Has Rush Lost His Touch?

Or were his numbers always inflated?

Just like the Enya song says, Rush's ratings are starting to ... sail away, sail away, sail away.

 

It seems that Rush Limbaugh’s numbers have been plummeting since October of last year. So far, he has lost one-third of his audience, and the trend shows no sign of stopping. In a report from Crains Business, the recent Arbitron ratings show a huge hit for Rush and for Sean Hannity (-28%). While they remain one and two in talk radio, the rapid and immense slide has to be alarming. Of course, neither man will admit any chink in their armor.

Ironically, such lack of professional introspection has probably contributed to their decline. Both shows screen calls severely, and if a dissenter does get through, they are generally crushed by the host’s heavy hand. In fairness to Hannity, he occasionally brings on proponents of opposing viewpoints, but few that aren’t so weak as to set off the straw-man detectors. Of course, they can run their show any way they want, but the absence of strong opposition makes for a fairly boring program. Most of their content sounds something like, blah-blah-blah, commercial, commercial, ad, promo, commercial, blah-blah-blah, unless of course, they are making some outrageous comment that is aimed at stirring up a response. And I have a hunch that any consultant or program director that mentions this flaw is summarily dismissed, so there is little chance that their formats will change in the near future. 

Defenders of Limbaugh have already started to rebut the early reports of his demise by arguing that the method of measuring ratings has changed. Apparently, Arbitron has moved from a survey-based system (prone to name-recognition bias) to a system involving more raw data. But if the ratings are simply more accurate, then Limbaugh’s numbers have been inflated all along. No less reason for concern, when advertisers find out.

Perhaps the most intriguing fallout from this news will be how Premiere Networks Radio reacts to the numbers. Premiere has articulated little concern over the decline in market share of their number one and two stars. But if they continue to push Limbaugh and Hannity with limited regard for their marketability, it will lend credence to the argument that critics on the left have long made – that right-wing talkers are owned by right-wing financiers with a greater interest in pushing their agenda than having their on-air products be profitable. That would be the ultimate hypocrisy from a devout promoter of the “let the market handle it” philosophy such as Limbaugh. Of course, one of the major elements of content on Limbaugh’s show, after blah-blah-blah, is hypocrisy.

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My Cyber Apple

Rush Limbaugh adds teachers to his list of scapegoats.

I wonder if Rush Limbaugh ever brought an apple to his teacher. If he did, it probably had a worm in it. On his February 17th show, in regard to the protests in Wisconsin, Limbaugh stated, “… all the parasites of government are now coming out … that’s exactly what they are, parasites.” He also claimed, erroneously, that public sector union members make double the average American worker’s income. The average income for all Americans across all occupations, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is $45,485. The average teacher’s salary, according to the American Federation of Teachers, is currently $47,602. That’s nearly identical, not double.

So, contrary to what the drug-addled hypocrite is spewing, teachers are not some special interest group looking to sink their parasitic fangs into the taxpayer’s wallet. They earn average wages while performing extraordinary services vital to the future of our society. As Thomas Jefferson professed over two centuries ago, a democracy is impractical without a citizenry that is educated. Instead of vilifying teachers, we should thank them.

The following is a list, in no weighted order, of some of my favorite teachers:

My parents (my father by vocation, my mother by inspiration), my niece, Dr. Jim Black, Mrs. Wade, my cousin, Jesus, Todd Steenhard, Mr. Snelson, Carl Sagan, Lao-tzu, Mrs. Shaver, Mr. Thuot, Paul K. Haeder, Robert Gover.

Thank you.

Who are some of your favorites?

Perks of the educator.

Don’t Cry For Rush, Costa Rica

When Rush Limbaugh recently threatened to “leave for Costa Rica” if health care reform passed, many of his critics mistakenly thought he was pledging to move there. In actuality, he was answering a caller’s question about where he would seek health care, not citizenship.  

Rush gets marooned by the truth.

  

Now that health care reform has passed, Limbaugh has been forced to defend his statement. Ironically, the true quote contains no less hypocrisy than the one erroneously attributed to him. The healthcare system in Costa Rica is a combination of government and private insurance coupled with public and private hospitals, paralleling what the reform bill will create here. If the public option is eventually passed, the two systems will be nearly identical.  

The Costa Rica system is paid for by an 11% tax on workers (a daunting figure until you discover the per capita cost, which also includes a mandatory pension plan, equals only about $100 a month). This tiny country of 4.5 million has figured out how to pay for universal health care and social security at a cost to the economy of less than $1200 per person, per year.  

I am sure most of Rush’s listeners would be surprised to discover that given a choice of any health system in the world, the “government takeover” Costa Rica model is the one he chooses to support. It sounds very similar to the proposals he has railed against for years in this country. Of course he rails against entitlements, even though he has accepted them. He rails against leniency for drug offenders, although as a drug offender himself, he begged for mercy from prosecutors.  

Rush might want to review his facts on climate change before he springs for that beach condo.

  

So, after closer examination, this hypocrisy is not so baffling. In fact, it’s completely understandable, once you discover that, in Costa Rica, many drugs can be purchased legally without a prescription. I wonder if Oxycontin is on that list? Sure beats having your housekeeper drive around Puntarenas looking for a Denny’s parking lot where she can score some “baby blues”.