A Free Market In Conservative Endorsements

Conservative talk show hosts claim support for the free market. Ignoring for a moment the degree to which the right wing actually undermines our market system while promoting plutocracy, there is one market they are strongly in favor of–a free market in selling endorsements. Politico reports:

If you’re a regular listener of Glenn Beck’s radio show and you wanted to contribute to a political group that would advance the populist conservative ideals he touts on his show, you’d have plenty of reason to think that FreedomWorks was your best investment.

But if you’re a fan of Mark Levin’s radio show, you’d have just as much cause to believe that Americans for Prosperity, a FreedomWorks rival, was the most effective conservative advocacy group. And, if Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity are who you listen to, you’d be hearing a steady stream of entreaties to support the important work of the Heritage Foundation.

That’s not coincidence. In search of donations and influence, the three prominent conservative groups are paying hefty sponsorship fees to the popular talk show hosts. Those fees buy them a variety of promotional tie-ins, as well as regular on-air plugs – praising or sometimes defending the groups, while urging listeners to donate – often woven seamlessly into programming in ways that do not seem like paid advertising.

“The point that people don’t realize,” said Michael Harrison, founder and publisher of the talk media trade publication TALKERS Magazine, “is that (big time political talk show hosts) are radio personalities – they are in the same business that people like Casey Kasem are in – and what they do is no different than people who broadcast from used car lots or restaurants or who endorse the local roofer or gardener.”

This returns the the question I’ve often wondered about the right wing talk show hosts–do they believe any of the nonsense they say or are they just saying what makes them the most money?  Both Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have provided reasons to question whether they believe what they say on air.

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  1. 1
    Ralph Dratman says:

    Excellent. Capitalism rules. May they buy and sell each other forever, somewhere far away from the rest of humanity.

  2. 2
    Ralph Dratman says:

    There must be a logical endpoint to the concept that “everything is for sale.” Ultimately a few right-wing billionaires will own all the rest of the Republicans as slaves. Wait, maybe that’s what we already have. If true, it would explain a lot.

  3. 3
    Ralph Dratman says:

    Do right-wing talk show hosts “believe” what they are saying? I would argue that your question is like asking if the roof beams believe in the roof, or whether the drywall believes there is a wall. Our criteria for the purposes served by these materials does not include belief. In the case of Limbaugh, it’s just a little more complicated. Limbaugh has to sound like he believes. In the case of Beck, he just has to sound like an insane clown act.

  4. 4
    Mike B.T.R.M. says:

    You hit on my specialty.  While one can never know what is really in someone else’s heart of hearts, I can tell you by and large they are all true believers.  That being said, they most likely are all quite happy with going with the biggest dollar endorser.  Invert the Freedom works dollars with Heritage Foundation dollars and I’m sure you’d have Limbaugh pushing Freedom Works and and Beck pushing Heritage Foundation.  @Ralf- And your alternative to capitalism would be what?

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    They are speaking to true believers, and saying what will make the most money for them. As I’ve pointed out in other posts, they have at times said things which suggest they know it is an act and aren’t dumb enough to believe the things they say on air.

  6. 6
    Mike B.T.R.M. says:

    I’m not disagreeing that they don’t use self promoting tactics such as sensationalism and alarmism, but while the main pursuit of their careers is most likely wealth and/or fame, I have no doubt they believe in their core messages.  What, you think Rush actually wants the government to raise taxes on the wealthy or Mark Levine may secretly believe the government should expand social programs?  I don’t see their pursuit of personal wealth inconsistant with what they are saying.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    I’m not questioning whether they are conservative, but they sure say a lot of off the wall stuff beyond basic conservative philosophy which it is questionable whether they believe. They have admitted at times that they are putting on a show. They say outrageous things which conservatives love to hear, but they don’t necessarily believe all the nonsense they talk about.

    Pursuit of wealth is inconsistent with presenting rational conservative arguments. The nuttier stuff gets more attention. A rational conservative would not make the kind of money today’s conservative showmen can make in this market.

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