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“In A Cellar-Dwelling Outpost”: Rush Limbaugh Demoted To Another Irrelevant, Ratings-Challenged Station In A Major Market

The good news for Rush Limbaugh: One month after being notified he was getting dumped by his Boston talk radio host station, the talker has a new AM home in New England.

The bad news: The station currently boasts a 0.6 rating, trails four non-commercial stations in the market and becomes yet another big-city, cellar-dwelling outpost that Limbaugh is forced to call home.

The station, WKOX, is the type of “bottom-rung” affiliate that Limbaugh was rarely associated with during his halcyon days as the king of talk radio. But those days seem to be dwindling as the Boston fall from grace has previously played out for Limbaugh in places like Los Angeles and Indianapolis. In each instance, Limbaugh exited a prosperous, longtime radio home and was forced to settle for an also-ran outlet with minuscule ratings.

Limbaugh’s ongoing major market woes can be traced to his 2012 on-air meltdown over Sandra Fluke, where he castigated and insulted the graduate student for three days on his program, calling her a “slut” and suggesting she post videos of herself having sex on the Internet. (Fluke’s sin in the eyes of Limbaugh was testifying before Congress in favor of contraception mandates for health care insurance.)

The astonishing Limbaugh monologues sparked an unprecedented advertiser exodus, which means selling his show has become a major lift for the affiliate stations that pay a hefty fee for the right to carry his program. The Wall Street Journal has reported on the millions of dollars in advertising revenue that Limbaugh’s host stations lose because of the talker’s stigma on Madison Avenue.

The still-unfolding repercussions? Some key stations want out of their Limbaugh deals. And when those deals are up, nobody else is stepping forward to ink new contracts with Rush.

Here’s what happened in Boston, and it’s becoming a trend. In May, WRKO announced it wasn’t renewing Limbaugh’s program, which meant the host would have to find a new home on the dial. No problem, right? Hopping around to another affiliate isn’t that unusual in the world of syndicated radio. What was unusual, at least for Limbaugh, was that not one other Boston station moved to pick up his show. Years ago, general managers lined up for the chance to broadcast Limbaugh’s ratings heavyweight show and jumped whenever it became available in the market.

But no more. With ratings issues in recent years and selling the show to advertisers becoming increasingly difficult, stations seem reluctant to pay a steep price for Limbaugh’s program. (But yes, Limbaugh’s syndicator, Premier Radio Networks, still pays the talker $50 million a year.)

In Boston, Limbaugh had to once again be bailed out by his corporate bosses. Formerly known as Clear Channel, iHeartMedia owns the syndication company that produces and sells Limbaugh’s radio show. iHeartMedia owns hundreds of radio stations.

So, with no takers in Boston, iHeartMedia turned to its lowly WKOX station, scrubbed its Spanish language format, and will flip it to “Talk 1430” on June 29, where listeners will hear a hodgepodge of far-right talk mixed Fox Sports Radio programming. “With the lack of options for gaining syndication revenue from another broadcaster, dumping the extraneous 1430 format becomes the only clear option for the company,” noted RadioInsight.

And don’t expect Limbaugh to turn things around for WKOX. His show struggled on WRKO, which boasts a 50,000-watt signal. In contrast, WKOX broadcasts from a tiny 5,000-watt signal, which doesn’t even cover the entire Boston metropolitan area.

Does this demotion sound familiar? The same Limbaugh farewell just played out in the red state of Indiana where the talker was dumped by his AM home of 22 years, WIBC in Indianapolis. After WIBC announced the programming divorce (the station was reportedly having trouble finding advertisers for Rush’s show), no other stations in the market stepped forward to buy Limbaugh’s program, which meant he had to be bailed out by iHeartMedia. The radio giant shoehorned Limbaugh onto its lowly rated all-sports channel in the market. (Current rating: 0.5.)

So why the obsession with finding Limbaugh even a low-rent home in places like Boston and Indianapolis? The answer revolves around clearance. “Rush Limbaugh is heard in every measured radio market in America, and that will continue to be the case in Boston,” Premiere’s Rachel Nelson told the Boston Globe last month. In other words, Limbaugh and his syndicator are determined that his show be heard (or cleared, in industry-speak), in every radio market in America — and especially in major markets — no matter what.

“It looks like Premiere parent iHeart will end up doing the same thing in Boston it’s doing in Indianapolis as a last resort: bringing Rush back in house on a marginal signal just to maintain the clearance,” noted NorthEast Radio Watch this week.

