 Here’s the lede from Wednesday’s front page New York Times story, Donald Trump Deflects Withering Fire on Muslim Plan: “Repudiated across much of the political spectrum but defended on conservative talk radio, Donald J. Trump on Tuesday stood by his call to block all Muslims from entering the United States.”

The article notes that talk radio host Laura Ingraham tweeted that “Anyone who thinks @realDonaldTrump comments will hurt him don’t know the temperature of the American ppl.” That turns out to be a talk radio rallying cry. Here is how Rush Limbaugh closed out his monologue on the topic on December 8:

He knows that a lot of Americans agree, to a certain extent, with things that he says. He also knows he's the only one reaching those people. And then he sits back and watches (no doubt with a huge smile) the media cover what he says over and over and over and over again. Then they analyze it over and over and over, and they talk about it over and over and over again. He's confident that a lot of his voters are gonna be able to strip away the bombast and be able to get to the nuts and bolts of what he's saying, the kernel of truth of what he's saying.

Closer to home, Howie Carr isn’t satisfied at all with Trump’s moderation. Over at his radio show web site Carr linked to a recent column in which he urges that we take in no more immigrants of any kind. “It’s time to stop immigration, not just because of terrorism, but also to halt rampant lawbreaking and the multi-billion dollar abuse of the welfare system by undocumented Democrats.”

Talk radio’s appeal is not a small thing, as readers of The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility by Tufts professors Jeffrey M. Berry and Sarah Sobieraj understand. This is a large audience, as Professor Berry tweeted yesterday:

Talk radio dominates the outrage industry, a format that relies on bombast and vitriol, not facts. As Professors Berry and Sobieraj argue in their book, it is an essential source of (mis)information that helps mobilize the Tea Party and other right wing extremists. They are as enraged at the Republican establishment – quislings, traitors, weaklings – as they are at Democrats.  And thus talk radio is an essential element in the drive to nominate an outsider like Trump.

The nomination process may be about ideological purity for the GOP’s dissidents but for The Outrage Industry, it’s about profits. Talk radio is a business and a profitable one. Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Howie Carr are not about facts and reason, they are about delivering an audience that attracts advertising dollars. Steve Deace’s motto is “Fear God. Tell the Truth. Make Money.” The industry’s God is money.

By the standards of . . .  cut that. The only standards of the talk radio industry are to keep the cash register ringing. Trump does that.

Donald: Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and Rush’ll be there. You've got a friend.

Steve Deace, Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh, The Outrage Industry, talk radio, Howie Carr

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