New York Times columnist Timothy Egan writes today that the era of widespread influence from conservative media — personified by The Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News — is over.
Egan uses a couple of recent points to make his argument: Matt Drudge’s comparison of President Barack Obama to Hitler, and Limbaugh and Fox’s continued focus on Obama’s shot at them in an interview with The New Republic last week.
Rush Limbaugh, who sits atop the right-wing media food chain along with Drudge, has compared the president to Hitler for years. On Fox News, Hitler allusions are less overt, but crazy talk about Obama — dating to a 2008 suggestion that Michelle Obama’s playful knuckle bump with her husband may have been “a terrorist fist jab” — is the stock in trade.
The good news is that these people are talking mostly to themselves, from inside the much-ridiculed bubble that burst in spectacular fashion last November, while fewer and fewer voters are listening to them.
Yes, the pyramid of political dissemination is still in place: from Drudge, to Rush, to Fox, to Republican politicians in green rooms, trickling down to all the lesser Drudges and Rushes in the wacko-sphere.
They wheeze and whiff and hyperventilate. They claim there is a war on this, and a war on that (Christmas, God, golf pros). They have one mode: outrage, designed to get the pulse up, to generate a flight or fight reaction. But for all their huffing and puffing, the bloviators of the far right can no longer blow any houses down; most Americans couldn’t care less.
Egan cites a February 2012 poll from the Pew Research centre in which only 2 per cent of respondents said The Drudge Report was their top source of online news.
Still, the same poll found that preference for political media sources are largely partisan. Among independents, Fox News came out on top of CNN and MSNBC as a preferred source. On the other hand, Fox recently hit a 12-year low among the coveted 25-54-year-old age demographic in primetime.
But Drudge announced at the end of 2012 that it was his biggest year ever in terms of site traffic with more than 11 billion visitors.
There are no recent stats of Limbaugh’s ratings. But if Sen. Marco Rubio’s pining for his blessing on his immigration plan is any indication, Limbaugh’s standing is still in good shape.
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