The conservative media ghetto
If you are tired, as I am, of the same turbo-conservatives dominating talk radio and TV and Fox News, then Matthew Sheffield has written an important piece, first at his own website he edits and then reposted at National Review Online: "The Conservative Media Echo Chamber Is Making the Right Intellectually Deaf."
First, Sheffield explains how Trump rose to become the nominee.
Conservative activists who dislike GOP nominee Donald Trump are constantly asking themselves how their party could elect an inexperienced bomb-thrower who constantly messes up. The relatively small influence of right-wing blogs and talk radio is part of the answer. Trump-hating hosts like Mark Levin and Glenn Beck bashed Trump daily on their programs for months. Their criticism had no effect, however, because the only people tuning in were those who already agreed. (It didn’t help that their denunciations were completely hypocritical and politically motivated as well.)
The rise of Trump has been explained in various ways, and all of them together seem right to me because multifaceted explanations don't reduce complex things to a simplistic single cause. But one thing is clear: conservatives need to leave the self-created ghetto and mix it up in the much bigger world.
How do Fox News's and talk radio's audience stack up to all the rest of the media? Conservative viewership and listenership is much, much smaller:
Conservatives have significant outposts in talk radio and Fox News but their audience size is still dwarfed by the sum total of the center-left media behemoth. The Right’s bad situation is made worse by the fact that cable news as a medium is actually in decline as many of its older audience members are dying off and not being replaced because many younger people are refusing to purchase cable- and satellite-television subscriptions. Among those who do pay for TV, younger adults aren’t watching cable news.
Conservatives have been mostly talking among themselves:
Indeed, it could be argued that the Right’s success at creating overtly conservative media infrastructure has actually made it harder for conservatives to grasp their inability to reach the casual news consumer. Because the Right now has a comparatively larger media audience than before, it is difficult for many to realize that they have been primarily talking amongst themselves as this analysis clearly shows.
I teach at college, the Lion's Den, and I was shocked when an advanced class didn't know what "P.C." stood for. I had to explain it, with the help of one student. A certain brand of conservatism that dominates right-leaning media is unfit for the classroom. Students sneer and mock. I have to refer to stories that slip through the cracks in the mainstream media or go right to the government source if the subject is the national operating debt, for example.
But conservative media won't change. They still have just a large enough audience to attract sponsors, and the more outrageous and unthinking the hosts are, like calling people they disagree with "pukes," or attacking the ill defined, amorphous "Establishment" as the cause of all the problems (and not themselves and other things), the more the hosts can attract a slice of like-minded conservatives and then attract the sponsors.
The self-serving cycle cannot be broken unless forward-thinking executive producers take the risk to break it and bring in fresh personalities who know what they're talking about, but who can also communicate conservatism in an attractive way.
James Arlandson's website is Live as Free People, where he has posted How conservatives can finally read America accurately (for a change), The GOP 'Establishment' will have to save Trump and country, In Defense of the GOP 'Establishment,' and Thirty reasons not to vote for Hillary.