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Conservative media needs to change

Among the many fascinating effects of this most unusual presidential election featuring the two most unpopular candidates in U.S. history, is the carnage it is having within the respective political parties.

“If in (70) days Trump loses this election, I am pointing the finger directly at people like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham and John McCain and John Kasich and Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush and everybody else that made promises they’re not keeping,” Fox News host Sean Hannity was quoted of saying in a fascinating story by Oliver Darcy in Business Insider this week on how the new Republican created “conservative news media” has turned on itself.

For most of my life the “liberal media” was an effective punching bag for Republicans. They claimed unfair treatment, and pointing at certain outlets I couldn’t necessarily disagree, and used it to their advantage much of the time to sell a different narrative.

Oliver Darcy’s story, “Donald Trump broke the conservative media,” tells the story of how conservative media arose in the 1990s with Fox News on television, Rush Limbaugh on radio, and Matt Drudge on the web and how their influence has essentially killed the party by feeding supporters only what they wanted to hear, eliminating any objectivity.

“The analogy that I think of is somebody who has a baby alligator in their bathtub and they keep feeding it and taking care of it,” said Charlie Sykes, a conservative talk show host. “And it’s really cute when it’s a baby alligator — until it becomes a grown-up alligator and comes out and starts biting you. I think that, in retrospect, they really did empower the instruments of their own destruction.”

The most fascinating part of the story for me was how the Republicans and the conservative media existed symbiotically for almost two decades, pumping the same message, stressing this is the only viable source, and now that has backfired.

Trump, never known as a conservative before, won over the conservative media with his often conflicting rhetoric. The loudest GOP pundits got behind him and “pummeled” his opponents in the Republican Primary.

“We have reached the bizarro-world point where, for all intents and purposes, conservatives are RINOs,” said John Ziegler, a nationally syndicated conservative talk show host. “There is no place now for real conservatives. We’ve also reached the point, I say, we’ve left the gravitational pull of the rational Earth, where we are now in a situation where facts don’t matter, truth doesn’t matter, logic doesn’t matter.”

“You look at someone who a few cycles might have been derided as a right-wing lunatic, now they aren’t conservative enough,” said Ted Newton, former communications adviser to 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. “The pendulum has definitely swung.”

That has left conservatives who oppose Trump in a  position of relying on the old “liberal media”  to get their message to supporters because the conservative press is now skewering them.

“These Republicans have effectively been exiled from the conservative news media,” Darcy wrote.

“I think the conservative media is the worst thing that has ever happened to the Republican Party on a national level,” Ziegler is quoted in the story.

“Now, this is not Rush’s fault, but if you look at the presidential elections before Rush Limbaugh became nationally syndicated, I believe Republicans won five out of six,” he said. “After Rush Limbaugh became truly nationally syndicated … if you start in 1996 and what I anticipate will happen in 2016, Republicans will have lost five of the seven presidential elections once he became syndicated.”

Ziegler suggested if Trump does indeed lose, these GOP pundits must be held accountable.

“The conservative establishment that needs to be gotten rid of is the conservative media establishment. Sean Hannity needs to go. Bill O’Reilly needs to go. Sadly, Rush Limbaugh needs to go,” he said.

It’s a fascinating story I encourage you to read for yourself.

Joel McNeece is publisher of The Calhoun County Journal in Bruce. You may email him at joelmcneece@gmail.com.