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Rush Limbaugh’s audience of angry old white guys is fading away

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Alex Pareene SAYS the Limbaugh Era has reached its end:

Cumulus Media, the second-largest broadcast radio station owner in the country, may drop Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity from its stations, according to Politico’s Dylan Byers…

This would be something of a blow to Limbaugh, especially if it meant losing his “flagship” station, New York’s WABC. On the other hand, the show is syndicated by a company owned by the largest owner of radio stations in the country. They’ll likely be able to find a home for him in the most of the markets he’d lose if Cumulus ended his contract…

Whether Limbaugh ends up parting ways with Cumulus or whether this entire Politico article is part of one side’s negotiating tactics almost makes no difference. Limbaugh will remain on the radio in most of the country, with millions of listeners. In a month he may still announce that his contract with Cumulus has been renewed. But however this shakes out, it will still be the case that the Limbaugh Era is over.

The Limbaugh Era spanned roughly Clinton’s inaugural through Bush’s reelection, with his powers peaking, obviously, at Clinton’s impeachment. This was when Limbaugh could create political stars, sink legislation and nearly take down a president. The mainstream press took notice of him and then became completely obsessed. At that time, his army of listeners was enough people to constitute a formidable electoral coalition.

He still has a lot of listeners. The Limbaugh problem, though, is simply a reflection of the GOP problem: His followers are an aging and, consequently, shrinking group of conservative white people, in a country that is rapidly getting less white. The Limbaugh people are still large in number, but their power is diminishing…

Regardless of its size, this audience is not being replenished with fresh blood. When the Obama people decided, early in his first term, to basically call as much attention to Limbaugh as possible, as part of an effort to make him seem like the unofficial leader of the modern Republican Party, that was because they knew that Limbaugh is among the least popular human beings in the country, especially with people below the age of 40. The strategy did briefly shove Limbaugh back into relevance, but what exactly did he accomplish with that relevance? After an election year in which he openly, depressingly begged for Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic nomination, simply so that he could relive his glory years of Clinton-hating, Limbaugh spent the first months of Obama’s presidency attempting to derail the stimulus for some reason, and he failed. The Tea Party freakout, and subsequently the 2010 elections, had nothing to do with Rush. He hated Romney during the 2012 primaries and his eventual awkward support for the Republican nominee was worth nothing.

Like Matt Drudge, who still drives traffic but not the news cycle itself, Limbaugh is a relic of the ’90s. He’s been finished for years. Unfortunately he and the dying conservative movement are going to do their best to destroy the country as it leaves them behind.

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45 Comments

  1. wilson

    TALKERS | July 30, 2013

    By Alan Colmes
    Fox News Radio/Fox News Channel
    Host/Commentator

    NEW YORK — Headlines have been blaring all over the digital universe about Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity being tossed off the air by Cumulus and losing 40 stations in key markets.

    However, in the words of the legendary Paul Harvey, readers are not being told the rest of the story. Cumulus and Clear Channel have been buying up stations in major markets. Limbaugh and Hannity are syndicated by Premiere, which is owned by Clear Channel. Rather than pay fees to Cumulus to carry these shows it makes more sense to put them on their own properties, reduce local talent costs, and save those fees. The two top-rated talkers aren’t going anywhere. They’re just changing dial positions and, in many cases, to better signals.

    Seeing liberal bloggers declare victory about how a boycott of these shows’ sponsors led to this makes my hair stand on end for four reasons.
    http://www.talkers.com/tag/rush-limbaugh/

    TALKERS | July 30, 2013

    By Alan Colmes
    Fox News Radio/Fox News Channel
    Host/Commentator

    NEW YORK — Headlines have been blaring all over the digital universe about Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity being tossed off the air by Cumulus and losing 40 stations in key markets.

