It’s Only 97 Days Until the Mad Hatter’s Next Tea Party

Why the f…iscal cliff do Tea Partiers think the next shutdown/showdown will be any different from the last?

 

Ted Cruz and his Tea Party gang tried to extort legislation out of the President. They failed miserably. With a little introspection and time to cool off, what sage conclusion did they draw? “Hey, that was great. Let’s do it again!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn  the Sean Hannity show, Cruz vowed that he was prepared for the next fight. On ABC News, he wouldn’t rule out use of another shutdown. “I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,” Cruz said when asked by ABC’s Jon Karl specifically about the possibility of further brinksmanship. Meanwhile, the ACA stumbles forward without any attempt to improve it, the budget still hasn’t gone to conference and the next self-imposed economic crisis looms only 97 days away.

During this last standoff, John Boehner was questioned at a press conference about some possible scenarios and how he might deal with them. His answer was the classic “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.” And then he walked off to the laughter of the press corps. Shame on all of them. Someone should have yelled, “Answer the damn question ass-munch. You work for us. Or have you forgotten that?” What he, Boehner, really should have said was … if we can just push this thing out past the first of the year, then we’ll all have a merry Christmas. In the final analysis, that’s all he, Obama and the Senate leaders really did.

So enjoy the holidays. Indulge in some eggnog or tea, whatever you prefer. Send an extra can of soup to the local food bank for the sake of future non-essential personnel. And then let’s all meet back here sometime around the middle of January and ride that fiscal horse through the burning barn of dysfunctional government once again.

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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.