John Avlon on the Decline of Rush Limbaugh

John Avlon of The Daily Beast has an excellent article about the decline of Rush Limbaugh, both in terms of the number of his listeners and the quality of his program.  Here are some of my favorite quotes from Avlon’s piece:

“‘This controversy will no doubt give Rush a temporary ratings lift, but it won’t be worth the damage that’s been caused in terms of loss of revenue and advertiser confidence,’ says WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo, who previously directed Limbaugh’s flagship station, WABC. ‘It is perceived by many as an attack on young women who represent the holy grail for ratings. Women 25–54 is the prize demo for most advertisers. Rush’s remarks strike at the heart of the audience they’re trying to reach, hence the apology. This is an audience that’s already been in gradual decline on many right-wing radio stations, so Rush’s gaffe compounds the problem.’”

“‘There’s been a lot of research done on women and talk radio and while women are keenly interested in issues and politics, women tend to reject the in-your-face conflict and combativeness of politics. That’s just not how women are wired,’ says Cantillo. ‘We prefer more civil discourse on the issues. And that’s why all news and talk programming that’s more even-handed are gaining popularity.’  While Rush is still a giant of the talk-radio industry, there are signs of erosion. Right-wing talk-radio ratings have been declining, at least in part because of PPMs, a new, more accurate way of measuring listenership. In Chicago, Boston, and Minneapolis, local talk-radio stations outperform the station that airs Rush and his national conservative-talk cohort. In San Diego, Philadelphia, and Washington, the local NPR station outranks the Rush affiliates.”

“In what might be another ominous sign for Rush & Co., Mike Huckabee will be starting a nationally syndicated radio show in April for the Cumulus network, which could be positioned to displace Rush in some markets. A former preacher, governor, and presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee is highly conservative, but he is also unfailingly civil.”

“There is an irony in the spot Rush has put himself. His career first took off when he was hired as a replacement for the professionally offensive Morton Downey Jr. at Sacramento’s KFBK. ‘Rush was hired because he was passionate but polite—a nice Midwest guy. The agreement was that he would not be rude or cruel,’ says Valerie Geller, his former program director at WABC, director of Geller Media International and author of Beyond Powerful Radio.”

Some will probably doubt that there was ever a time when Rush was civil and polite!  After all, he used the terms “feminazis” and “environmental wackos” even in his early days.  But, in my opinion, whenever Rush focuses on discussing and debating the issues rather than calling people names, he can be quite effective, even logical at times.  And there was a time when he was more willing to dialogue with people about the issues in public, for he appeared on news programs and talk shows (i.e., Donahue) and debated people who disagreed with him.  He still does that sort of thing on his radio program, on some level, but I remember when he had more of a public profile in terms of discussing issues.

I’m pleased that there is a growing number of people desiring a civil discussion of issues—-an exploration of differences and policies as opposed to name-calling and “us vs. them.”

Meier’s Eschatological Jesus

I started volume 2 of John Meier’s A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus.  On page 3, Meier sums up Jesus’ ministry:

“Because of his claim to work miracles, a claim accepted by many, Jesus was not just another prophet or teacher.  At one and the same time he acted as (1) the prophet of the last days, which were soon to come and yet were somehow already present in his ministry; (2.) the gatherer of the Israel of the last days, the twelve tribes of Israel being symbolized by the circle of the twelve disciples Jesus formed around himself; (3) the teacher of both general moral truths and detailed directives concerning the observance of the Mosaic Law (e.g., divorce); and last but not least (4) the exorcist and healer of illnesses who was even reputed, like Elijah and Elisha, to have raised the dead.”

Meier views Jesus as someone who regarded himself as a prophet to Israel (and perhaps more, if my impression of the above passage is correct) in the last days: one who was bringing Israel to repentance in light of an impending eschaton.  In that sense, Jesus was continuing the mission of John the Baptist, who was baptizing people so that they could be saved from the wrath to come and experience the renewal by the Holy Spirit that the prophets of the Hebrew Bible talked about.  At the same time, Meier maintains that Jesus’ focus was different from that of John the Baptist: whereas John emphasized judgment, Jesus focused on God’s offer of mercy and forgiveness as he ate with sinners and healed.  What is interesting, however, is that Meier regards certain Gospel statements about the kingdom coming during the lifespan of Jesus’ own generation (i.e., Matthew 10:23; Mark 9:1; 13:30) to come, not from Jesus, but rather from the early Christians, “who sought to reassure themselves of Christ’s coming in glory as the years passed by with no parousia in sight” (page 6).  Overall, though, Meier differs from John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg, who tend to regard the historical Jesus as devoid of eschatology.

Published in: on March 6, 2012 at 8:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Susan Faludi, Backlash 5

I have two items for my write-up today on Susan Faludi’s 1991 book, Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women:

1.  Faludi talks about how the backlash against the advancement of women encourages women to be “forever static and childlike” (page 70)—-when the entertainment media lacks assertive women (with some exceptions), when women are objectified, etc.  And, according to Faludi, this has occurred under the guise of supporting women, which is comparable to Ronald Reagan appropriating “populism to sell a political program that favored the rich” (page 71).

2.  Faludi talks about how the media perpetuates the myth that women are preferring to leave the work place and to come home, even though (1.) the U.S. Bureau of Labor’s statistics indicate that’s not true, and (2.) the women who do leave the work-place do so on account of discrimination, or their work-places not being flexible in allowing them to work and also to raise their children.

In my last post on this topic, I referred to Faludi’s argument that blue-collar males are merely receptors of the backlash against the advancement of women, which is being perpetuated by the elites.  In my reading today, Faludi said that the media is a mere receptor of prevailing cultural images.  I wonder where exactly the buck stops, in her eyes.  Who is not a mere receptor, but an actual perpetuator of the backlash?  And what is the motive of the perpetuators?  For Faludi, blue-collar men are blaming women because they are economically-insecure, and elites have presented women to them as convenient scapegoats.  The media merely reflects the backlash rather than being the origin of it, according to Faludi.  So what elites are perpetuating the backlash, and why?

Published in: on March 6, 2012 at 8:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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