    However, in the words of the legendary Paul Harvey, readers are not being told the rest of the story. Cumulus and Clear Channel have been buying up stations in major markets. Limbaugh and Hannity are syndicated by Premiere, which is owned by Clear Channel. Rather than pay fees to Cumulus to carry these shows it makes more sense to put them on their own properties, reduce local talent costs, and save those fees. The two top-rated talkers aren’t going anywhere. They’re just changing dial positions and, in many cases, to better signals.

    Seeing liberal bloggers declare victory about how a boycott of these shows’ sponsors led to this makes my hair stand on end for four reasons.
    http://www.talkers.com/tag/rush-limbaugh/

  2. wilson: Nothing in the piece to which you’ve linked (twice, for some reason) in your comment refutes the central point of my post.

  3. expdoc

    At least the author has the ability to admit the truth about the Democrat ruse.

    “When the Obama people decided, early in his first term, to basically call as much attention to Limbaugh as possible, as part of an effort to make him seem like the unofficial leader of the modern Republican Party,…”

  4. Craig Knauss

    Pat,

    There are two separate issues here.

    First, Limbaugh and Hannity are just changing stations. They will still be blasting their nonsense on the airwaves, even though it’s becoming less relevant every day.

    Second, most of Limbaugh’s diehard listeners were born prior to the Civil Rights Act. These people are old and are dropping like flies. Most younger people aren’t as narrow-minded. Thus, Limbaugh is losing his audience.

    Great job of pasting, Wilson. Wasn’t once enough?

  5. doc: Your comment makes no sense.

    What “ruse” are you talking about? I don’t think you know what the word “ruse” means. It certainly doesn’t apply to the Obama team’s strategy in demonizing Limbaugh and linking him to the GOP.

    And by the way, using the word “Democrat” as an adjective is ungrammatical, a fact you wingnuts simply can’t get through your heads.

  6. Craig Knauss

    doc,

    Do you know what “admit” means? To admit something, one has to be involved in it and is acknowledging accountability. Was Alex Pareene in on the “ruse” or is he just reflecting his opinion of what went on?

  7. expdoc

    I use the word Democrat as an adjective to annoy you and it works every time. The definition of ruse absolutely applies to the Obama strategy to falsely label Limbaugh as the head of the Republican party.

    ruse-
    An action intended to deceive someone; a trick: “Eleanor tried to think of a ruse to get Paul out of the house”.

  8. expdoc

    Craig,

    Point taken.

    Maybe acknowledge instead of admit?

    I was unaware that the blog has been overrun by grammar teachers. Is that why Brian has been banned?

    In the future if it this site is supposed to be a grammar term paper rather than a small town political blog, I will plan to spend more than 30 seconds on my comments.

    On second thought, no I won’t.

  9. wilson

    Well I thought Pat would edit it or poo poo it.
    It was one means to reiterate what Alan Colmes opinion is.

    So I assume talk radio is dying? I think all the progressive have is Mike Malloy. Air America couldn’t cut it so maybe their demise was just an indicator of where talk is going?

  10. doc: “Falsely label Limbaugh as the head of the Republican party”?

    Falsely?

    What a laugh!

    At the time that label was applied, it was perfectly accurate. Rare was the Republican politician who dared take issue with Limbaugh’s nutty rants.

    This subject reminds of my favorite example of the right-leaning Rasmussen poll using a loaded question to get a desired result. It happened four years, when Scott Ramussen apparently was eager to ingratiate himself with Republicans who were annoyed at the perception that Rush Limbaugh was the real leader of their party.

    In a question directed only to Republican respondents, Rasmussen asked: “Agree or Disagree: ‘Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the Republican Party — he says jump and they say how high.’”

    Naturally, the vast majority of respondents said they disagreed. Who wants to admit that they jump at the command of a talk-show host (or at anyone’s command, for that matter)?

    The right-wing media dutifully reported that this so-called poll clearly showed that Limbaugh was not the leader of the GOP.

    I can’t help but suspect, doc, that you were one of the people Rasmussen polled.

  11. Steverino

    I think Limbaugh will start to develop some serious health issues if he hasn’t already. At that point he will fade quickly from all airwaves.

