We're back! Beth and Kelly are off and running this week on part two of the new series on the greatest fake news makers of our time. This week we turn the dial over to the radio - where we look at Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin. They're fightin' mad, as long as they don't actually have to leave the studio!
Let's begin with the King of radio talk - at least according to himself, Mr. Rush Limbaugh. We know Rush lies about plenty of topics, from women's right to contraceptives, to people of color, to detainees on our border. So, we decided to look at something sinister behind the curtain - Rush's influence numbers.
Limbaugh's Wikipedia page states that his radio show reaches 13.5 million listeners a week, based on data provided by Talkers Magazine. However, Talkers Magazine is a conservative online source that provides no data point for these numbers. A Business Insider article from 2012 revealed his numbers may be much, much lower as the only person who has his listener numbers is Premier Radio Networks, the company responsible for Limbaugh's syndication. It seems certain that the people making money from Rush's show might be interested in inflating his numbers for the purpose of advertising and influence dollars. An industry insider reveals the listener numbers may be much closer to 1.5-2m listeners a week.
Here's a look at Limbaugh's social media numbers as of September 2019. Surely these numbers should be higher if he has 13.5m listeners a week?
Perhaps the boogeyman in the closet these days is a newer, fresher face. Here's where Mark Levin steps in.
Levin began his broadcasting career as a guest on conservative talk radio programs. For many years, he was a frequent contributor of legal opinions to The Rush Limbaugh Show. He was also a contributor to The Sean Hannity Show and eventually got a radio slot of his own on WABC, initially on Sundays beginning in 2002, then in the time slot following Hannity's program in 2003. Cumulus Media Networks began syndicating The Mark Levin Show nationally in 2006.
A 2016 study which sought to measure incendiary discourse on talk radio and TV found that Levin scored highest on its measure of "outrage". The study looked at 10 prominent radio and television programs, known for incendiary discourse on political matters, and scored content on the basis of whether it used "emotional display", "misrepresentative exaggeration", "mockery", "conflagration", "slippery slope", "insulting" or "obscene language" and other factors, finding that Levin was the radio host who engaged in the most outrage. The study found that he utilized "outrage speech or behavior at a rate of more than one instance per minute." In How Democracies Die, Harvard University political scientists Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky write that Mark Levin was among the popular right-wing talk radio hosts who "helped to legitimate the use of uncivil discourse" in American politics, and contribute to the erosion of democratic norms.
He is very influential with members of Congress,” said Rep. Michelle Bachmann. “He helps us understand the issues from a different perspective.”
When Congress was debating Obamacare back in 2009, it was Levin, she said, who led the GOP charge against it, posting articles detailing the dangers of “socialized medicine” on his website and urging his listeners to contact their representative. In the end, not a single Republican voted for the bill.
He dances the line by using sources that are good - like the Wall Street Journal and NPR- and then throws in “The Federalist” for the opinion .
For continuity, Mark Levin's social media numbers:
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The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1 March 2012
"Rush Limbaugh: Here’s way to stop 100% of lies in society" at American Grand Jury (19 January 2011)
The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1992
The Rush Limbaugh Show (October 5, 1995)
"35 Undeniable Truths of Life" Sacramento Union, 29 August 1988
Mark Levin Show, September 20, 2019
Mark Levin's Nutty Constitutional Convention Idea
Radio’s Mark Levin Might Be the Most Powerful Conservative You Never Heard Of
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