That, obviously, is not a blueprint for long-term success.

In terms of trying to sell the show to national advertisers as well as maintaining the Rush reputation as the most powerful talker on the dial, Limbaugh and Premiere simply cannot have Rush’s show off the air in places like Boston and Indianapolis. So Premiere’s parent company is willing do whatever it takes to make room for Limbaugh, even if it means sticking him on a ratings doormat at the far, far end of the radio dial and surrounding him with sports talk shows.

The question now is how many more cracks in the dam is iHeartMedia going to have to plug as more markets decide they’re not interested in Limbaugh’s program?


By: Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America, June 17, 2015

June 18, 2015 Posted by | Media, Rush Limbaugh, Talk Radio | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Only ‘Marginal Behavior’ Is His”: Rush Limbaugh’s Finding Out He’s Not Normal, And It Scares Him

I am not normal.

This, I learned from a news story 35 years ago. The details have faded with the passage of time, but the gist of it remains clear. Some expert had crunched a bunch of numbers in search of the “average” human being, the planetary norm, and found that she was an 8-year-old Japanese girl, living in Tokyo. I don’t fit that profile; I’m willing to bet you don’t, either. So as a matter of statistical fact, I’m not “normal” and neither are you.

I’ve always found that story a useful corrective whenever I am tempted to declaim too haughtily on what is or isn’t normal. I offer it now to Rush Limbaugh in the vain hope it will help him rethink his assault last week on the woman who used to be Bruce Jenner. Granted, the story was about planetary norms and Limbaugh was ranting about American social norms, but the principle still applies.

As you doubtless know, Jenner’s transformation into a woman named Caitlyn has been quite controversial. She has been praised for her “courage” by President Obama and called “brave” by Ellen DeGeneres. At the other extreme, one David French, blogging for the National Review, dismissed her as a “surgically damaged man,” while a Matt Walsh on Glenn Beck’s website, The Blaze, called her a “mentally disordered man.”

And we have recently learned that, back in February, Mike Huckabee cracked about wishing he could have identified as female when he was in school so he could have showered with the girls. As inadvertently revealing as that “joke” feels, it is Limbaugh’s response that really helps us understand why those who are threatened by, and viscerally angry about, Jenner’s transformation, feel as they do.

As Caitlyn made her debut on the cover of Vanity Fair, the talk-show host fumed that Republicans should reject her, even though she identifies with the, ahem, big tent party. Liberals, he complained, are trying to “redefine normalcy.” He went on to say that nowadays, “conservatives and Republicans are the new weirdos, the new kooks, and that is part of the political objective here, in normalizing all of this really marginal behavior. I mean, if less than 1 percent of the population is engaging in it, it’s marginalized behavior; it isn’t normal.”

One might argue, citing Miles Davis, Steve Jobs, Rosa Parks, Stan Lee, Sally Ride, Muhammad Ali, Elvis Presley, and a thousand other rule breakers and innovators, that “normal” is overrated. But put that aside, take Limbaugh at his word, and the fear undergirding his complaint becomes plain. He and those like him look at Caitlyn Jenner and wonder: “If this is normal, what does that make me?”

It’s worth noting, in light of Limbaugh’s fears, that the country’s opinions on social issues like this are shifting, and not in his direction. Gallup recently reported that America is moving sharply left on the moral acceptability of everything from gay rights to stem cell research. I’m aware of no polling on Jenner’s transformation, but who would be surprised to find that there is widespread approval?

Not that freedom should be a popularity contest (most of us agree now that Jim Crow is wrong, but it was also wrong back when much of the country thought it was right), but it is better to have the wind behind you than against you. Ask Limbaugh, who now finds himself pushing against that wind and finding that the only “marginal behavior” here is his. That must be chilling to a man so obsessed with defining and defending “normalcy.” He should get used to it.

Because these days, what isn’t normal is the small minded need to stigmatize those who walk a different path through life. What isn’t normal is the bigot’s siren call to our basest and most baseless fears. What isn’t normal is hatred and terror of the new.

Poor Rush. It turns out that what isn’t “normal,” is him.


By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist, The Miami Herald; The National Memo, June 8, 2015

June 8, 2015 Posted by | Bigotry, Rush Limbaugh, Transgender | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Rudy Lied. Let’s Start With That”: Giuliani’s Hate-Mongering Shows The Right Wing Will Never Stop Trying To Scare Whites About Obama

Rudy Giuliani lied. Let’s start with that. After the heinous murder of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos a week ago, Giuliani spewed the following bit of hate about President Obama: “We’ve had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police.”

