For those of us who have been engaged in our culture and government since the days of Ronald Reagan, we are sorely disappointed today. In an era when mass media are more accessible to more people than ever before, we are seeing the decades-old, growing trend of conservative media shriveling up and dying right before our very eyes.
Many pundits and commentators have written, at length, about the damage Donald Trump has inflicted on the Republican Party and potentially, America. But, one of the other main casualties of Trump’s “alt-right” blitzkrieg has been the wholesale destruction of many formerly trusted conservative media sources and icons.
Now, it is true that there are a number of true conservatives in media who haven’t “bowed the knee” to Trump Tower (Levin, Beck, and Deace come to mind), but the numbers of those people we used to rely upon to tell us the truth about what is really happening in Washington and America has been dramatically reduced over the past year.
We thought we had solid conservatives in our corner, at last. After almost eight years of the Obama Administration doing all it could to utterly destroy the America we all knew and loved, it felt good to see our ranks swelling in the public arena – at such a time as our message is needed most. But instead, what has happened is that most of our “leaders” have set people of principle and honor adrift on today’s sea of hypocritical compromise. (Remember, “vote your conscience” got booed at the Republican Convention!)
Yes, I’m speaking here about Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, “Faux” News, The Drudge Report, and Breitbart News. We used to take just about everything these folks and organizations said as “gospel.” Now, we hear little else other than Politburo-style “Trump slobbering.” This observation is difficult to write about; especially as it pertains to Rush.
As someone who joined the “Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies” way back during the first Gulf War, I credit much of what I know about conservativism and the inside working of Washington to Rush. He was a great teacher and mentor. I never missed either his radio show or his short-lived TV show. I got through to talk to him once on the radio show around 1996. I was in the studio audience of his TV show shortly after Bill Clinton took office in 1993. I bought both of his books and even drank his iced teas for a while.
Rush pioneered the resistance to the left-wing American media. He was a bulwark against the lies, fraud, and deceit that came out of both liberal Democrat and RINO Republican mouths. Yet, when Trump came along, Rush changed. Maybe it was his extreme dislike of the national media and Trump’s feigned belligerence to it that drew Rush in. Maybe it was Rush’s understandable revulsion for anything Clinton that drove him into Trump’s waiting arms. Who knows? I just know I couldn’t believe what I started to hear coming from Rush’s mouth.
At first, he seemed genuinely conflicted as to which candidates to back for President – many eminently qualified in his mind. He even praised Ted Cruz several times as the leading conservative in the race. But, after a while, Rush’s “Trump slobbering” increased to the point that I actually began shutting off his show. He became so “Never Hillary” that he intentionally ignored all of Trump’s inconsistencies, incompetence, and downright lies.
It was as if his conservative principles had suddenly “turned off” in his mind.
Yes, I know Rush has a policy of never endorsing candidates in Primaries, but by the time the Primary season had begun, it was clear that Trump was “his man.” He allowed Trump and his minions to get away with outrageous attacks on his opponents. He dismissed the notion that Trump was behaving very un-presidential – this from a man who saw, firsthand in Reagan what a real President looks like.
I even went so far as to post Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech from You Tube on one of Rush’s Facebook posts that was related to make the point. It was removed by his administrator shortly afterward.
When Rush confessed that, as his show’s anniversary approached, he was considering retiring instead of doing the show that he has owned for almost 30 years, it made me sad to think he has burned himself out and has lost the vision that made him (as I told him when I called in) “the most insightful political commentator since de Tocqueville.” Yet, such is the destructive nature of “the Trump train.”
O’Reilly didn’t surprise me as much. I’ve seen the pictures of Trump and him sitting together at sporting events. They’re both from New York City and around the same age. Neither is really conservative. I liked O’Reilly very much when he began with “The Factor” on Fox News back in the late 90s. But, over the years, it became apparent O’Reilly was in it for the ratings, the money, and the ego – just like Trump. I tuned O’Reilly out a number of years ago when the “sleazy puff pieces” became a regular part of his show. The truth is that he and Trump are really “birds of a feather” – media personalities, not serious cultural observers and conservative activists.
I’d say just about the same for Sean Hannity. He may not travel in the Trump/O’Reilly social universe, but he has been desperately attempting to repair his image and ratings since his debacle in boasting about Romney’s President “win” in 2012.
I used to like Hannity very much; especially in the beginning when he was going up against insipid liberal – Alan Colmes, but Sean “has fallen and can’t get up” ever since 2012. He obviously saw “the Trump train” as his ticket back to “ratings heaven.”
Every conservative cheered when Ann Coulter was a “pit bull” attack dog snarling after the corruption and hypocrisy of just about everything Obama. She built a highly successful career as an expose author thanks to Barry Soetoro! But, Coulter was one of the first to go public with her “Trump-slobbering.”
Now, after her religiously and nationalistically blasphemous book – entitled In Trump We Trust – is ready to tank, thanks to Trump’s flip flop on immigration, Coulter is destined to fade to the “bargain rack” section of the discount book stores.
I could go on and on – describing the tainting of Andrew Breitbart’s vision; the tragic deception of Drudge; and the seamy under belly of Ailes’ “Faux News”, but the point is made.
Many of our conservative media heroes have been exposed as either jaded or outright frauds. Not to end this conversation without hope, perhaps this “fall from conservative grace” by so many is a great opportunity in the making.
Maybe it is time for a new generation to take the reins?
Maybe Elijah is passing on his mantle to a next-generation Elisha who will take conservative media to heights never dreamed about before? Perhaps this great “falling away” is an opportunity for a new class to graduate from the “Limbaugh Institute of Advanced Conservative Studies” and rebuild the movement and America in the process.
It begins with the simple unvarnished “truth and nothing but the truth.”
Our only agenda must be to promote Constitutional, free market principles and the Judeo-Christian ethical framework which created America in the first place. If our movement is more concerned about ratings than philosophy and its practical applications, we will fail just like the aforementioned are doing. But, if we stay true to the great principles of American freedom, we can help America forget the nightmare that was Donald Trump and the potential horrors of Hill and Bill back in the White House again.
So, let’s not mourn the “changing of the guard” for too long. The future is moving upon us faster than a Clay Matthews’ sack of Colin Kaepernick!