  12. Brian Opsahl

    Yea, I’m no doctor that’s for sure…don’t drag me into your own ignorance Doc.
    I admit my mistakes …you on the otherhand want to push your ingnorent coments on to somebody else …that’s called deflection.

    Leave me out of it Doc….!!!!

    Tomm Hartman is about the smartest man on the radio….and idiots like you don’t even mention him…just the really bad ones..huh doc…!

    Lintball,Hannity and their ilk are on there way out just like the rest of those American hateing republicans you worship so much…doc.

  13. I’m also reminded of one of my favorite factoids:

    There have been six presidential elections since Rush Limbaugh rose to national fame, and the Democratic candidates have carried the popular vote in five of them.

    So much for the notion that Limbaugh is representative of the American political mainstream.

    Rather, he represents angry old white guys. Most other people pretty much hate him.

  14. Brian Opsahl

    If Linball isn’t the lead blowhole for your republicans then why did Mitt follow every demand that Rush the (oxycotten useing drug addict) put on him….that cost him big time with the rest of America…?

  15. Neftali

    Let’s get real here folks and remember a little recent history. The whole “Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the Republican party” meme started in March of 2009. Then RNC chairman Michael Steele said Limbaugh was “just an entertainer.” Rather than sticking to his guns Steele later apologized to Limbaugh. Details here:

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/19517.html

    Shortly afterward the Limbaugh party leader meme took off much to the delight of the liberals. It didn’t help when, as Pat pointed out, Rasmussen completely ruined any credibility they had left with that ridiculous poll. It doesn’t matter that the whole idea of Rush having any real influence is absurd and completely false. Alas, the damage had already been done as exceptionally gullible, impressionable, and naive people, like our own Brian Opsahl, actually believe this nonsense.

    One further note that Pat is stretching the truth in proclaiming “Rare was the Republican politician who dared take issue with Limbaugh.” The reality is that almost all experienced and noteworthy politicians simply ignore Limbaugh, and for good reason. Steele was one of the few exceptions. It would be like me claiming it was rare for the Democratic politician to take issue with one of Chris Mathew’s loony rants.

  16. Brian Opsahl

    Who’s nieve nef…?

    Only a republican would denie this is real….
    Tell us oh wise one then who is the republican leader….?

    Fellas this could be entertaining…?

  17. Brian Opsahl

    Nef, you might be the only one who doesn’t believe this..

  18. I also liked this one from a few years ago:

    http://www.dccc.org/content/sorry

  19. Neftali

    Pat – You’re being silly and not thinking this through. You got yourself all focused onto various meaningless day to day media squabbles. It doesn’t mean anything.

    I can’t believe I have to spell this out, but here’s the truth. Take a seat and pay attention, children.

    Major political parties are controlled by who is elected. People that actually hold political office, be it Representatives, Senators, Cabinet positions, or Governors, simply have more influence than people that are not in these positions. Why? They control the law. They set the policy and the agenda.

    Of course, outside activist groups, lobbyist organizations, and various think tanks aim to have as much influence of those elected people as possible. Groups like the NRA, Freedom Works, AFL/CIO, ACLU, Heritage Foundation, and the Brookings Institute. People with real money like George Soros,the infamous Koch Brothers, and large corporations, create and contribute to these organizations because they are the ones with real power and influence. They don’t contribute to Rush Limbaugh. Further, Congressional Committees never stop and think “hey, let’s ask Rush Limbaugh of his opinion.” The whole idea is beyond ridiculous.

    Brian – Today the leaders of the Republican party are House Majority leader, Senate Minority leader, and to a lesser extent, the RNC Chair.

  20. John Boehner is pathetically at the mercy of the Tea Party faction in the House Republican caucus, but Neftali wants us to believe that he’s a leader of the GOP.

    Can you say “naive,” boys and girls?

