Wednesday, May 06, 2009

England Had The Right Idea With Michael Savage But Rush Limbaugh Is Far More Of A Problem

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Normally when you think about the damage Rush Limbaugh does, it has to do with his use of gratuitous inflammatory divisiveness to win ratings points for his ad salesmen. He encourages narrow minded bigotry and hatred to feed his addictions-- a truly reprehensible individual and one of the most despicable public figures in America. Yesterday, however, my friend Eric Boehlert, published an extensive look at another aspect of the damage Limbaugh is responsible for-- the economic damage. Boehlert, whose new book, Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press is just about to come out, takes a look at the devastation in the radio industry, particularly at Clear Channel. Before we get into it I want to point out a private speech that Think Progress caught last night, Limbaugh talking to wealthy right wing Heritage Foundation donors in DC. He was bragging about his $400 million contract with Clear Channel and mocked the very idea that ordinary American families are suffering through hard times.
"But during all this growth I haven’t lost any audience. I’ve never had financially a down year. There’s supposedly a recession, but we’ve got-- what is this May? Back in February we already had 102% of 2008 overbooked for 2009. [applause] So I always believed that if we’re going to have a recession, just don’t participate. [laughter]

Unfortunately, not everyone at Clear Channel can make that choice. And, in fact, not everyone at Clear Channel is at Clear Channel any longer. The supposed recession Limbaugh was mocking has forced the company to shed 12% of its employees, nearly 3,000 employees so they can keep up with his bloated contract. They also decided to suspend matching contributions to employee 401(k) retirement programs.
Drowning under massive debt and desperate to cut more costs, Clear Channel took an ax to its payroll-- again-- and hacked hundreds of radio pros out the door. Program directors, morning show hosts, production pros, news anchors-- all of them tossed over the side. A "bloodbath," one newspaper called it. (In Albany, New York, the entire on-air staff at a Clear Channel music station was sacked; same with a radio outpost in Exeter, New Hampshire)

...Clear Channel, the conservative-friendly media behemoth with a soft spot for right-wing radio -- and which emerged earlier this decade as the poster child for everything that's wrong with runaway media consolidation (aka "The Evil Empire") -- is now hanging on for dear life. "It's a house of cards," radio watcher and Clear Channel expert Alec Foege recently told me, noting the company's crippling debt payments, which are due at a time when advertising revenues are vanishing. (Foege is author of 2008's Right of the Dial: The Rise of Clear Channel and the Fall of Commercial Radio.)

And yet Clear Channel's most famous employee, Rush Limbaugh, remains oblivious to it all. I sometimes wonder what Limbaugh thinks when he reads about the not-so-slow-motion collapse of his radio employer while lounging in his 24,000-square-foot Florida estate or motoring in his $450,000 car to the airport to ride in his $54 million jet. Does Limbaugh feel bad? Does he feel a little guilty? And does he ever think about giving some of his riches back so that thousands of radio colleagues wouldn't have to be bounced to the curb?

And I wonder what those pink-slipped Clear Channel employees-- some of whom spent decades working for the company-- think about Limbaugh as they're ordered out the station door and onto "the beach." (That's radio-speak for unemployment.)

I wonder about Limbaugh and the thousands of his laid-off Clear Channel colleagues, because the dichotomy is striking: Last July, just months before the radio economy went into free-fall, Limbaugh's bosses at Clear Channel, who enjoy deep ties to Texas Republicans and who have been at the forefront of promoting right-wing radio, rewarded the turbo-talker with the biggest contract in terrestrial radio history. The contract included an eye-popping 40 percent raise over his already gargantuan pay, despite the fact it's doubtful any other radio competitors could have even matched Limbaugh's old pay scale.

The astronomical worth of Limbaugh's eight-year pact: $400 million. The amount of money Clear Channel execs have been trying to scrimp and save this year as they lay off thousands from the struggling company: $400 million. Ironic, don't you think?

The simple truth is that Limbaugh lives in the lap of Clear Channel-backed luxury, while Clear Channel employees are being axed with abandon. And those who are lucky enough to keep their jobs are told to do the work of three or four employees.

Meanwhile, another Republican poobah, Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), grovels in front of the de facto head of the Republican Party. What a pack of cowardly swine they are! But while Cantor and the other frightened and trembling Limbaugh worshippers don't have any backbone, at least one Republican was willing to stand up to the bully: Colin Powell. He repeated the obvious, that "the Republican Party is in deep trouble" and added, "I think what Rush [Limbaugh] does as an entertainer diminishes the party and intrudes or inserts into our public life a kind of nastiness that we would be better to do without." (By the way the drug addicted draft dodger smacked back at General Powell by telling him to go join the Democrats. I wonder how many Republicans will say enough is enough and speak up for Powell. Probably none.)

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5 Comments:

At 6:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't this an example of tyranny?
The truth is hidden behind your hate.
Madam England - I am embarrassed for you.

 
At 11:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So this is what liberal tolerance is? I will bet you never even listened to Savage.

America and the UK need Savage right now!!

 
At 6:09 AM, Anonymous Sar said...

Jacqui Smith is empowering this nutcase by making him a media martyr?

Banning people who, apparently, does not directly encourage violence is undemocratic... and dangerous as it turns savage into the victim of an unjust system.

 
At 8:23 AM, Blogger gertymacdowell said...

I think your unfortunate and irrelevant headline takes away from an excellent piece. Who cares about England's silly ban. The headline is Limbaugh's greed and the suffering of Clear Channel employees.

 
At 7:47 PM, Anonymous Brad9883 said...

How can somebody who uses the name "DownWithTyranny!" say that banning somebody for their speech is the right idea?

This is the hypocrisy of the far-left at its finest. This is why Obama is failing so miserably. The average American is seeing through it.

Bush, with the PATRIOT Act, etc., were bad, don't get me wrong. But it seems to me that you only have a problem with authoritarianism when it comes from someone with an (R) next to their name.

Conservatives (contrast with neoconservatives) are opposed to tyranny no matter WHO is perpetuating it.

 

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