The Splintering of the Conservative Media

Over the past 28 years there has been a sea change in the media.  Not only has the monopoly of the so-called mainstream media been shattered but the phenomenal rise of conservative media has been truly stunning.  It began in 1988 with the national syndication of Rush Limbaugh and his distinctive brand of conservative political commentary espoused in an entertaining and captivating way, which opened the flood gates for other conservatives, together with Rush, to dominate the talk radio airwaves.  In the 1990’s the internet, through hundreds of websites, gave voice to journalists to report stories either ignored or downplayed by the mainstream media and for other conservatives to publish their comments and opinions.  Over the years there has been a general good will among all these various players as the goal at the end of the day was to advance the conservative movement as the best political option for the people of this nation.

However, with the overwhelming emergence on the political scene of Donald Trump, someone who is not and has never been a conservative, this once near-monolithic movement is in danger of permanently splintering.  While some conservatives are strongly opposed to Trump, many outlets have chosen to unabashedly support him regardless of what he says or does -- or has done or said in the past.  Why they have become caught up in the populism sweeping a plurality of primary voters is a question they will have to answer, but on the surface it appears to be for expediency’s sake and not because of any loyalty to ideology.

Mr. Trump is notorious for turning his back on and belittling those who have financed or supported him in either his business career or in private life.  He has done the same during this campaign and, as he will be seventy in a few months, this characteristic will not change.  If these conservative commentators and websites believe that they will stay in the good graces of Donald Trump were he to win the presidency, they are naive.  If they believe he will become a full throated constitutional conservative, they are delusional.

The remaining conservative voices in opposition to Trump see him for what he is and are fearful of the prospect of his becoming the party’s nominee.  In viewing Trump as a threat to not only the country but to the conservative movement, many have perhaps gone over the top in their criticism and comments.  But their concern is genuine and deep seated.

Therefore, what is the long term fate of the conservative media? 

Trump has the highest unfavorability rating among presidential candidates since these polls were first taken in 1992.  He loses in a head-to-head match up with Hillary Clinton, an extremely flawed candidate, by an average of 8-10 percentage points in 85% of the past 28 polls taken.   While it is standard operating procedure for the Democrats and the mainstream media to attempt to cast any Republican candidate as a misogynist, a racist, and a rapacious and unethical  capitalist, in the case of Trump there are endless hours of tape that can be used to easily portray him as this caricature of a vile “conservative” Republican.  Thus the chances of his being able to beat any Democrat in November are slim.  The nation will, perhaps irrevocably, be at the mercy of the now full throated socialist Democratic Party.  The conservative movement will, in all likelihood, be cast into the wilderness for perhaps a generation in part because of the unfair and forced connection to Donald Trump.  Recriminations within the conservative media will be legion thus permanently destroying it as a viable media voice taking with it many careers.

If Trump were to somehow win the presidency, he will not govern as a conservative -- something he has made abundantly clear on the campaign trail.  He will continue to expand the imperial presidency, begun by Barack Obama, and he will be erratic and uncertain, per his oft revealed personal traits, in his dealings with Congress and foreign leaders.  Further, he will be the catalyst permanently transforming the Republican Party into the Progressive-Lite party.  There will be no home for the constitutional conservative movement nor the conservative media as it is constituted today.  Instead this once viable and powerful voice will shatter and shrivel becoming a fringe player on America’s media stage. 

The Republican primary process has yet to fully play out and there is still time to rescue the conservative movement and media from potential oblivion.  However, regardless of whether Donald Trump wins the nomination or does not he is succeeding in doing what the Democrats and the mainstream media have been unable to do over the past 28 years: drive a wedge between and splinter the conservative media.  Whether it becomes permanent is a matter of both circumstances and personal agendas of those under this umbrella.

Over the past 28 years there has been a sea change in the media.  Not only has the monopoly of the so-called mainstream media been shattered but the phenomenal rise of conservative media has been truly stunning.  It began in 1988 with the national syndication of Rush Limbaugh and his distinctive brand of conservative political commentary espoused in an entertaining and captivating way, which opened the flood gates for other conservatives, together with Rush, to dominate the talk radio airwaves.  In the 1990’s the internet, through hundreds of websites, gave voice to journalists to report stories either ignored or downplayed by the mainstream media and for other conservatives to publish their comments and opinions.  Over the years there has been a general good will among all these various players as the goal at the end of the day was to advance the conservative movement as the best political option for the people of this nation.

However, with the overwhelming emergence on the political scene of Donald Trump, someone who is not and has never been a conservative, this once near-monolithic movement is in danger of permanently splintering.  While some conservatives are strongly opposed to Trump, many outlets have chosen to unabashedly support him regardless of what he says or does -- or has done or said in the past.  Why they have become caught up in the populism sweeping a plurality of primary voters is a question they will have to answer, but on the surface it appears to be for expediency’s sake and not because of any loyalty to ideology.

Mr. Trump is notorious for turning his back on and belittling those who have financed or supported him in either his business career or in private life.  He has done the same during this campaign and, as he will be seventy in a few months, this characteristic will not change.  If these conservative commentators and websites believe that they will stay in the good graces of Donald Trump were he to win the presidency, they are naive.  If they believe he will become a full throated constitutional conservative, they are delusional.

The remaining conservative voices in opposition to Trump see him for what he is and are fearful of the prospect of his becoming the party’s nominee.  In viewing Trump as a threat to not only the country but to the conservative movement, many have perhaps gone over the top in their criticism and comments.  But their concern is genuine and deep seated.

Therefore, what is the long term fate of the conservative media? 

Trump has the highest unfavorability rating among presidential candidates since these polls were first taken in 1992.  He loses in a head-to-head match up with Hillary Clinton, an extremely flawed candidate, by an average of 8-10 percentage points in 85% of the past 28 polls taken.   While it is standard operating procedure for the Democrats and the mainstream media to attempt to cast any Republican candidate as a misogynist, a racist, and a rapacious and unethical  capitalist, in the case of Trump there are endless hours of tape that can be used to easily portray him as this caricature of a vile “conservative” Republican.  Thus the chances of his being able to beat any Democrat in November are slim.  The nation will, perhaps irrevocably, be at the mercy of the now full throated socialist Democratic Party.  The conservative movement will, in all likelihood, be cast into the wilderness for perhaps a generation in part because of the unfair and forced connection to Donald Trump.  Recriminations within the conservative media will be legion thus permanently destroying it as a viable media voice taking with it many careers.

If Trump were to somehow win the presidency, he will not govern as a conservative -- something he has made abundantly clear on the campaign trail.  He will continue to expand the imperial presidency, begun by Barack Obama, and he will be erratic and uncertain, per his oft revealed personal traits, in his dealings with Congress and foreign leaders.  Further, he will be the catalyst permanently transforming the Republican Party into the Progressive-Lite party.  There will be no home for the constitutional conservative movement nor the conservative media as it is constituted today.  Instead this once viable and powerful voice will shatter and shrivel becoming a fringe player on America’s media stage. 

The Republican primary process has yet to fully play out and there is still time to rescue the conservative movement and media from potential oblivion.  However, regardless of whether Donald Trump wins the nomination or does not he is succeeding in doing what the Democrats and the mainstream media have been unable to do over the past 28 years: drive a wedge between and splinter the conservative media.  Whether it becomes permanent is a matter of both circumstances and personal agendas of those under this umbrella.