  21. Neftali

    According to most estimates, the number of self declared Tea Party members in the House is about 51 or so members out of 234 current members in the House. Or in other words, only about 20%.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-08/tea-party-freshmen-to-become-sophomores-by-keeping-house-seats.html

    Every single piece of legislation I’ve seen that Democrats are crying over that the House has either voted down or just refuse to take a vote on has easily twice the support as their is tea party members. Boehner clearly listens the majority of House members, not just the tea party caucuses.

    So the only one naive is Pat.

  22. Craig Knauss

    doc,

    Re-read my comment. It has nothing to do with “grammar”. Admit implies culpability.

  23. Brian Opsahl

    Nef, your wrong…again…!!

    The official GOP leader is McTurdle and Boehner…but everytime a big question on polotics is asked, they all run to him (rush the oxyhead lintball) to get the answer…every single time. Money answers all the questions when dealing with republicans…the RNC chair takes his marching orders from whatever el-rushbo wants…been going on as long as i can remember.

  24. Neftali

    Brian – In discussions with you, I have never been, nor will I ever be, wrong.

    There is not a single shred of evidence RNC chair goes through Limbaugh. One unnecessary apology to an offhand remark doesn’t count as squat.

    I am truly amazed how gullible you are to these quaint little blurbs. Considering your flagrant stupidity it’s quite remarkable you still manage to survive on your own.

  25. monkey

    Nef: looking around right now, calling Limbaugh the de factor “leader” of the GOP is a fairly accurate statement. Title (like Speaker of the House, Majority Leader, etc), does not make you a leader. Influence and the ability to move people does. Right now, Limbaugh still occupies that position. The GOP sheep won’t take him on. He moves issues with the power of his audience and whatever garbage he’s spewing. Who else on the GOP side has that national influence (Palin? Christie? Jindal? Rubio?) Not really.

    On the Democratic side, President Obama is clearly the leader, by title and influence. However, you also have President Clinton, Hillary, VP Biden, Harry Reid and some other prominent Dem govs and Senators who have influence. The Democratic side certainly isn’t being led by an entertainer like Limbaugh. The difference is important.

  26. Neftali

    monkey – The influence of Limbaugh is something that started with Limbaugh himself. For over the past 20 years Limbaugh has been claiming his audience is about 20 million listeners. This is a gross exaggeration. The leftist organization media matters explains why:

    http://mediamatters.org/research/2009/03/09/why-dont-we-just-pretend-rush-limbaugh-has-50-m/148118

    “Yet, for years, news consumers have been told 20 million people listen each week. It’s a statistic that has become absolutely synonymous with Limbaugh.

    But where did that ginormous number come from? From Limbaugh, of course. The first reported reference I could find came from the July 31, 1993, issue of the radio bible, Billboard magazine, which reported “Li mbaugh’s show is now heard on 610 stations and reaches approximately 20 million listeners, according to [Kit] Carson,” Limbaugh’s “chief of staff.”

    “As a radio trade reporter confirmed to MSNBC last week, common industry shorthand to determine the actual size of a radio audience at any given moment is to cut the cume figure down by a factor of 10, which would mean Limbaugh’s 20 million becomes 2 million. Or, if you take the more modest cume number of 14 million, which some inside the industry have used to judge the talker’s audience, Limbaugh’s rating becomes 1.4 million, which is roughly the same size audience that Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann get each night on cable TV.”

    Let’s repeat that last sentence. Limbaugh has just as much influence as Rachel Maddow. Which isn’t a whole lot.

    In summary, the whole Limbaugh influence meme was created by himself, and the liberals have helped spread this meme. It’s all bunk. The idea that he somehow controls the Republican party is even more absurd. It’s leftist paranoia.

  27. Brian Opsahl

    Every republian except you gets this nef, call me all the names you want…lintball is your de-facto leader has been for several years….I have republican family memebers freinds and pretty much all of them agree that is true….deal with it…loosers..

  28. Neftali

    No Brian. As always, you’re consistently wrong.

