Monday, March 20, 2017

Report: Talk Radio Acclerated Distrust Of Mainstream Media

In 2000, Republicans, Democrats and Independents were all within six percentage points of one another in terms of their trust in the media, ranging from 47 percent to 53 percent. But since that time, figures for both Independents and Republicans have been declining, with Republicans generally declining at a sharper rate. And 2016 saw the steepest drop yet for Republicans, sinking all the way to 14 percent.

To understand how this might have happened, reports it's helpful to look at the evolution of where Republicans have been consuming their news. Examining the initial declines in 2003-04, you see that those drops happen to coincide with two different, but significant and related events — the first being the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the second being the launch of several hyper-conservative long-form talk radio programs in a compressed period.

But once the nation was attacked, American citizens found themselves immediately ravenous for any minute-by-minute nugget of news and information they could get their hands on. Any sliver of potential information or even just speculation was welcome, particularly by those listeners who spent long periods of time commuting or even driving a vehicle for a living. They also found some solace where talk radio programs often served as an outlet to voice their own opinions and anger.

Conservative radio personalities took note and quickly stepped in to fill the void. Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck proved to have impeccable timing as they all launched nationally syndicated programs right before, during or after September 2001.

Mark Levin soon followed.

Besides a pursuit of higher ratings, these six personalities also shared in common a drive to discredit and marginalize standard news reporting. And with a growing, captive audience of tens of millions of listeners, radio proved to be a perfect medium in a post-9/11 setting to deliver this message and codify a malleable audience. Examples of some of the anti-press approaches include:
  • Limbaugh relentlessly led the initial anti-press charge going back to the 1990s, and has often told his followers to actually not follow mainstream media.
  • Savage often refers to the press as “celentrates” (animals without backbone), and recently told his followers, “The media has done far more damage invading the minds of Americans and others around the world than Putin did in invading Crimea.”
  • Ingraham and Levin repeatedly go after the media with claims of dishonesty, with Ingraham even stating the major news networks and papers are “worse than irrelevant.”
  • Hannity, an informal adviser to President Trump, seems to have taken a co-pilot role with the White House in attacking the media with endless claims of dishonesty and being “fake.”
The historical significance of amplified terrorism concerns following 9/11 as a defining and changing moment for media consumption has likely been under-appreciated to date. Not coincidentally, the reasonably new (at the time) Fox News saw its audience and market share numbers swell in the months and years following the attacks. In fact, Fox News took over the No. 1 position among cable news providers just two months after the attacks. It was during that time of the early 2000s that Fox News began providing a televised platform and tacit endorsement for the extreme conservative rhetoric that was simultaneously taking over the radio.

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1 comment:

  1. No blame given for media being corrupt, leftist activists who clearly are biased.

    Yeah, you don't need talk radio or Fox to know leftists run big corp journalism and act like Pravda.

    Look at how the LEFTIST news sites restrict or don't have comment sections. Because they DON'T WANT TO HEAR ANYTHING BUT THEMSELVES.