To understand how this might have happened, TechCrunch.com 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.
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.”
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