    I’ve used stats and references to back up my presentation of truth. (Stats from left wing sites on top of that)

    You use tired memes and popular, but discredited, talking points.

    Put it another way. You’re just as dumb as the people on the right who honestly believe that Barack Obama thinks there is 57 states.

  29. Brian Opsahl

    Nef, thanks for the insults as usual when faced with something negative you lash out at me.
    As Monkey and others try and tell you whats really going on you think by pulling up a web site that makes you some how correct….wrong reindeer breath.

    Web sites lie and liars use webs sites to enforse those lies….like you nef.

    And to give you one back….your just as dumb as the idiot said right before his election that 47% he could give a crap about …and that was about the only thing that assbag said was ever true….nefy

  30. Neftali

    OMG. Brian – So mean to tell me that all web sites lie? You do realize that you are communicating through a web site, don’t you? Are you calling Pat a liar?

    What you are failing to do is look at the data. Look at the evidence. Look at the proof.

    Again, I’m using stats as a reference to back up an argument, and you are using your Uncle Bob.

    Read the article. Read the article. Read the article. Read the article. I’ll even link to it again. Here: http://mediamatters.org/research/2009/03/09/why-dont-we-just-pretend-rush-limbaugh-has-50-m/148118

    Media matters is left wing organization. In other words, they are on your side you incompetent neanderthal.

    If anything, claiming Rush has more influence than he does, you are only doing his bidding. You’re being a Limbaugh pawn. What you should be doing is discrediting him and his influence, but that appears to be too much for your imp-like brain to process.

  31. monkey

    Nef: I agree with your stats that his audience figures have been inflated. However, you didn’t address the question. Who is the current leader of the GOP? McConnell? Boehner? Any of the GOP Presidential wannabes? Not bloody likely. There is so much infighting between the moderates and wingnuts within the GOP that they are adrift like a rudderless ship. The only two living GOP presidents are uninvolved in public issues and would have little influence anyway in that Bush I is too old and Bush II is universally disliked (and that’s just by the GOP itself).

    Show me a GOP leader with gravitas that has some kind of universal appeal. Are there any? When Jimmy Carter speaks, people listen, as he’s been a phenomenal ex-Pres with great influence on world affairs. Same thing for President Clinton. Any Repubs in that same vein? The ones you might think of were never elected to anything (Kissinger, James Baker, Brent Scowcroft, George Schultz, etc.) or are getting too old to be relevant.

    Sure, the GOP has some moderate Senators and Govs who have been effective. However, every time they open their mouths with something sane, they are torn apart by Limbaugh and the other wingnuts. Until the GOP gets rid of the wingnuts and moves to the center, they will continue to drift toward irrelevance on a national scale. That’s a political and demographic fact.

  32. expdoc

    Are you so sure about Bush II monkey? Universally disliked? Recent poll numbers would suggest otherwise.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/george-w-bush-re-emergence-93934.html?hp=t2_3

    He was the invisible man of the 2012 campaign, not to mention most of President Barack Obama’s first term.

    Yet in recent weeks, former President George W. Bush is having a resurgence: He’s speaking out on immigration reform and AIDS in Africa and gingerly addressing the gay marriage debate. And in a twist few would have predicted even six months ago, Bush’s public approval rating recently eclipsed Obama’s.

    His supporters insist he has no strategy, no master plan for public re-entry. But the Republican who left the White House amid two unpopular wars and with few fans in either party appears to be in the early stages of settling into the role of elder statesman, on his own terms.

  33. Neftali

    monkey – I did answer the question. I gave the only possible and real answer. I’ll repeat, the leaders of the Republican party are House Majority leader, Senate Minority leader, and to a lesser extent, the RNC Chair

    Put it another way. Who was the leader of the Democratic party in 2007? Former President Clinton? Future Presidential front runner Senator Clinton? House majority leader Pelosi? DNC Chair Howard Dean?