For the record, the president did absolutely no such thing. If you want the details of what he has actually said about law enforcement officers over the past four months — i.e., since Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri — Politifact and the Washington Post‘s Fact Checker have compiled them as part of their respective evaluations of Giuliani’s claim (the WaPo‘s article also includes more, similar statements by Giuliani about Obama and the police, made after the initial one cited above). Politifact found the claim to be a “pants on fire” lie, while the WaPo gave it four (out of a possible four) Pinocchios. As I said, Rudy Giuliani lied.

But of course it’s about much more than just the lie, it’s about the kind of race-baiting lie he told, and how it fits into an eight-year-long campaign by the right to draw on the worst fears of white Americans about a black president, in particular a liberal black president. You see, Giuliani’s comments about the police killings weren’t even the worst ones uttered. Among others, Ex. Rep. Joe Walsh accused Obama of having “blood on his hands.” Erick Erickson said the president has “created a situation where Americans cheer police officers being gunned down.”

As egregiously wrong as these are, I want to focus now on some remarks made by Rush Limbaugh that didn’t get, as far as I can tell, any broader media coverage, but which were heard by his 12.5 million listeners (he’s still got the biggest talk radio audience out there). What Giuliani only implied, Rush came right out and said — after first echoing the point that the president has “blood on his hands” and placing his picture next to that of Al Sharpton just below that statement on his website’s show transcript:

We are all headed in an accelerated pace for anarchy. That is where all of this is headed. The primary agents of this anarchy are militant Islamists, militant civil rights coalition types, the New Black Panther Party and ancillaries. And who are their enablers? The Democrat Party and the American left, from college professors to pop culture false idols to elected Democrats, and of course the media, the left has and is, I believe — and I really believe this, and I’m not using a single word for exaggeration purposes — I really believe that college professors, these pop culture false idols, elected Democrats, the media, are literally making their followers, i.e., base voters, insane with rage and anger. I don’t think there is any other conclusion.

No, Rush is not exaggerating. This is exactly what is behind the statements — as hateful as they were on their face — made by Giuliani. And notice what Limbaugh has done here, building on Giuliani’s demonstrably false accusation that the president has been telling people to hate the police. He hits on racial boogeymen like the New Black Panther Party, a teeny-tiny organization (which the Southern Poverty Law Center has defined as a hate group) about which the right has long stoked anxiety among whites. But Rush also connects the New Black Panthers to civil rights activists (not to mention militant Islamists, triggering a whole other set of fears), and says that elected Democrats — led by the chief elected Democrat — have been “enabling” them and pushing our country into “anarchy.” Oh, and as a college professor myself I’m proud to note that he mentioned us twice. Finally, since this is a race-based, “civil rights”-based anarchy, Rush’s listeners know that he’s talking about the thing he’s talked about so many times before: a race war.

This is by no means the first time Limbaugh has invoked the specter of race war. Just after the president was inaugurated a second time, in January 2013, he declared: “We’re in the midst here of designed class and race wars,” and this was only a week after he claimed that Louis Farrakhan was “in preparation for a race war.” Rush also talked on July 30, 2009, about how the media were promoting a “race war.”

But Limbaugh doesn’t have to use the words race war to make his listeners afraid of big, bad, black Barack Obama and his radical, militant allies. In my book about President Obama and American national identity, I examine numerous examples where Rush (and other right wingers) practiced race-baiting. I’ve shared what I then called his most egregious example here on Daily Kos before (although what he said last week certainly gives this one a run for it’s money), but I want to cite it again here because it ties together all the hateful things — starting with the remarks by Rudy Giuliani — said about the president (not to mention Eric Holder and Bill de Blasio) since the murder of NYPD Officers Liu and Ramos. This is from my book:

Limbaugh summarized this perspective on June 4, 2009, in one of the most pernicious formulations heard from a major media voice since Obama became a national figure–one that could have no purpose but to sow the toxic combination of hatred and fear among white members of his audience and pit Americans against one another along ethnic lines: “The days of them not having any power are over, and they are angry. And they want to use their power as a means of retribution. That’s what Obama’s about, gang. He’s angry, he’s gonna cut this country down to size, he’s gonna make it pay for all the multicultural mistakes that it has made, its mistreatment of minorities.”