  34. Brian Opsahl

    Bush went to Africa…..? how much did we the taxpayer pay for his trips…? funny not a word about his spending…hhhmmm

  35. Craig Knauss

    doc,

    GWB’s approval rating is rising because he’s trying to distance himself from the BS spewed out by Boehner, McConnell, etc. He is trying to appeal to mainstream America instead of the extremists. Have you noticed that he has pretty much kept his mouth shut about Obama? And that he is supporting some of the same causes as Obama? He is doing this because he’s a free agent now. He doesn’t have to give a rat’s behind what the RNC, and especially what the Tea Party, want.

    Did you ever notice that George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton have become pretty good friends after they left office and have appeared together for a number of causes? They can follow their own conscience now rather than toe the party line.

    Rush Limbaugh has stated repeated that he is an “entertainer” not a journalist. That puts him in the same class as people like Howard Stern, John Stewart, etc. Entertainers are not held to the same standards of accuracy as journalists. And yet, some people regard everything these entertainers say as “gospel”. Unbelievable.

  36. expdoc

    I agree with almost every word you wrote Craig.

    I would add that the “keeping his mouth shut about Obama” is a sign of post-presidential class and that the fact he is”supporting some of the same causes as Obama” is really Obama carrying on the policies that Bush put in place.

  37. Craig Knauss

    doc,

    How do you figure “Obama [is] carrying on the policies that Bush put in place”? Which ones? Possible the wars. Maybe something else. How about immigration reform? Bush talked about it, but never went any further. Now he’s for it. GWB probably supports health care reform since I’m sure he’s seen plenty of health problems in Texas.

  38. expdoc

    Start with these 100. From a libertarian point of view of course.

    http://www.humblelibertarian.com/2011/08/bush-20-100-ways-barack-obama-is-just.html

  39. monkey

    Ahhh, Nef, you’re like Snuss. You dance around the question and then answer it with another question? Makes sense in the wingnut universe. So, I’ll ask it again: we’re not living in 2007, so who is the leader of the GOP in 2013? If you asked a guy on the street or, hell, even a halfway informed Republican, what would the answer be? Who’s your party leader right now? Who’s setting the tone? The direction? Yeah. . . still Limbaugh. That’s who everyone’s kowtowing to and that’s why you have a problem.

    As for 2007, if you insist, I’d argue it was still President Clinton at the time. Sen. Clinton was coming on strong as the seeming nominee, but the biggest fish was still the Pres. So, I’ve answered your question. You answer mine. 2013?

  40. Neftali

    For the 3rd time. The leaders of the Republican party are House Majority leader, Senate Minority leader, and to a lesser extent, the RNC Chair

    I could care less about someone’s Uncle Fred or what some moron on the street thinks. There is only one correct answer, and that has been provided.

  41. Neftali

    Further, completely disagreed about Clinton being the liberal lead in 2007. The guy made very sparse public appearances, and when he did it barely qualified as news worthy. Clinton was no more the leader of the Democrats in 2007 than Reagan was leader of the Republicans in 1998.

    I’d argue that if had to pick an individual that had the most authority in 2007 it was Nancy Pelosi. She was the first female House Majority leader. She was in the press ALL the time. She set the party’s agenda. She had the most power and the most influence.

  42. Brian Opsahl

    Nef, I will ask Ted and after Rush gets back to him with an answer…I will get back to you…?

  43. Your efforts to downplay the influence of the Tea Party on Republican politics are bogus.

    As Nate Cohn writes:

    “The composition of the Republican primary electorate makes the challenge even greater. In the Pew poll, 49 percent of Republicans who participate in every primary support the tea party—just 22 percent consider themselves moderate. In last year’s primaries, evangelical Christians represented more than 40 percent of the electorate in just about every major contest, including relatively moderate Romney states like Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Florida.”

    The net effect of all this is quite simple: Erstwhile moderate Republicans are deathly afraid of right-wing challenges in primary elections. Even respectably conservative lawmakers have lost primaries to right-wing nutcases.

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