In this brief, vitriol-laden rant, Limbaugh defined Obama and his nonwhite supporters (“they”) as anti-American and angry, and set their interests in opposition to those of whites, whose interests he defined as in line with those of America. It’s Obama and his people vs. America. Moreover, Limbaugh insinuated or perhaps tried to subconsciously evoke the idea that this was a street fight by using the term “gang.” In his view, the battle between Obama’s and Limbaugh’s gangs would determine whether whites or nonwhites will ultimately wield “power.”

Limbaugh did not choose these words lightly. His statement resembles rhetoric that goes back to the eighteenth century, according to which poor whites should rally together with slave owners around their shared whiteness, because if black slaves ever got free they would enact vengeance on all whites. It draws on the image of blacks as bloodthirsty savages bent on destroying the white civilization that has oppressed them for so long, without of course mentioning what that oppression says about how “civilized” are those who have carried it out. The greatest fear of the slave-owning elite was always an alliance of the common folk of all races. Limbaugh’s use of the trope of white racial unity as the only defense against retribution for past mistreatments is not original, but that makes it no less disgraceful.

And this is exactly what the right has sought to do to Barack Obama since before they had even heard of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Rudy Giuliani does it his way, and Rush Limbaugh does it his. But make no mistake, both of them — along with every other right winger who engages in this kind of race-baiting — have but one goal in mind, and that is to draw on and even heighten already existing fears held by too many white Americans that the day is coming for, in Limbaugh’s own words, “retribution.”

And they have the nerve to say Obama’s the one spreading hate.


By: Ian Reifowitz, The Blog, The Huffington, December 29, 2014

December 31, 2014 Posted by | Racism, Rudy Giuliani, Rush Limbaugh | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Republicans Were Not Elected To Govern”: Rush Limbaugh Is Emblematic Of Our Political Rot

It is stunning that leading conservative thinkers are arguing that the Republican majority in Congress is a mandate for even more gridlock. Rush Limbaugh says Republicans weren’t elected “to make Congress work. They weren’t sent there to get along.” Instead, Limbaugh argues, their mandate is “to stop Barack Obama. Republicans were not elected to govern.”

The National Review, an influential conservative publication, says the GOP should focus on creating the best possible climate for electing a Republican president in 2016: “Not much progress is possible until we have a better president. Getting one ought to be conservatism’s main political goal over the next two years.”

It is small wonder that a growing number of citizens aren’t voting, reasoning that their ballot won’t change anything. And why many exhort via bumper stickers: “Don’t Vote! It Only Encourages Them!”

In this election, turnout was just 36 percent, the lowest turnout since 1942. It is particularly young voters that are not bothering to vote. They are beginning to look for other ways to bring about social change. A new youth radicalization has begun.

For many Americans, Congress is dysfunctional and deeply corrupt. For these voters, Abraham Lincoln’s notion that Congress is “government of the people, by the people, for the people” has become laughable. The more the citizens don’t feel their political institutions reflect their will, the more they question the legitimacy and applicability of the institutions’ decisions.

The American political sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset wrote that legitimacy is “the capacity of a political system to engender and maintain the belief that existing political institutions are the most appropriate and proper ones for the society.” The ongoing abuse of trust by office holders is the product of widespread rot. The result is a full-blown crisis in legitimacy.

The solution isn’t to allow online voting or other methods of increasing the turnout. We need more than changes to politics. It’s time to reinvent democracy itself.

The first era of democracy created representative institutions, but with weak mandates, passive citizens and politicians beholden to powerful funders and special interests. Call it “broadcast democracy.” It was only a matter of time before such a model ran its course.

We need to replace this old model with a new era of “participatory democracy” built around five principles.

1. Integrity, which is basically about doing the right thing. To rebuild the public’s trust in political institutions, elected officials need to embrace integrity – which is honesty and consideration. Honest politicians establish trusting relationships with voters, politicians need to be open and fairly disclose information. They must be truthful, accurate, and complete in communications. They must not mislead or be perceived to mislead.

Considerate officials don’t cause traffic jams for those who disagree with them. They have regard for the interests, desires, or feelings of others especially the electorate. They don’t spy on their citizens and undermine their basic right to privacy. They don’t kill good political discussion with negative attack ads. Politicians everywhere know that negative advertising is toxic to democracy, poisons reasoned political debate and dumbs down the discussion. Nevertheless, they trash their opponents with attack ads alienating voters and adding to the legitimacy crisis.

2. Accountability to the electorate. We need to divorce politicians from relying on big money. US citizens thought they had a system that limited big donations, but the right-wing Supreme Court clearly became alarmed at the possibility of wealthy donors not being able to influence elections. In the notorious Citizens United case, the court effectively lifted the limits on political donations, and a casino magnate promptly pledged $100 million to fight Obama’s re-election in 2012. Stanford Law Professor Larry Lessig is right that we need to adopt the policies of other countries that place strict controls on campaign financing.

3. Interdependence. Elected officials need to recognize that the public, private sector and civil society all have a role to play in sustaining a healthy society. As Jeffrey Sachs has argued there is a price to civilization and we need strong, good government. When politicians say the best role of government is “to get out of the way,” they are shirking their responsibilities. Strong regulations saved Canadian banks from being sucked into the US sub-prime mortgage crisis. The banks and Canada are healthier because of this. Similarly corporations and NGOPs are becoming pillars of society and we all need new ways of collaborating on shared interests.

4. Engagement with citizens. We need ongoing mechanisms for government to benefit from the wisdom and insight that a nation can collectively offer. Using the Net, citizens can become involved, learn from each other, take responsibility for their communities and country, learn from and influence elected officials and vice versa. It is now possible to have a three-day “digital brainstorm” with the entire electorate of a country. Challenges, participatory budgeting, electronic town halls, have all proven effective in turning voters into participants in democracy.

5. Transparency. Almost everything should be done in the full light of day. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and the Internet is the perfect vehicle to achieve this. Transparency is critical to trust. The question “What are they hiding?” encapsulates the relationship between transparency and trust. It implies that if government leaders hold secrets, they do so for a nefarious reason and therefore are un-deserving of trust. Citizens know that the fewer secrets leaders keep, the more likely they will be trusted. Transparency, even radical transparency is becoming central to building trust between stakeholders and their institutions.

To restore legitimacy and trust we need a second era of democracy based on integrity and accountability, and with stronger, more open institutions, active citizen citizenship and a culture of public discourse and participation.


By: Don Tapscott, The Huffington Post Blog, November 17, 2014






November 18, 2014 Posted by | Campaign Financing, Democracy, Rush Limbaugh | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Right Makes The Case Against Governing”: The Goal Isn’t To Advance The Nation’s Interests

Rush Limbaugh told listeners today that congressional Republicans may have a popular mandate after their midterm successes, but they “were not elected to govern.”

That’s not a typo. One of the nation’s most prominent Republican media voices wants to make one thing clear, right now, in the wake of a GOP triumph: there are those within the party who are eager to prove that Republicans can govern. And those people are wrong.

National Review, a leading conservative outlet, fleshed out a very similar argument this morning, warning their GOP allies of “the governing trap.”

The desire to prove Republicans can govern also makes them hostage to their opponents in the Democratic party and the media. It empowers Senator Harry Reid, whose dethroning was in large measure the point of the election. […]

A prove-you-can-govern strategy will inevitably divide the party on the same tea-party-vs.-establishment lines that Republicans have just succeeded in overcoming…. Even if Republicans passed this foolish test, it would do little for them. If voters come to believe that a Republican Congress and a Democratic president are doing a fine job of governing together, why wouldn’t they vote to continue the arrangement in 2016?

It’s a fascinating perspective.

1. Governing would require some compromise.

2. Compromising makes you a “hostage,” which is unacceptable.

3. Ergo, don’t try to govern.

The goal of this attitude isn’t to advance the nation’s interests, even incrementally. Rather, the argument – reaching levels of public cynicism that are truly awe-inspiring – is that the sole focus of a political party is to do nothing until that party has absolute power over all branches of government.

Danny Vinik had a good take on the piece, describing it as “indicative of how dysfunctional Washington has become.”

When most legislation could pass by majority vote and policymakers frequently crossed party lines, divided government could still enact new laws and programs. That is no longer the case. We’re rapidly entering an era where a party must control the White House, House and Senate – the latter with a filibuster proof majority – to move legislation. If you don’t control all three, then your best political and legislative strategy is not to compromise, but to play politics so that you can control all three in the future. The National Review editors have figured this out.

The question now becomes whether congressional Republicans find the argument persuasive.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 5, 2014

November 6, 2014 Posted by | Midterm Elections, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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